Whilst finishing third in the Drivers’ Championship and 59 points ahead of George Russell sounds like a successful season, 2023 wasn’t a good year for Lewis Hamilton, raising questions over what’s keeping him in Formula 1?
2023 was a better year for Hamilton than 2022, as he wasn’t beaten by his teammate in the standings and did at least claim one pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
However, it was a second winless campaign, meaning his most recent victory is still the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton going an entire season without a victory is staggering, but two years without a race win is concerning.
It’s not through a lack of hard work or effort but more to do with the car he’s had at his disposal, as the W14 was yet another poorly designed car by Mercedes.
Mercedes have failed to really grasp the current aerodynamic regulations, which is why as a team they have fallen so far behind Red Bull.
In the 2022 and 2023 seasons, Red Bull have claimed 38 victories, whilst Mercedes have won just the one race.
The Silver Arrows have acknowledged their struggles and accept that the last two cars given to Hamilton haven’t been good enough, resulting in the side starting from scratch for 2024 by introducing an entirely new concept.
Hamilton will be eager for Mercedes’ 2024 car to at least close the gap to Red Bull, as this will give him the confidence that perhaps taking the fight to the Austrians in 2025 will be on the cards.
He clearly still believes in the Brackley-based outfit, as he signed a new two-year deal back at the Italian Grand Prix, keeping him at Mercedes until at least the end of 2025.
But will he make it to the end of 2025? Is he prepared to possibly endure two more winless years of struggles and frustration?
These are the sort of questions which will be asked when F1 gets back underway at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix, especially if Mercedes’ car isn’t competitive.
If the W15 is good, then there’ll be no doubting that signing a new deal was a great move by Hamilton but if the car is bad, then it’ll be questioned whether retiring was a better option.
Hamilton will always be remembered as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all-time, but is he delaying his retirement too much now in pursuit of an elusive eighth World Championship which seems to be getting further and further away from him?