Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2022

Hamilton says ‘early’ title wins never great for F1 as Verstappen nears second crown

2022 Singapore Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says it’s not good for Formula 1 when drivers win the world championship long before the end of the season.

Max Verstappen can clinch his second world title this weekend with five races still to run. The pair fought for the championship until the final round last year.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference in Singapore, Hamilton said “I feel for the fans” that this year’s title fight could end so early.

“For us last year, going right down to the wire, that was intense for everybody,” he said. “It’s never great when the season finishes early, even when I’ve experienced having it finish early in places like Mexico.

“For you as the one individual, this is great, but for the actual sport it’s not spectacular. You want it [to] run.”

Hamilton won the first two of his seven world titles in the last race of the season. He was also involved in final-round title deciders in 2007, 2010 and 2016 before last year, meaning he has been on the losing end of a final-race title decider more times than anyone else in F1 history.

“I’m really grateful to have had [seasons] like 2008, right down to the last 17 seconds,” he said. “And obviously last year pretty much the same thing. So let’s hope for the future that it’s a bit better.”

While Verstappen is poised to win his first two titles consecutively, Hamilton had a six-year wait for his second championship. He said it was an important moment, as it vindicated his switch from McLaren to Mercedes, which many had questioned the wisdom of.

“It definitely changed a lot in my life because I’d had that kind of dry spell,” he said. “I would say more so because I’d taken the step and the leap of faith, moving to another team.

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“I went against most of the advice that I had from people around me, people that you would consider mentors who all said to stay where I was, stay put.”

Hamilton denied the move was triggered by his retirement from the Singapore Grand Prix 10 years ago due to a gearbox failure, which dealt a fatal blow to his hopes of winning the 2012 championship.

“People seemed to think that it was during this race that I made the decision to move,” he said. “It wasn’t. Actually this race had no effect on that – the gearbox that failed here in 2012, that had no effect on my decision, because those things happen.

“It was more I think the week after, sitting in Thailand, I just managed to be in a very peaceful place and it really came to me that I was going to take this leap. So to have taken that step, and obviously all the backlash, it makes you question whether or not you really have made the right decision.

“I’m so proud and grateful to all the members within the team of how they welcomed me and gave me the position to be able to fight for a world title. And so with all the doubts over the years and questions that would play in your mind whether or not it would ever happen again, which you always overcome because you have to continue to believe, to finally then have got back into that position, it was a very, very special year.

“Also for the team who had also been on the receiving end of the negativity they’re perhaps they’re not good enough, whatever it may be. So it was a huge, huge moment. And that really kind of catapulted us into the next years of success and development and what a journey it’s been.”

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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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52 comments on “Hamilton says ‘early’ title wins never great for F1 as Verstappen nears second crown”

  1. So…. Is Lewis now praising 2021 where the title went down to the last lap?

    1. It almost does sound like that. Both 2016 and 2021 were decided in the last race, when Hamilton wasn’t WDC.

      1. Hasn’t he always come out with statements claiming he liked to have to really fight for them?

  2. Even with the WCC/WDC decided, the remaining races can still be very exciting.

    And since 2014 we are used to early championship decisions, even though in most cases we still had to wait for a confirmation which of the two Mercedes drivers would take the WDC title.

  3. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    29th September 2022, 14:40

    Funny how Hamilton stayed silent in his own dominant years – certainly considering the Mercedes was most years far more dominant than Red Bull is this season.
    In the early years of hybrid era you didn’t need to watch qualifying to know the front row for Sunday.

    Seems Hamilton is actively trying to de-value the exceptional performance of Max this year – only complimenting Red Bull with building an exceptional car while in reality the Ferrari was faster the first part of the year and with exception of Spa has the Red Bull only be marginally faster.

    Over 2021 and 2022 Max barely made any mistakes and those he made were minor while Hamilton made more mistakes.

    1. Seriously, I wonder if sometimes he says things like this just to troll the fans.
      We could honestly say that 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 were really bad for F1. Honestly. Not a single of those titles was truly contested in the end. 2017 and 2018 were a bit like Leclerc this year. Started with Ferrari challenging, but ended up fizzling and handed a championship with 3 races to spare. 2019 and 2020 well… some of the worst championship “battles” in F1 history. Absolutely uncontested for Hamilton.

      So maybe he should talk about that instead of trying to take luster away from Max this year. Lewis’ lack of self-awareness here is amusing.

