Lewis Hamilton is not ‘past his peak’ and the Mercedes contract extension will be his choice, says F1 legend
Lewis Hamilton has won six drivers' titles with Mercedes, and Mario Andretti feels he has done enough for the contract extension to be up to him - and not the team.
Lewis Hamilton was beaten by George Russell over the course of the 2022 season. This was quite a surprise to most people, as Hamilton is a seven-time world champion, while it was Russell’s first season in an upper-midfield to frontrunning car. The fact that Hamilton did not win any races, while his teammate did, was an even bigger surprise. All in all, 2022 was not good for him.
2023 has started a little better, at least. He’s currently ahead in the standings, at least. But the package is still not competitive, and it doesn’t look likely that he’ll compete for the title this season. This teammate battle will certainly be interesting, now that the two know each other better. Hamilton is also better used to a less competitive car, he should do better.
Mario Andretti, 1978 F1 world champion, is of the opinion that it simply took him time to adjust to the machinery. In a conversation with PlanetF1.com, he said: “I don’t think Hamilton is past his peak. But the difference between he and George Russell is that Russell has never driven a car that is as competitive as the Mercedes. And Lewis Hamilton has never driven a car that’s as uncompetitive as Mercedes is at the moment.”
Andretti noted that Hamilton has always been in front-running machinery, his entire career: “Lewis has always had the blessing of being with an extremely competitive car.” He started his career with a championship-contending car, after all: “Look at the McLaren times, when McLaren was at its peak – there he was. Now he has to fight a little bit harder to achieve what was easier to achieve.”
Mario Andretti: Don’t write off Lewis Hamilton
Mario Andretti would not rule ‘write off’ Lewis Hamilton against George Russell. He said: “So he’s having a tough time just really getting that last bit out of it, whereas George has never really experienced a car just as strong that’s still able to run up front. So there’s the difference – you can draw your own conclusions, but I wouldn’t write off Lewis by any means at this stage.”
Further, the American feels that Hamilton has done so much for Mercedes that it’s up to him whether to extend or not: “It’s hard to be able to determine from where we stand the relationship that he has in Mercedes, those things are very delicate. But look what he has brought to the team. There is no way that they will not give him every opportunity. I think the contract is probably up to him, not up to Mercedes at this point. That’s what I think from where I stand here.”
Both drivers will be looking forward to the next race, the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. That is because major upgrades for the W14 will arrive, even though these are not expected to help catch Red Bull. It will still be the start of a new path for them, and one they will hope will eventually lead to a car capable of winning races and championships.
In case you missed it:
- “Never thought he would beat Lewis Hamilton,” Ex-F1 Team Boss regrets underestimating George Russell, claims he is Mercedes’ future Champ
- The “Mighty” Lewis Hamilton will bounce back against George Russell, reckons former F1 driver