Lewis Hamilton: Why the Mercedes F1 driver is right to consider extending his career and the key factors ahead

Following Lewis Hamilton’s recent admission that he was thinking of extending his contract with Mercedes, which expires at the end of 2023, Sky Sports F1 pundit Mark Hughes discusses the motivating factors and why Hamilton can wait before the final decision

Last update: 08/23/22 6:01 pm


Lewis Hamilton has previously admitted that he has seriously considered retirement for a number of years. But each time, he has renewed.

However, during his recent vanity fair interview, he turned it around and said, “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about extending it. As if the default assumption now is that he will retire at the end of his current contract, which runs until the end of 2023, but that he is considering not doing so. It is a subtly different position.

How long could it go on? Physically, many years yet.

Fernando Alonso has this year demonstrated the folly of the previously widely held assumption that racing drivers’ performance will invariably decline physically if they continue to hit their 30s or early 40s. It was always nonsense.

With a few exceptions, it is invariably depleted motivation after long years of work that can begin to dampen the inner desire to push as hard as the young loader looking to make a name for himself. Alonso is still highly motivated, as is Hamilton, four years younger than Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton said he is feeling very excited for the second half of the season after finishing P2 at the Hungarian GP.

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Lewis Hamilton said he is feeling very excited for the second half of the season after finishing P2 at the Hungarian GP.

Lewis Hamilton said he is feeling very excited for the second half of the season after finishing P2 at the Hungarian GP.

If you can retain that inner desire, there’s no reason you can’t access your extraordinary abilities as effectively as ever for years to come.

Hamilton has a keen sense of narrative for the history of his own career. He sees it in very personal terms as a triumph against adversity. His entire career has indeed been a truly magnificent triumph over so many initial obstacles; a black kid from a council state is not the usual starting point of a career in F1.

Even if he had retired 10 years ago with only his only world title from McLaren and never sat in a dominant Mercedes, he would still be one of the true greats of the sport; one of the best drivers F1 has never seen. But beyond his level as a driver, his stature as a sporting icon – in terms of the inspiration of black culture that represents his success, the opening of the sport to a huge section of the population that was previously neither interested nor engaged – makes him possibly the biggest of all.

Some exciting racing saw Lewis Hamilton finally overtake Charles Leclerc for third place at Silverstone.

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Some exciting racing saw Lewis Hamilton finally overtake Charles Leclerc for third place at Silverstone.

Some exciting racing saw Lewis Hamilton finally overtake Charles Leclerc for third place at Silverstone.

That stature has only been emphasized by the record success achieved after switching to Mercedes. The stature he had already achieved within the sport, his reputation purely as a driver, prior to that change, would come to be equaled or even surpassed by the statistics made possible by that move.

The events of Abu Dhabi 2021, when on the cusp of what would have been an unprecedented eighth world title, misapplication of sporting rules saw him denied, still weigh heavily on him, as he confirmed in the recent interview. With this being followed by his first non-competitive car in 13 years, which prevents him from “talking on the track,” as he likes to say, he’s probably just building up that inner desire and motivation.

Toto Wolff was delighted with Lewis Hamilton securing P2 at the Hungarian GP but was quick to point out that Mercedes is not yet where it wants to be.

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Toto Wolff was delighted with Lewis Hamilton securing P2 at the Hungarian GP but was quick to point out that Mercedes is not yet where it wants to be.

Toto Wolff was delighted with Lewis Hamilton securing P2 at the Hungarian GP but was quick to point out that Mercedes is not yet where it wants to be.

Will F1’s key regulation change have anything to say about Hamilton’s future?

That is Hamilton’s backdrop to Mercedes’ progress since the start of the season and its prospects for the rest of it.

There has been a lot of progress since the W13 earlier in the season, which was often a second or more off the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull. With a rather different upper body aerodynamic concept than those cars, its larger exposed floor area was effectively an overhang, making it much more difficult to control. Later, the limitations in the mechanical aspects of the suspension became apparent when controlling the car’s drive.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen says he prefers the challenge from Ferrari's Charles Leclerc over last season's rivalry with Lewis Hamilton, adding the drivers are from

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen says he prefers the challenge from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc over last season’s rivalry with Lewis Hamilton, adding the drivers are from “different generations”.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen says he prefers the challenge from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc over last season’s rivalry with Lewis Hamilton, adding the drivers are from “different generations”.

It then became clear that Ferrari and Red Bull had interpreted the rules regarding mounting the plate under the floor differently and allowed the plate to sink deeper into the ground when it hit the ground, giving a damping effect to the ride.

From Spa this weekend, that interpretation will no longer be considered valid. If, as other teams believe, that mounting method would make a 5-6mm lower rear ride height feasible, it would potentially be worth around 0.2-0.3 seconds of lap time. The Mercedes, despite taking pole in Hungary due to a favorable set of circumstances (no healthy Red Bulls in Q3, Ferrari outside the tire temperature window), was still around 0.5sec off the pace. end beat.

England's Stuart Broad reveals why he's such a fan of Toto Wolff and why the drama between the Austrian and Christian Horner reminds him of Manchester's Premier League rivalry

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England’s Stuart Broad reveals why he’s such a fan of Toto Wolff and why the drama between the Austrian and Christian Horner reminds him of Manchester’s Premier League rivalry

England’s Stuart Broad reveals why he’s such a fan of Toto Wolff and why the drama between the Austrian and Christian Horner reminds him of Manchester’s Premier League rivalry

So the Spa TD could well help Mercedes reduce their deficit up front, but taking on Ferrari and Red Bull on equal terms will likely require more development. But the Spa TD should at least put Hamilton and George Russell in a position to apply pressure to those teams. He puts them in the ballpark, and from there anything is possible.

But of greater interest to Hamilton and the team will be what these lessons mean for next year’s car. The outcome of that process and its implications for Hamilton’s ability to challenge for wins and titles once again after being doubly frustrated (once at Abu Dhabi ’21, once for this year’s car) are surely all the motivation. you need to give him access to his full capacity and show the world that he is not beaten.

Only with that accomplished could you feel in a position to make a decision on whether to extend or stop.

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