    2. You have a strange definition of silent.

      “For us last year, going right down to the wire, that was intense for everybody,” he said. “It’s never great when the season finishes early, even when I’ve experienced having it finish early in places like Mexico.

      For you as the one individual, this is great, but for the actual sport it’s not spectacular. You want it [to] run.”

      1. Exactly Raymond, we have heard Hamilton say he is happy to have strong competition for much of his career.

    3. RBR is for sure this year as dominant as Merc was in the years you mentioned. RBR just needs Max cruising to his wins, no matter whether starting from P1 or P10. Ferrari needed LEC to drive far closer to the limit of the car when fighting for the win in the first races of the season, hence his driving errors.
      And Max made plenty of mistakes last year, but especially in the final races FIA decided to let him get away with anything, as they wanted a new champ.

      1. There’s no way red bull can be considered this dominant! How comes perez isn’t consistently 2nd? Usually happens with a dominant car, no?

        1. only when you treat both drivers / cars the same, not when you e.g. sacrifize ones podium to take away single points from the opponent of the other driver.

          1. That happened a lot with Bottas indeed and still he would come easily 2nd in the WDC

      2. Seems way too oversimplified to just label the RB as dominant as the Mercedes decade.

      3. It’s interesting as it depends how to define dominant. In many case, people will only look at ultimate pace but it is only part of the equation. Reliability is another factor, as well as ability to follow and overtake.
        This means team is less likely to be out of place and even if they do, they can recover places more or less easily. RBR is a great overtaking package this year, with good ultimate pace, especially in the race.

        I also think the change of car affected drivers differently and previous form can’t be taken into account for this year as the feel will be very different like on finding grip levels and confidence. Surprisingly not mentioned so much by the drivers but it surely has some effect.

        RBR is also more likely to sacrifice strategy of one car to guarantee the win for the other, giving another picture than Mercedes at the time.

  4. Cough…2015/17/18/19/20. You are correct Lewis, its not great for F1, or a drivers legacy, although at least the first half of this season we had some absolute cracking races and battles between Max and Charles. And you never know… Singapore looks to be wet, Max could end up in a wall, and Charles could win. Its not over until its over.

    1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      29th September 2022, 15:50

      And Hamilton readily admitted that any negative feeling about the Verstappen domination’s impact on the F1 spectacle in 2022 applied to many of his championship seasons too.

      But it was usually with 3 or 2 races to go not 5.

    2. @Gubstar True, but regarding possible wet weather conditions, the other way round is equally possible, if not even more likely.

    3. And it’s more and more likely to happen with longer seasons and sprint races also giving points. When they realize that, probably that Liberty will want to move all sprint races to the end of the season to keep it undecided for longer.

  5. Clickbait. Move along.

  6. Agree. Verstappen should at least let go two races for De Vries and Yuki after Singapore.

  7. Constantijn Blondel
    29th September 2022, 15:25

    +1 for the sweater :D

  8. Well said Gubstar! 👍😃 I think Hamilton has a complete lack of self-awareness and memory loss, made worse with a huge dose of hypocrisy!!😳. I hardly watched F1 during the 5 years he breezed to easy drivers chumpionships with only patsy teammates to beat!!🤬🤯. Without Nico Drossbergs 2016 win Hamilton would have had a clean sweep from 2014-2020!!!😱🙃😝. The garbage he says now is a sly way of trying to demean Max’s almost faultless performances over the last 2 seasons.🤨. As for praising RB while slagging off Mercedes, he might be getting a call to Head Office before Christmas!!🤣🤣🤣

    1. so much nonsense in one comment. congrats

      1. No m8, you are the one sharing nonsense, saying the RBR car is as dominant as the Mercedes was 🤡

        1. Yes, this is very false, some people consider the 2019 fairly competitive, but in reality mercedes was the best car at almost every race, true ferrari was the best car in bahrein, but still lacked reliability and speed at most races, as well as the red bull, and yet that car was more dominant than the 2022 red bull; perez isn’t coming 2nd at all, is he that bad? I would say instead the cars were evenly matched this year till the summer break, then red bull took over.

        2. And obviously even the 2019 merc is nothing compared to 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020 in terms of dominance.

        3. ofc they are dominant, with only ferrari able to compete at a few races til now. As they had the better car in half of the races last year. But orange glasses seem to shield you guys from reality.

