Former F1 driver Romain Grosjean believes that Sir Lewis Hamilton would “never have been able to fight for points” if he drove last year’s Haas car.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton has often had to contend with such remarks, where critics point to his superior car as the differentiating factor. His driving ability gets little credit as a result.
While there is nothing new in such a jibe, George Russell’s performance in the Sakhir Grand Prix last season has provided an additional element in this debate.
Russell swapped his Williams car with the W11 in Hamilton’s absence and did no disservice to his growing reputation as one of the finest young drivers in the sport.
A tyre mix up at the end may well have cost him a golden chance at winning the race. He was in P1 at the time. A puncture later on derailed his chances further as he finished the race in 9th spot.
It aided critics’ view that Hamilton’s car was largely responsible for Hamilton’s success. Grosjean sees things no differently.
“Hamilton would never have been able to fight for points in last year’s Haas car either. A lot depends on the car you drive. That makes it difficult to compare drivers with each other,” he told RacingNews365.
“(Charles) Leclerc, for example, in my opinion also drove a good 2020 season, but because his car was not good enough it didn’t quite come out. Russell is perhaps the clearest example that proves that the car ultimately makes the difference.”
As it panned out, the error in the Mercedes camp allowed another driver to prosper. It was Carlos Sainz who made the most of this golden opportunity.
At the time, Perez did not have a team lined up for the 2021 season. Racing Point, now taken over by Aston Martin, had already agreed to replace him with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
‘Happy to see Sainz at Red Bull’
Perez managed to earn himself a seat as a result, with Red Bull offering him a deal. Grosjean said he expected Perez to prosper at his new team.
“I think it’s great that he’s getting a chance there. I’m very happy for him and I’m convinced that he will do well in a top team,” he said.
“It’s his second chance at a top team, after his time at McLaren, but now it’s different. He is really ready now to put his cards on the table.”
Grosjean may feature in IndyCar this season, with team owner Dale Coyle publicly admitting interest in the French driver.