Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Even Hamilton’s critics should be pleased he signed for two more years


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Through a strange confluence of circumstances, Lewis Hamilton has just agreed his second new Formula 1 deal within the space of six months.

His deal to drive this year, which was announced as late as February, was widely expected. Today’s announcement of a new two-year deal is a commitment which will satisfy a lot of people.

Of course the team, the driver and his army of fans – which number 22.8 million on Instagram alone – will cheer the news. But the most revealing acknowledgement came from Formula 1’s CEO, who took the rare step of immediately issuing a statement to welcome the announcement of a driver’s new deal.

“This is fantastic news for Formula 1 and I am delighted that Lewis will stay in F1 for at least another two years,” said Stefano Domenicali. “What he has achieved in this sport is incredible and I know he has more to come. He is a global superstar on and off the race track and his positive impact on Formula 1 is huge.”

Don’t underestimate the significance of this. Hamilton is a box office draw on a par with Michael Schumacher before him. The news he is sticking around for at least two more seasons will boost F1’s bottom line in a way gimmicks like Sprint races can only hope to.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Istanbul Park, 2020
Hamilton equalled Schumacher’s seven-title record last year
On the surface, this may not appear to be the case. Hamilton has dominated recent F1 seasons. He’s won six of the last seven title fights – and calling some of those ‘fights’ is generous. One fewer tardy start in 2016, or a little better reliability, and he would have monopolised the championship silverware every season since 2014.

Would F1 therefore be better off without the driver who’s had the competition in a choke-hold for the past few seasons? Certainly not.

First, there’s that star appeal. Second, there are clear signs the coming seasons are not going to be as straightforward as previous ones were.

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That much is clear already. Eight races into the marathon 2021 F1 season, Hamilton lies 18 points behind Max Verstappen, who’s won more races him so far.

The Mercedes supremacy Hamilton benefited from last year was wiped out by rules changes in the off-season. Now they find themselves caught on the horns of a dilemma: In the first year of restricted spending, how far should they plough resources into their current car at the expense of developing a machine to next year’s much-changed rules set?

Whichever way this is resolved, and whether or not the chosen priorities come at the detriment of Hamilton’s title hopes, he has bought into their plan for the future. Even if this year’s title eludes him, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be in contention for further silverware over the next two seasons.

But unlike at the beginning of the hybrid era, his success can’t be taken for granted. Given Formula 1’s avowed goal of levelling the playing field, Hamilton can expect the tough fight he is in this year to intensify.

Red Bull finally have a decent engine and Ferrari have clearly put an early focus on their 2022 plans. The customer opposition is growing too, from Mercedes-powered McLaren and rapidly-expanding Aston Martin.

F1 drivers and cars, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021
Data: 2022 F1 drivers and teams
Despite Hamilton repeatedly stating he wants closer competition between teams, he faced no shortage of detractors insisting he would scarper as soon as Mercedes’ early hybrid era dominance faded. Today’s announcement has disproved that view.

But even his critics should be pleased by this development. Hamilton’s days of routine success appear to be behind him. An eighth title does not look like a nailed-on certainty. The very reason his contract extension has been announced now is to free him of distractions as he strives to beat Verstappen, who at the time of writing has just out-paced him by half a second over the shortest lap time on the calendar.

There is also the tantalising prospect of Hamilton facing a tougher test within his own team. He will be 38 when his current deal comes to an end, Mercedes has to start thinking about the future, and it may well have decided George Russell is it.

Whether your preference is to see Hamilton win, lose or just keep adding to Formula 1’s bottom line, the news he’s going to be around for two more years should be welcomed by all.

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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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39 comments on “Even Hamilton’s critics should be pleased he signed for two more years”

  1. Hamilton clearly said he wants competition and to be the pioneer of the new cars next year. So I want to see the old Lewis of 2007-2010 in terms of aggression along with the developed Lewis of 2014-present. I also want to get, one more chance of watching him live on track. I was able to see some of his nice moves live, such as the move on Grosjean at Hockenheim 2014 just in front of where I was watching. With next year’s cars being tested better in terms of following, we should have better racing and more fun.

    1. Exactly, this is what I like to see as well. Many here could label me as a hamilton critic, but I actually liked him when he was at mclaren, I just don’t like mercedes’ attitude, I’m not talking about keeping performace up, I’m talking about lying, sandbagging, talking up opponents, accusing of cheating as soon as one is faster and being generally dishonest, nowadays I consider myself a neutral.

