Hamilton is enduring his most difficult start to an F1 season since 2009 with Mercedes’ current challenger proving difficult to tame.

Hamilton has struggled to adapt to the tricky handling of the Mercedes W13, while new teammate George Russell has fared better albeit on the right side of lady luck in the opening portion of the season.

 

Russell sits 34 points clear of his more experienced teammate in the drivers’ championship after finishing every race in the top five.

Conversely, Hamilton has finished in the top five on just three occasions but the points standings don’t tell the full story.

Hamilton would have finished on the podium in Australia had it not been for an untimely Virtual Safety Car period and his pace in Barcelona was sensational. 

Hamilton’s dip in results has led to some criticism from former teammate and F1 title rival Rosberg.

Hamilton and Rosberg spent four seasons together as teammates with the latter retiring after winning the 2016 title.

Speaking during the Monaco Grand Prix, Rosberg gave his thoughts on Hamilton’s current situation against Russell.

“It’s definitely a very tough situation for Lewis,” Rosberg said. “He’s won a race in every season of his career and it looks like maybe this will be the year when he can’t win anymore.

“You can see how the tension is rising and that’s natural. Lewis will obviously start to show those emotions a little bit. Nevertheless, with the experience he has, I think he will eventually manage to keep those under control. 

“Let’s not forget also Lewis hates ending up behind his teammate.

“Even if you’re 11th or 13th he really passionately hates coming in behind his teammate – it makes him very angry and that also happened at Imola in qualifying and the sprint race so it will put the tension up a lot, especially in the engineering room where Lewis will be pushing harder and harder. It will be interesting to watch how that unfolds.

“I’ve spoken to some people within Mercedes and they've been very positive about him. He’s super motivated, really pushing hard and let’s not forget he hates coming second. 

“He does not want to come second to Russell and that alone is a big, big motivator for Lewis.”

Rosberg also reacted to Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff’s apology to Hamilton for the “undriveable” car at the F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by saying: "[Mercedes are] taking the blame themselves and really trying to support Lewis mentally. Lifting him up and saying that it wasn't Lewis' doing, it's on us.

"It's very smart because it's not quite the truth and let's not forget that Russell is in P4 with that same car, so Lewis definitely had a big role to play in that poor result.”

Hamilton is F1’s most successful driver in terms of race victories, pole positions and podium finishes.

He also holds the record for winning in every season that he has participated in stretching back to 2007.

Nico Rosberg’s long history with Lewis Hamilton

Rosberg and Hamilton were childhood friends and intense rivals during their days in karting.

Starting in 2000 with Mercedes Benz McLaren in Formula A, Hamilton became European champion at Rosberg’s expense.

The duo would eventually make it to F1 with Rosberg making his debut with Williams in 2006, while Hamilton was propelled into race-winning machinery a year later with McLaren.

They would eventually share the same team as Hamilton replaced Michael Schumacher for 2013.

With Mercedes nailing the new engine regulations in 2014, Hamilton and Rosberg went head-to-head for three consecutive years.

Despite the title race going to the finale in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton claimed a deserved title before becoming a three-time F1 champion in 2015.

A resurgent Rosberg in 2016 saw him take the title, benefitting from some unfortunate reliability issues for Hamilton, particularly his cruel engine failure at the 2016 Malaysia Grand Prix.

Even so, some of Rosberg’s performances in the early part of the year and then in Baku and Singapore showed he was a worthy champion.

During their four years together, the duo collided on several occasions, most notably at the start of the 2016 Spanish GP when both cars crashed out.

“We made it extremely difficult,” Rosberg told Sky F1.

“It went to the point that we had a code of conduct, a paper, what we were allowed to do in a wheel-to-wheel battle, even penalties with a lot of zeros on them attached to that because there was no other way. It just got too heated and too extreme.”

Since Rosberg’s retirement at the end of 2016, their relationship has remained strained with the scars of those seasons still there.