Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul, 2020

Hamilton: I’d still be a one-time champion if I’d stayed at McLaren

2021 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton has admitted he was unsure when he would win a race again after leaving McLaren to join Mercedes eight years ago.

The move to Mercedes brought Hamilton extraordinary success. Last year he scored his sixth world championship as a Mercedes driver, in addition to the first he won at McLaren in 2008.

While he is yet to agree terms to race for Mercedes again in the 2021 F1 season, Hamilton recently acknowledged he would likely still have just one championship to his name if he hadn’t left the team that brought him into the sport.

Hamilton said he wanted to join Mercedes to help build them into race-winners. The team had won just one race in three years since returning to F1 when he signed for them in 2012.

“I’d been with McLaren since I was 13 so it was my family and I was very safe there, I was well taken care of,” he said in an interview for Mercedes sponsor Crowdstrike.

“But I think McLaren had this amazing history, they had multiple championships, they were super-successful and I felt that I wasn’t necessarily helping build something. It was already an illustrious team, it already had all that success. It had the biggest cabinet of trophies and I wanted to go somewhere where I could help, could be a big part of building something.

“When I joined this team, it didn’t have many trophies in the cabinet. It was on the way up, it was growing, it was building. There was more people coming. And I was like, I want to go somewhere and see if I can utilise everything I’ve learned in all these years, the privilege of working at McLaren, apply those learnings to a team that’s not being very successful to becoming successful.”

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McLaren were championship contenders in 2012, and leaving them to join Mercedes “was a risk”, Hamilton said.

Hamilton left McLaren with one title and 21 race wins
“For sure there was moments when I was like, geez, I don’t know when I’m going to win again. I had to really analyse a lot of the pros and cons.

“But for me, taking the risk: Senna used to say ‘if you’re not going for a gap, you’re no longer racing driver’. I think if you’re not taking risks in life, then you’re standing still.

“So I could have stayed there. In hindsight, you look at if I had stayed, I wouldn’t have another championship to my name. I would still be a one-time world champion after 14 years.”

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda – who died in 2019 – persuaded Hamilton to leave McLaren for their team.

“Things happen for a reason, one way or another,” he said. “And I’m really, really grateful that I took that step. I took that leap of faith. It’s thanks to people like Niki – rest his soul – and to Ross and to Mercedes for truly believing in me.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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105 comments on “Hamilton: I’d still be a one-time champion if I’d stayed at McLaren”

  1. I really hope that in the future, F1 will become less dependent on luck and more dependent on driver ability.

    As it stands right now, F1 is too dependent on who gets the right machinery at the right time.

    Daniel Ricciardo is one of the most talented drivers of this decade, and yet he has never had even one opportunity in a top car.

    Meanwhile, a thoroughly mediocre driver like Bottas has already had more potential WDC opportunities than many great drivers have ever had.

    Formula 1 will be a better sport when the cars become more evenly matched and driver talent becomes the biggest differentiator.

    1. Or at the very least, luck should not last so long. I think it’s fine if smart engineering makes a team unassailable for one season, but not for 7 (and realistically speaking, nr. 8 is pretty much in the bag already).

    2. It is a difficult balance F1. First and foremost, it is an engineering challenge, and it is up to the other team’s engineers to beat Mercedes.

      If you are a team with the best engineers, you will want the best driver too, and one that suits your team philosophy.

      If you want completely evenly matched cars, watch a spec series.

    3. F1 is not a driver championship.
      All the focus in WDC is wrong IMO. I’d focus more on the WCC with the top 3 teams (rather than driver) being celebrated after a race with the winning driver on the side podium.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        26th January 2021, 9:24

        I respectfully disagree.

        The World Championship was instituted as a Drivers World Championship. The team/constructors championships came later.

        The winning driver is called the World Drivers Champion. F1 IS a drivers championship, like it or not.

        Unfortunately as I’m sure will point out, its also a constructors championship. Which is tricky, because many times there are conflicts of interest. The entrants will always dictate their goal and that is mostly the constructors championship, but not always.

        I always argue the competitiveness of driver/car combination should be influenced 50/50 by car and driver. Too often the driver only has about 1-2% effect on the speed of the car. I agree, its hard for F1 to call itself a Drivers World Championship when this is the case.

        So F1 need to make its mind up what it wants to be and make some tough decisions accordingly. Something has to change.

        1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk I don’t disagree with the bulk of your comment, however, I find your last two sentences misplaced. Practically the minute Liberty took over and hired Brawn they started the road to a different philosophy of cars and of financial sustainability. They did this by including all the teams, not just the top ones, and getting their feedback, taking into account their individual preferences, with compromises and negotiations, and all the teams have signed up for the new future. That future will include cars no longer extremely negatively affected in another car’s dirty air. That is huge. That will go a long way towards making F1 much more a driver vs driver series.

