Abu Dhabi: Former F1 driver Eddie Jordan has tipped Lewis Hamilton to transform Mercedes like Michael Schumacher did Ferrari when he moves from McLaren at the end of the season.
Hamilton, 27, agreed to the shock £60 million (Dh354.8 million) move last month, ending 14-year association with McLaren, whom he joined from karting in 1998 and where he won the F1 world title a decade later.
While some have questioned the move to a lesser team, which has won just one race win this season to McLaren’s five, Jordan has spoken out in support of the 2008 world titlist and his new Mercedes team.
“We have to look at what Schumacher did when he left Benetton and went to Ferrari [in 1996],” Jordan told Gulf News.
“He brought in a whole new sphere, new people, a different set-up and he also brought targets and evaluations.
“When you continually put the bar up on a high jump people perform. Who was to say at the time Schumacher would go on to win so many world championships for Ferrari? And who is to say Hamilton can’t do the same?”
Jordan added: “He’s been the prodigal son at McLaren and I’m sure it was deeply hurtful for them that he’s leaving but sometimes leaving is the right thing to do. Maybe he’ll come back stronger in the future, who knows what will happen.
“McLaren is a fine team and Hamilton is a fine driver. If they had stayed together it would have been brilliant, but they are going to part. He believes rightly or wrongly that the time he spent at McLaren is now at an end. He’s moved on to new, and what he considers to be, better things.
“He has to consider his obligations to his own career and his future and whether or not he can win another championship. I believe he can. He’s an outstanding talent. There’s no doubt about what he can do in a car.”
Speaking of Hamilton’s immediate writing-off of the 2013 season, granting the Briton a settlingp-in period, Jordan added: “Racing drivers have a natural habit of trying to divert attention and the attention has been on him a long time. But when he says he can’t win next year in a Mercedes I don’t believe a word of it.
“I believe he will gather around him, just like Schumacher did, high quality people and he will inject into Mercedes a new sense of priority and a new sense of drive and total competition. Will he win races next year? No doubt about it.”