Hamilton: No more titles if I’d stayed at McLaren

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton-2008-PA

Sir Lewis Hamilton feels he would never have tasted World Championship success again if he had stayed with McLaren instead of joining Mercedes.

It may seem obvious, given how dominant Mercedes have become in Formula 1, but the seven-time World Champion believes his 2008 triumph with McLaren was only ever going to be a one-off however long he had remained with the team that gave him his breakthrough.

After narrowly missing out on the title in his first F1 season, Hamilton made up for it the following year on that dramatic day at Interlagos.

In the next four campaigns before his move to Mercedes, the Briton finished fourth twice and fifth twice in the Championship standings.

He was also fourth in 2013, his first year for Mercedes, before starting a spree of success that has only been interrupted since by team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2016.

McLaren, of course, entered a spell in the doldrums following Hamilton’s departure and he believes he could never have inspired another title victory had he chosen to stay put.

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, during the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix

In a video interview with Mercedes sponsor Crowdstrike, Hamilton said: “I had been with McLaren since I was 13 so it was my family.

“I was very safe there, but I think McLaren had this amazing history, they had multiple Championships, they were super-successful and I felt I wasn’t necessarily helping build something. It was already an illustrious team, it already had all that success, the biggest cabinet of trophies. I wanted to go somewhere I could be a part of building something.

“When I joined this team [Mercedes] it didn’t have many trophies in the cabinet. It was on the way up, it was growing, it was building, there were more people coming and I wanted to go somewhere I could utilise everything I had learned in all these years.

“The privilege of working at McLaren, can I apply those learnings to a team that not’s being very successful to becoming successful? For sure it was a risk, for sure there were moments when I was like ‘jeez, I don’t know when I’m going to win again’.

“When I joined this team, people were saying it’s the worst decision I could ever make, ‘your career’s over’, and we’ve just won seven world titles.

“In hindsight, you look at if I had stayed, I wouldn’t have another Championship to my name. I would still be a one-time World Champion after 14 years.”

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