          F1 has made up it’s mind what it wants to be and has made some tough decisions accordingly. We’d be seeing that finally come to fruition this year had it not been for the pandemic. This is the earliest any entity taking over from the BE era would have been able to enact these sweeping changes. Not sure what more anyone could have hoped for or expected from any entity taking over from BE.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            26th January 2021, 17:56

            Yes I think you are right. I’m not knocking Liberty in that respect.

            My comment was in response to the fact that ColdFly seemed to want the opposite, and that I’m frustrated the changes haven’t happened sooner!

            Lets hope those tough decisions bear fruit very soon.

        2. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk

          The World Championship was instituted as a Drivers World Championship. The team/constructors championships came later.

          Originally, Grand Prix racing was all about the car manufacturer. Which car was the fastest and most reliable.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            26th January 2021, 17:57

            That doesn’t make my comment any less accurate.

      2. Agree, @coldfly. It’s the race team that is the best part of the race. But F1 is in a cost-cutting phase – can’t expect see 800 people on the podium.

        1. No problem @jimmi-cynic.
          I think on 6 Jan there were more than 800 people on the podium of the Capitol on claiming victory.

          1. Those 800 on the capitol podium can claim victory all they want, but the reality is that they lost. Thank goodness.

      3. Luckily you’re not everyone. The rest of us tune in for a drivers championship first and foremost

      4. @coldfly Exactly. It’s like having a separate soccer championship for top scorer. You’d have the same discussion that champions are just lucky to be in the best team.

        1. @f1osaurus

          You’d have the same discussion that champions are just lucky to be in the best team

          That’s the exact reason why players like Messi are excluded from the GOAT discussion because they won in a specific context. Out of that contest (Tiki Taka Barcelona with Xavi & Iniesta at their best), he didn’t made the difference in his career.

          Maradona, who made miracles and took technically inferior teams Napoli & Argentina to glory is considered the GOAT for a reason. Even out of the Pele, Maradona GOAT debate. Messi cannot compare in greatness to players like Zidane, Cristiano… who have more impressive careers proving themselves over and over again by winning in different teams and in style and with their national teams too.

          Even in collective sports, it’s not that hard to spot players who can made a difference whenever they went. I think you can’t argue that players like Tom Brady, Lebron James, Cristiano… have won because they were in the best teams.

      5. The issue, as with so many other things in life, is money. It’s not lack of talent that prevents the midfield from rising to the front. It’s hundreds of millions of dollars worth of difference. If budget restrictions are put in place it could really make a difference. Then we would really start to see who is talented and who isn’t on the driver side. We’d see guys like Bottas exposed. We wouldn’t see silly records like the ones that Hamilton, Schumacher, or Vettel, all of which were achieved through historically dominant cars

      6. @coldfly Perhaps if F1 always accented the teams over the drivers and did as you suggest on the podium by highlighting the team order with the driver on the side, I’d have a different attitude, but for me it has always been more about the drivers than the teams, as in, I’ve never really cheered of any one team as such, other than when my fave driver was driving for them. As teams go I’ll always have a soft spot for Ferrari because of Gilles, McLaren because of Senna, Williams because of Jacques, and then when I didn’t have a driver I was as passionate about that still became Rosberg as I was very impressed with how he did vs MS given how much I had expected the team to be centred around him ala his Ferrari days. Yet Rosberg seemed never phased nor intimidated (which would have been understandable) by MS. Yeah for me it has never really been about one team for life, and I have just always naturally gravitated towards the one individual that gets to take all that has gone into the project after all the money and resources have gone into it, and run with it. That’s not to say I don’t have huge respect and admiration for most teams and their work though, but I just have never cheered for a team nearly like I have for a driver.

      7. @coldfly Very interesting idea and sort of agree

    4. Yes lets hope the last 70 years of the best cars ending up with the best drivers ends

      1. Except vettel is proof the best drivers don’t always end up in the best cars. That guy got a dominant car for four years with a slow teammate. And now that he has to fight for points his skills are showing. And alonso ended up in slow cars despite being one of the quickest guys

        1. Absolutely, alonso proved to be superior to vettel and uninformed viewers will think the opposite cause 4 vs 2 titles.

        2. That sounds a lot like the current Hamilton/Bottas situation…. ;)

    5. Chileshe Mwansa
      26th January 2021, 12:45

      People always forget Formula 1 is two competitions: The drivers on the circuit and the engineers in the factories. To ask that the engineers not try to win their competition so that we can have a better show in the drivers competition is not really fair to the engineers who make up the bulk of the numbers in the teams.

