After the initial four races of the 2013 Formula 1 season, Lewis Hamilton is third in the driver’s world championship whilst his team, Mercedes AMG, sits comfortably in fourth place.
If you’ve been surprised so far this season regarding how well Hamilton and the Silver Arrows are doing, you aren’t the only one. Only a very select group of people would’ve been expecting the opening the team have had this year and, if we are to believe their own comments concerning their potential this year, Hamilton and Mercedes weren’t one of them.
Shortly after the 2012 Singaporean Grand Prix, Hamilton announced that he would be departing McLaren at the end of the season. Many (including myself), raised an eyebrow when the news was announced and asked, ‘why?’
McLaren weren’t only a race winning team, they also seemed to have tremendous potential to win championships in future years to come. But despite this, we witnessed a race driver, willing to step away from possible glory to take on a new challenge at a new team.
By their very nature, drivers are competitive and even though some step away content with a lower podium finish, they lament that the top step wasn’t theirs.
To me, the thought of Hamilton, a driver known for his immense desire for victory, giving up any hope of standing on that top step (let alone, the podium at all) was inconceivable. Hamilton has been reported in the last couple of days stating that he is much happier at Mercedes and that he feels he is in more control of his life now that he has left behind his days at McLaren. Though he could have imagined that life beyond McLaren would be brighter, he still wouldn’t have known with much certainty that his dream would be reality.
So what makes a driver step away from a team with championship potential? As we have seen so far this season, with Mercedes capturing two podiums and a front row start, maybe Hamilton knew something the rest of us didn’t.