Formula 1 icon Nigel Mansell has proclaimed Hamilton to be ‘close to perfection’ following his performances over the course of 2014’s opening four Grands Prix.
Fellow Briton Hamilton has won three races in succession after a partial engine failure started off his season with a DNF in Australia.
With 3 pole positions and 3 wins under his belt, and Hamilton’s Mercedes package generally regarded as sitting more than half a second clear of the rest of the pack, chances of clinching a second world are already being spoken of. Hamilton’s first (and to date; only) world title came in 2008 – scarcely shy of half a decade ago.
“No driver ever wins a world title in a bad team, but what you can do is demonstrate how brilliantly you can win,” Mansell, 60, told BBC Sport. “Lewis has done that this season.”
Hamilton’s career has always been highlighted by superb demonstrations of exceptional racing and gutsy battles. The Brit emerged as a future star after narrowly missing out on the world title when he matched highly regarded team mate Fernando Alonso blow for blow in 2007.
Following the departure of Alonso and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen struggling to replicate his previous successes, the now-29-year-old driver won his maiden F1 championship the following year but has struggled to maintain momentum, failing to finish higher than fourth in the standings and suffering defeat in 2011 when team mate Jenson Button categorically bettered his fellow countryman.
However since leaving McLaren for Mercedes last year, a noticeably matured Hamilton has emerged, earning himself many plaudits for adopting a more controlled driving style whilst not hindering his racing ability and blistering pace.
“He has been close to perfection, just brilliant,” said Mansell, champion for Williams in 1992. “He has been given the freedom to express himself.
“When you get a few more wins under your belt, you get even more confidence and that gives you another half a second in your pocket.
“It doesn’t get any better than knowing you have a good car – it’s the most wonderful feeling.”
Hamilton trails Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who won in Australia and has since finished second to Hamilton on three consecutive occasions. The result of Rosberg’s consistency and Hamilton’s brilliance is a four points gap in the standings. If Hamilton is to win this weekend in Spain and Rosberg continues to complete Mercedes’ 1-2s, the gap will be reversed in favour of Hamilton – who would lead by 3 points.
The Mercedes drivers have dominated every race weekend between them so far this season, claiming every pole position, fastest lap and race win; leading to speculation of an imminent inter-team battle, and fallout to follow.
“They are the class act of the field in 2014,” added Mansell, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix. “I don’t see them dropping the ball.
“They’re not going to be unbeatable during the year, but I think it will be very hard to close the gap because of their superior engine performance.
“Lewis and Nico are going to have a tremendous time in 2014.”