Lewis Hamilton has had the most torrid time of his F1 career over the past few months. Having lost the last lap shootout in Abu Dhabi to claim a record 8th drivers’ title, he now is suffering with a terrible Mercedes car and being beaten soundly by his new young gun team mate.
To add insult to injury, Hamilton was lapped by his title rival from 2021 in the latest round of the championship in Imola.
Following the season decider in Abu Dhabi, Toto Wolff claimed, “Lewis Hamilton will never recover from the pain,” and the downbeat media interviews he has given this season appear to bear this out.
Yet it’s a similar pain Lewis inflicted on Felipe Massa when winning his first title with McLaren. Another last lap decider where the Brazilian crossed the line as champion but Hamilton passing Timo Glock on the last corner reversed the result in his favour.
Lewis appears lost in the Mercedes W13. Beaten by his team mate in 4 out of the 5 races (inc sprint) this season. His loss of confidence in the 2022 Mercedes is apparent for all to see.
F1 journalist Alberta Fabrega sent F1 fans into a frenzy of speculation following his claim to have insider knowledge that “the [driver] market is moving and something is happening”, adding: “I am not surprised by those who leave, but I am surprised by those who arrive. Well, it is a change of drivers between teams.”
Social media was then rife with speculation that Hamilton is leaving. Yet the reality is the British champion is going nowhere. Red Bull and Ferrari seats are locked down for at least two seasons and Mercedes is still Lewis’ best bet when they sort out the car for a race win this season.
There’s little point Hamilton going to any of the other teams, but the mental strain of the past few months could see him decide he just wants to retire.
Again, this writer thinks this option seems unlikely as it would play to Lewis’ detractor’s claims he can only compete when the car is better than the rest of the field. Better suck it up like other ageing champions and be gracious towards young George.
Mika Hakkinen claimed this weekend that Hamilton will be “weighing up his options” but Lewis has dismissed this as “nonsense”.
Who the driver ‘leaving’ according to Fabrega, is anyone’s guess. Though the return of Kevin Magnussen to Haas has exposed Mick Schumacher as a fairly ordinary driver.
Haas have significantly benefitted from ditching their Russian ‘spinmeister’ for KMag and maybe Gene believes the team would be better served replacing Schumacher with another experienced driver.