      And indeed, what I haven’t seen the last few years is hamilton making the difference in a not superior car, way too rarely, which we had the chance to see every single race before 2014, so as long as there’s no mercedes domination, possibly even a slight inferiority to the top machinery, or even a medium-car, it’d be interesting to see what he can do, hamilton also never had a true midfield car, except a few races early 2009, is he an alonso or schumacher in this sense, able to extract the most from a bad car? Probably we won’t be able to see cause merc is consistently strong, but he might be, based on some 2009 races.

      1. bastaconlebelinate
        3rd July 2021, 14:14

        i guess you didnt watch f1 in 2018-2019 when hamiltons skill under pressure won him championships while both vettel and ferrari folded? and im not a hamilton fan.
        che sciochezza.

    2. @krichelle
      Unfortunately, Verstappen is too much for him to handle

  2. petebaldwin (@)
    3rd July 2021, 12:56

    I’m glad he’s signed. I hated the easy domination we saw over the last few years because it made everything a bit meaningless in terms of the drivers – Mercedes won and whoever was the fastest of its two drivers therefore also won by default.

    I hope we see a close fight for the next few years and we get to see Lewis at his best because that’s when he’s exciting – pushing at 100%. Hopefully Mercedes can find a little more pace this year so it’s a bit closer but even if not, at least we get to see Lewis pushing hard rather than coasting around.

  3. This is great – the dominance has been annoying, his half baked US accent, and constant praise of others who are losing…
    But the sport is better with him. There have been memorable victorys and fights to the finish line that few since MSC and Senna could produce.
    My biggest fear of this signing is that Russell will be waiting in the wings for longer and maybe his time will come and go being frustrated in a Williams. I guess he could be poached by McLaren if Danny continues to under perform!
    All that means watching a luck less bottas get more and more depressed!

  4. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    3rd July 2021, 13:10

    Yeah… no. I probably fall into the critic category, I’m not a fan of his or Mercedes. I can respect his achievements and that he’s evidently one of the best on the grid, if not the sport as a whole, but personally I’d have been happy to see him leave. All power to those that enjoy him and are happy with the news but I don’t think ‘everyone’ should be happy he’s sticking around. I imagine Russell & Bottas aren’t.

    1. Sorry… I just can’t figure out why someone would be mad at the fact that a driver that’s clearly amongst the 20 best single seater drivers is choosing to remain in the top single seater series despite getting up there in age. This isn’t Raikkonen (who may not be there anymore) that we’re talking about.

    2. but personally I’d have been happy to see him leave

      Sorry for the disappointment mate. At least you get to keep on throwing all your bile against him and Mercedes for another 2 years.

  5. The t-shirt is a poke at Jackie Stewart for saying that Lewis was not loyal when he left McLaren.
    Besides the car being awful Martin Whitmarsh was not a Lewis fan and that turned out to be a good thing because LEWIS left.

    Jackie will most probably use that pic for throwing darts!

    Another two years of Lewis is absolutely good for F1 wether he wins or not and two years of hearing nothing from Jackie Stewart is equally good. …….and to think I was once a fan of his

  6. Being a ‘Hamilton critic’ for what Hamilton has done on a track seems quite bizarre. It’s like being a ‘Messi critic’ because Messi has always played for top teams and has missed quite a few goals over the years. I mean, you could probably do a YouTube compilation of them. One already exists probably. Hamilton is a classic fierce competitor (he competes over everything he once said). So yes he wants closer competition. But he’ll still want to win every race. Some people seem to get very confused by that apparent contradiction. As soon as that tight balance is thrown out of kilter, he tends to react badly at the moment (Monaco this year being a good example) but recovers quickly. Formula 1 needs drivers like that, any sport in fact, and Domenicali knows that very well.

    1. @david-br
      It’s normal to have these detractors when you are running for the GOAT position. Nobody of these detractors can argue that either Hamilton or Messi are exceptional competitors and the kind of talent that you may witness once in a lifetime if you’re lucky enough.

      I’m a detractor for both of them and I have solid arguments to support my claim that – unfortunately for their fans – they are not the GOATs in their respective sports football and F1 and by the way, I have been always vocal about it when those two were at their best and running away with everything.

