British driver Lando Norris has backed Lewis Hamilton to bounce back from his disappointing start to the season.
Hamilton is already 57 points behind championship leader Charles Leclerc of Ferrari following the first four races.
The seven-time world champion finished a lowly 13th in Imola a fortnight ago, nine places behind Mercedes team-mate George Russell.
But speaking ahead of Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Norris insisted compatriot Hamilton (37) is not on the way out.
“I don’t believe he is because he is too talented and has too much skill,” said Norris.
“George is doing a very good job and to me that is no surprise or shock. I didn’t expect George to make a lot of mistakes and be way behind Lewis. I said last year that he would be competitive.
“So, that makes it look like a bigger gap than there is because George is doing a very good job. Of course, you never want to lose to your team-mate and even more so when you are a seven-time world champion.
“But you have to give him more time than just the first few races. In Imola it rained and it was difficult to race and overtake because there was one dry line so it wasn’t a true showing of what he could have done.”
Mercedes have carried Hamilton to six of his seven world titles, but the Briton is struggling to get on top of his under-performing machinery.
Norris added: “It must be a change for him, from driving the nicest car, one where you can be quick, and now having to think about things just a little bit more.
“I am sure he hasn’t been complacent and missed things but when you are one-and-a-half seconds off the pace you have to find everything possible.
“When you are half a second up you can afford to skip over things because you can win no matter what, but you cannot get away with that when you are fighting for 10th, 12th or 15th.”
Norris, 22, is enjoying another strong campaign, including an impressive third place last time out.
The podium finish moved Norris ahead of Hamilton to sixth in the standings. He has also amassed 24 more points than team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
“I would say Imola was one of my most complete weekends from start to finish,” said Norris.
“Of course we need a good car, but I still needed to do a good job and I took the opportunity last weekend to get a lap in qualifying in tricky conditions, and be ahead of quicker cars and then nail the start, stay out of the crashes and mistakes behind. These small things turn a bad weekend into an amazing weekend.”