In sport, every dominant athlete who appears to be virtually untouchable at their peak will one day have to step aside – their boots, gloves, helmets or uniforms finally hung up to rest.
In a matter of weeks, both Serena Williams and Roger Federer will have smashed their final serves. The NFL’s most decorated player, Tom Brady, has already come out of retirement for what will likely be one final season as quarterback. Snowboarding icon Shaun White and speed skater Ireen Wust both bowed out in Beijing having won medal tallies that may never be matched. Even Valentino Rossi’s unparalleled Moto GP career finally came to its conclusion last November after 22 seasons and seven world championship titles.
In Formula 1, Lewis Hamilton’s achievements place him almost entirely alone in the pantheon of the sport. Only in his tally of seven world championships does he still sit alongside Michael Schumacher. But while his 2021 rival Max Verstappen canters to his second title, Hamilton’s 2022 season has been unlike the 15 that came before it. Heading into round 17, he remains winless: An unprecedented drought for Mercedes’ talisman.
As Hamilton sat with select media including RaceFans in the compact confines of the Zandvoort paddock, the parallels between him and his fellow record-breaking athletes seemed more relevant than ever. In his 38th year, how does someone to whom winning is less of an ambition and more a way of life adjust to the reality that victory remains out of his grasp?
“With great difficulty,” he admits, frankly.
“As athletes, we’re super-determined, we don’t like to lose, we don’t like to fail. Also, failure is not an option, but sometimes you do, and that’s part of the process. It’s how you then don’t beat yourself up and beat yourself down, it’s how you take it on, put it on your back and use it as experience to power forward. And it’s not easy.”
Hamilton does not need to be reminded of how close he came to an unprecedented eighth title last year. But the contrast of fortunes between he and Verstappen in 2022 are stark. Does it hurt him, watching the driver who denied him the ultimate achievement of his career cruise to this year’s championship?
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“I wouldn’t say it hurts,” Hamilton says. “We all know what it could be.
“We would love to be in that battle fighting, and I wish that all the cars were a lot closer and we were all having a much better battle closer to the front. I wish there was only tenths between us all, but that’s not the way our sport is. So I don’t worry about that, and it’s not something I can control at the moment.
“My worry – what is keeping me up at night – is what have I left out? Who do I need to speak to at the track? How can I support Bono [race engineer]? How can I support Marcus [Dudley, performance engineer] and Shov [Andrew Shovlin, trackside engineering director]? In the aero department, how can I support them to make better choices for the next car?”
It has been a long slog to build up the W13 to be more of a match to its rivals, the Red Bull RB18 and the Ferrari F1-75. With both championships lost for this year, 2023 becomes the earliest opportunity he can compete for that historic eighth title – the same year in which his current contract with Mercedes expires.
That is also the final year of his current contract with Mercedes. Hamilton has previously expressed that, unlike fellow champions Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen, he had not intended to race on into his forties. But, RaceFans asks him, with Mercedes having begun the new era of ground effect playing catch-up, is he starting to think about extending his stay in F1?
“Definitely,” he says, firmly. “Because it’s going to take longer than one year.
“I think if we had just won last year and then we would win this year, definitely life would be in a different place and you’d be on a different course. I love that it’s gone through a phase even harder and we’ve got to pull through that thick slog and get to the point where we are a little bit lighter and we’re floating a little bit more. So yeah, I would say that it’s encouraged me to stay longer.
“Plus I’m feeling fit, I’m finding ways of feeling better physically. The mental challenge is a consistent thing and that will always be the case because that’s how it is for us athletes, we’re on the edge. But right now, where I am in life, I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have here. I like to think I still deserve a place here. So there is lots of work to do.”
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But even as a driver, Hamilton can only have so much of an impact on his own. He and George Russell, his new team mate for this year, still rely on team principal Toto Wolff and the rest of the Brackley brain trust to be able to give them that privilege of being able to fight for titles next season. So all Hamilton will continue to do, he says, is focus on the difference he can make on the track.
