Formula 1: How Lewis Hamilton can end a mind-blowing drought

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

As good as he has been, seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been on one particular drought since before he won his five most recent titles.

The 2021 Formula 1 season is scheduled to get underway today, one week later than originally scheduled, and Lewis Hamilton finally agreed to a contract to return to Mercedes alongside Valtteri Bottas last month.

Hamilton, the four-time reigning world champion who secured his seventh career title and sixth in the last seven seasons last year, is looking to become the sport’s first ever eight-time champion this year.

He is currently tied with Michael Schumacher atop the all-time titles list, and a championship in 2021 would make him the only driver aside from Schumacher to win five titles in a row. Last season, he passed Schumacher to become the sport’s all-time winningest driver, now sitting at 95 wins.

But there is one thing that Hamilton hasn’t done since he was a two-time champion, and he has a chance to end that drought this weekend.

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As good as he has been, the 36-year-old Briton inexplicably hasn’t won a season opener since the 2015 season when he won the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit.

Despite taking the pole position for that race in each of the next four seasons, he finished in second place every year, and in the delayed 2020 season, when the opener became the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in early July, he finished in a disappointing fourth after being penalized in both qualifying and the race itself.

Surprisingly, in 14 seasons, he has only won the season opener twice, with the other instance coming back in 2008, which was before he had even secured his first title.

Can he finally do it again in 2021?

He is set to start today’s Bahrain Grand Prix in second place on the front row alongside Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

For the second consecutive year, the original season-opening Australian Grand Prix was wiped off the March slate as a result of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions. This year, however, it was postponed by eight months from Sunday, March 21 to Sunday, November 21 instead of canceled altogether.

So it could play to Hamilton’s advantage that Bahrain International Circuit is slated to host this year’s season opener, as he has won this race in each of the last two years.

Naturally, it wasn’t the season opener in either year.

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The site of the Bahrain Grand Prix also hosted preseason testing two weeks ago, so he should be more than comfortable getting back up to speed at the track where he secured his most recent victory last November, despite Mercedes’ apparent struggles in testing.