Taking his 93rd race win on his way to an almost guaranteed seventh World title and then hinting he could quit F1, Ralf Schumacher says that success may have taken its toll on Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking to the media after his victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton said his continued participation in Formula 1 beyond this season was not guaranteed.
“I don’t even know if I’m going to be here next year,” he told the media.
“I’ve been in a long, long time. I can definitely understand wanting to pull back and give more time to family and those things.”
Should the Brit walk away from the sport at the end of this season it would be the second time in five years that a World Champion has quit after taking the title with Nico Rosberg having done so in 2016.
Schumacher says he understands it.
“This is now the seventh title that he will win, it doesn’t leave you without a mark,” Speedweek quotes the former F1 driver as having said.
“For years this has been a lot of traveling, a lot of energy, a lot of sacrifice – and of course that sucks your strength.”
Schumacher, though, thinks money could also be a factor.
On the back of Mercedes reportedly voting in favour of a salary cap for 2023, the team may not be willing to pay Hamilton the 40 million the reports say he is wanting.
Mercedes, like many other big companies, took a huge financial hit when the pandemic began and is still recovering from it.
Hamilton, Schumacher speculates, could be using his threat to quit as a bargaining tool.
“I think that due to the corona pandemic, they are not agreeing on the salary,” he said. “Perhaps he is also uses that as a means.”
Should Hamilton Mercedes have options such as George Russell. However, while Schumacher believes most drivers could win races in today’s W11, what Hamilton has achieved is incredible.
“Driving consistently as strong and clever as Hamilton does – no one else can do that so quickly,” he said. “Lewis is already a top class driver.”
A day we’ll never, ever forget. #HIS7ORY
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (🏆 7x Champions) (@MercedesAMGF1) November 5, 2020
Last Sunday’s Imola race saw Mercedes wrap up its seventh successive Constructors’ Championship, a new record in Formula 1.
“There has always been dominance in Formula 1 – from McLaren, from Williams, from Ferrari,” said the former Williams man.
“Now it’s just Mercedes.
“This is primarily due to the power unit. The Mercedes engine is clearly superior to all because it has much more power reserves and is more durable under high loads than the competing products.
“In addition, the whole team is incredible. The management team is unique.
“The error rate is extremely low. As early as 2019 I said – they rarely showed the car’s true potential. They have to do a little more this year as Red Bull Racing is getting closer, but I still see reserves there.
“We have to congratulate Mercedes. What has been achieved in Imola is unimaginable. Even if many viewers might not want to hear that anymore, but that’s the way it is. We have to take our hat off to this achievement.”