Formula 1: Resurgent Lewis Hamilton has his sights set on a glorious final chapter


If Lewis Hamilton’s passionate words match it BBC Lives Jennie Gow seems like a warning shot after a gripping United States Grand Prix for the dominant Max Verstappen and Red Bull because they were.

After 16 years on the fastest track motorsport has to offer, it would be perfectly reasonable for Hamilton’s relentless pursuit of greatness to lose some momentum.

And perhaps by the start of this season, with a staggering seven world championships behind him, that flame has withered in the gusts of Formula One’s new era.

The long-awaited arrival of George Russell at Mercedes was significant. And with the 24-year-old clearly outstripping the veteran in the first eight races of the year, a Brit-to-brit relay handover seemed imminent.

According to the narrative, Hamilton was the iconic figure from a storied past, a driver who defined an era in Formula One, while Russell was the future and destined to be at the fore as Mercedes prepared to do so for years to come take up the fight against Red Bull.

At first the notion of Hamilton being pushed aside by his new team-mate seemed absurd, but even the man himself began to have doubts.

He said: “It’s only natural that people have questions and doubts every now and then. At the beginning of the season I was up and down, I was everywhere.

“When you look at the performance, you think: is it just the car or is it you too? You have to question everything.”

It’s not far-fetched to speculate that Hamilton’s career was at stake at some point.

Amidst the self-doubt, the team’s weaknesses and the praise for the driver in the garage next door, the temptation to walk away would have been tempting.

But it didn’t take long for Hamilton’s insatiable desire to succeed to kick in. For all his natural talent, mentality and ability to bring out the best in himself, there has always been something special about him.

So, in classic Hamilton fashion, he bowed his head, refocused, and emerged from the fog of uncertainty.

Since the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton has finished nine times in the top five and six podiums in eleven races. Significantly, Russell has only landed above him three times in that time.

The ex-Williams driver’s excellent start to the season was seen as a harbinger. A changing of the guard, so to speak.

In reality, Russell’s extraordinary talent and youthful exuberance served to reignite Hamilton’s ambition.

In the previous five years, Valtteri Bottas had been a good second driver for Mercedes but never came close to his excellent teammate, who had to rely on his own quest for perfection to maintain his lead.

Russell, on the other hand, has posed a far greater threat and was perhaps key in forcing Hamilton’s resurgence.

His US GP performance appeared to be the pinnacle of his recovery this season. He continues to elude a first win in 2022, but with a successful drive to P2, faith is certainly restored.

“What I take away from that is that I still have it,” Hamilton said. “I still have the speed.

“I know that and the team knows that if they build the car for me, I will take it there.”

As the battle between Verstappen and Charles Leclerc took center stage earlier in the season, before the reigning champion pulled clear of his challengers, Hamilton gradually faded into the background.

Now, with Mercedes getting closer to the top, the 37-year-old has his eyes on a new challenge, perhaps his biggest yet.

The unprecedented dominance of Red Bull and Verstappen this year points to the dawn of a new dynasty that will rival the eight-year hegemony Mercedes forged with Hamilton at the helm.

He’s now trying to capture that storyline in its infancy by rekindling his rivalry with the Dutchman, who last year spawned arguably the biggest title fight the sport has ever seen.

Another fight for the drivers’ standings is on the horizon. Of course, Leclerc and Ferrari will also have their say.

But it would be bold to bet against a man determined to secure his eighth title, surpassing the legendary Michael Schumacher in the process.

Hamilton will eventually leave the world of Formula 1 behind, but he won’t go quietly into the night. The final chapter of his remarkable legacy remains unwritten.

The ‘hammer time’ is not over yet.

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