Lewis Hamilton has one of the most amazing streaks in the history of Formula 1. It is also a streak in great danger.
Even casual F1 fans know that Hamilton entered the 2022 season tied with Michael Schumacher at the top of the all-time list with seven Formula One championships. The two are also level above what could be argued to be a even more impressive list – most consecutive F1 seasons with a win.
Hamilton has won at least one F1 race each year since 2007. Last year, Hamilton spent 15 consecutive years with at least one win to equal the Schumacher limit between 1992-2006. And, not unlike the record of seven championships, the incredible record of 15 consecutive seasons with a victory sign is starting to look like it will end in a dead end.
The great Lewis Hamilton just does not look like a winner in 2022. And with the rules in Formula 1 not changing significantly before 2026, the chances increase that Hamilton will not return to the top of the podium.
Maybe it’s time for Hamilton to leave the table gracefully. Maybe it’s time to cash in on his chips and let the experts write his legacy. Let the scribes argue for centuries about who had the best career between Hamilton and Schumacher, between Hamilton and Ayrton Senna.
Hamilton’s resume will be hard to beat: seven championships, 103 wins, 184 podiums, 103 poles. No one who is fighting at the moment touches them. Of the active drivers, Sebastian Vettel is next with 53 wins. The best driver on the planet right now, Max Verstappen, is 26.
There is nothing wrong with Hamilton leaving.
Jackie Stewart, a three-time Formula One champion, agrees that it may be time for Hamilton to call it a career.
“It’s time for him to give up. He has music, he has a culture, he loves clothes and the rag trade would be perfect for him,” Stewart, 83, told the Convex Conversation podcast. “I’m sure he will be very successful because he is making a huge amount of money – rightly so because he was the best of his time. Lewis is on this team of Ayrton Sennas and Alain Prosts – or even Jackie Stewart maybe.”
Stewart was one of those greats of all time to come out on top. He retired from Formula 1 after the 1973 championship. Stewart retired after a season in which he won five times and won his third championship in five years.
Stewart was just 34 years old when he left the sport. There were undoubtedly those who believed that he had much left in the tank, many opportunities to add to his own legacy.
That was enough, Stewart said.
Today, Stewart says that Hamilton, who managed just two finishes in third place in nine races to start the 2022 season, may have written the final chapter in terms of victories and championships.
“It’s a shame he didn’t give up at the top, but I don’t think that will happen now,” Stewart said. “But still, it is wiser to stop than to go through all the pain of not being able to do what you did before.
“He has carried the sport well. I would like to see him resign now.”