Lewis Hamilton finally looks like a man who has got his head back in the business of Formula One. Following a titanic battle between himself and Max Verstappen for the 2021 drivers title – which Hamilton lost due to poor team strategy; Lewis went dark for several weeks as his loyal fans waited to see whether he would walk away from the sport.
The British driver was out of contract at the end of that season and rumours he could walk away from the sport were fuelled by his team principal.
Hamilton not the same after 2021
Having lost a last lap shootout in Abu Dhabi which cost Hamilton the title, a sour sounding seven times world champion accused the FIA of “manipulating” the race result.
In reality his Mercedes teal failed to give Lewis fresh rubber as the a late safety car was deployed. Conversely Red Bull did pit Verstappen and when the race director indicated there would be a restart, it was a foregone conclusion Verstappen would breeze past his arch rival to claim the race victory and his first world championship.
Hamilton who regularly treats his millions of followers to updates on his life and mindset left social media. When asked during the winter break that year whether Lewis had quit F1, Toto Wolff spiced up the rumour mill by the issuing a classic denial followed by a vote of confidence in his star driver.
“I would very much hope that Lewis continues racing – because he is the greatest driver of all times… I think as a racer his heart will say he needs to continue.”
Lewis the GOAT?
Whilst Toto maybe biased, he is clearly wrong that Hamilton is the greatest driver of all time and there are strong arguments that he isn’t even the greatest Formula One driver of all time.
The greatest ever drivers competed across a number of top level motorsport categories and many aficionado’s believe Graham Hill is deserving the GOAT driver accolade for winning the F1 championship, the Indy500 and Le Mans in his racing career.
Of course Lewis has statistical records such as most poles and race wins in F1 together with equaling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 driver championships, but these are merely due longevity and the fact a modern F1 driver compared to one 25 years ago, races around 50% more each year and has greater opportunity to break these records.
Despite being the number one driver for Mercedes while they smashed the biggest winning streak ever seen in F1 as they claimed eight consecutive constrictor titles, Lewis was unable to dominate his inferior team mates as Schumacher did and now Verstappen is doing.
Verstappen already smashing F1 records
His run of consecutive victories in the sport is just five, while Verstappen is about to equal the record of nine set by his predecessor at Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel, if he wins next time out at his home race in Zandvoort.
Hamilton has a best of eleven wins in a season while Verstappen smashed this last year by claiming fifteen of the 22 races held.
The list goes on and by the end of 2023 it is like the Dutch driver will better Lewis’ in a host of other statistical ways.
Following the huge disappointment of 2021, Hamilton did sign eventually another two year contract with Mercedes but was soundly beaten by his new team mate over the 2022 season. This was just the third time in his career he had lost out over an entire year to a team mate.
Hamilton fits back against Russell
Yet Lewis has come back strongly this season. He has responded well to Mercedes’ decision to ditch their ‘zero pod’ car design introduced at the Monaco Grand Prix.
However, prior to this George Russell had set the standard for Mercedes. Having qualified well in Jeddah, Russell was too good for Lewis even though the safety car bucked up the pack.
The young Mercedes driver was having a particularly strong drive in Melbourne until reliability ruined his day. Russell was pushing Verstappen in the Sprint in Baku and again led Hamilton in Miami.
But since the arrival of the revised W14, Lewis has usually been the quicker of the two drivers claiming podiums in Spain and Canada and another, though with some fortune, at the British Grand Prix.
Brazil is Lewis last hope
Then Lewis pounced on a mistake from Verstappen who failed to improve during his final qualifying run in Hungary. Hamilton claimed his first pole for 33 races, a drought that ran for some 18 months.
However, the W14 is still way behind the RB19 which is the class of the field. The final race before the summer break in Belgium was surprisingly uninterrupted bu a safety car and Hamilton found himself almost 50 seconds behind the race winner Verstappen at the chequered flag.
Should the RB19 maintain his incredible reliability record there appears little hope Lewis will grab a win this year making it only the second season ever he failed to stand on the top step the podium.
Brazil may be his best hope given Mercedes have a history of performing well at the Interlagos circuit. But Red Bull will be wise to their tricks such as fitting a new power unit and even with a grid drop this delivers a significant performance advantage due to the altitude of the circuit.
Wolff whinges over Red Bull dominance
Hamilton and his boss Toto Wolff have recently been complaining that Red Bull and Verstappen are ruining the sport for fans who want to see tight battles for race wins.
Red Bull currently have won 12 from 12 races this season and in Belgium Wolff was asked whether it reminded him of Mercedes’ previous dominance.
“But at least we had two cars that were fighting each other so that caused a little bit of entertainment for everyone. That’s not the case at the moment,” complained Toto.
Hamilton too has been sounding off to the media over the Red Bull current dominance which appears set for the remainder of this stable FIA regulation period until the new power units arrive in 2026.
Hamilton wants FIA to stop Red Bull
After the second race of the year in Jeddah when Lewis was lapped by Verstappen he told the assembled media out chequered flag, “When we were fast, we weren’t that fast. That’s the fastest car I’ve seen compared to the rest.”
Then in Austria Lewis complained that Red Bull had so much in hand they were already working on their car for 2024. He argued the FIA should regulate to prevent this in future.
“If everyone had a time, say August 1, to start on the next car, no-one has a head start and then it’s a real race and maybe that would help everyone be closer the following year,” he suggested.
When asked about Hamilton’s comments in the FIA press conference the world champion laughed off suggestion.
Verstappen laughs of Hamilton hypocrisy
“We weren’t talking about that when he was winning his championships, right? So I don’t think we should now.
“It’s normal of course people behind say these kind of things but they should also not forget when they were winning how it was looking…”
Lewis repeated complaints over how far Red Bull are ahead of the field has now attracted attention from former F1 driver and Indy500 winner who believes Lewis’ is being hypocritical.
Indy500 winner mocks Lewis short memory
“It’s very cool to complain when you are not winning,” said Juan Pablo Montoya speaking to Columbia’s Semana.
“But when he was winning, he said that the car had no advantage but the advantage Mercedes had was just as big.
“I don’t want to say that Hamilton is not good, he is a very good driver but the reality of this sport is that you have to be in the best car.”
Hamilton is expected to announce a new contract with Mercedes but whether they can give him a title winning car again, is another question.
Yuki worked SO hard for that final point! 🥵
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 31, 2023