Motor racing-Hamilton asked himself 'is it me or is it the car?'

Formula One F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - November 26, 2023 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton before the race REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/ File photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has admitted to moments of self doubt after the 38-year-old Mercedes driver's second successive Formula One season without a win.

Speaking to the BBC and others in an interview published on Wednesday, the seven-times world champion and most successful driver in the sport's history with a record 103 wins said it was normal to ask such questions.

"When you have difficult seasons like this, there are always going to be moments when you're like: 'Is it me, or is it the car? Do you still have it? Has it gone?'," said the Briton, who ended the season third overall.

"Because you're missing that, you know... when the magic happens, when everything comes together, the car and you, and that spark, it's extraordinary. And that's what you're in the search for.

"I'm only human," he added. "If anyone in the world tells you they don't have those things, they're in denial. We're all human beings."

Hamilton last won a race in Saudi Arabia in December 2021 when he was battling Red Bull's Max Verstappen for the title, with the Dutch driver ultimately prevailing in controversial circumstances in Abu Dhabi.

Verstappen and his team won both titles last year and have enjoyed the most dominant season ever this season, Red Bull winning 21 of 22 races and the now triple champion a record 19 of them.

Hamilton said he knew it would be another tough year before it had even started when he tested the car and it felt no different.

The Briton was complaining already at the opening race in Bahrain that Mercedes were on the wrong track and had not listened to him.

The team, who still ended the year second overall, have since changed concept for 2024 with team boss Toto Wolff saying in Abu Dhabi last weekend that almost every component was being changed.

"I do believe we have a North Star now, which I don't think we've had for two years. But still getting there is not a straight line," said Hamilton.

"I think we understand the car so much better. They have developed great tools in the background. So, naturally, I'm hopeful. But I'm not going to hold my breath."

Hamilton signed a new contract in August and running to the end of 2025, meaning he will race on into his 40s if he sees it out.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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