Lewis Hamilton, a seven time Formula One World Champion, is a free agent. Yes, one of the best, if not THE best, to ever race an F1 car doesn’t have a contract yet for the 2021 season still. I get the notion that some may say that it could be that he’s not coming back next year. I honestly don’t buy that.
I truly believe Hamilton will be back in the No. 44 Mercedes for next season. What I think the hold up is – how long will he be back for?
Hamilton caught COVID and was out for a bit. That obviously slowed talks. That also led to speculation that George Russell should be brought up now. The highly anticipated race in Bahrain on the outer track of that circuit was how would someone else do in Hamilton’s car.
Was Hamilton’s success because of how dominant that car really was or was Hamilton’s talent the reason that the car was so good?
Well, when you see Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull combine to win 146 straight races at one point, you start to wonder. They won the final 18 races of 2013 and the first 128 races of the hybrid era.
Also, you could really pick Mercedes as the winner among those three too. Out of the last 137 F1 races, they’ve won 102 of them (74%). Ferrari is next best at 17.
Yes, 1st among all race wins in the hybrid era is 102. Second is 17.
Yes, Hamilton has won 95 times in his F1 career. That’s most ever. Yes, he has 98 poles. Most ever. Yes, he has 164 podiums. Most ever. Yes, he won his seventh championship in 2020. That’s tied for most ever.
There’s no doubt that he’s in the G.O.A.T. category.
But you also have this. These are the stats to where the debate gets brought up now.
73 of his 95 wins (77%) have come in this hybrid era.
Mercedes, the team he races for, has won 102 of the 138 races (74%) during this era.
6 of his 7 championships (86%) have come in this era too.
He’s done his best when parity was at its lowest. He’s feasted on lesser competition. Those are facts. You can’t deny them. I can see why people would say that could somewhat tarnish a legacy as THE GOAT.
So, which side are you on?
That’s why the attention in Bahrain was to high. What could Russell do in Hamilton’s car?
Russell, a career of zero total points scored in F1, was quickest in two of the three practice sessions and qualified second too. If not for his crew letting him down twice, he likely was going to win that Sunday. That’s how good he looked. But, he also didn’t win either. He finished ninth.
Hamilton, has 26 straight finishes now of better than ninth and 48 of his last 49 and 80 of his last 83 overall. So, yes his car has helped, clearly. But, Russell and Mercedes also showed that Hamilton has skill as well to take a car capable of performing at the highest level and getting the best finish in it as well. Hamilton can take a car capable of dominating and wins with it.
That takes skill in itself.
Russell, showed skill but he didn’t win. That’s why I feel like Hamilton is sitting pretty right now.
I also get the notion from fans that why would Mercedes not just hire Russell as he would command a much smaller salary than Hamilton and allow the team to save a ton of money in the interim. Hamilton, is due to make stupid money on this next contract. Russell, would make a fraction of that. He can be just as good, right?
Why pay someone $30 million a year, just a guess here, when you can pay someone $1 million to do the same thing in the car?
Well, here’s why I think Hamilton will still get that money.
Mercedes wants Hamilton to win an eighth championship in their car. Think of the branding for decades to come because of that. No one is going to reach eight championships in F1 for years upon years. Sebastian Vettel has four titles but he’s honestly not going to win four more by time his career comes to an end. He may not even win another at this point now. Same for Kimi Raikkonen. He’s has one title but is driving for a team without a chance of producing a champion. He’s not going to win seven more in what’s left of his career.
Fernando Alonso is the only other driver to have won a championship in the field but he’s in his 40’s and needs six more championships to tie Hamilton. He hasn’t won a championship in 14 years. How realistic is that?
So, for someone to catch Hamilton, it’s going to be decades down the road if that ever happens. I mean, look how much we show Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari still. Think of how we will glorify and show Hamilton in that Silver Mercedes for years and decades.
An eighth championship is history. It’s going to be popular and shown on highlight reels for years to come. Wouldn’t it be better to hand Hamilton a blank check and say how much do you want and for how many years do we need to chase this together before he steps away? The ROI from an eighth title and those images of so will bring that money back in.
That’s why I feel Hamilton is still going to be PAID soon.