“The lesson is just you have to focus on what you can control,” he says. “While we do worry about things we can’t control, you have to try to learn to not worry about the things you can’t control.
“There’s so many peoples’ abilities coming and everyone coming together, the communication, the amount of work, the processes, the direction you will go. It’s like we’re all rowing the boat and while we’ve got Toto above the steering mechanism, we as drivers are also the part of the rod that’s steering it in the right direction.
“It takes work and I wouldn’t really want it any other way. To be honest, if it was easy and every day was easy and you’re just getting through it, it just wouldn’t be a challenge. I love the challenge of working with everybody and challenging the people and them challenging me. Acknowledging that this year we haven’t done a great job, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do a great job in the future. We have done it in the past.”
Hamilton knows that all sporting dynasties end. No one player or driver can continue to win every title, every year. Even the great Serena Williams – a personal friend of his – had peaks and troughs during a career which took her to 23 grand slams. That’s something Hamilton says he draws a lot from.
“I take a lot of inspiration from other athletes. Like right now, watching Serena, seeing everything she’s gone through and the challenges she’s gone through and in conversations, just the way she’s kind of gone through it and pulled herself back up and the great performances – she is just such a warrior and she’s my inspiration right now. So I think it’s really just about taking time to sit back, reflect, figure out what you can do better.”
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And just as when any era draws to an end, a new one unfailingly begins. Through Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris – all established drivers barely older than Hamilton was during his famous early years in the sport – Hamilton believes that F1 has an exciting future once he eventually decides he has achieved all he wants to.
“With the younger guys, there’s so much talent here and there’s more coming through,” he smiles. “I remember when I came in and thinking I could beat everybody, I know what it’s like because I’ve been there.
“I’m really just trying to work on those relationships bit by bit and be supportive of them because, as I said, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like, I know how tough it is at some of these teams. When you’re in your early twenties, you don’t know what you can and can’t say or how best to navigate. All you have is just raw strength, talent and ability.
“I’m super excited to start to see Lando and Charles, these [young] guys, really excel and move forward. There’s some really good guys here.”
Read more from our in-depth chat with Lewis Hamilton later today on RaceFans.
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2022 F1 season
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62 comments on “Hamilton “definitely” planning longer stay in F1 after tough 2022 campaign”
23rd September 2022, 8:31
Staying longer doesn’t make a driver quicker. So he’s chasing the dream of getting a dominant car from a team that doesn’t have a dominant engine anymore.
23rd September 2022, 9:10
They’re a well oiled machine though… the only one that has the capability and resources to beat Red Bull. Mercedes pulling one out of the bag is his best hope, which doesn’t seem that unlikely.
24th September 2022, 13:48
Even then, he’ll have to beat George first.
23rd September 2022, 15:36
Jack Brabham, a bit before your time maybe, but just as quick at 44 as at 34, and up against Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart , each easily more than a match for Max.
23rd September 2022, 20:51
Hard to compare drivers between eras and brabham was one of the weakest 3 times champions, so I personally don’t believe he would compete with verstappen, especially not at 44.
23rd September 2022, 22:28
The sport has moved on, the drivers are under far more physical strain now due to the extra g forces involved so you’ll not see many drive past 40. That being said, training and nutrition have probably also allowed drivers the chance to be fitter and stay at peak fitness longer. I think Hamilton has 4 more years at most being close to his best but Russell may ultimately be faster at the end of that period.
F1 frog (@f1frog)
23rd September 2022, 22:39
I don’t think Brabham was as good as the records suggest. Admittedly he was focussed on running the team for much of his career, but during the early 1960s he was soundly beaten by Dan Gurney in the same car, and then narrowly by Denny Hulme in 1967, when Hulme was quite inexperienced. He was very good in 1959-60, the second-best driver in Formula 1 after Stirling Moss at the time, but I think he never really matched that level again and, despite his strong 1970 season, he was nowhere near the level of Jackie Stewart or Jochen Rindt by this age, and wouldn’t have been able to challenge Verstappen.
