July 16, 2024
LEWIS HAMILTON

Lewis Hamilton once believed he would see his Formula one career out with the Mercedes team which provided six of his seven world titles. The most decorated British driver ever spoke of a multi-year contract with reporters at the 2022 USA Grand Prix in Austin.

“In terms of my plans for the future, each year, at the end of the year, you sit there and you’re looking over whatever view you have, and you’re sitting there trying to figure out and analyse like my next three-to-five-year plan. It’s difficult to do ten.”

Lewis Hamilton “Mercerdes forever”
“My goal is to continue to be with Mercedes,” continued Hamilton. “I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13. Mercedes-Benz is my family. They’ve stuck with me through thick and thin, they stuck with me through being expelled at school. They stuck with me through everything that was going on through 2020.

“They’ve stuck me through my mistakes, and shit that’s been in the press, they’ve stuck with me through the ups and downs. And so I really believe in this brand, I believe in the people that are within the organisation.”

In a separate interview that year, Hamilton had made it patently clear he was silver arrows for the rest of his driving days. “I plan on staying longer. It’s just not set in stone how long. I plan on staying with Mercedes for the rest of my life, that’s a definite,”

But when the deal was announced last September it was just for two years, as we were led to believe. In fact Lewis realising he was not going to get a blank chequebook over when he stopped racing for Mercedes, ensured he could leave after just one year knowing Ferrari were waiting in the wings.

Russell has the beating of Lewis
At the time Hamilton’s new Mercedes deal was announced, TJ13 noted the disconnect at the contract extension announcement as Hamilton was keen to insist, this would not be his last F1 drivers’ contract.

Yet behind the scenes Mercedes was looking to the future and with star junior driver Kimi Antonelli waiting in the wings, the team was not prepared to give Hamilton longer than the two seasons it would take to get the young Italian up to F1 speed.

Despite Fernando Alonso proving an F1 driver can compete at their best well into their 40’s, Hamilton has experienced a difficult couple of years since his new team mate George Russell arrived. Russell finishes ahead of Hamilton in their first season together and whilst Lewis returned the favour last year there were signs towards the end of the campaign that Russell was once again the dominant partner.

Once the maestro of one lap pace, Hamilton is now struggling to overcome Russell. From the Las Vegas weekend to the 2024 Chinese GP, Russell finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton six times from seven in Grand Prix qualifying. Lewis has faired no better in the seven Grand Prix, coming home behind Russell in each race with the exception of Las Vegas.

Hamilton “extreme” experimentation
Lewis has been developing narrative this season based around the fact his W15 car is so poor, he is having to make wild setup changes in an attempt to find a better balance. Yet his former engineer from their days at McLaren together now claims this is merely an excuse from the former world champion.

Marc Priestly now explains what he believes is behind the extreme setup efforts Hamilton insists he needs to try. After a second place finish in the Shanghai Sprint, Lewis went on to change his setup for the afternoon’s Grand Prix qualifying session and crashed out of Q1 with a start position of P18.

“Why is he is experimenting? What is all of that about?” Priestley questioned in a post on his YouTube channel.

“I think the point is, first of all they are desperate. They have a car that just isn’t working and they are really struggling to get anything out of it.”

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Lewis needs some kind of win
Priestly argues Hamilton has not checked out already, as some suggest, but he is desperate in his final season with Mercedes to finish on some kind of a positive note. “He knows he’s not going to win the championship, but he does want to try and unlock something that will give him a chance to perform,” Priestly believes.

“He’s not just checking out already and desperate to leave. I think they’ll be a huge amount of frustration, but I think he genuinely would love to find a way to turn that car into some kind of good result.”

“That is effectively what he is trying to do here. Go in a completely different direction. One end of a spectrum if you like, when it comes to set-up changes, in the hope, a massive gamble, that it might do something.”

Lewis is enduring his worst start to an F1 season ever in his career and there seems little to suggests he is about to turn it around any time soon. Priestly believes this is another reason for the aggressive experimentation on Hamilton’s side of the garage.

Lewis Hamilton “excuses”
“I think there’s also a little part of this when it comes to Lewis that he is struggling,” he added.

“He is being beaten by George Russell on a consistent basis now and if you say you are going to do some massive experiment and gamble on things like set-up, it takes a little bit of the pressure off.

“I don’t want to say the word excuses, I don’t want to suggest it’s just giving him excuses to not perform, but to some extent it does do that. It takes a little bit of the pressure off if you are being beaten.”

Priestly goes on to say it gives Lewis a “reason, or an explanation for why your car isn’t working and why your performance isn’t matching that of your teammate.

Lewis is “desperate”
“Lewis is a very experienced guy, seven-time world champion, perhaps he doesn’t need to prove anything at all. But that’s perhaps one of the things that might be going into this decision-making process.

“We’ll see if that continues to happen. But this is a team that is desperate, a driver that’s desperate and I think that is why these kind of things are happening.”

George Russell is one of very few drivers to win F3 and F2 in consecutive seasons, another being Charles Leclerc who will be Hamilton’s team mate next year at Ferrari.

If Hamilton is struggling to beat his current team mate, his life will not get any easier when he joins the Scuderia next season.

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