      As for Messi, I don’t consider him to be the greatest of his generation not alone the GOAT. For me it’s CR7. Talent wise they are very close with Messi having a slight edge but with different playing style. Messi is a mini-Maradona and CR7 is a mini-Pele that’s how I like to describe them. The thing is Messi have shown over the years that he thrives the most in a tiki-taka context with insane midfielders like Xavi and Iniesta, a bit like Vettel give that rear downforce glued to the tracks Red Bulls and no one can beat him. Take Messi out of that context and see what he have achieved, almost nothing with both Barcelona and Argentina.

      CR7 on the other hand, started his career as a winger with Sporting and Man United and excelled in that position. He won everything he could with Man United and with his performances Portugal was a serious challenger for Euro 2004 and the 2006 World cup. He later joined Real Madrid changed his position to a striker a proper number 9 and achieved greatness with insane numbers and won a record 4 CL with Real Madrid and the Euro 2016 with Portugal. He later joined Juve and even with a crappy team he managed to help them win the Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and the super cup. In a nutshell CR7 is more decisive and have more ability to whatever team he plays in.

      As for Hamilton, same as Messi I don’t think he’s the best driver of his generation let alone the GOAT. I think the GOAT in F1 is a close contest between Schumacher and Senna with Schumacher having a slight edge for me. We have to remember that Hamilton didn’t finish higher than 4th in the WDC for five consecutive seasons when he didn’t have the best car. In those years, we didn’t see drives like Barcelona 96, Donnington 1993 or even Malaysia 2012…

      Hamilton showed that he can be beaten by a teammate over a season and was indeed beaten by Button and Rosberg on equal terms though 2011 was his worst year in the sport as he wasn’t focused because his girlfriend messed a lot with his head that year. His stats are unrivalled because nobody else in the history of the sport have driven more dominant cars than him in 2014-2016 and in 2020 and they got inflated the moment Bottas was signed alongside him as a teammate.

      I still think that Fernando Alonso is the best driver of Hamilton’s generation (Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton…). I think he has a more natural ability than anyone else to adapt to whatever he was given as he showed that in F1 through different eras, Indy and WEC and has more tricks up his sleeve (strategy, tyre management, race starts, overtaking…). He can drag cars to positions that they don’t belong to and can mount a championship challenge not having the fastest car. His weakness though is qualy as he himself recognize that he isn’t a great qualifier but he is just up there.

      1. @tifoso1989 OK so you’ve shifted the terms of the debate to best of all time! Is that enough to justify ‘criticism’ of Hamilton or Messi because they may not be the ‘best ever’? I don’t think so. That’s the problem.

        I’m going to opt out of the debate I’m afraid! Because I think, ultimately, it’s down to a preference of style. I agree that CR7 is exceptional (I’m a MU fan btw so I know his early career well). But I prefer watching Messi. I think he’s the closest to genius football has seen and he plays for the team. But the players I most liked watching playing football? Paul Scholes, Zidane, Ronaldo (o Fenómeno). Same goes for Formula 1, Senna, Hamilton, Verstappen. I agree Alonso and Schumacher are up there, but they never excite me as much to watch (and truth be told Hamilton’s excitement ratio has faded somewhat over recent years, bar a few outstanding quali runs, with the competition being too easy: this year has changed that scenario, but we haven’t yet seen the kind of audacious racing we saw in earlier in his career, and maybe won’t again).

        1. @david-br
          I have already said that these critics gets amplified by the fact that Hamilton and Messi are running for the GOAT position but it’s not reasonable to think that they are not one of the old times greats. I agree that it’s a preference of style and it’s more subjective but that doesn’t stop the debate.

          but we haven’t yet seen the kind of audacious racing we saw in earlier in his career, and maybe won’t again

          I think that’s mainly down to the state of the sport when you have to manage everything. I agree that it’s more fun to watch a young Hamilton pushing his McLaren on those rocket Bridgestone tyres than now with him having to manage his entire car (PU,tyres…). I also think that a young Schumacher was mind blowing behind the wheels of the Benetton. The old onboard with the manual gearbox and the engine braking and throttle blip, that was insane.

