Lewis Hamilton’s difficult 2022 F1 season has led to doubts over his future, with the Mercedes man having only been on the podium twice in eight Grand Prix races
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Jackie Stewart has urged Lewis Hamilton to protect his own legacy and reputation by walking away from F1.
Hamilton, 37, was on the brink of an unprecedented eighth world title last year when, in the final race of the season, he was scuppered by the now infamous safety car procedure that gifted Max Verstappen the title. In the aftermath, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted Hamilton had been “disillusioned” by what transpired.
But in February, he buried any doubts over his future in the sport by confirming he would again be driving for the Silver Arrows. He cited a desire to make history, not wanting his career to be tainted by the controversy of 2021.
But amid new technical regulations in the sport, designed to make racing more competitive, Hamilton and his team have endured a torrid season so far. Despite a podium finish in the last race in Canada, he lies sixth in the standings, on just 77 points.
Furthermore, Hamilton and new partner George Russell have been plagued by the issue of ‘porpoising’, with the seven time world champion voicing fears of back injury or possible concussion. The FIA have promised to address the problem amid safety concerns.
But Stewart, 83, thinks the time is right for Hamilton to retire now, especially given his business interests: “It’s time for him to resign,” he said. “He’s got music, he’s got culture, he loves clothing and the rag trade would be absolutely suitable for him,” he told the Convex Conversation podcast.
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“I’m sure he’ll be very successful because he’s been earning a huge amount of money — rightfully so because he’s been the best of his time. Lewis is in that group of the Ayrton Sennas and the Alain Prosts — or even the Jackie Stewarts maybe.”
The Scot, himself a three-time world champion, also dismissed the notion that Hamilton could still reach the summit again before stepping down: “It’s a pity he wasn’t resigning at the top but I don’t think that’s going to happen now,” he added.
“But nevertheless it’s wiser to stop than go through all the pain of not being able to do what you did before. He’s carried the sport well. I’d like to see him resigning now.”
During practice in Montreal, Hamilton labelled his current Mercedes car as the ‘worst’ he had driven in F1, but then responded with his best showing of the season. And he’ll be determined for more of the same at his home Grand Prix on Silverstone on July 3.
It’s a venue where Hamilton has won eight times before, although the prospect of taking the chequered flag ahead of Red Bull man Verstappen currently looks unlikely. The Dutchman already has 46-point lead in the Championship, with teammate Sergio Perez second.
Last year, it was the British Grand Prix which provided one of the most explosive moments in Hamilton and Verstappen’s rivalry. Despite being penalised for the collision which ended the latter’s race, Hamilton recovered to take the win.