But I don’t think he should have retired after 1960. Brabham was still an outstanding driver who won the championship in his own car and stopping racing at his best would have denied the fans ten more years of watching a great driver in Formula 1, as well as his own enjoyment of racing, and that is very much worth a very slightly dented reputation as a driver.
José Lopes da Silva
24th September 2022, 9:46
Great comment. I fully agree – every driver is entitled to decide up to where to extend his career; even if he is no longer at his very best, good things may come along the way, as not being at the peak is not the same of being busted and doomed. Otherwise, Raikkonen should have retired at the end of the 2006 season, as he never really coped with the tyre monopoly and started getting equalled and beaten by Massa at early 2007 – unthinkable during he 5 previous season.
I’ll follow your blog.
24th September 2022, 1:17
I agree. It’s highly unlikely Mercedes will ever have a car dominating the field as it had.
But even if they do pull a rabbit out of the hat, it will still be a huge task for Lewis to beat Russell.
Granted Russell’s point lead is due to some luck but he is not far off Hamilton’s pace and it appears he is better at making decisions under pressure – more headstrong.
I think Russell’s performance this year will put him on equal footing with Lewis next year and expect sparks to fly.
I expect Hamilton to stick around for a few more years but like most champions in their sports, he will slowly fade.
It doesn’t mean he won’t be competitive, but just not competitive enough to win another championship.
His best days are behind him and they were good days. He’s a hell of a driver but sooner or later things change.
If he doesn’t beat Russell next year, I think he would be wise to stop unless he loves the sport so much like Alonso.
23rd September 2022, 8:45
Hamilton is clearly one of the greatest F1 drivers of all times, but I’m not sure if it is smart to extend his career at Mercedes.
He should have learned one thing from Rosberg, and that is to stop when you’re on top.
Even now he can still use the Abu Dhabi excuse/explanation and the poor Mercedes car to step out on a high.
But what happens if Russell gets even more comfortable in the car and starts regularly beating Hamilton?
If he really wants to stay racing (for the racing) then it’s better to pick a new team and build that (I still think he should’ve gone to Ferrari either two years ago or this year).
Maybe he can get a consortium together to buy a team and be team owner and lead driver to steer the development.
23rd September 2022, 9:05
Just remember that he stayed with Mercedes because they thought they had another world-beater for 2022.
Turns out that thing only works in their flawed tools and is allergic to the real world.
23rd September 2022, 12:50
How comes you know that he only stayed because of such a thinking? Or is it your personal narrative only?
23rd September 2022, 17:39
My personal narrative is that you’ve imagined an “only” where there isn’t one.
Happily, that seems to correlate well with reality, much unlike Mercedes’ thinking on their 2022 challenger.
23rd September 2022, 20:22
So how you know that he stayed, cause he thought they have a world-beater? Made this up in your mind?
23rd September 2022, 20:54
Why is it unreasonable to assume, after the end of 2021, that mercedes would have a competitive car in 2022? They had a dominant car in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020, they had by far the best car in 2019, slightly the best car in 2017 and 2021 and the joint-best car in 2018, therefore merc after that data looked like the best place to be for 2022. Even then as I see things, the only better place in hindsight was red bull for 2022, ferrari feels worse than merc to me when you consider the in-season development and the strategies.
24th September 2022, 1:22
I don’t know what Lewis thought. It’s my personal opinion that he had checked out of Formula 1 not particularly far into last year’s final race and was preparing to retire with an eighth title when Nicky lost his car and the rest is history.
As for what I’ve actually written, the fact that Mercedes was very happy with the wind tunnel and CFD numbers for their design and expected to be significantly ahead of the competition when reality interfered has been reported multiple times since Feb/March.
It’s only logical for Mercedes to be as confident of their design when they tried to sign Lewis to an extension, and when they worked on actually getting him back into the car for 2022.
