On the outside looking in, it’s hard to know what Lewis Hamilton’s current motivation might be. From this angle, one would assume he’s committed to winning more races and championships but this year’s car is thwarting that effort by some measure.
On the other hand, as has always been the case in Formula 1, you are measured against your teammate and if that rule still applies in Lewis’s case, and it does, then that does give reason for pause as it’s only happened a couple of times in his career in F1 that he’s been beaten by a teammate. It might also suggest that perhaps George Russell is much better than many gave him credit for or that Lewis’s head might not be 100% in the game.
I don’t have any way of knowing the reality apart from what I see on the outside looking in. One might suggest that’s all former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone might see too but I suggest he’s more connected than your average fan on the couch.
‘Lewis might sell his position to Toto [Wolff, Mercedes’ team principal]. “This is how much I am getting, I’ll step down and give me half of what I would get”.
‘Toto can go and do one of his magic deals, offer someone less money and keep £20m.
‘Nobody needs to tell Toto this because he has already thought of it. Lewis would probably stop under those circumstances.
‘I don’t know what he is doing dressing up in all those funny clothes. Has he a deal to it? Is it to get noticed? Maybe that’s it.’
Of Russell, Ecclestone says: ‘I didn’t think he was that good but he has done an excellent job. I’m surprised. Or is it a case of Lewis doing a bad job? A bit of both.
‘Toto is getting a bit fed up with Lewis. I don’t think he’s trying, do you? Let’s put it another way, Lewis doesn’t seem bothered about losing.
It’s not like him. He has a competitive nature but he’s taking losing a bit easy for my liking. I don’t think he is actively helping George. I don’t think he’s doing anything. I don’t think he cares too much. He’s not prepared to put the effort into winning that he did.’
Now, you can digest that however you feel compelled but I do think there are some nuggets worth considering. The first is that this is not like Lewis. He doesn’t take losing very well and typically does everything he can to avoid it including beating his teammate.
To those critics, perhaps his radical car setup changes that have differed from George’s means that he is trying very different things and his results may vary and have. I don’t know, just offering that as a defense.
On the other hand, I tend to think the same rules apply for everyone and in F1, you are, for better or worse, measured against your teammate and right now, Lewis is behind. That could change but it may not. I also found the comment about Toto getting tired of Lewis and interesting one too.
Fact is, all things change and from the outside looking in, I do get the impression that Lewis’s world outside F1 has captured more of his emotional capital than winning titles. This happened to Senna, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Vettel, Raikkonen, and Rosberg. Fact is, life gets in the way and changes your view on what is important.
There is little doubt that Lewis’s drive to win the title is markedly different than, say, Charles Leclerc’s or Max Verstappen’s or Lando Norris’s or even his teammate, George Russell’s drive. In fact, I’d say Lewis, like so many before him, has found life outside F1 more in focus as his career in the sport becomes less focused. I think that’s a natural transition despite the recent comments from Sir Jackie Stewart bemoaning the fact that Lewis didn’t retire on the top.
I have always felt that Schumacher retired two years too early. I wonder if this year and next are Lewis’s “two years”? Some of the antics of late have been a little much according to detractors as well as Ecclestone. Especially when it came to the bad back routine.
‘All b*******,’ says Ecclestone. ‘George is taller and if it was going to happen to anyone it would have happened to him.
There was a bit of Nigel Mansell about it. At least with Nigel, he would get out of the car and rub his left leg as if he had broken it. Next moment, it would be his right leg.’
I made the same comparison when that occurred and found the entire thing a bit formulaic and scripted to drive the Mercedes narrative for dramatic mid-season FIA regulation changes. I also think the jewelry issue is overblown as well. Ecclestone does too:
‘We need characters. If he wants something in his nose, that’s fine by me. Whatever he wants. He wears all these bloody clothes. It’s wonderful.
‘He is doing it for him, not for Formula One. The danger is that people speak more about Lewis than Formula One. You write about him. But I feel these are the rules and that has to be that.
‘End of story. Because if I were a driver and went over the white lines and got a time penalty, I’d say, ‘You sort out this guy properly according to the rules and then you can sort me out, otherwise, shut your mouth. They are rules, not maybes’.
