Slipping Through His Fingers: Will Lewis Hamilton Ever Win Another World Championship
Lewis Hamilton is seen during the presentation of the 2022 Formula 1 car at Silverstone Circuit in Towcester, Great Britain, July 15, 2021

Just three years ago, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were on top of the world. He had just won his seventh World Championship, equaling the record set by Michael Schumacher. He was widely considered as one of the best drivers Formula One had ever seen and he had every hope of winning his eighth world title the following year.

Then it all came crashing down. Mercedes was bogged down with build issues which had Hamilton and his teammates who once dominated the F1 circuit playing catchup with the rest of the races.

Plus, there was a new kid on the block and he drove like a madman – one that kept winning race after race after race, leaving Hamilton and the rest of the drivers to eat his dust.

Days of Glory

Hamilton won his first World Championship in 2008. The then-23-year-old was fresh-faced and eager. He was the new darling of the F1 scene. He was new blood and not that, he was making waves for his many firsts, including being the first driver of African-descent in Formula 1.

But even with that new blood boost, it still took Hamilton six years before winning his second title.

2014’s win was a double windfall for Hamilton and Mercedes as the Brit took home the World Championship and Mercedes was named Constructor’s Champion.

It was nearly a sweep of wins for Hamilton from 2015 to 2020, the only exception was in 2016 when the championship was bagged by Nico Rosberg. Still, Mercedes was Constructor’s Champion. Hamilton came in second in points for that year, but he remained gracious as he watched his teammate take home the prize.

From 2017 to 2020, Hamilton was the undisputed King of the Hill.

He was on a special high when his 2020 win came around as it gave him his record-equaling 7th World Championship win.

Neither he nor Mercedes could have foreseen the troubles that will be facing in the next couple of years, courtesy of the young upshot from Red Bull who came in third in the World Championship rankings for 2020.

The Max Verstappen of it All

To say that 2021 wasn’t Hamilton’s year would be a complete understatement.

He only managed to come in second in points for the World Championship, topping it all was a young Dutch driver named Max Verstappen.

It was Verstappen’s first World Championship and it did not come without controversy despite setting a lot of firsts for himself. He is the first driver from the Netherlands to win the championship and he is also the first Honda driver to win since Aryton Senna did so in 1991.

He was also the first non-Mercedes driver in the turbo-hybrid era to win the World Championship.

All of that may sound impressive, but it is not what many fans remember about that year’s championship or Verstappen, for that matter.

What stood out was Verstappen’s character. He is a nearly reckless driver on the track and has been accused of endangering other drivers.

Plus, there was the controversy of the season finale.

The 8th That Slipped Away

There was much moaning and controversy after the final race of the 2021 season.

Hamilton had a better start at Abu-Dhabi and managed to take the lead in the first turn but a number of factors and decisions by officials made it nearly impossible for Hamilton to pass Verstappen – this includes a whole hullabaloo with the safety car.

In the end, Hamilton lost the race and lost his chance at an 8th World Championship that year.

Mercedes later lodged protests against the race results but both were dismissed. The FIA later acknowledged the controversy but by then, the dame had been done.

Showcasing his disapproval of the outcome, Hamilton even skipped FIA prize-giving ceremony, which was held on December 2021.

The following year, Michael Masi was fired as race director and his lapses were acknowledged.

Despite all that, the FIA ruled that the results of the Abu Dhabi race were final.

In More Trouble

Although many, including Hamilton himself, would have loved to have made the 2022 season his revenge season of sorts, it was not to be.

He and Mercedes ran into more constructor troubles and they failed to secure a pole position or one Grand Prix win all season – the first time it’s happened since his career started in 2007.

With that performance, it was clear for all that Hamilton did not have a chance to win the World Championship.

A Little Better in 2023

2023 started more or less in the same low vibe for Hamilton and Mercedes. But there were signs of improvement as the season rolled along.

As of September 2023, Hamilton is fourth in the Driver Standings, he still likely won’t win the driver’s championship this year, but things are looking up and it looks like Hamilton himself is in no mind to give up.

Unfinished Business

Toward the end of August 2023, Hamilton signed a new contract with Mercedes and he says that he feels particularly motivated, saying that he and the team have some “Unfinished Business” in F1.

He later said that his reason for staying in F1 and Mercedes is that he is “trying to win more world championships”.

He does clarify that “revenge” is not on his mind but it is clear that what happened that day in Abu Dhabi back in 2021 still lives rent-free in his mind.

“I’m not really a revenge person,” Hamilton said.

“It’s not about redemption. That’s in the past. There’s nothing we can do about the past.”

“But what we can do is work better moving forwards, and I truly believe with this team we can win more world championships and races together. So that’s where all my energy’s going.”

Chasing the 8th

Even without his 8th World Championship, Hamilton is still in a class of his own. He has more wins and pole positions than any other driver – statistics that Verstappen is far from equaling as of yet.

But an 8th win would see Hamilton stand alone at the top of the F1 major records lists.

With this newfound confidence and hope for the next seasons, who knows? Hamilton might yet be able to bag his 8th.

He said it so succinctly, “If it’s not next year, we will continue to work through it, but I truly believe that if it’s not next year it will be the year after.”

Maree cartujano
Sports Pundit staff writer
Sports writer and editor....

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