Formula 1: Has Lewis Hamilton thrown Mercedes under the bus?
Lewis Hamilton was quoted as saying that Mercedes didn’t listen to his feedback when creating the team’s 2023 Formula 1 challenger.
Sunday’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit gave all the indications that the 2023 Formula 1 season is going to be a second straight season of weekly “Are Mercedes finally back?” headlines and predictions that have yet to materialize.
The Silver Arrows struggled in 2022 amid the new rules and regulations, following a dominant run of eight consecutive world constructor championships and seven consecutive world driver championships — including six from seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
After averaging nearly 14 wins per season during that eight-year span, the team won just one race last year, and Hamilton saw his personal 15-year winning streak come to an end.
They appear to be even farther behind in 2023, opening up the season with a race which saw Hamilton finish in fifth place and George Russell finish in seventh.
If not for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc being forced to retire from third place with an engine issue, Mercedes would be fourth in the constructor standings behind Red Bull, Ferrari, and Aston Martin. Instead, they sit in third, but looking like the clear fourth strongest team on the grid.
Following the team’s rough start to the year, Hamilton gave encouragement to the team over the radio, as he generally does after each race, whether it goes his way or not.
But he has since been quoted as having accused them of not listening to him over his concerns about last year’s W13, and by association, this year’s W14.
He stated that “it’s really about accountability” and urged the team to admit that they didn’t take his advice as they are faced with the harsh reality of not “getting it right” for the second straight year.
Are such comments a bit harsh from Lewis Hamilton, one race into the 2023 Formula 1 season?
All in all, only he knows what has gone on behind the scenes, so more than likely, these comments are accurate, even if not totally fair, based on his perception of what has gone on at the Brackley-based team over the last year or so during their fall from Formula 1 supremacy.
Nevertheless, there will be those who don’t take too kindly to his comments, given the fact that, for the better part of his career, he has been in a car that has been by far and away the best on the grid.
While the “best car” argument is a silly and desperate way to try to discredit what he has done in Formula 1, comments such as these won’t exactly help his case, given that it has been such a long time since he has been in a car that isn’t capable of winning.
What further complicates matters, at least from an outsider’s point of view, is the fact that Hamilton is without a contract beyond the conclusion of the 2023 season.
There has naturally been speculation over what his future might or might not hold. Anything less than that for a driver of his caliber — a 103-time winner with seven world titles — would be a mind-blowing abnormality.
Yet that hasn’t stopped him from snapping back at certain individuals who have merely suggested that the 2023 season could be his final year at Mercedes and possibly in Formula 1, adding to the theory that there is an underlying tension within the organization amid their ongoing struggles, one which hasn’t yet been made public.
Hamilton has insisted that it simply isn’t the time to discuss a new deal, indicating that he will be back, but until the pen is put to paper, that speculation will continue, and these sorts of comments will only further fuel the talks that the sport’s all-time most successful driver-team pairing could be nearing its conclusion.