Lewis Hamilton’s recent move to Mercedes, which was announced last week has, inevitably generated a lot of media interest with some wondering whether Hamilton has made the right move. I had the opportunity to speak with some of the youngsters involved in “Britain’s Next F1 Star”, currently screening on Sky Sports F1, to get their thoughts and opinions.
Seb Morris said “If the team I was in, was consistently winning races, and consistently fighting at the top, I would not wish to go anywhere else unless it was a completely safe bet that I was going to do even better than the current team I am in. ”
Josh Hill added to that saying that Hamilton may have wanted a new challenge, noting “I think that although you always want to be in a front running car, after a long stretch with the same team I would want to see how I perform in another car with another team. It’s nice to know that you can produce the same results in another situation.” Alice Powell agreed with Hill about new challenges, but also said that “you have to always look at your current situation as well. It is always a tough one, and I am sure Lewis’s decision was not an easy one to make!”
Jordan King made an interesting point, saying that “McLaren is a great team with a long pedigree and it’s hard to leave a team like that.”
My own feelings is that Hamilton was inevitably going to be leaving McLaren at some point or another. Hamilton had been at McLaren for six years, and continuing with McLaren at 2013 would have taken him into a seventh season. The problem with Hamilton, well not a problem, but rather a point worth making, is that he achieved so much in so little time that he did not have much else to achieve at McLaren. He won the Drivers’ Championship in his second season with McLaren, for him, there was not much else to achieve there.
There is the argument also that Hamilton will not do well next year. Even so, I think he is taking the option of “short term pain, long term gain” if the 2014 engine situation turns out to be a big advantage. A three year contract takes him to the end of 2015, although let us not forget that in recent time, Mika Hakkinen won his first championship in his sixth year at McLaren, Michael Schumacher won his third championship in year five at Ferrari, whilst Fernando Alonso won his championship in his third year at Renault. The point is that many will make rash and quick judgements after year 1, but in reality it will be a long term project for Hamilton and Mercedes like those mentioned above had. Once Hamilton has the team moulded around him in two years, then he can go for a championship.