Lewis Hamilton will have to wait until 2023 at the earliest if he hopes to win an eighth world title
After winning eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships, Mercedes are winless through 10 races in 2022
Should the Silver Arrows star retire at the end of the season?
The 2021 Formula One season ended in immense frustration for Mercedes. The 2022 campaign has provoked similar emotions amid porpoising issues and a severe lack of pace in comparison to Ferrari and Red Bull.
Mercedes have not been at the back of the midfield like the Scuderia endured in recent years, yet they have been comfortably third-fastest on the grid.
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have generally unable to get near Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in qualifying. They have required fortune to get near the podium.
Hamilton delivered his best drive of the season at Silverstone, but the celebrations for a third place finish illustrate where their expectations are right now.
Mercedes and Hamilton are a non-factor when looking at race winner odds in Formula 1 betting. The seven-time world champion is facing his first season without a win.
Massive changes to the regulations often alter the dynamic at the top of the sport.
Mercedes still have decent raw pace if they can combat porpoising, but there is a considerable risk that the gap between themselves and the top two is not going to be closed significantly even by next season.
Hamilton will be 38 years old at the start of the 2023 campaign. He already has the most wins, poles, podiums and laps led in the sport’s long history.
How much desire is there to persevere without the chance to win an eighth title? Does Hamilton want to race through 2023 and maybe longer as no more than a betting outsider for podiums?
13 podium finishes at Silverstone!— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) July 3, 2022
Sir Lewis Hamilton is never done 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/4xjm5VE0OB
The demands of the F1 calendar are only getting greater. Hamilton is a fearsome competitor, and his drive at the British Grand Prix did not reflect a man ready to wave goodbye to the sport, even 15 years after his rookie campaign.
Yet, where others live for racing, Hamilton has other projects, other hobbies that must become more appealing when race wins are almost off the table.
Of course, there is no rush for a retirement decision.
Hamilton will always be able to go out on his terms – there’s no need to make a call on 2023 until the end of this season. Maybe Mercedes can close the gap, elevating their chances of title contention next year.
There is also the minor subplot of Russell outdriving Hamilton thus far this season. Perhaps this is just the younger of the British F1 drivers adapting to the car.
Even if it is, it’s a reminder that Hamilton will have a genuinely competitive teammate for the first time since 2016 if the Mercedes can give them a title-winning car.
Hamilton will be battling with the new era of Formula One stars in Russell, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
His performance in the second half of 2021 demonstrated that Hamilton can still be a champion if provided with the right equipment.
The coming weeks will determine whether the Silver Arrows can do that for him in 2023, and that might be what decides if this is the end of the greatest career in Formula 1 history.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*