Thierry Boutsen names one F1 driver only giving ‘98%’ effort this season

Former F1 driver Thierry Boutsen says one of the top drivers on the 2024 grid has been guilty of ‘giving up’ on a few occasions this season. Boutsen competed in 163 Grands Prix between 1983 and 1993, winning three and taking 15 podiums.


The Frenchman raced for five teams, including the iconic Benetton and Williams outfits, and partnered the likes of Gerhard Berger and Rubens Barichello during his career. Speaking to Planet F1, he named one F1 star who has lost some of his fight.

There are a couple of big-name drivers who have yet to beat their teammate to the chequered flag in any race this season. One of them is Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who’s only four points ahead of Carlos Sainz in the championship despite the Spaniard’s health-related absence from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.


Sainz passed Leclerc en route to third place at the season-opening Bahrain GP, then led a Ferrari one-two at the Australian Grand Prix. Last time out in Japan, he comfortably out-qualified the 26-year-old and once again completed the podium behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.


While he may be one of the in-form drivers on the grid, Sainz is actually leaving Ferrari at the end of the season. That’s because seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has signed with the team for 2025.

Thierry Boutsen says top driver isn’t giving everything this year

Ahead of that move to the Prancing Horse, Boutsen says that Hamilton is operating below ‘100%’. He reckons it was telling that, in the early stages in Suzuka, the 39-year-old offered to let teammate George Russell past.


Hamilton was struggling with understeer after sustaining minor damage, and suggested that he move aside for Russell, who ultimately finished seventh as he had to settle for ninth. The 103-time winner is now losing 3-0 in the race head-to-head (both drivers retired in Australia) and 3-1 in qualifying.

Boutsen said: “I don’t think he’s moving on from Mercedes. But I see that, with all his experience and his age, it’s a little bit more difficult to give it 100 percent.


“Maybe he’s only driving at 98 percent. We saw it during the race when he asked whether he should let George past him. A few years back, he would have been fighting like hell to stay ahead of him.


“Now, when it gets worse like this one, he gets in a bad situation and he just gives up and gives Russell a chance to be better than him and to help the team to be better because he feels that he’s not in a position – or not capable – to perform as well, for whatever reason.”


Lewis Hamilton struggling ahead of Ferrari move

Hamilton is adamant that he remains fully committed to the team, but he’s already come in for his fair share of criticism amid his struggles on track. Russell has had to hit back at David Coulthard’s claims that the man on the other side of the garage has mentally checked out.


Another ex-F1 driver, Marc Surer, believes the former McLaren ace ‘has a problem’ when he’s not driving the very ‘best’ cars, while Russell has been able to adapt. Other pundits have noted changes in Hamilton’s demeanour, with Karun Chandhok pointing out that he looked ‘despondent’ in Australia.


Meanwhile, Bernie Collins has suggested that Ferrari may be questioning their call to drop Sainz for the Englishman. While this partly reflects the electric form of the 29-year-old, Hamilton’s woes may also be a factor.

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