    6. In f1 the car has always been the most important thing. Driver make a difference when the cars are close in speed or between teammates

    7. János Henkelman
      26th January 2021, 19:08

      That’s always been the case:

      Webber at RedBull
      Fisichella at Renault
      Irvine at Ferrari
      Berger at McLaren
      Verstappen at Benetton

      All of them could have won the championship if they had beaten their team mates!

    8. I agree on the statement about danny ric but if he had his big chance could he change his game cos he’s always looking to take risk cos he has to, what about when he doesn’t does he have the quality and focus? Verstapen has been around 3/4 years still making same mistakes! Lewis stopped making them mistakes 3/4 years in!

  2. Even when Lewis Hamilton himself says it, Hamilton fans won’t believe it…

    1. As if you care what Hamilton says, you do care now because it fits your agenda but had it been another topic you would 100% be salty on Hamilton.

      1. @noname What agenda is that, exactly?

        1. @S did you watch the 2012 season? Mclaren was completely incompetent with a horrible pit crew and horrible reliability. They cost Hamilton the title that year and I’m glad Lewis left that dumpster fire.

        2. I love that just below you have people arguing that he still would’ve made McLaren a title contender and won more.

    2. Im not a hamilton fan, apart from his BLM stance which i as a white male support as an ally to people of colour, but i believe that Mercedes would have wanted the best driver in their car, and would have signed Hamilton eventually. Though, say if they poached Vettel for the 2014 or 2015 season, imagine Vettel now being a 10 times world champion! that would stir up haters more than Hamilton’s domination.

    3. Even when Lewis says it himself haters wont believe him

    4. So what?
      Everybody knows no driver can turn a crappy car into a championship contender, but a world class pilot can actually make a HUGE difference in close fights.
      Just take 2018 season as an example. Mercedes wouldn’t have won that title if Hamilton was at Ferrari.

      1. Yes, 2018 was really close car-wise, vettel made so many mistakes that a better driver would’ve won at ferrari, hamilton, alonso, schumacher at his prime.

  3. He got lucky. Talentless driver backed by his yesmen like Keith Collantine

    1. Cry more, l o s e r .

  4. We are not all like minded, I for one am fully aware that had he not joined Mercedes then 2008 would probably have been his only title, please don’t tar us all with the same brush.

  5. Hm, actually, we cannot really say so for sure at all. With Hamilton there, who knows how the team would have developed in the last 8 seasons.

    I do agree that the change helped Hamilton further develop himself. And McLaren was clearly on a downwards trajectory in 2012 that it is only now starting to bend upwards. All of that makes it feel unlikely that Hamilton would have been able to fight for wins regularly and have had many chances at the championship in those years.

    Then again, had Hamilton stayed on, would more sponsors have stayed on? How would the situations with the team leadership have developed. And surely they would not have found themselves in the same situation with Honda they found themselves in with Alonso constantly bashing the engine?

    Overall, we cannot really judge that alternative reality, since it never came to be.

    1. @bascb Actually McLaren was not on a downwards tractjectory, McLaren had the best car but made too many mistake in strategy, pitstops and car issues. McLaren shoukd have won the first seven of 2012 with ease but they kept shooting themselves in the foot. After Lewis left than McLaren’s fall came cause Button couldn’t lead the team with his development skills, we already saw that during the 2012 season how Button was lost and got lapped by Lewis in Canada 2012 and basicaly again in Valencia until McLaren messed up Hamilton’s pitstop by 11 seconds which saved Button from not being lapped again.

      1. @noname, they WERE on a downwards trajectory though. The results had been getting worse in the years before 2012, and while McLaren were still very strong, the TREND was already downward.

        But whatever, so you are saying that Hamilton is wrong, and that had he stayed on the team would have had championship success in the period since? I guess that shows you as an example of what people above mention about certain fans?

        I say that the things going wrong, making errors in procedure as well as wrong paths in development and being unable to correct them, partly due to overestimating your skill at developing them in the first place are exactly what shows that they WERE in on a downward trend.

        Again, we cannot ever be certain how / if the team would have faired better had Lewis stayed on. But I do not think it would have miraculously turned them into a title contender for 2013-2020.

        1. @bascb Then explain how McLaren was on a downward trajectory years before 2012 because they finished P2 in the WCC year in year out.

          1. Well, first of all, they went from being more or less the second favourite to win the title next to Ferrari in the years from 2007-2008, to being more in a position where Ferrari were in until 2 years back, where they might win it, but rather unlikely (behind Red Bull) and you forgot that in 2012 they only finished as 3rd in the championship behind RBR and Ferrari. Before dropping down to 5th in 2013.

          2. @bascb It’s hardly a downward trajectory if one team finds a way to exploit moving bodywork and achieve domination from that trick.

