Opinion: If He Can’t Win, Should Hamilton Retire To Protect His Legacy? – WTF1

Opinion: If He Can’t Win, Should Hamilton Retire To Protect His Legacy?

Whether all F1 fans like it or not, Sir Lewis Hamilton will go down as one of the best drivers in F1 history, if not the greatest 🐐 But like all good things, his career will come to an end at some point – the only question is when should he hang up his racing boots?  

Though Mercedes have dominated much of the turbo-hybrid era, Red Bull have given Max Verstappen the tools to beat him to the last two titles. 

With winning honours no longer a given, and the 37-year-old not getting any younger, few would begrudge him retirement. In fact, Hamilton’s haters are likely salivating at the idea that he won’t be there to put Verstappen in his place much longer. 

Yet, the seven-time champion put retirement rumours to bed a few weeks ago by saying he’s targeting a new “multi-year contract” with the Silver Arrows.

“There’s like this whole thing of [me] retiring that’s always lingering around, and honestly, I don’t like the idea of it,” he said.

“We have a lot more work to do as a team, as individuals within the team, we have a lot more to do as a sport, and I want to be a part of that shift.”

The big question is, does Hamilton risk his legacy if he stays? F1 history is littered with drivers who won the title but retired as backmarkers.

Take Jenson Button: an underdog and contender at BAR Honda, champion at Brawn GP, and contender again initially at McLaren.

However, the team’s pace plummeted in the McLaren-Honda years, and he ended his last season – in 2016 – in 15th.

Jacques Villeneuve, who won the title in 1997, finished in the same 15th position in his final F1 season when he split with BMW Sauber midway through the 2006 campaign. So, is Hamilton risking things a bit?

Well, retirement doesn’t always get you respect. Just look at Nico Rosberg, who retired champion, yes, but he’ll be remembered by some for running from a fight. 

Michael Schumacher also returned with an uncompetitive three-year spell at Mercedes, and he’s still revered by fans the world over.

Similarly, Hamilton’s not currently in a position to win, but he’s already done enough to secure his reputation in the sport, no matter what he does next. 

Still, unlucky Max fans. The man with the most wins in F1 could still be a thorn in the Dutchman’s side for years to come.

Should Hamilton carry on or quit while he’s ahead? 

12 thoughts on “Opinion: If He Can’t Win, Should Hamilton Retire To Protect His Legacy?

    • Really? both are the best drivers in their teams. Unless turning F1 into churning through and discarding young talent en masse is what you’re looking for, they’re not wasting any seats. Aston Martin sure isn’t discarding young talent, they’ve not dropped Lance yet :). So until I see that happening, it doesn’t seem like the teams at large are actually concerned about that.

  • He’ll know when the time is right, I think if he wins an 8th title, he’ll go. I think he might have retired at the end of last season if he’d won.

  • Rafael Montero says:

    Quitting while you’re ahead is only a good tactic when you’re gambling. This is motorsport.

    Lewis is the kind of athlete who will go down swinging. It’s just who he is.

    Michael had the misfortune of arriving into a Mercedes team that was still trying to get to grips. Whereas Lewis arrived when the perfect circumstances lined up. Mercedes still has the drive, the resources to get back in the front. Alonso and Vettel both made terrible career choices. I understand driving for Ferrari is a dream for any driver but they are in no way near shape or form to drive consistently at the front and win a championship, at least not while the current team philosophy remains and sadly, Mattia Binotto also does.

    Lewis knows he can accomplish much more under Mercedes. And regardless of what people feel about him, Lewis’ work in and out of the paddock will secure him his legacy regardless of where he ends up on the grid.

    • René Gerritsen says:

      I don’t fully agree. “You’re only as good as your last performance” is a thing in sports too. Many top athletes, F1 drivers, etc have stopped past their peak. Sometimes that is not a problem, like with Alonso: his qualities are still clear in his racing. With Vettel is a bit more painful to see, as he does not shine as much as we have seen him do.

      But in the end it is up to him. If he likes to be in F1, likes to fight for position ahead of the midfield, but not for podiums or wins every single race, that should be a reason to stay. Maybe he can help Russell develop, while helping the team develop as well. Even if he does not win WDC’s anymore, he can still put his mark on the team.

      I just wish the F1 fans would not be so polarized. This whole LH vs MV war that has been going on since 2021 is not healthy for the sports. And the thing is: the drivers play next to no role in the controversy!

  • But he is an 8 x FIA F1 Rules world champion. This year he’s been on development watch to try to develop the Merx, within budget. Looks like this year the championship is between Leclerc and Russell.

    • René Gerritsen says:

      A what? 😀 😀 😀 If he doesn’t win the championship, we create new titles to hand out in an effort to get him to 8 championships? My god, F1 is entertainment, get over it already.

      Ontopic: I think Hamilton should stay. It is clear he still has the talent to win championships. But Mercedes needs to step up and we need to be realistic about expectations. One good race on a track that suits them does not mean that they will be back for sure next season. If they have to ditch their concept due to fundamental issues, they start over one season of development behind the rest and it will be really tough to fight for wins in 2023. F1 needs a closer fight at the top. Ferrari was close this season, their car was a close match for Red Bull, but their strategy department together with some big crashes and mistakes by their drivers have cost them a lot of points (and development budget under the budget cap).

  • Hamilton’s legacy is secure, he’d have to do a Lance Armstrong to make a dent in it :). As long as the economics support him having a seat he can have a seat as long as he wants and shouldn’t worry about hypothetical dings on his legacy. Sure Willie Mays on the Mets was hard to watch, but it did not affect his legacy one iota.

    As they say; everyone is a pay driver. Hamilton should retire when he wants to, and he’ll be allowed to as long as he’s an asset to a team.

  • I think it will greatly depends on how 2023 will be for him.

    Option 1 : Mercedes is back on top. 8th WC easy. He may think he has finally accomplished his goal. He may leave on a high note.
    Option 2 : Mercedes can’t give him a good car. Not good enough to win another time. Frustration starts to build. He may think he doesn’t want to drive anymore.

    Option 3 : A tough season, lots of fights. Some victories and poles. Does he win the WC? Maybe, maybe not. But he feels the competition thrill. He will sign a new contract for sure.

    ATM, I think Option 3 is the most possible.

  • Not necessarily retire. His legacy is there and will be log after he goes. Just don’t do the same mistake Schumacher did and leave just to come back. That was not a smart move for his career

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