Broderick Harper (@banbrorace)
23rd September 2022, 9:40
I don’t see the issue. Applying your logic, Roger Federer should have retired in 2013. The likes of Federer, Woods and yes Hamilton, get admiration for merely wanting to keep winning.
Other mere mortals (who also make up the majority as they are casual watchers) marvel at how these legends keep themselves motivated and hence are praised for not trotting off and enjoying their millions.
Plus on two or three occasions this season, Hamilton has reminded us that he’s still as good as Verstappen (I think there’s nothing between them) and those performance had far more of a ‘wow’ factor than any other driver apart from Max.
But of course, he’s prone to more errors and that’s definitely an age thing.
23rd September 2022, 10:57
Many fans will always stick with him.
But just look at Vettel’s reputation after he started losing against his teammates.
He is still one of F1 greats but he lost a bit of his lustre by staying beyond his winning streak.
Broderick Harper (@banbrorace)
23rd September 2022, 11:31
Vettel’s reputation went downhill back because he started committing error after error in virtually every race.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a multi-title F1 champ deteriorate so rapidly. From having the title in his hands in July 2018 to looking an also ran barely a year later, was remarkable.
After that Germany 2018 incident, I was never convinced he really had the heart for the sport.
23rd September 2022, 12:10
That’s exactly the point I tried to make; something like that could happen to Hamilton as well.
Broderick Harper (@banbrorace)
23rd September 2022, 13:24
But it didn’t happen to any other driver. Even Kimi had plenty of good moments and he never changed as a driver – he could often have a bad race / weekend and follow up with a good one, i.e. when he won the 2007 Championship).
Alonso, another one, who still has his 2005/6 verve when the car allows.
No Vettel was the first serious meltdown of a former champion we’ve seen. I mentioned at the time, that I didn’t see him been the same again after the Germany 2018 incident – it was seen as controversial / disrespectful. But anyone can see that Vettel is wired up differently to the more laid back Hamilton and ruthless Alonso.
Heck. Even Button had four or five good seasons after his Championship win – in a car that was nearly always vastly inferior
23rd September 2022, 14:28
JFF: “that is to stop when you’re on top”
Why? Do you think all sportsmen and women should retire as soon as they win their first championship, just in case they get beaten the folowing season? Has Vettel had any of his world championships struck off because of poor performances in recent years? No, he hasn’t. If you look in the record books in ten years time, he’ll still be up there as one of the most successful of F1 drivers. Reputational damage? There isn’t a record book for that.
23rd September 2022, 20:07
Of course for people like you, who only look at formal record books, it will make less of a difference (it hurts his percentage scores though).
But many other F1 fans base their judgement on more than just the naked numbers.
Some even put asterisks next to certain achievements :P
24th September 2022, 1:20
I think he would have went to Ferrari but they weren’t interested. It seems for whatever reason they never wanted him.
24th September 2022, 9:57
What’s your source for this, Jimbo?
23rd September 2022, 8:57
Max is as you young as Lando and Charles but he doest get a mention because Max is rubbing your floor to the ground
Broderick Harper (@banbrorace)
23rd September 2022, 9:43
It could be argued that right now the RB is as dominant at the Mecedes ever was. It’s certainly looks more dominant more than the Merc of 2017 to 2021. But Max, like Lewis tends to make cars look better than they are.
23rd September 2022, 20:59
I have a hard time calling red bull dominant looking at what perez is doing, why isn’t the number 2 coming 2nd with a dominant car? That’s strange.
23rd September 2022, 22:32
@esploratore because he’s a midfield driver at best and always has been.
25th September 2022, 10:29
25th September 2022, 10:28
I dont think that RB car is dominant. Ferrari has the better car this season. They just make so many mistakes, the team mostly but -like in previous season- also their drivers are not on the consistent level of a Lewis or Max. The season is exactly unfolding as predicted: Ferrari best car but team and drivers error prone. Max lifting the RB well above and beyond as seen in 2021 and reflected once again by the nr 2 driver finishing position which is nowhere near the Bottas always second on the podium era.
