Lewis Hamilton snubs Ferrari but backs McLaren to join Red Bull in title challenge

Lewis Hamilton compared to Schumacher by David Coulthard

Lewis Hamilton is hoping that McLaren’s switch to Mercedes power units next season can help propel them back into contention at the top of the Formula One tree alongside the Silver Arrows and Red Bull Racing. The historic British team has dropped Renault as its engine supplier after three years in favour of Mercedes, a pairing that has provided plenty of success in the past.

McLaren-Mercedes claimed three driver’s titles and one constructor’s championship between 1995 and 2014, with Hamilton winning his maiden championship with the team in 2008.

In recent seasons McLaren have enjoyed a period of rapid improvement, with the team clinching third place in the constructor’s standings this time around after finishing second from bottom three years ago.

They have a promising driver pairing lined up for next season, with former Red Bull and Renault star Daniel Ricciardo joining to compete alongside homegrown talent Lando Norris, who has made a huge impression since making the step up to Formula One for the 2019 campaign.

And Hamilton believes that the switch back to Mercedes power could be the change needed to spark a return to the top for the Woking-based outfit.

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“I’m really happy to see the McLaren so close, particularly with how they’ve got changes and they’re using our engine next year,” the seven-time world champion said.

“It’s great to see that at the end of the year with a good car so that they can perhaps be in the fight with us next year. If that makes it a three-way team championship, I think that would be amazing for the fans to see.”

Despite Hamilton’s words of encouragement, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl is not convinced that his team will challenge for the constructor’s title next season, instead urging them to continue their steady improvement over a number of years.

“I think the most important thing is to first of all see that the team this year, under the leadership of [technical director] James Key, has produced a very competitive car. It is a step forward compared to last year,” he told Autosport.

“It was great to see also that despite all these challenges in the pandemic, the team kept pushing flat out back home in engineering and in production to continuously bring updates to the track, which in the end kept improving the performance of the car.

“And of course it’s a great finish to the season, knowing that at this track, at this specific event, we had the third fastest car. But still, we know what the gap to Mercedes is. It is not something we will close from one year to the next year.

“We still know that we have a lot of deficits within the team in terms of organisation, in terms of infrastructure, which we need to close first. But again, we have a clear plan of how we want to reduce these deficits.

“It will take time. But I’m confident that if we do the right things on the team side, we can close these gaps in some years,” he added.

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