Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes almost a decade ago was questioned at the time, but, in retrospect, it was unquestionably the right call.
Had he stayed at McLaren, Hamilton almost certainly wouldn’t have won a single grand prix over the past eight seasons, and there’s absolutely no chance he would have won another World Championship.
In a recent interview, the six-time World Champion has said he hopes that Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s team principal at the time of Hamilton’s leaving, has forgiven him for joining Mercedes.
“Calling my boss, calling Martin in particular, was one of the hardest calls that I’ve ever had to make,” Hamilton said.
“I hope that he has forgiven me by now! I think so, because he understands, but ultimately I think it was the right decision.
“I knew it was the right decision for me personally and I think that is how life is generally: nobody can tell you what to do, only you will know personally what is right or wrong for yourself.
“You can’t have anyone else influence that decision. As long as you do your homework, you have got to do what is right for you, and at the time, that is what I did,” he added.
He described joining the Silver Arrows as an “exciting challenge”, as he felt the team had potential but was unsure when they would have a car capable of fighting for the Championship.
“But I truly, truly believed that we would get there at some stage.”
Prior to joining Mercedes, Hamilton had spent the entirety of his Formula One career with McLaren.
And, even before making his F1 debut in 2007, Hamilton was a part of the McLaren family, as he was a member of their young driver programme.
“Without their support, along with Mercedes, I wouldn’t have made it to Formula 1, being that it is so expensive so there was no way, as family, that we had the sorts of money that some other families are able to throw at this sport.
“So my loyalty was to them, but at the time, I had to think about what the future would hold and what I wanted to be a part of.”
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