            The 2012 car was actually faster than Red Bull, but it broke down a lot and pit and strategy errors killed whatever was left. It only started going downwards from 2013 onwards.

          3. @f1osaurus, yes, the 2012 car was actually quite good. And in a way it presented a bit of a false dawn. The team had been on a downward trajectory as a whole though, as also described in the article @davewillisporter points to (thanks, solid read) the team had had issues that set them on a path that ultimately could not work in the long term because they were too full of themselves.

            Just look at last year – what made McLaren the deserved “winner” of the midfield battle was not the fastest car (it wasn’t most of the time, with Renault and RP both being quicker at various stages in the season), but a good groove in getting the performance out of the car more often than not and making solid strategic choices got them the result.

            Just like what makes Mercedes so good is not just the fast car, but also the mostly very good execution, which also means they don’t have many technical mishaps. Also one of the points that make Red Bull achieve results even when they might not have the best car, or the most reliable one, they often were able to get their strategy right, avoid mistakes in the pitlane etc.

        2. McLaren’s downward path begun when Martin Whitmarsh became team principal and developed a bromance with Jenson Button.
          The team started to be prone to Jensie, helping him at the expense of Hamilton, and that’s was the beginning of the end.

      2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        26th January 2021, 10:40

        @noname @bascb I would highly recommend you read Mark Hughes latest on this subject over at The Race. Very inciteful. Key point he makes and I’ve heard Lewis state this in an interview regarding set-up and car development. “McLaren didn’t listen to me, they just did their thing”
        I’ve also read (I think from the book Life to the Limit or how to be an F1 driver) when Button joined the team he discovered McLaren weren’t interested in what other teams were doing. They believed they knew best.
        It is unlikely that a driver like Lewis was at the time would have changed this mentality as it only really changed when Zak took over and more again when Seidl came in.
        Hughes makes the point that McLaren had a paternalistic attitude towards their young protege. Today’s Lewis would return to McLaren as a boss!
        Read the article, it highlights both your points.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          26th January 2021, 10:42

          and just as an aside, how good Lewis is at forcing car development in a particular direction is why the W11 is such a good all rounder. He forced the low speed turn in development direction.

          1. It’s impossible for us outsiders to know how much Lewis is to thank for that, versus others in the team, or just luck.

          2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            26th January 2021, 11:36

            @aapje True, us outsiders can’t know, unless we listen to what the insiders say and inform our opinions based on knowledge not guess work! The above is credited to one James Allison, the person who revealed this info.

      3. I’m sorry you’re saying Button, who is notorious at being great at developing a car (but also having a very tight set up window) was bad at developing the car?

        McLarens downfall was a lot to do with power struggles in management. 2012 was when they were trying to take McLaren from Ron Dennis, and that only came to an end in 2017/2018. There were and still are ongoing restructuring and management changes at McLaren. It’s no coincidence that as soon as that started, they went downhill, and as soon as it ended they’re back on an upwards trajectory. Those changes and instability (as well as the causes for stakeholders wanting Dennis out) are the reasons why Hamilton wanted out of McLaren. And then given the options he had, he made an excellent decision going to Mercedes. In fact, the same reasons Hamilton was leaving is also why sponsors were leaving, had Hamilton not stayed it wouldn’t of made much of a difference on whether they would’ve stayed. It may have cemented for a few that it was time to leave though, but to suggest Hamilton staying would’ve helped McLaren is false, to say Button is the reason why the car was going backwards is even more false.

        As for whether McLaren were on a downfall before or after 2012, I kinda agree with both of you. In some ways they were improving up to 2012. They went from being at the back of the front runners to being the fastest car, they were also improving their WDC and WCC position up to but not including 2012 (they were getting more comfortable 2nds). However, they’re reliability and operations (pit stops, strategies etc) were getting worse, and in 2012 they actually fell back in the championship order despite having the fastest car. These are the reasons why the stakeholders wanted Dennis out, and also contributing factors as to why Hamilton wanted out. Additionally, these factors along with Dennis’ management style and the ongoing uncertainty about the internal takeover, management changes and restructuring left a lot of workers losing motivation, just like Lewis. So of course, everyone there was starting to perform horribly. It was known to have quite a toxic environment, before Alonso got there, let alone the impact he would’ve had. You could see it quite obviously with how they were just blaming Honda for everything, and even though they’re chassis at the time was arguably one of the best in the midfield (of you look at the data that wasn’t just BS by McLaren), McLaren is also the reason why the Honda engine was so bad. They had unrealistic demands, and projected their horrible work environment onto Honda. So in a way, you are right, they’re downfall began at the end of 2012, but the causes for that downfall were brewing up before then as OP was saying. So on that regard, you’re both sort of correct.

