Lewis Hamilton has been backed by global music superstar and avid Formula 1 fan will.i.am to reclaim the title that was “snatched” from him and make F1 history with an eighth crown.
Three years ago Hamilton went up against Max Verstappen for the 2021 World title but lost it when the Dutchman overtook him on the very last lap of the championship to win in Abu Dhabi, due to an incorrect interpretation of the Safety Car rules by then race director, Michael Masi.
That title fight remains a sore spot for Mercedes with Hamilton and Toto Wolff saying they still carry the “scars” from the controversial defeat.
History in the making, or has history been made?
“Ultimately that feeling never really truly leaves you,” Hamilton told ESPN last year. “It’s like when you think about your first love, it will always be that first love and first heartbreak.
“Abu Dhabi, the scar is there and there will always be that memory.”
The pain of that moment has been compounded by Mercedes’ troubles in the first two years of F1’s ground-effect aerodynamic era with the Briton failing to win a Grand Prix, his winless streak up to 45 races which is his longest ever in the sport.
This year, Mercedes firmly believe there is a light at the end of the W15’s tunnel, with Wolff revealing the car is already showing better performance in the simulator.
But whether that’s enough to challenge Red Bull remains to be seen.
One person who is hoping that will be the case is Hamilton’s friend, will.i.am.
“Right,” he told Sports Illustrated, “so, anybody will struggle with something being snatched and it’s just a matter of time for him to wait, he just has to figure it out once and history’s made.
“They say just let the master do what he’s really good at. He’s figured it out a bunch of times, and this one time is gonna be history. Historical. And it’s historical for him. First, all the folks that have been inspired by him, the flock, the school, the herd, that’s going to come after him.
“It’s going to be historical for the sport. It’s going to be historical for Mercedes. And all it is, is him figuring how to figure it out once and I think he’s going to do that. And then the person that comes after him, it’s gonna be some years for that record to be broken. And he will hold that forever.
“There’s this one quote, somebody does a math, there’s eight mathematical questions, they get one through nine, right? They get one wrong. Everybody laughs and makes fun of that one they got wrong and never rewards, applauds or salutes them on the nine they got right. Eventually, they’re going to get 10, right? Meanwhile, everyone’s afraid to even take a freaking test.
“The moment they do, they’re probably gonna get three right and seven wrong. The next time, that person that got nine right, one wrong is gonna get 10 right and history will be made. And anybody’s gonna have an upset when history should have been made already. Actually, history was made.
“It has already been made and now there’s this ‘prove it’ process, this theft process that he has to undergo. The semantics, this, ‘You’re not going to get it that easy’. He was like, ‘What do you mean easy? I already did it’.
“He’s been dealt a hand of cards. I’ve never seen an athlete or anyone actually use what cards he’s been given like he has. The way he has taken everything in his stride and learnt from everything.
“Not that he should have learned from anything, but, it’s just reflected so incredibly well on him, as an athlete and as a person.
“I think it’s inspiring, truly inspiring. I’m curious to know when he’s back racing, preparing, what’s going on in his mind? I’m always curious, because he seems so focused all the time and it’s the same way he is when he’s in the studio. He’s quiet, focused.
“I remember working with him in the studio, going in the booth, I’m like, ‘Wow, this dude, what a force,’ and it’s the same, I’m curious to know.
“Lewis in the studio singing vocals, is the same type of inward thinking happening for him back in the race car getting ready to take off? It’s the same mind, because, what a mind.”