Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says he is "sad" to see former team McLaren struggling at the back of the grid, but is confident that it can bounce back once its power unit woes are resolved.

Hamilton raced for McLaren between 2007 and 2012, claiming his first F1 drivers' title with the British team back in 2008, marking its most recent championship success.

McLaren currently sits at the foot of the constructors' championship, having failed to score any points through the opening four rounds of the year amid ongoing problems with its Honda power unit.

"They have a place in my heart, I was with them for so long so it's definitely sad to see such a great team not be at the top," Hamilton said.

"Often there are things out of our control and then there are often things that are in our control that are set from decisions, ultimately, groups or individuals make those decisions. They are now I think trying to make steps and decisions and move the team in the right direction."

McLaren has recently undergone a number of changes, with former CEO Ron Dennis - an instrumental figure in Hamilton's early career - being replaced by American businessman Zak Brown at the helm of the company.

While Hamilton hopes the changes can give McLaren the boost it needs to get back to the front of the pack in F1, he stressed that it must not lose its identity in the process.

"They've had changes in management and all sorts of things, but the most important thing for me is that McLaren don't lose the core heart and soul of what the team was all about from when I loved them, before I joined them and when I was racing with them," Hamilton said.

"I really hope that they find their way back to fighting ways, because it would be great. They've not won a race since I left, but I think they can do as soon as they figure out their power unit situation and also their car, I think they can globally move forwards."

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