      4. cLaren had the best car but made too many mistake in strategy, pitstops and car issues.

        No they didn’t. Fast in qualifying but with great dips in race pace and poor reliability. RB was the better overall car

  6. When I joined this team, it didn’t have many trophies in the cabinet.

    Where did all the Brawn GP trophies go?

    1. Ross and Jenson took them, along with one of the cars each ;)

      1. Can only imagine what it looked like on the executive car spot when Brawn rocked up on day one after Mercedes took over.

  7. @coldfly Those were not Mercedes trophies but Brawn’s trophies.

  8. I believe Mercedes would have signed him eventually, for 2014 or 15 season.

    1. @kpcart Definitely not for 2014 (nor probably ’15 either) had either Hulkenberg or Perez joined the team in 2013 as Rosberg’s teammate instead of him. Possible never at any point in the last seven years, unless Rosberg would still have left after winning either a single WDC or more.

      1. I would estimate that Rosberg would probably have had more championships to his name by 2016 @jerejj. But off course we do not know that the team would have had the staying power it showed it had with that very high level team of drivers they had with Rosberg and Hamilton.

      2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        26th January 2021, 11:16

        @jerejj Ifs and buts and all BUT… If Lewis had turned down Brawn and Lauda (who were the ones chasing him) and they had gone with their second choice, Hulkenberg, by the end of 2013 Lewis would have come knocking given the performance of the McLaren (5th) relative to a less than perfect Mercedes (2nd) (Albeit with Lewis still at McLaren in 2013 those WCC places would likely be different given Perez’s woeful performance that year.)
        Even if Hulkenberg had a 2 year deal (likely a one year as he would be considered a place-holder for Lewis as Button was for Williams in 2000) and Merc decided to honour it instead of buying him out straight away, you would be bonkers to think they wouldn’t have signed Lewis for 2015, being the “star” driver they realised they needed way back in 2012 when Michael wasn’t working out.
        Rosberg would have won the ’14 WDC and based on Rosberg and Lewis’s first season together in 2013, Lewis would likely have won the 2015 WDC. Regardless, there is simply no way if Lewis approached them, they would not have signed him. Not with Mercedes detailed knowledge of his obvious skills as an engine supplier to McLaren and having sponsored his pre-F1 career. No way.
        Quote from Mark Hughes (latest article at The Race) which is taken from one of Jenson’s books:

        But having looked closely at Hamilton’s telemetry, Button saw things that he’d not previously believed possible and confided to his father John, “If ever he works out how to work with his engineers, the rest of us may as well go home.”

        If Button could see that you can bet the Mercedes engineers in the back of the McLaren garage could too.
        Again, ifs and buts but Lewis was always considered a top talent by Mercedes, certainly far better than their second choice Hulk. Singapore 2012 sealed the deal in much the same way as Sakhir 2020 did for Perez.

        1. Not sure about that @davewillisporter … Mercedes have shown a desire not to ‘rock the boat’ by switching drivers around since they started winning, if the Ros/Hulk or Ros/Perez partnership had proved successful then they may not have seen the need to look beyond that. After all, they have not replaced Bottas even though better drivers have been available.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            26th January 2021, 11:47

            @red-andy true but they were considering replacing Rosberg when all the fractious stuff was happening! Lauda let that slip one day and had Merc scrabbling to point out he wasn’t speaking for the team! Top teams go for top drivers. Let’s not forget, Rosberg was part of the team when they decided they needed Lewis. If they didn’t have Lewis they would almost certainly have signed either Vettel or later Ricciardo. They did try and sign Max to a junior role like Ocon / Russell.
            It would have been Rosberg Hulkenberg, that was their back up choice. That combination would, if extended likely have lost a WCC for them at some point.

          2. @red-andy
            They didn’t replace Bottas because they already have Hamilton.
            If Bottas was their first driver and only won the championship by a handful of points, the team’s position at the top would have been a lot more unstable. Therefore, the management would probably take into serious consideration hiring someone better.

  9. Mercedece together with lewis and the engineers have developed the best car on the grid. There is no denying that. Because a few times now many other people in the team have stated that Lewis is always pushing in the development side. Besides just jumping in the car and driving it. Thats what also adds a big + in lewis. Also he manages to capitalize on situations where as others sometimes seem to drop the ball.

  10. Possibly a bit of revisionism going on here as it was well known at the time Hamilton signed for Mercedes that they were pouring huge amounts of resource into the new-for-2014 engine regulations and were expected to be among the frontrunners when the new rules arrived. Still a gamble, but perhaps not as big as is now being mooted.

