The longer the Mercedes struggles continue, the greater the number of ex-racers and pundits calling for Lewis Hamilton to jack it in.
Latest in a long line is Sir Jackie Stewart, the 83-year-old delivering as condescending a piece of advice as you could wish to hear. “It’s time for him (Hamilton) to resign,” said Stewart. “He’s got music, he’s got culture, he loves clothing and the rag trade would be absolutely suitable for him.”
Or, with his expertise, he might want to stay in the sport, you never know. He might want to dip into the punditry business in the way someone such as Jenson Button has. He might want to concentrate on his campaigning and charitable work, championing the victims of discrimination and standing up for the under-privileged.
But any of that can wait, even though Stewart, apparently, thinks Hamilton could be in danger of tainting his legacy. “It’s a pity he wasn’t resigning at the top,” Stewart continued. “Lewis is in that group of the Ayrton Sennas and the Alain Prosts – or even the Jackie Stewarts maybe.” For avoidance of doubt, unless that is a reference to both being knighted, Lewis is most definitely not in the group of Jackie Stewarts.
One won three championships and 27 Grands Prix, the other has won seven championships and 103 Grands Prix. One had 43 podium finishes and 15 fastest laps, the other has 184 podium finishes and 59 fastest laps. Hamilton is a stand-alone driver.
And he has not become that man by being a quitter, by being someone who walks away after a few bad races. We are not even halfway through the 2022 Formula One season and Hamilton is lying sixth in the drivers’ standings
Walk away because there are five drivers ahead of you in the championship table? Go off in a strop because your team-mate – in this case, George Russell – has got the better of you over the course of the first nine races of the season? Now, THAT is how you would taint your legacy. Hamilton is ultra-fit and there really are no serious signs that his abilities are on the wane. The fact that he trails Russell can almost certainly be put down to using slightly different set-ups that have not paid off.
Plus, on more than one occasion, Russell has benefited from the timing of a safety car and from team strategy that has not always pleased Lewis. If Hamilton was ready to retire, perhaps he would take the misfortunes of this season with a shrug of the shoulders, with an air of indifference.
Instead, it riles him – because maybe, after such a long stint of success, the racer in Hamilton is privately relishing the challenge of conquering this year’s struggles. No, it has not been the best of seasons for Hamilton … but the rag trade can wait for now.