23rd September 2022, 9:05
It’s crazy that anyone would think he has anything at all to lose by staying in F1. He’s making millions of dollars, he’s already hailed as an incredible one-of-a-kind talent, there’s nothing left to prove. If he does manage to win again, all he will do is set even more records, if he doesn’t then he’s already got his current records to stand by.
Nobody thinks any less of Michael Schumacher for coming back to F1, and he planted the seeds of the fruit that Hamilton enjoyed. There’s nothing to say Hamilton can’t do the same.
His followers, platform, sphere of influence, and opportunities continue to grow as long as he continues to race… So why wouldn’t he? He’s in such a different scenario than when McLaren was struggling and it made some sense to try to commit all his time to trying to succeed at another passion.
Plus he always said he’d wait and see how these cars feel, so he must be thinking they’re heading in the right direction.
23rd September 2022, 9:10
But what about the environment? Isn’t his lifestyle consuming the planet? Was all he said just PR again?
23rd September 2022, 9:26
Yes, Hamilton racing longer will definitely single-handedly kill the planet. It will be all Hamilton’s fault.
23rd September 2022, 21:01
I actually like hamilton’s out of racing activities, he’s often involved in good causes.
23rd September 2022, 12:45
Exactly. He’s making millions per year doing something he loves at one of the best teams in F1. They’d have to drag me away with the proverbial wild horses!
23rd September 2022, 9:28
It’s good news that Lewis wants to continue. We’ve been very lucky to be F1 fans whilst he has been competing. If we get some more, all the better. Aside from a few eccentrics who hate him and everything he does, most balanced motorsport viewers have just enjoyed getting to witness a true great.
23rd September 2022, 21:03
I like that he’s staying as well and interested to see if they can get a win this season, even though it seems like something would have to happen to verstappen for merc to win a race, a mechanical problem or a race-ending crash or a puncture, a stop-n-go, something that makes him lose 30 sec minimum.
Red Andy (@red-andy)
23rd September 2022, 10:44
I don’t think I would be expecting Hamilton to say anything different, at this stage. He still has a year to run on his current contract, and the competitiveness of next year’s equipment won’t be clear for some time. Vettel wasn’t contemplating retirement either, until he suddenly was.
Also remember that Hamilton is not the only one who gets to make this decision. His relationship with the team, and Toto Wolff especially, appears to be very strong. But Mercedes have one eye on the future with Russell already, and whatever excuses might be made, the gulf between them is clear enough looking at the championship table. Remember, also, how close Hamilton and Mercedes came to not having a deal in place for 2021. It wouldn’t take much for either party to decide that the relationship is not worth continuing.
23rd September 2022, 10:58
The gap between George and Lewis is misleading. There’s often more to it than just ‘looking at the championship table’. There is little doubt that Mercedes themselves look at Hamilton as still being very much their number one driver. He’s leading Russel in qualifying and has definitely been stronger overall in race pace, despite the various issues (mostly safety cars) that have contributed to the points disparity.
Broderick Harper (@banbrorace)
23rd September 2022, 11:33
Hamilton is the one who’s carried out the best drives this season in that Merc.
There’s not been many of them, mainly because opportunities to excel have been limited – particularly in the first six or so races.
Yes. He’s made more errors than George. But toe to toe and Hamilton is still slightly faster.
23rd September 2022, 14:18
Andy: “the gulf between them is clear enough looking at the championship table”
Looking at the actual driving on track, I don’t see a gulf, and I cannot recall Russell doing anything which has made me wonder where he has found the speed from.
