Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton’s history of ‘almost’ quitting F1

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) /

This isn’t the first time that Lewis Hamilton has supposedly been on the verge of walking away from Formula 1 competition.

At first glance, it seems safe to say that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have not handled losing the 2021 Formula 1 world championship to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with their usual grace and professionalism.

Mercedes’ petulant and juvenile refusal to acknowledge any of their own responsibility, despite making several obvious and critical mistakes, for the loss led to a boycott of the season-ending awards gala and a subsequent likely grid penalty waiting for Hamilton at next year’s opener in Bahrain.

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There have even been hints from Wolff and Hamilton that the seven-time world champion will walk away from the sport.

But a peek back into Hamilton’s history in Formula 1 reveals that this is not the first instance of the champion who cried wolf – or, in this case, Wolff.

In fact, this is the fourth time in the last five years that Hamilton has reportedly been on the verge of “quitting” Formula 1.

Anyone who has listened to team radio during recent seasons is used to incessant, heat-of-the-moment whining from Mercedes and Hamilton, but their conduct surrounding this championship is quite frankly embarrassing to them and insulting to Verstappen, the entire Red Bull organization, the FIA, and racing fans worldwide.

After a 2016 crash with teammate, championship leader, and eventual world champion Nico Rosberg in Spain continued a lengthy win drought for the then three-time world champion, he almost left the team during the season.

In 2018, he was one of a host of drivers who protested the idea of the season schedule being expanded to 25 races.

Last year, it was probably just a contract negotiation ploy, but for a good part of the offseason, his Mercedes seat was the only seat without a confirmed driver for the 2021 campaign.

Yet once again, Hamilton found himself back at the wheel of his Mercedes when the season began.

Despite numerous replays of the broken record that begins with “I’ll quit if,” Hamilton’s only missed race weekend between the start of his career in 2007 and today happened because of a COVID-19 infection early last December.

That means he has competed in 288 of the 289 races that have been contested over the course of the last 15 years.

Naturally, the loss of Formula 1’s only Black driver and most prolific winner would be a tremendous disappointment for those of us who want to see him come back and chase championship number eight.

And he actually may be serious this time; Hamilton is a man of emotion and depth and is clearly and understandably devastated by the loss.

Interestingly, the recent changes in betting odds reflect a lack of confidence about his return.

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It remains to be seen whether this is all for show or if it really is a serious reflection of Hamilton’s intentions for next year. And while it would be a thrill to see him return and win a record-breaking eighth championship, we could all do without the petulant attitude and threats to take his helmet and go home.

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Such conduct is beneath Sir Lewis, and we hope he can leave the disappointing events of last season behind him and deliver another compelling championship battle. It’s what we all want to see, and it’s what both he and we deserve.