‘I’d say if you can’t take them out, no problem, you’re just not driving a car with them in, that’s all. When the drivers used to say to me, ‘We can’t race in this weather’, I’d say, ‘OK, you don’t have to’.
The other recent issue is the Mercedes bouncing conundrum and the FIA’s extraordinary Technical Directive issued on last Thursday and Mercedes showing up Friday with the allowable floor stays. This had many tongue wagging about the new FIA F1 chief, Shaila-Ann Rao who was Toto Wolff’s personal attorney. Ecclestone wasn’t to keen on the idea and nor were other team bosses.
‘It’s bloody dangerous.
‘Toto started all this nonsense about the cars needing to change. She told them about the new directive, obviously. She worked with Toto for two or three years.
‘I wanted to get Luca di Montezemolo as chairman of the company when I was running things. But the teams went mad because he was Ferrari’s man.
‘It was seen as a conflict of interest, so how can she do this job?’
This is most likely how other teams view this situation as well and the FIA is going to have to go a long way of assuring them there is no conflict of interest here.
As for Lewis, time will tell. He seemed buoyed by the podium last week so perhaps he can find some more drive to move forward. If I’m honest, last year’s finish would have taken he stuffing out of me and the passion for driving in F1 would have evaporated so the fact that Lewis is still here is a good sign. Now he just needs to start beating his teammate and with any luck, Mercedes will give him a car to start beating the competition again.
I wonder what the past iterations of Lewis Hamilton would say to him (the one with the 7 titles, the one who won his first title, etc.)
I reckon if Merc can solve the issue, it’s GAME ON!
I think the whole Russell beating Lewis comparison is unfair at the moment, George got very lucky with safety cars and wet weather tyre changes in a couple of races, so that has skewed the numbers by a lot. Let’s see how things stand at the end of the year. I wouldn’t be writing off Lewis just yet.
Racing…. No one said it was going to be fair. We are all waiting to see if the Mercedes geniuses figure it out and Lewis gets on the gas. It is that simple. If a hair appointment is missed, that is reason for concern.
F-1 is not where everyone gets a trophy. I will how ever being the snacks.
I don’t think Lewis, George or anyone at Marc cares one bit about who’s beating who in a chassis that seems to be fluid and random setup directions over a weekend. This is just a “lost year” as to contention. What? Some thinks Lewis will end up at Haas or somewhere on account of this year? Fuggetaboutit.
It is embarrassing to hear old men riff on stuff they used to know. I’m am 70. I learned right away what a tedious, uninformed bore I am on such matters. The world (and especially the world of work) moves on. Instead, maybe buy a hat you like and enjoy life. Ain’t no shame in that, Bernie.
Lewis is an amazing driver, but he’s become accustomed to wining from the front. Not saying that he hasn’t put in some AMAZING comeback drives over the years, but he’s had the equipment to do it in and most importantly had confidence in his car. But his confidence is very fine and doesn’t drive well with any distraction. A loose bit of tape flipping around his peripheral is enough to throw him off his game. If these were last years cars, I’d give the edge to Lewis on win/loss, but with this one, George’s time at Williams is giving him… Read more »
Regarding Lewis’ motivation, I think he might go through the same thing that for instance Vettel had in 2014. For the last few years he was in the best car and always arrived at a race track knowing “I can win this”. That being taken away and now arriving with “well, if I am really lucky and others screw up I might be on the podium maybe” must be demotivating. For Russel that scenario is of course a huge motivation, because he used to arrive with “With a little bit of luck I hope to get into Q2”. Vettel had… Read more »
He’s always been a diva. Now he’s getting older the diva part of him seems to get bigger and the champion in him has dwindled
People love all the speculation. That’s part of the F1 appeal. The rankings at the end of the year will reveal all. It’s like all the NFL draft grades, when the players have yet to even take to the pitch – give ’em a few years then do your grading.
With some upgrades this weekend, we’ll see how Lewis and the Merc are doing together. Hopefully, more racing and less nonsense off the track for everyone and I think its free on Channel 4 in the UK, giving a larger audience as many won’t pay out for the Sky package.