23rd September 2022, 12:39
Lewis in his final years is arguably just as fast as the younger drivers. Max himself had to be helped by his team mate, the other redbull team and the fia to beat Lewis. I reckon Lewis has plenty talent left in the bag. He has even passed George on quali. Which has been a fair display of speed. The points tho r not as straight forward due to multiple reasons. To right of Lewis is foolish
23rd September 2022, 21:29
Would be “write off”, not here to correct grammar, but I was confused at first, I agree, he’s still doing well for his age and is looking like the quicker merc driver, despite the missed pole.
26th September 2022, 8:40
Thanks typo error my bad.
23rd September 2022, 14:38
Age doesn’t make you faster. Stop please. One of the greatest, but after the king comes a prince.
23rd September 2022, 15:46
I don’t think anyone has said Hamilton has got faster @pietkoster
He does not appear to have got slower either.
26th September 2022, 8:41
Well said. Its as though his average speed is at a higher level than most at their peek. If that makes sense.
23rd September 2022, 15:47
I find it somewhat amusing that people talk endlessly about Alonso being such a natural talent in a car – he is, and yet him continuing for years on end and now moving to a team that won’t score a podium let alone be worthy of a title for the next 2 years is totally accepted and okay for him to do so. Lewis on the other hand who is still performing at a high level, looks relaxed, and every bit able to continue winning races and possibly another title and people just want him out and claim he is only going to ruin his reputation.
I’m delighted he is staying to annoy those that continue to dig into him. Roll on many more years.
23rd September 2022, 21:30
Yes, it’s very strange that people want him to retire without trying to drive with a car that is not as good, I’m glad hamilton is not a coward like rosberg.
Phil Norman (@phil-f1-21)
23rd September 2022, 18:48
I think a lot of the comments are quite subjective and depend on if people like Lewis or not. He’s never been my favourite driver but I respect him a lot. Then probably more so as he gotten older.
He may not be getting any faster now but he does not really look much slower either, given the right opportunity. Whether he can win another WDC will mainly depend on the speed of his car of course. But I am happy to see him stick around. Others have performed well into their forties.
23rd September 2022, 20:00
Obviously, Lews spends all his attention on reading the comment sections of F1 websites, and spends all his time and attention dreaming up ways to troll certain commenters. I think he is extremely effective at it, maybe even the GOAT! Meanwhile he will just wait for the poor, deluded Mercedes team to build him a winning car again. For some reason, they keep hiring him back, year after year, and all he needs to do is sit in it (while it drives itself), and play games on his console. Nice work if you can get it!
23rd September 2022, 20:01
Oops, for got to close the tag :
23rd September 2022, 20:02
And thanks to formatting still haven’t : /SNARK
23rd September 2022, 21:33
Ahah, that’s a fun one, he noticed a lot of people want him to retire, so he held an interview stating he will continue for years!
24th September 2022, 9:17
The only driver who knows the Merc car as well as Lewis is George. It makes sense if he is motivated to help the team restore itself back at the front even if it means being beaten by George. Maybe he helps George be WDC and Mercedes be WCC again.
Then shuffle off and enjoy his millions.
24th September 2022, 11:54
let’s watch a few years of humiliation by average teammates, mistake after egregious mistake, and occassionally getting one or two points while staying at the bottom of the table, it will be fun.
24th September 2022, 13:54
I think we all know that is not going to happen, hyoko.
Quite surprised to see something so silly posted here, actually.
25th September 2022, 17:07
I do agree with the mistake part of it.
Lewis has committed more than his share of errors both last and this years.
He isn’t the best under pressure and it won’t get better.
26th September 2022, 8:47
I disagree in every thing you have said. You couldnt be further from the truth. Lewis has proven time and again to overcome all high pressured issues. He has Excelled in every format of f1 he has taken part in. He never gives up. He may make some mistakes but thats rare. He does not succumb to pressure.
26th September 2022, 9:45
Everyone in F1 history has made mistakes, even Fangio, Prost, Stewart.
Hamilton has made fewer than most at the very top level.
27th September 2022, 8:36
To whom are you referring? Lewis has not had average team mates. He has had world champions for team mates…
Comments are closed.