          1. Dominant is when 1 teams wins everything with a huge marge 1-2 which if you see in the beginning of the year Ferrari were faster and still are as fast in a single lap as they scores several wins. Just take 2016 for example the two wins were not Mercedes was for Red Bull when both Mercedes drivers crashes each other out or Daniel win in Malaysia. the rest were all 1-2 for Mercedes…. that is dominant.
            This season Red Bull isn’t dominant as they scored 1 or 2 1-2 wins.

          2. @romtrain whilst you are throwing accusations of bias towards the Dutch around, I’d be interested to know your nationality.

  9. Incredible how a comment like D.Duck’s gets green-lighted, but mine saying this article is an example of clikbaite (intentionally misspelled) gets flagged.

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      29th September 2022, 15:46

      Incredible that you seemingly have an issue with D.Duck comment – I think it should be “Quote of the Day”.

      1. Yeah, you would.

      2. orange nonsense of the day

    2. @wsrgo,
      It’s a pity that this site has reduced itself to the lowest common denominator of other social media platforms.

      I joined originally (registered and all) due to the great statistics, insights, race reviews, and great commenter community. Unfortunately, most of the above have now been overgrown by clyckbait articles and dug-in commenters.
      I’ve tried direct feedback, but it is clear the owner isn’t open to such PoVs, and seems to be happy with the current direction of this site.

  10. Laughed out loud at some of these takes (that’s laughing at not laughing with). Cheered me up on a bad day, thanks ‘guys’. :)

  11. petebaldwin (@)
    29th September 2022, 16:16

    He’s right – it’s bad for the sport when one driver or team dominates the rest to such a large extent. I guess that’s why they spent half a decade claiming Ferrari were faster than them… It’s not the team’s or drivers’ responsibility to worry about the show though. Certainly when Mercedes and Hamilton were dominating, they weren’t thinking about how they could make the races closer. They were doing everything possible to ensure they remained dominant and won the titles even earlier the following year.

    It was true when Mercedes were dominating and it’s true now with Red Bull – it’s not the responsibility of the fastest best team and driver to slow down. It’s the responsibility of the rest to catch up.

    1. Certainly when Mercedes and Hamilton were dominating, they weren’t thinking about how they could make the races closer. They were doing everything possible to ensure they remained dominant and won…..

      I’m not sure about that @petebaldwin, Mercedes were dominant, when Rosberg was still with them I think Hamilton was driving to beat him, but once Bottas joined I’m pretty sure Hamilton was cruising and likely making it more ‘thrilling’ than he could have. Hamilton isn’t as simple as his statements sometimes are, he knows people dislike dominant champs after their 2nd title win, so if he cruised it just enough so it looks like a competition, he comes out looking like he’s working for it, so everyone loves him.

      When you have talent, you don’t always display it, you sometimes toy with competitors, I think he did that for a few years in Mercedes.

  12. He’s right of course. It’s nice for the driver, but not so much for the sport as a whole. F1 really needs more competent/competitive teams. The budget cap can only do so much. For over ten years, Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull have been the only relevant teams in F1, and even they rarely produce an interesting championship fight. Either Red Bull dominates, or Mercedes dominates, with Ferrari picking up a handful of scattered wins every so often.

    As an aside, not sure why Hamilton thinks the 2014 title ‘really kind of catapulted us into the next years of success’ as Mercedes was dominating from race 1 in 2014, and just continued doing so for the next few years. But anyway, it’s just a short remark by him, not a retrospective.

  13. I’ve never really been especially bothered by a team or driver dominating or even when a championship gets decided a few races early.

    I’ve always just viewed it as a part of the sport and to be honest every team and driver on the grid should be aiming at dominance at championship contenders should be aiming to wrap it up as soon as possible because the ultimate goal of the sport is to win as often as possible.

    In cases where a team/driver has dominated to varying degrees i’ve always just sat back and applauded there success, They have clearly done a better job than the rest and deserve it and it should be left upto the others to do a better job going forward.

    And when championships get decided a few races early it’s not as if the racing stops or gets any worse as drivers are still racing just as hard over the final races so the racing itself doesn’t really suffer. In 2001, 2004 & 2005 for example some of the racing after the championship was decided was some of the best of those seasons.

