Following the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year and the 2021 season, there were several rumours in the mill that Lewis Hamilton was considering retiring. Of course, this would have been an absolute travesty for the sport, but thankfully, it did not happen, and Hamilton has continued on at Mercedes.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, the car has rarely provided him with any consistent opportunity to consistently fight for wins, which is a fairly unfamiliar situation for him. Hamilton did not start as well as his teammate, George Russell but he’s slowly come into his own again, and currently sits 6th, 12 points behind Russell. He has finished on the podium the last 5 races in a row.
In the season break period, when shortlists were being put together by the media and the ‘experts’, Sergio Perez was one of the names. One can assume that if he had gone to Mercedes, he would fulfil about the same role that he currently does, but it is possible that he would have provided stiff competition for Russell as well. Not just for this, but there are rumours for next season well, but Toto Wolff has categorically dismissed them.
Toto Wolff on the rumours: “I was not in contact with any driver”
Toto Wolff has made it clear that any rumours about replacing Lewis Hamilton, then or now, about any player, are completely off the mark. As reported by Planet F1, he said: “It’s a complete bullsh*t. I never called Sergio, he’s a good guy and I respect him, but I never talked to him and I was not in contact with any other driver.”
He continued: “Lewis and I, even in the face of a not-so-encouraging scenario like the beginning of this season, we are always aligned in wanting to try to make things better and to be together next year.”
Wolff says that Hamilton and he have been discussing going on for much longer: “And we’ve been telling each other for a couple of months that we could go on, maybe five or 10 years, right? So none of that is true.”
Mercedes were nowhere near competitive during the first few races – their podiums were simply a result of failures from the top two teams. But in the last few races, they have improved, and they certainly deserved it much better in races like Silverstone, France, and most recently, Hungary.
“In the beginning, like a little bit for all of us, it was not easy to accept the reality, certainly not a pleasant experience. But after the first few races he came back with his very special spirit, he totally focused on being able to get this car into the top positions, and even when we went through very difficult days, he was always the most positive person in the team.”
Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest drivers of all time, and he’s still operating at an incredibly high well, so any more time that he spends in the sport will be definitely welcome, but it will be interesting to see who Mercedes will eventually replace him with and which route they will go for the lineup.