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Lewis Hamilton is the king of the transfer market: will he continue in 2022?
He doesn’t have the feeling that 2021 will be his farewell tour, says Hamilton: “Next year all these innovations are coming, and I think that’s exciting. It looks like this could be the most exciting season yet. We have new teams, new formats. I don’t feel like I’m finished yet. “
The 36-year-old doesn’t want to completely rule out the possibility of hanging up his helmet at the end of the season: “The next eight months will show whether I’m ready to quit or not. Personally, I don’t think I’ll quit . But you never know. “
A widespread theory is: Hamilton would like to see whether he can become world champion for the eighth time with the Mercedes F1 W12 E Performance and beat Michael Schumacher’s record. If he sees after five or six races that this will probably work, he will inform Toto Wolff in good time that he would like to resign if he wins the World Cup.
Hamilton: It doesn’t matter in the future whether I become world champion or not
Hamilton himself asserts, however, that his decision does not depend on the results on the racetrack: “My position has nothing to do with whether we are on course for the World Championship or not. I don’t stop just because it’s going to be difficult,” he replied a corresponding question from ‘Motorsport-Total.com’ in the FIA press conference on Thursday in Bahrain (Formula 1 2021 live in the ticker!).
“I wanted a one-year contract, and I said to Toto that if we want to work on the future together, we should do it much earlier this time than in January,” says Hamilton, underscoring: “I love what I do. I am Arrived here more excited than it has been in a long time. I think this season will be a great fight and that’s what I’ve always loved the most. “
Despite Hamilton’s assurances, experts believe the resignation issue does play a role in his mind. As an eight-time champion, the seven-time world champion would have achieved everything that can be achieved in sport and could devote himself to a possible new career as a world do-gooder and pop star.
“I think when the end of his career approaches, and that will also be the case with Lewis, then there will be a wide variety of thoughts, time and again,” says ten-time Grand Prix winner Gerhard Berger in an exclusive video interview on the YouTube channel from Formel1.de. And he adds: “The strength is also decreasing.”
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“I ask myself: How long can he bring it all under one roof and do everything so parallel and still be so good at sport? I think we’ll see this year, whether he’s as strong again, or whether we can see a Lewis Hamilton falter a bit at some point, “says Berger.
There is also a completely different topic: As a seven-time world champion, Hamilton may assume that he will hold all the strings in his hand in contract poker with Toto Wolff. But Mercedes cannot wait forever for Hamilton, but has to prepare alternatives just in case – Max Verstappen or George Russell.
Hill recalls Schumacher’s fate in 2006
Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, warns his British compatriot via ‘Autocar’: “We have already seen at Michael and Ferrari what happens when you think they’re waiting for you. The problem is: Mercedes won’t and can’t wait. That’s the catch, and I would keep a very close eye on it. To believe that you are irreplaceable is risky. “
What Hill alludes to: Even if the German-language historiography of the Formula 1 past sees it differently, Michael Schumacher’s first resignation at the end of 2006 was not as voluntary as it appeared. Schumacher hesitated with his decision for so long that at some point Ferrari had no choice but to hire Kimi Raikkonen.
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Whether or not Schumacher would have continued under other circumstances is an open question. The fact is: if Hamilton waits too long, Mercedes alternatives like Verstappen or Russell could get lost. And before you have Hamilton, Verstappen or Russell in the worst case scenario, the team would probably have to commit to a plan B.
Verstappen is not only high on Mercedes’ list, Hill is convinced, “but also Mercedes at Max. He was very loyal to Red Bull. But if they can’t give him the car he needs, time will run out at some point . In 2016 he was the youngest winner in Formula 1. But since then he has never been able to fight for a World Cup.
It is likely that if Mercedes had a chance to get Verstappen involved in 2022, Wolff would seek a conversation with Hamilton. But if he does not decide immediately, it could be his undoing. “Mercedes is in a difficult position,” says Hill. “Because you have to get your sheep dry for the future.”