Lewis Hamilton ‘exit’ theory suggested after ‘pretty good’ comment despite Australia DNF

Michelle Foster
Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton in conversation

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton talking

Declaring he was feeling “pretty good” after his Australian GP DNF, Marc Priestley reckons that’s because Lewis Hamilton has written off 2024 and knows he has an “exit out” of Mercedes.

This year’s championship is Hamilton’s 12th and final season racing for the Silver Arrows with the Briton off to Ferrari next year having signed a multi-year contract.

‘If you’re Lewis Hamilton, at least you’ve got an exit out of this’

It, however, is not shaping up to the farewell tour that Hamilton and Mercedes had hoped for.

Hamilton has scored just eight points in the opening three races, officially marking his worst-ever start to a Formula 1 season, with the seven-time World Champion leaving Australia, where he has won twice, without a single point after an engine failure.

Last season he was runner-up to Max Verstappen at the Albert Park circuit, this year he was out of the race on lap 17 having been fighting for the minor points.

And yet, asked how he was feeling after the race, he replied: “Surprisingly I feel pretty good. I’m trying to keep things in perspective, you know, this could be so much worse.”

Former McLaren mechanic Priestley believes Hamilton’s “objective” approach is because he knows he has an “exit out” of Mercedes thanks to his Ferrari move.

“The bigger problem,” he told the BBC Chequered Flag podcast, “is the sort of the inconsistencies that they’re finding in this car, they’re a little bit lost. They’re lost with where to go with it.

“But isn’t that exactly the same story we’ve been hearing over the last two years?

“They ditched their last concept, this sort of idea of going in a very different direction technically to most other teams, they abandoned that after two years of struggling with it because they were lost.

“They’ve now gone to what, at least on the face of it, looks like a more familiar concept, much more in line with everyone else. And they’re lost. So this is a really difficult situation.

“Of course, if you’re Lewis Hamilton, at least you’ve got an exit out of this, you know that there is a move to Ferrari coming at the end of this year.

“So maybe that might explain why he’s sort of a little bit objective about all of this, how he’s not kind of so despondent.

“This is not the future or his career hanging in the balance with this Mercedes like it is for George Russell and would have been if you’d asked him two years ago.

“This is a Lewis Hamilton that might be starting to resign himself to the fact that he’s got to write this year off, and he cannot wait to get those red overalls on, they can’t come quickly enough.”

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His fellow pundit Harry Benjamin says Hamilton, with his complaints about the Mercedes W15’s inconsistency, is more “at sea” than Russell.

“Hamilton in particular it seems in comparison to Russell is just lost at sea,” he said.

“They seem optimistic that there is inherent pace inside this car but right now the biggest issues are the car’s performance in high-speed corners.

“That trend will continue unless they fundamentally sort out the issues that are wrong with this car. And once again, looking bigger picture, it’s another car that yes, okay publicly at least they’re saying it’s better than the last one, but is it it’s still another car that Mercedes have produced that is not complying the way they want it to.”

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