          1. that doesn’t stop the debate

            Definitely not! But I’m wary of the claims of both Schumacher and Alonso. Happier with Senna, Fangio and Hamilton. The latter has seen off much tougher team mates than Schumacher in his prime (I agree about his Benetton era). And Hamilton has adapted to the new tyre era as you pointed out, not as thrilling to watch but quite exceptional in another way. Alonso is total quality and still showing it. But not the same pace as Senna, Hamilton or Verstappen say. But in the end I don’t see how we can really measure ‘greatest of all time,’ it seems a bit mad trying…

      2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        3rd July 2021, 16:49

        @tifoso1989 Alonso’s weakness is mainly off track and in particular 1. When his team mate is beating him and 2. When the team isn’t giving him a good car. In the past he has imploded at McLaren twice and Ferrari, arguably costing himself several championships with his attitude.
        Other than that he is one of the best behind the wheel.

      3. @tifoso1989 Just LOL at CR7 being better than Messi.

        1. @liko41
          Did someone stole your candy ?

          1. @tifoso1989
            Your incompetence in both football and F1 is remarkable.

          2. @liko41
            So is your utter rudeness and misbehaviour. Why do you feel it is absolutely necessary to share your completely irrelevant remark ? If you don’t like what others have to say, stop throwing your childish remarks and get out of here off course after eating your candy !

          3. @tifoso1989
            SO, you have the right to let us know your biased and incompetent opinions, but others shouldn’t take notice of your incompetence? LOL.
            What an example of freedom! You seem to be the one in need of some candy, among MANY other things! :D

          4. @liko41
            Were you beaten today too ? Hope you a speedy recovery !

          5. No chill pills taken huh? Just found out that you deliberately threw them.

        2. “jUst loL aT cr7 BEiNg better tHAN mesSI. loL-Lol-LOl”
          “did someoNe STOle YoUr CAndY ?”
          “YOUR InCOmPETenCe IN Both foOtBALl AnD f1 IS reMaRkaBLe.”
          “so IS YoUR UTTeR ruDenESs and misbEHaviOUR. wHy do yoU fEeL iT iS absOlutELY nECESsARy tO ShaRe yOUR complEtEly irRelEVaNt remArk ? IF yOU DoN’T LIkE whaT oThers HAvE To sAy, STop thROWInG yOUR chILdiSH REMarKS And GeT out OF heRE OFF CouRse afteR EaTinG YoUr cAndY !”
          “sO, YOu HavE THe right tO lEt us Know YOuR BiASED AnD iNCoMPEtENT opinIonS, but OthERS ShoULdN’t takE nOtIce OF YoUR INcOmPETence? loL.
          wHat An ExAmPlE oF FreEdOm! YoU seem tO BE ThE oNE iN nEeD of somE caNDy, amOnG mAny otheR thingS! :D”
          “WeRe YoU bEAteN tODay toO ? hOpE you a spEedY REcoveRY !”

          What you say you stupid hijo de p…? Wow, both you and the other site member just insulted each other in the most unchill manner, huh?! Yeah, both you and the other site member love these ——- tough guy lines, huh? TAKE A CHILL PILL, F— YOU!

  7. Lopes da Silva
    3rd July 2021, 13:34

    Excellent news for a Max fan. The prospect of a continuing rivalry between Lewis and Max is great.
    It’s not Hamilton fault that the sport does not work as we would like it work. Teams should have the incentive to hire the two best drivers available, but they don’t. Senna blocked Warwick’s hiring for Lotus; we don’t like it, Senna fans like me gasp to deal with it, but this is how the sport works.
    There was a video game called Super Monaco Grand Prix for Mega Drive which showed each team having a single seat. Ironically, that was problably the most realistic feature it.
    However, ever since the perfect and ideal (for the viewers, not the team principals and stakeholders!) Prost-Senna pairing, there have been only two instances where we had a dominant team allowing free ride to their drivers instead of focusing on one. It was McLaren-2007 and Mercedes 2014-16. Hamilton was part of both.
    And there are a few more reasons for which is good to have Hamilton on board.

    1. Nice comment. I get the reasoning behind keeping Bottas. But there’s also the awkward question of who replaces Hamilton at Mercedes, because it isn’t going to be Bottas, they know that. Sure they could try to poach Verstappen or Norris, even Leclerc, but there’s no guarantee. Russell is the one remaining ‘wild card’ at present, a potentially top driver not at a top team. Both Ferrari and Red Bull promoted their current number one drivers early in their career. Mercedes will have noticed the outcome, obviously: both Ricciardo and Vettel were driven out. Hamilton would definitely have to share wins (or team best results depending on how good the car is in 2022/2023) with Russell. But the latter would be in prime position to fully assume the lead driver role in 2024. If it all worked out.