    I also sort of think that a championship not going down to the wire all the time makes it even more exciting in seasons when it does. I remember in 1994 for example when there hadn’t been a final race decider since 1986 and how much extra special the championship going down to the final round felt as a result of it been as infrequent an occurance as it was at the time.

    1. By far the most sensible take in this thread.

  14. Lewis is a hypocrite. Never heard him talking about this during Mercedes glorydays 😂

    1. Really? I can think of multiple occasions when he has said “I hope next year ferrari or red bull are closer next year so we can fight”, or maybe he wasn’t asked that question when he won his title’s? He’s giving an answer to a question he’s been asked, and he even said when he was winning early it was great for him, but not the sport. Such a hypocrite

  15. While Verstappen is poised to win his first two titles consecutively,

    Keith, I’d like to take issue with that phrase.

    A gift from the race director is not the same as a win. This year will be a win, for both RBR as a team and MV as a driver.
    To my way of thinking, the only fair description of last year is “Null”

    That’s me banned then I suppose…

    1. You won’t get forbidden the access to the site (in case the other word is filtered) for that comment, but you will certainly attract the attention from people who watched the whole year: the race director gave verstappen back what luck and mercedes took away, by crashing him out in silverstone and hungary, luck-wise we’re talking for example about baku, lots of points lost through no fault, and hamilton has also been lucky in cases like imola to not pay a bigger price for his mistake. He’s been the best driver across 2021 and got the title, nothing wrong with that.

      You want to give hamilton the abu dhabi win? Fine by me, he deserved to win that day, but verstappen gets back the baku win at the same time, who’s the champion? Verstappen!

      1. HAM gets back Monza, VER gets his well deserved penalties for Monza, Brazil, Jeddah. VER doesnt get his gifted points for no race in Spa. Its easy to have examples for either side throughout a long season, but you seem to ignore facts not in line with your bias.

        BTW: VER was partly to blame for Silverstone himself, as also ruled by the stewards, and experienced F1 drivers called it a racing incident. But dont let reality interfere with your bias.

      2. Whole year for many years – I date back to the Hesketh Racing era

        the race director gave verstappen back what luck and mercedes took away

        1. Mecedes took no luck from anyone
        2. The race director is there to see safe and fair racing conditions – I believe he abjectly failed to match that requirement.

        by crashing him out in silverstone

        As a clear Verstappen fan you probably refuse to see it, but Verstappen cut right far too soon, aiming for the apex and ignoring the front left of Hamilton – hence the ruling of the stewards that VER was partially to blame.

        and hungary,

        Hungary – ah, yes… A slightly over-confident, fast starting, Lando Norris went past a slow starting Bottas, braked directly in front of Bottas who now had reduced down force and reduced braking ability from that and compounded with wet conditions. The rest was a chaotic skittles run. Definitely a luck issue for everyone in that mess. Anyone in or behind that was awaiting the judgement of fate.

        Oh, and do bear in mind that VER (starting 3rd) got a shunt on the side from Norriss (starting 6th) while trying to overtake on the outside of the first corner – generally being considered an interesting way of testing your luck.

        You seem to have missed Monza from your list, where a petulant VER did his best to create a “get out of my way or crash” situation, we all heard the VER radio message…
        Note: “The stewards ruled that Verstappen was predominantly at fault and awarded him a three-place grid penalty for the following race in Sochi,”

        luck-wise we’re talking for example about baku, lots of points lost through no fault,

        Not really luck, RBR (and others) were doing things with tyre pressures that they should not have done and suffered as a result.
        One RBR with a driver who is heavy on tyres had a problem, the other is much kinder to tyres and had no problem. Basically, VER pushed the limits and found out he’d gone too far. Where luck played into it was the good luck that the failure happened at a location where his crash was not severe.

        There are now new rules regarding overtaking, tyre pressures, white line limits, contact with RD etc. – all courtesy of the VER incidents/driving and RBR pushing team limits.

        He will win this year. Mind you, what was it that someone once said? “My granny could win in that car” IIRC

  16. As far as im concerned hamilton is a hypocrite and a sore loser…

    1. Wow the hate never gets old….

      1. The only reason hamilton has had 7 world titles is because he had no competition…hamilton’s titles was practically handed to him on a plate…schumacher had to work for his…

  17. I feel Hamilton is wasting his time in F1 and should become a politician. He is very good.

    1. Yer he blames everybody else apart from himself…

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