    It is an interesting counterfactual though. What if Hamilton had stayed at McLaren for 2013 and beyond? Who would Mercedes have picked up – it seems unlikely that Schumacher would have wished to prolong his disastrous comeback. Perez was a hot prospect at the end of 2012, as was Hulkenberg. Either could plausibly have ended up a Mercedes driver, though it’s likely that Rosberg would have ended up as a multiple world champion rather than either of them.

    And would Mercedes have stayed at the front for all these years without Hamilton’s drive and expertise? Most of me says yes, since the development restrictions that have stopped other teams from catching them up over the last seven years would still have been in place. But it’s possible that Hamilton made the difference in at least a couple of those years – whether a non-retired Rosberg could have done the same is maybe 50/50.

    And what of Hamilton himself? I expect he’d have made the jump from McLaren to Ferrari at some point, possibly when Vettel did in this universe, although if an opportunity had arisen at Mercedes he’d surely have been high on their wish list – not as valuable as he is now of course, but still recognised as one of the biggest talents in F1.

    1. Its strange because loads of people in F1 were saying he’d made a mistake but it was a pretty open secret that Mercedes hybrid was going to be class leading. Even as a layman with no insider knowledge it seemed the right move. McLaren were starting each season further and further on the back foot and only furious development got each years car to the front.

      Im firmly in the camp that Lewis has pushed the development and (helped) keep them at the front and if you look at the last few races this season, Mercedes stopped development and the pack was closing in already. So its a myth maybe that no one can catch because of a development freeze.

      Also its one isolated example but the team fell apart in Bahrain, of course Lewis not being there could be and probably was coincidence but hes sometimes got the team out of the mire and won races on either a sixth sense or his relentless pace. Anyway doesn’t matter what I think, people like Lauda rated him and have been proved right in their judgement of him.

  11. And Nico Rosberg might be a seven-time champion, depending on who replaced Schumacher instead of Hamilton. It’s incredible how one driver change can make such a big difference on the history books that we could be talking about Rosberg breaking Schumacher’s record this year, with Hamilton one of the great ‘what ifs’ of Formula 1.

    1. Its never so simple. The reality is the world doesn’t just shuffle up one if you take one person out of history, the whole thing changes. I think its called chaos theory

      1. Or even if you take one butterfly out of history.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      26th January 2021, 11:28

      @f1frog Unlikely. One of the big differences between Lewis and Nico is Lewis’s ability to soak up pressure and be consistent year after year. He sacrifices a lot to do that including not having a family. Nico already had one and the dedication he put into 2016 was to him too big a sacrifice. He likely would have retired at the end of 2016 for the sake of his family regardless of his team-mate.

    3. @f1frog Or if Rosberg was replaced with a Bottas, Schumacher might have racked up 3 or 4 more. Or maybe Vettel who would end up in double digits.

    4. doubt it. Vettel probably takes 2017 and 2018 in the Ferrari

  12. He’s right and what’s more Rosberg would have possibly been on 6 WDCs. And there would be talk of him being the GOAT.

    1. Assuming Rosberg had the same impact on the team, sponsors, track, etc. as Hamilton did/does? I get the impression from listening to the Brawns, Laudas and other key players in and around Mercedes that that was doubtful. And even questionable that Mercedes would still be around as a team.

      1. Think he is not tied to a country so even though he is technically German and his father is Finnish, he was born and raised in Monaco so wouldn’t have the support of a nation like Ferrari or drivers like Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso, Ricciardo.
        However he is a pretty boy and am sure if he was winning he would have picked up a number of fans along the way.

        1. But then Rosberg would not have been able to beat a faster Ferrari in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Although the 2019 title would have become a big discussion if they had won it and then had to admit they cheated on the engine.

          1. What you said is not rooted in reality I’m afraid, so I won’t respond further.

          2. I disagree about ferrari 2019, that car was only good on straights, less reliable than mercedes and terrible on most tracks, that year had a dominant mercedes, but I’m ok assuming rosberg, had everything stayed the same, would’ve lost the 2017 and 2018 titles to ferrari.

          3. @f1osaurus

            But then Rosberg would not have been able to beat a faster Ferrari in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

            Bottas comfortably finished 2nd in 2019 but Rosberg (who is better than Bottas) would not have won the title?

            Low IQ post

            Rosberg would have won 2017 fairly easily too, seeing that Bottas finished only 17 points behind Vettel and Rosberg is much better than Bottas.

            In 2018, Vettel finished over 80 points behind Hamilton, which is significantly larger than any gap Hamilton ever had over Rosberg.

            The reality is that Mercedes would have won every title from 2017-2019 even with Rosberg as the lead driver instead of Hamilton.

            At the end of the day, Hamilton isn’t particularly important to Mercedes’ success.