      1. Lopes da Silva
        3rd July 2021, 14:37

        “because it isn’t going to be Bottas, they know that.” A good point, and everyone knows that, surely. I could have mentioned a two driver free ride in top teams in the recent cases of Ferrari-2019 and Red Bull 2016-17. This one just naturally happened; one could not have a underachiever in team A and an overachiever in team B. The bringing of Leclerc along with Vettel was a rare case in F1 history, of a team losing confidence in their leading driver 2 seasons before his contract ending.
        The only example I can remember of a number 2 driver replacing the number 1 was Hill assuming number 1 at Williams in 1994. It didn’t go well, even if most people might believe it did.
        As it is, F1 teams have now a thing that there wasn’t prior to 2005, which is the junior ladder. Bottas rose to Mercedes due to it so it makes sense Russell will end up in his place. He is being groomed to it and I don’t see Mercedes going for another option. More because any top driver knows, like Senna knew when he blocked Warwick, that the best thing is having a team commited around you. Verstappen will only leave Red Bull if the post-Honda engine fails to deliver. Leclerc is not going anywhere. Norris, eventually, might be tempted by a Mercedes invitation.
        It will be quite interesting, indeed, to see if Mercedes is willing to try Russell alongside Hamilton. For us, fans, it would be logical choice; Bottas had 4 seasons to prove he could match Hamilton and he failed.

  8. I’ll be pleased when the guy is UNBORN

  9. It doesn’t make much sense to attempt to equate Hamilton’s supposed appeal to that of Schumacher. The media landscape is completely different in the 2020s than it was in the 1990s. And even then Schumacher wasn’t a global icon; he would often speak about taking time off in the USA because nobody knew him there.

    That’s not Hamilton’s failing; there’s just way too much stuff out there. Even in a sport as popular as football there’s only two big global stars in Messi and Ronaldo. And everyone else at that level still plays in matches that get far more views than F1. That Hamilton has 23 million Instagram fans after more or less dominating F1 for nearly a decade doesn’t actually seem all that impressive. There’s folks singing nursery rhymes with double that number on YouTube. Again; not his fault, but the appeal of any one driver is often widely exaggerated. Drivers get that attention because they are in F1, and once they move on, F1 gets new stars. It’s always been like that.

    Here’s hoping Hamilton ends his career the way he started, but now with him taking the role of the champion being matched with a young prospect like George Russell. That should be fun to see.

  10. Fred Fedurch
    3rd July 2021, 17:52

    Someone has to wear the ridiculous outfits.

  11. There is so much wrong with this headline. Personally I think he should focus on his singing & fashion career. It’s as laughable as a critic of him being PLEASED to listen to his crying on the radio for a couple more years.

  12. Another ‘message’ for the non-believers. At least they are not described as ‘filled with pathological hatred’ this time so that’s an improvement. The idea is that they’ll be happy with the thought that he might lose, sigh. I’m not happy as it means two more years of his insufferable fans.

    1. I mean, someone did say they wouldn’t be happy until he is dead above… sounds like pathological hatred to me.

      1. You forgot the racist insinuation too. You’re slipping. The formula is: Someone criticize Hamilton – you immediately attack them on a personal level in order to shut them up. They are filled with hatred and are racist, or simply just scum or sad gits. Every comment, every day, the whole year. Are you a true fan or not.

        1. What on earth are you bleating about?

          1. “max fans don’t like me for Baku”
            “angry outburst from George”
            “that made me turn my back on him”
            “noob team”
            “dismiss him now”
            “Ferrari is noob”
            “unacceptable incidents”
            “untrustable lies”

            2021 so far in quotes

        2. As Emma said, what are you talking about? This is some kind of victim complex I’ve never seen.

  13. It’s only a good thing for F1 that he’s stayed on. From here onwards, him winning races/titles will add more to his reputation moreso than any previous domination years. Plus the comment sections of his articles stay hilarious which is always entertaining!

  14. I have been perfectly pleased until some headline tried to tell me I SHOULD BE pleased with something about Hamilton. Unprofessional.

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