Hamilton missing out on sim racing 'sixth sense' - Herbert

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 in the pits while the race is stopped. 02.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
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Former F1 driver and Sky Sports F1 pundit Johnny Herbert reckens that the tide is finally turning on the last of the old school drivers including Lewis Hamilton, who didn't go sim racing while rising through the ranks.

Hamilton is currently not the force he once was up to 2021, when he was finally pipped to the world championship by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Noticeably he's also been unable to wipe the floor with George Russell, who joined Mercedes as his team mate at the start of 2022 and has been able to go consistently toe-to-toe with the seven time world champion ever since.

Russell beat Hamilton in last year's drivers championship, although in part that was due to Hamilton taking on more of the research and development role trying to improve the problematic W13 while Russell settled in at Brackley.

But this year the two drivers are considered very much equals. Russell finished ahead of Hamilton in Saudi Arabia and was leading the Australian GP until an ill-timed pit stop followed by a power unit failure put him on the sidelines.

Herbert says the reason why Hamilton is finding it harder to beat younger rivals such as Verstappen, Russell, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris is because the new generation are so involved in sim racing.

Paddock atmosphere - Esports F1 simulator. 11.07.2019. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, Preparation Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“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," Herbert explained.

"[They have something they] want to put all their energies in, which is the sim stuff," Herbert told the London Evening Standard newspaper this week. “It adds a sixth sense.

“George has been able to challenge [Lewis] and put him under a lot of pressure," he added. “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.”

Herbert's comments echo those of former world champion Damon Hill who speculated this week that Hamilton's "instinctive, unconscious speed" had started to wane in recent months.


Sim racing came of age in the first half of 2020 when the COVID pandemic struck and motorsport was forced into lockdown along with the rest of the world.

A number of F1 drivers including Russell and Norris enthusiastically embraced the chance to go sim racing online to keep them sharp as they waited for the delayed season to eventually get underway.

Verstappen is another, having recently incorporated a state-of-the-art gaming rig in his brand new luxury motorhome that he uses for traveling to and from Grand Prix races in Europe.

But Hamilton is not among them, having previously shown a dislike to use even the official Mercedes simulator back at the team base, preferring to leave that side of development work to the squad's reserve drivers.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his second position in parc ferme with Kylie Minogue (AUS) Singer and Kelly Slater (USA) Surfer. 02.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

"I never drive simulators, very, very rarely," he said in an interview in 2020. "I don’t find personally any benefit doing the simulation thing.

"The actually fun gaming side of things - when you get to play with friends and people online - that’s a plus," he acknowledged.

Given his resistance to sim racing, it's perhaps no coincidence that Hamilton has been without a race win in over a year for the first time in his F1 career, since losing his chance of taking the 2021 title in Abu Dhabi.

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