January 1, 2022 – 2:26 pm hour
Hamilton deserves gold for silver
Written by Martin Armbruster
“I hope to find my words so that I can eat them.” (I hope I can find my words to address them), boxing legend “Big” George Foreman once said in his role as a TV expert when he really misjudged the fight. About a year ago, the author of these lines wrote that Mercedes would easily become the Formula 1 world champion in 2021 and that Lewis Hamilton would not need Lewis Hamilton anyway. It’s time to mix these words.
Mercedes’ dominance suddenly disappeared
New Year’s Day is generally a good day to see what you did last year and don’t want to linger. In my case there will be an article from January. So, back once: ahead of us – there’s hardly any doubt about that beyond 2020 – there was another year in Formula 1 of Mercedes’ pioneering dominance. The Brackley series master was in a tough, gum-like negotiation with series master Lewis Hamilton for a post-21 period at the time. The hiccups and daily bulletins of the water level were rather annoying – as was the monotonous way the silver arrows had flattened everyone for years.
My headline was “Mercedes don’t need Lewis Hamilton”. Argument: In the black beast arrow all world champions will do anyway. So Mercedes shouldn’t meet superstar Hamilton in contract poker. And anyway: Alain-Prost-wise, the record champion should take a year off and instead leave the Mercedes cockpit and George Russell’s world championship crown in 2021, then start back in 2022.
Admittedly, I still find the idea charming in retrospect. But in the real world, everything turned out differently, as is well known. Not only did Hamilton extend his contract in the summer (until 2023). After all these years, Mercedes’ dominance – hard to believe, but real – is already gone. The technical regulations have changed a bit, but this bottom-up fix made the Silver regulations more complex than expected, and ruined the superior overall package (pneumatic).
Legendary Formula 1 season – thanks to Hamilton and Verstappen
What Formula 1 fans have been dreaming of for years has suddenly become a reality: Red Bull and Max Verstappen sprinted with full force, making hell hot for the best dog. The 2021 Formula 1 season wasn’t Hamilton’s campaign to score title number 8. It became a gigantic battle: Hamilton against Verstappen, wheel to wheel, on turn and break, at max and beyond. The Formula 1 season in 2021 has become legendary. The unreal finish in the desert seems like an almost logical culmination in light of the frenzy of asphalt.
What this crazy year revealed: Mercedes needs Lewis Hamilton and needs it after all! Certainly: Under Verstappen’s relentless pressure, Sir Lewis made his mistakes too, more often than usual, and more often. BUT: Mercedes also held the record champion in a World Cup match when the “bulls” seemed to run away. Hamilton didn’t let the gap get too big on the critical stages and always held back when he had to. And he kept “pure” against the rocky Verstappen when he thought it necessary.
When the stubborn W12 debuted again towards the end of the season, Hamilton was finally at his best. Just like in Brazil, when he raced from behind to fifth in the sprint, he worked his way back up from 10th on the grid in the main Grand Prix (he slipped again), inhaled Verstappen and triumphed in Ayrton Senna style. In the final stages of the World Cup, the Briton’s nerves were even tougher than his Dutch rival, who (in Saudi Arabia, for example) would occasionally explode. The fact that Hamilton missed an eighth title in Abu Dhabi was an eventual bad luck race, congratulating (deserved) world champion Verstappen at Park Fermi, a very big sport.
Hamilton will be a Russell reference
Without the skills of the seven-time world champion, Mercedes would have lost to the Verstappen/Red Bull group in 2021. Would George Russell (as in the author’s scenario) in Black Arrow under the 21 conditions, i.e. against Verstappen in this fashion, have immediately qualified for the World Cup? ? Doubtful, maybe not. In any case, it was proven that Valtteri Bottas is not. The Finn, praised by Alfa Romeo, was once again light years behind Hamilton in the same car.
So in 2022 too: Mercedes needs Lewis Hamilton. as a spearhead to immediately overthrow the new King Verstappen. As an incorruptible reference to the frequently traded Russell. As a meticulous worker and driver (because in that regard too, Hamilton deserved the gold for team silver in 2021).
All in all, Formula 1 needs a figure of Hamilton, record champion and record Grand Prix winner, athlete, and world superstar. Preferably a few more years. Because at some point Sir Lewis Hamilton, the UK jockey, will take off his racing suit forever – and it will be as it was with Lauda, Prost, Schumacher and his cohorts: you will miss him.
A final note to the author: Should Lewis Hamilton have a complete collapse in 2022, contrary to expectations, and Mercedes can be dispensed with? After all, I will point to Konrad Adenauer as a precaution and say: “What does it matter to me about my talk from yesterday?”
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