  13. I always rated Rosberg quite highly and am quite confident he’d have seen off most of the other drivers on the grid at the time had Hamilton not been his team-mate. It’s quite feasible he’d have been a multiple world champion now under those circumstances. I would assume though, that as soon as 2014 began Hamilton would have been chasing that seat at Mercedes, along with Alonso, Vettel and any one of those names could have ended up as the most successful driver of all time by this point (yes, even Vettel).

    Hamilton was lucky that Mercedes wanted him at the right time, but that’s not to say he isn’t deserving. He is one of two or three drivers over the last 15 or so years who could be described as best of class, and if you put a best of class driver in a best of class car then the rest is inevitable.

    It’s a shame that he and Verstappen aren’t a bit closer in age as I’d have loved to see them battle it out under the new regulations for years to come. Realistically though, Hamilton may do a season or two maximum with the new cars, and possibly not even that.

    1. I think you are spot on. If you look at the start of the 2013 season, Vettel has 3 titles, Alonso 2 and Kimi, Jenson and Lewis with 1 apiece. Lewis is rightfully one of the the best drivers on the grid in 2013 but that doesn’t make him the best on the grid. If he had stayed at McLaren it might had had to wait a while for a seat at Mercedes to open up or for someone to buy him out of a contract. As Vettel became a 4 time winner Mercedes at the end of the 2013 season when he moved a couple of seasons later maybe a 4 time German champ in a German car might have been more appealing to them.

    2. Agree. Hamilton was lucky (and also hugely deserving).

      There were 3 top guns in the sport back in mid-2012. Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton. Vettel had a good car and relationship and didn’t feel the need to move. Alonso wanted a dutiful no. 2 and his championship situation in the middle of 2012 meant that breaking a contract would have resulted in sacrificing a championship chance.

      Lewis had no such problems.

      1. Alonso was never an option for Mercedes following spygate and crashgate. Far too damaged goods for their brand and ultimately he cost them money and embarrassed them with spygate by association to McLaren. Not saying he wasn’t a top driver but he just wouldn’t ever have been signed by them.

  14. Here are two alternate scenarios:
    1. It makes no difference
    Lewis Hamilton stays at McLaren, and Schumacher stays at Mercedes for one more year. Schumacher then struggles in 2013 and retires at the end of the year. Hamilton now has the same decision to make that he had in 2012, but this time it is easier, as McLaren have just had a horrible year and slumped to fifth in the championship, while Mercedes have improved to third/fourth (I don’t think they’d have beaten Ferrari with Schumacher instead of Hamilton, and may have been beaten by Lotus as well). Hamilton then joins Mercedes in 2014, and the next seven years are no different to what actually happened.
    2. It rewrites history
    Lewis Hamilton stays at McLaren, and Schumacher stays at Mercedes for one more year. It’s possible that he could have done well in 2013 and earned a contract extension, but unfortunately the skiing accident would have stopped him from taking part in 2014. Whether Schumacher earned his extension or not, he could not have competed in 2014. Now, lets say that Hamilton had signed a multi-year deal with McLaren, and was unable to leave to join Mercedes. They would need a new driver to replace Schumacher, and, if Hamilton was still at McLaren, Perez and Hulkenberg would have been teammates in Sauber for 2013. At this point in their careers, I think Hulkenberg was better than Perez, so I will say that he is the one that Mercedes chooses as a teammate to Rosberg. Rosberg would then have won in 2014, with Hulkenberg finishing second. This result would probably be repeated in 2015 and 2016, but Rosberg would not have retired in 2016 because he would not have the stress of being teammate to Hamilton. Meanwhile, Hamilton would eventually have left McLaren, and I think it is possible that he would have swapped places with Alonso in 2015 and gone to Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel would therefore have stayed at Red Bull. In 2017, we would therefore have a championship battle between Rosberg (Mercedes) and Hamilton (Ferrari), with Hulkenberg and Raikkonen as their respective wingmen. Perez could have gone to Ferrari instead of Raikkonen in 2014, as he would not have gone to McLaren the year before. At Red Bull, I think it would still be Ricciardo and Verstappen, as Vettel would have left after 2015 (maybe leaving Formula 1), while Sainz may never have driven in Formula 1 at all. Bottas would still be at Williams. Now we have to decide who would have won 2017 and 2018 out of Rosberg and Hamilton, and I think it would have been Rosberg. It would then have become easier for Rosberg in 2019 and 2020 with a more dominant Mercedes, and he would now be a seven-time champion, and going for an eighth.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      26th January 2021, 11:34

      @f1frog props for the detail! Impressive. One thing though. Although Lewis was a big factor in Rosberg’s retirement decision and as some forget, Rosberg did not himself believe he could repeat 2016 again, his family was the other major factor. Regardless of team-mate, he was reaching the end and wanted more time with his family.

