Lewis Hamilton is confident he will be in the mix for a first win of the season at Sunday's French Grand Prix, claiming Mercedes' struggles will make their next victory all the more satisfying.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton sits sixth in the 2022 drivers' standings, having failed to post a race win since losing the 2021 title to Max Verstappen in contentious circumstances.

The Mercedes star has been in improved form of late, however, recording three successive podiums after a run of seven outings without a top-three finish.

Having been badly affected by issues with the Silver Arrows' W13 car earlier this season, the 37-year-old is hopeful of a landmark success at Le Castellet on Sunday, in what will be his 300th Formula One race.

Asked if he had a realistic chance of victory in France, Hamilton said: "I hope so, that's what we're all working towards.

"I'm working towards getting that win so I do believe at some stage we will be able to compete with these guys, whether it's this weekend or in five races' time. The journey is the important part.

"I think we started off not where we wanted to be. We've made progress, and we've started to hit a patch of consistency. I'm really proud of the process. We've sharpened our tools in other areas, so when we do get back to where we deserve to be, I think we'll appreciate it that much more."

Hamilton has named Fernando Alonso as the toughest opponent of his career to date, as he professed his hope the 40-year-old, who has put together a run of six successive top-10 finishes with Alpine, will continue in Formula One for years to come.

"I think it's difficult to say who has necessarily been the strongest competitor because every time you're with someone, you're in a different place in your life," Hamilton said.

"I remember the task of being alongside Fernando when I was 22. I was so young mentally and, of course, OK in terms of skill, but it's a lot of pressure to go up against a great like Fernando.

"I would say on pure pace, Fernando [is the toughest]. We had some good battles.

"I wish we could have more. Hopefully he will continue to race, so hopefully we'll have more in the future."