Hamilton has always explained his disinterest in using Mercedes’ simulator, saying he only drives 20 laps per year on it, but some of his rivals including Max Verstappen have taken virtual racing to another level.

Hamilton, who at 38 is an older generation that the current crop, might be at a disadvantage because of the youngsters’ embracing sim racing, Herbert thinks.

Why have Mercedes & Red Bull dominated F1 so much?

“The biggest difference now is that the majority of the young generation of great drivers on the grid have something that Lewis has never been comfortable with and want to put all their energies in, which is the sim stuff,” said Herbert to the Evening Standard.

“It adds a sixth sense.

“George has been able to challenge him and put him under a lot of pressure.

“George is going to be tough for Max Verstappen when he gets the right car. I think Lando Norris is the same given the right car.”

Verstappen’s love of gaming saw him equip his motorhome with a state-of-the-art simulator.

Hamilton has been out-performed by Mercedes teammate Russell since the beginning of 2022 when the major issues with the team’s car first arose.

The seven-time world champion did not a win a single race last season for the first time in his career, and watched on as Russell claimed Mercedes’ sole victory.

How much of Russell’s talent is down to sim racing? It’s probably very unfair to diminish his expertise at the real thing in any way. 

But it is clear that sim racing is here to stay and could help to forge more world champions in the future, even if Hamilton isn’t among them.