How realistic is it that Hamilton will leave Formula 1 in 2022?

17-01-2022 09:00 | Updated: 17-01-2022 09:02
by GPblog.com
Column
How realistic is it that Hamilton will leave Formula 1 in 2022?

Lewis Hamilton has not spoken publically since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and rumors of a possible retirement are swirling. Editors of GPblog NL and UK were asked whether they actually see the seven-time world champion retiring.

Aryaan Jena - Editor GPblog UK

It is highly unlikely that Lewis Hamilton will retire in 2022. As of now, he is contracted to drive for Mercedes this year. He has not spoken publicly or on social media since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and has provided no indication that he is pondering retirement.

Claims that the seven-time champion is considering leaving F1 are likely an effort to place commercial pressure on the FIA to conduct an honest and thorough investigation, and to hold Michael Masi accountable for breaking the sporting regulations to force a restart in Abu Dhabi. As it stands, Lewis Hamilton is the most well-known driver in F1. There are athletes that transcend the scope of their respective sports. Figures like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky have risen to global stardom. Everyone knows who Tiger Woods is, even if they don’t watch golf.

Lewis Hamilton is an athlete of that elite stature; his presence outside of F1 and association with other celebrities have helped to bring in new fans who otherwise wouldn’t have known about F1. Losing Hamilton would be a blow to the sport, similar to how it was when Schumacher retired.

In terms of his capabilities, Lewis Hamilton is still inarguably one of the best drivers in the sport. Although 2021 wasn’t his most refined campaign, he delivered outstanding performances in Bahrain, Spain, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi (notwithstanding the safety car controversy). That there are only two or three drivers capable of challenging Hamilton at the age of 37 is a testament to his skill; retiring now would be premature. The Briton has tasted defeat before and come back stronger. By returning and winning the elusive eighth championship, he can cement his legacy as an all-time great.

Jordi Smit - Editor GPblog NL

As a seven-time world champion, Hamilton has the winner's mentality in his blood like no other. However, the many world titles meant that he no longer knew the feeling of losing, until December 2021. Although he is reportedly hesitant to continue, the fighting spirit to take the record away from Michael Schumacher will be stronger. Hamilton, therefore, seems to be putting pressure solely on the FIA to change things within the Formula One world, but in my expectation has long since made his decision: to continue at Mercedes.

Rishi Wig - Editor GPblog UK

The last lap shootout at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix left several people across the world with a bad taste in their mouth, none more so than Lewis Hamilton himself. Ever since the incident, the seven-time world champion has only made one public appearance: to receive his knightship. 

As such, the decision to leave the sport is a near-impossible one, but cannot be completely ruled out. It will be more likely that Hamilton will return to the sport, but will be visibly disassociated with the sport around him for a period of time. He will inevitably return to the cockpit for the German manufacturer and be ready to support the team in another title assault. Even then, for such a successful driver as him, racing is his life. While this incident may mark the worst spot in his career, he will not let go of the competitive spirit and the determination to break all records set before. The competition must be wary of the re-energised Hamilton behind the wheel, ready to achieve more and more.

Femke Notermans - Editor GPblog NL

I can't imagine that Hamilton is really going to stop, especially since he still has the chance to break Michael Schumacher's record. Still, his silence on social media is striking, and reports that he wants to wait for the results of the FIA's investigation are not surprising. Should nothing change about the organisation at the FIA, I can imagine Hamilton being done with it. The Briton has enough other passions that he can occupy himself with. However, the results will not be announced until March, just a short time before the start of the season. Hamilton needs time to process the results from Abu Dhabi, but I expect he will only come back stronger. His anger will eventually turn into additional motivation to go for that eighth world title in 2022.

Matt Gretton - Editor-in-Chief GPblog UK

The following saying ‘silence speaks louder than words’ rings true for this occasion. Ultimately, Hamilton’s silence after the Abu Dhabi Grand and subsequent out of character outage on social media has been the biggest fuel for the exit rumours and suspicions. The way the title-deciding moment was taken out of his hands in Abu Dhabi is bound to hurt, that’s part and parcel of sport. But it’s not the sole reason why he lost the title: brake magic in Baku and Alonso’s defence in Hungary are two examples where it was in Hamilton’s hands. 

Flashback 12 months and we were actually in a similar situation whereby we expected Hamilton to be on the grid but there was a doubt over his future. Last year it was the lack of a signed contract. Despite the controversial circumstances, Hamilton himself has always used the motto, ‘keep fighting’ and there’s no better time to prove that spirit. I fully expect him to take his place on the grid next season, it would look weak otherwise. It’s highly likely that he will return. The longer this goes on, though the rumours will continue to escalate, the more likely it is he will return because it keeps giving Mercedes a shorter time to find and contract a replacement.

Tim Kraaij - Editor-in-Chief GPblog NL

In my opinion, the rumour mill about a possible retirement of Lewis Hamilton is nothing but an attempt by Mercedes to put pressure on the FIA. Last year, there was also a long silence around Hamilton, who then took a long time in his contract negotiations with Mercedes (perhaps then also deliberately). However, the Brit has a contract and at Mercedes, they don't seem to care either.

According to the German Bild, Mercedes are not at all looking for a replacement for the seven-time world champion. If he was really considering leaving, you would expect Mercedes to have made some inroads with other drivers in January. However, that is not the case.

I just expect Hamilton back at the start of the new season. For a driver with so much drive to get back up every time after a setback ("still I rise"), it would be very special if he quit F1 after a setback. He is in a perfect situation with Mercedes to win that eighth world title and I can't imagine him missing out on that opportunity.

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