Lewis Hamilton is statistically Formula One’s most successful driver. Whilst he failed to beat Michael Schumacher’s record of 7 driver championships in the Abu Dhabi shootout in 2021, his time at Mercedes has seen him shatter a multiplicity of other records. Yet this season he is being out classed by his junior team mate George Russell.
Despite Hamilton’s P3 podium in the 2022 Canadian GP, he is 34 points behind team mate Russell after 9 of 22 rounds and will find it a struggle to best George by the end of the season.
Lewis has struggled more than Russell with the Mercedes AMG F1 W13 car this year regularly complaining “It’s the worst car I’ve driven”.
Yet George Russell in the same car is the only driver to finish each of the 9 races in 2022 in the top 5, whilst Hamilton has repeatedly languished outside the points.
Lewis has failed to win any of his last 10 races which equals the longest drought in his career and is currently 98 points behind his 2021 rival Max Verstappen.
There have been rumours fuelled by Hamilton that he will retire from the sport. The latest in Canada where he suggested he would not renew his contract to race beyond 2023 unless the current F1 car design regulations were altered.
Like Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso it is highly probable Hamilton will find the adjustment from winning serial championships too much and at least ‘take a break’.
He may find the 2026 car and engine design regulations due more to his suiting and his contract with Mercedes AMG F1 runs only to the end of 2023.
If Hamilton took a two year break before the new regulations come into force he would emulate the like Schumacher and Alonso and possibly present Lewis with a new perspective.
Maybe it’s worth being part of F1 even if you can’t win weekend after weekend.
Toto Wolff intimated last winter that Hamilton had grown “disillusioned” with Formula One following the controversial decisions during the last race that denied him a record 8th drivers’ title.
Coming from a high of winning race after race and title after title Hamilton does appear subdued this season with only glimpses of optimism when he has a good weekend.
Jackie Stewart waded into the debate this week and believes Hamilton should retire for good.
“It’s time for him to resign,” said the former triple champion.
“He’s got music, he’s got culture, he loves clothing and the rag trade would be absolutely suitable for him. I’m sure he’ll be very successful because he’s been earning a huge amount of money — rightfully so because he’s been the best of his time.”
Stewart places Hamilton in the panacea of F1 greats telling the Convex podcast, ‘Lewis is in that group of the Ayrton Sennas and the Alain Prosts — or even the Jackie Stewarts maybe.”
Jackie Stewart concurs with Helmut Marko’s suggestion that Lewis should have quit at the end of last season.
‘It’s a pity he wasn’t resigning at the top but I don’t think that’s going to happen now.”
Hamilton clearly isn’t doing to be provided with a car to win a championship this year and probably next – and who knows how long it will take Mercedes to be top of the pile again.
“But nevertheless it’s wiser to stop than go through all the pain of not being able to do what you did before,” advises Stewart.
“He’s carried the sport well. I’d like to see him resigning now.”
F1 Champions Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve have previously questioned whether Lewis Hamilton should continue in F1 but clearly Lewis presently believes in he might achieve the record breaking 8th drivers’ championship.
Should George Russell beat Hamilton soundly this season and Lewis again struggle in 2023. It is surely realistic Hamilton will retire come the end of his contract and at least take a sabbatical in 2024-25 until the next new regulations come into force.
The demise of another ‘black icon’ springs to mind, as Tiger Woods fell from his omnipotent throne and has struggled for year after year to regain a semblance of his former glory.
Lewis Hamilton needs to answer the question to himself. How does he wast to be remembered?
In days of F1 yore, drivers became legends because they gave their lives chasing the F1 dream. Hamilton has reached the pinnacle of the sport and most probably the only way is down.