      1. Interesting. In my alternate universe, Vettel would either by out of Formula 1, or driving for a small team in 2016. If Rosberg retired at the end of the season, maybe Mercedes would have been able to sign Vettel, and we still would have had Hamilton vs Vettel in 2017 and 2018, but with Vettel in Mercedes and Hamilton in Ferrari.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          26th January 2021, 14:55

          @f1frog alternatively, after winning 14,15 WDCs and on track to win 2016, Rosberg may have told Merc early to mid season it would be his last year and Merc would have grabbed Ricciardo instead of Renault.

          1. Possibly, but I actually don’t think Rosberg would have retired in 2016 at all, and would still be driving for Mercedes now.

    2. @f1frog That was the scenario I was going to post :o)
      Hamilton ends up at Ferrari and challenges Rosberg in 2017 and 2018. Who wins? There I differ, Hamilton I think, in part because we’d have seen Ferrari in better shape overall with Hamilton there. Vettel had to make a lot of mistakes to lose in those years and that also piled more pressure on the team. It’s also possible Hamilton would have ended up at Red Bull working with Newey (and blocking Verstappen’s rapid rise in effect). Or he may have stayed at McLaren, ended up disillusioned and lost his edge completely or left F1 for something else :o?

    3. Where have you been man?! Ferrari clearly had the fastest car in 2017, 18 and 19!

  15. Time to seperate cars and drivers.. drivers employed by Liberty, cars required to have interchangeable seats etc and just rotate. Covid has shown new drivers can readily/rapidly adapt to new cars/fittings so there is no fundamental technical problem… just commercial/politics.. but the tedious procession of Merc victories is killing the sport.

    Hamilton may be good, but not that good..

    1. Odd that from 8-22 he was often in a similar car to others and was that good. Now he is ‘not that good’.

    2. Great idea. Unfortunately, it will not work for F1

  16. A lot of people said he wouldn’t win any titles at Mercedes.

    Now many complain he wins too much with them!

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th January 2021, 15:16

    Lewis is spot on! He would have most likely not won another championship had he stayed with McLaren. That’s the kind of honesty with himself that allows one to reach another level.

    By the same token, it’s not known how many championships Mercedes would have won without Lewis. It’s easy to say they would have won all of them but that’s not necessarily the case. Just about every executive and design decision made by Toto and the rest of team would have been subject to change.

    It’s akin saying that Real Madrid would have won the Champions League 3 times in a row without Cristiano Ronaldo. There’s absolutely no way to know that and, in fact, most soccer fans would laugh at that because you need the difference maker and in the case of Real Madrid that was Cristiano Ronaldo along with Zidane. In the case of Mercedes, I would say Lewis and Toto are the difference makers.

  18. I like this comment from hamilton, good to have some honesty.

    Obviously he’s been a bit too lucky with how the car has been to be just luck, maybe he’s a driver that has a positive effect on the car development and alonso isn’t, but obviously as the cars have been, no driver would’ve won a title in the 2013-2020 mclaren, however maybe it’d have been more reasonable had hamilton stayed but they were so far all those years that I’d find it odd.

  19. Hi Lewis, you have achieved a loot. Likely nobody could beat your records. It is time to move on again. There are new challenges and you still have lots to prove. Make a move, pick another car and make it the championship winning car.

    It is very likely a fair statement in the title of the article.

  20. Hmm, so Lewis gives an interview to a Mercedes sponsor and mentions Niki and Ross but not Toto.

    Some passive aggressive games going on in relation to the contract I presume :)

    1. I’m guessing either Hamilton’s contract gets announced on: end of January, start of February, Mercedes’ car launch day, or on the day before testing starts.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      26th January 2021, 17:57

      That would probably be because Toto had nothing to do with bringing Lewis on board, being at Williams during the signing period in 2012. Toto joined the team in 2013. It was Brawn and Lauda that negotiated Lewis’s first contract not Toto.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        26th January 2021, 18:18

        @davewillisporter that’s a pretty convincing argument, if ever I read one! :-)

  21. It was anticipated that Merc would have the best engine in the hybrid era so it wasn’t such a bold move to go to the works team when he did. It was no more of a gamble than staying at McLaren. McLaren up until 2010 were effectively the works Mercedes team. He was going from one to the other.

    1. This so revisionist, it’s laughable.

      Hamilton was roundly trounced by most fans and the media when he moved. A simple google search will set you straight, if you cared to.

  22. Let’s see if he continued with McLaren, but joining Ferrari in 2015 (Vettel’s position), my bet is he could be WDC for year 2017 and 2018 fighting Rosberg + Bottas from Mercedes.

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