Webber: Hamilton is probably the Greatest Of All Time

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 02: Mark Webber (L) of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing talks with Lewis Hamilton (R) of Great Britain and Mercedes GP in parc ferme after finishing first during qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 2, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Webber; Lewis Hamilton // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI201412175547 // Usage for editorial use only //

Clearly, Mark Webber won’t kick a man when he is down, the ex-Formula 1 driver is backing Lewis Hamilton to emerge from his early-season struggles.

Why? Because he says the seven-time F1 world champion is probably the greatest driver of all time – the F1 GOAT.

Statistically, barring his tied on eight F1 titles with Michael Schumacher, 37-year-old Hamilton has shattered every F1 record there is in a career that began sensationally back in 2007; he nearly won the title in his first attempt that year.

Since then he has a remarkable record of winning at least one Grand Prix ever since his debut at the Australian Grand Prix 15 years ago, celebrating an incredible 183 podium finishes in 292 Grand Prix starts, 103 times as a winner; having started from pole position also on 103 occasions.

But this year, in the worst car he has ever been given to drive in F1, he is unlikely to win a race unless Mercedes find some magic to pep up the woeful W13, begging the question: Can Lewis bounce back?

Webber, who shared 129 Grand Prix starts with Hamilton during the Australian’s career in the top flight, believes you can’t count the Mercedes superstar out: “I think people are being pretty harsh, pretty fast on Lewis. In Bahrain, he drove brilliantly to third place.

“In Saudi, there was a safety car involved there with a pit stop. Same in Melbourne. So I think there have been quite a few points he’s missed through no fault of his own,” Webber explained.

But at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, everything unravelled on a weekend in which Hamilton was never a contender… for points let alone a podium! Finishing 13th.

The humiliation compounded by the fact that George Russell soldiered on to finish a quite brilliant fourth in the sister Mercedes.

Webber: It’s only Imola where Hamilton had a tricky qualifying and race

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“Of course, everyone’s forgetting how the other points were lost through no fault of his own,” Webber pointed out. “Never, ever underestimate an organisation like those guys.

“It’s going to be fascinating to see how the next few weeks go. Lewis is at his most dangerous with his back against the wall. He’s never short of motivation – that’s why he’s probably the greatest of all time,” declared Webber.

But Russell’s performances cannot be ignored conceded the former Red Bull driver: “George is driving brilliantly – very, very good for him – and it’s good to have the youngsters threatening the established drivers. That’s what it should be about, Lewis would never shy away from that.

“I think if we have a little bit more consistency, with a few guys that are constantly around each other and fighting for the top results, that will naturally cause at times maybe a bit more tension.

“Maybe a bit more interesting dynamics – within the races of course – and that’s also great for the neutral at home, for the fans,” added Webber.

The arrival of Russell, ambitious, likeable and a phenomenally good race driver at a very early stage of his career was expected to ruffle feathers in the Mercedes camp, but the young Englishman has been patient and biding his time, also expecting Hamilton to reload and come back stronger than ever.

Montoya: Lewis is in a different position in his career than George

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Miami Grand Prix ambassador Juan Pablo Montoya, speaking to VegasInsider about Mercedes and their two drivers, ahead of his ‘home’ race, said: “I think there’s no drama. Lewis is in a different position in his career than George and that makes a big, big difference.”

“The focus, at the team, at the moment, they’re not racing each other at all. They’re just trying to figure out the car. And I bet you they’re trying different setups and different things.”

“If they struggle on a weekend and it’s terrible, they’ll be like, ‘okay, we move on to the next one.'”

“A team like Mercedes that are used to winning races, if they finish fifth or ninth in a race, or ninth and 12th. Who cares? In the big picture, who cares?”

“What really matters is understanding what’s missing and figure it out and if they can understand what they need to do, it’ll make a big difference,” predicted Montoya, a seven-time Grand Prix winner.