Just as they did in 2022, Mercedes have started the new season well off the pace and do not currently have a car that can compete for victories or world championships.

Why are Mercedes going backwards in F1 2023?

Hamilton has taken the Silver Arrows’ only podium so far this season and sits 16 points and two positions ahead of Russell in the drivers’ standings after the first five races. 

However, Russell, who unexpectedly outperformed Hamilton in his first season with Mercedes, has out-qualified the seven-time world champion four times already. 

Assessing the current state of play between the Mercedes teammates, Coulthard told Channel 4: “This is the best car that George has ever driven, remember he was at Williams, this is not the best car that Lewis has ever driven. 

“His mind is in a different place, the car isn’t talking to him, playing to his strengths and you can see he is fighting it out there, it’s just not stable.  

“So you have two drivers at different phases of their career. The mighty Lewis is still in there, it just won’t really show itself until the Mercedes is as mighty as it once was.”

Hamilton has faced questions over his F1 future with his current Mercedes contract expiring at the end of the year. 

The 38-year-old has reiterated that he has no plans to leave Mercedes despite the team’s failure to provide him with a front-running car for two seasons on the trot. 

“George is just sort of constantly there,” Coulthard added. “This is the best car he’s ever driven, so he’s not caught up with the baggage of Lewis trying to figure it out, ‘am I re-signing for another year?’ ‘Can I win another world championship?’ So there’s a lot more on his plate. 

“George is doing a brilliant job, [he is an] absolute asset for the team.

“That’s not to say Lewis isn’t doing a brilliant job, it just means that the car isn’t talking to him right now and when it does, expect him to be showing George why he won seven world championships.”