How close is ambitious Hamilton now to F1 retirement?
Mar.24 - Sir Lewis Hamilton started the 2022 Formula 1 season with a third-place finish at the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix that seemed like a win for him and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. The result was obviously great for what the team had hoped for given the challenges with their 2022 challenger, the Mercedes W13. Still, the performance wasn't there throughout the middle part of the race to battle with the Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull, until Red Bull's reliability cost the Austrian team at least 27 points.
Hamilton celebrated on the radio along with his race engineer, Peter Bonnington, and sounded quite joyful throughout all weekend, despite knowing that it would've been near impossible to fight for a podium under normal circumstances, let alone fight for a win. The seven-time World Champion, who many believe should have at least eight titles after what happened in last year's end, has shown a relaxed and quite vibrant approach to this season, contradicting those who thought that he would've been out for revenge.
He has been quite calm throughout his career, apart from some moments of tense emotion on the radio and some tough comments to the press, but Lewis Hamilton seems to be enjoying every session, every moment around Formula 1. Could it be that he is realising that instead of counting one Grand Prix more on each weekend, he is counting one Grand Prix less? As in one closer to retirement? It could certainly be the case.
However, hearing him say how much he loves driving and winning (after all, he's won the joint-most titles and a record 103 races and isn't stopping yet), definitely puts into question how close retirement really is for Sir Lewis, who turned 37 years of age on January 7th and has kicked off his 16th Formula 1 season. He's now scored points in 250 of his 289 starts, while achieving a podium (his 183rd) for a 16th consecutive year, each of those being all-time records. You could question yourself what else does he need to prove in Formula 1, and certainly, there's nothing left. Hamilton only has challenges ahead and completing a resume that looks miles ahead of anything else we've seen in the sport (unless we look at five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio and his brilliant percentages in the 1950s).
Johnny Herbert, current Sky Sports F1 pundit and former Formula 1 Grand Prix winner was recently asked about Hamilton's approach to the 2022 Formula 1 season and if he expected 'revenge' from the seven-time World Champion. "Some people seem to think that because of what happened last year, Lewis is going to be particularly motivated to come back for revenge. That’s not Lewis’ way. Lewis is motivated to do the best he can at any given track at any part of the season", Herbert said in an interview with online betting site Betway.
Moreover, when asked about the GOAT debate in Formula 1 between the pair of seven-time World Champions (Michael Schumacher and Hamilton), Herbert was quick to also include Fangio in the mix, but stated that Hamilton could be ahead even without breaking the current Formula 1 record of seven World Championships.
"Ah, the old debate", Herbert said. "From my perspective, there are several drivers who could be considered, not just Lewis and Michael. Stirling Moss always said that it (the GOAT) was Juan Manuel Fangio.
One thing that probably gives Lewis the edge, even if he doesn’t win the eighth, is that he has to deal with everything else that comes with being a star now. Over a race weekend now, he’s doing numerous interviews, he’s got stars from the movie world, the music world and wherever else all around him, and that all adds to the pressure before those lights go out.
I remember when I did my first race in 1989 in Rio, I hadn’t gone through it. I didn’t know how to deal with the press, really.
Considering that, Lewis’ domination throughout this period has been so impressive. That will to win weekend after weekend, season after season.I never thought I’d see any driver match Michael’s Championship tally, I just didn’t think that was feasible.
I think there’s a fair argument that he (Hamilton) is already the best."
Hamilton has certainly been interested in what the FIA report had to say about the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the controversy from the former race director Michael Masi and his rule-breaking decision at the end of the race, but the Englishman has looked as invested as ever in the current season and in a great place (as he's been for years) with his own ability and personality.
For Herbert, Hamilton is as hungry as ever and we can only agree. In an era that has seen some all-time great athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and, mainly, Tom Brady defying all odds and the famous 'Father Time', along with Hamilton, we can only imagine the British legend perhaps extending his career beyond what he's stated many times. He's been clear about not competing beyond his 40th birthday in Formula 1, but it is certainly difficult to walk away while you're still worthy, and Hamilton looks as young and energized as ever.
At 289 Formula 1 starts, he looks younger lap after lap and faster corner after corner.
The highly rumoured retirement that could've abruptly arrived after Abu Dhabi didn't happen, and why would it arrive under different circumstances while he's still enjoying Formula 1 as much as ever?
Moreover, Herbert seems to have similar thoughts about that situation, at least looking at the 2022 F1 campaign.
"He (Hamilton) had that hunger in 2007 and he still has it now. It amazes me how receptive he is to learning, even as a seven-time champion. That said, I’m sure the way that Max is pushing him does help. It’s amazing, even for me as an ex-driver, to watch the way that these guys find ways to navigate their way through the season and adapt to different races.
Driving around Bahrain is one thing, but then going to Saudi Arabia, to Australia, back to Europe, and so on requires so much adaptability and concentration.
That’s the skillset that I think is going to make this Championship and I really hope that they both turn it on."
Seeing Tom Brady retire from the NFL at age 44 and un-retiring after only 40 days shows how tough it is to make such a decision while you can still perform at the highest of levels. Sir Lewis Hamilton could soon be faced with a similar challenge (although the one with the issues of the W13 will be the biggest challenge ahead) and it could determine if he'll really leave Formula 1 racing before his 40s or not.
The opinions expressed are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of F1-Fansite.com, staff or partners.
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