Martin Brundle believes Lewis Hamilton’s plans for F1 could change if an eighth world championship remains agonisingly out of reach.
Hamilton is tied with Michael Schumacher on seven Drivers’ World Championships each, with the two F1 legends clear of Juan Manuel Fangio’s five titles to hold the record for the most championships won by a driver.
Hamilton almost made it a record-breaking eighth world title in 2021, but was beaten to the title by Max Verstappen in the season finale. Since then, success has eluded Hamilton as he has just ended his second consecutive season without a Grand Prix win.
Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton could be thinking of Plan B
Time is against Hamilton if he wants to rack up that tantalising eighth world championship to become the most successful F1 driver of all time, according to that statistic. Having already achieved the most race victories, points, podiums, and pole positions, having the most championships would be a particularly enticing statistic to achieve before ending his career.
Hamilton turns 39 before the start of the 2024 F1 season and will be 41 by the time the regulations change for the 2026 season – perhaps the earliest opportunity for a change in form at the front of F1 as Red Bull aren’t likely to slip away any time soon due to the stable regulation set.
While Fernando Alonso’s form at 42 years old shows that age isn’t quite the limiting factor it once was in F1, history is against Hamilton in this regard. Since Fangio’s time, the eldest drivers to win titles have been in their late thirties – think Jack Brabham, Mario Andretti, and Nigel Mansell, who were 38/39 years old at the time of their final title years.
With Hamilton’s participation in F1 likely down to single digits in terms of seasons, his chances of securing another title – unless Mercedes take a significant step forward soon – are slipping away. It’s for this reason that Sky F1 broadcaster Martin Brundle believes an undefined ‘Plan B’ will already have been thought of by Hamilton.
“I think if Lewis senses that the eighth title is unachievable in a reasonable time frame, he’ll be thinking of Plan B,” the British broadcaster pointed out in a special end-of-year column for Sky F1.
But Brundle didn’t specify whether he believes this to be retirement, or perhaps moving on into another top-level category of motorsport, such as perhaps a tilt at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the World Endurance Championship.
Martin Brundle: Lewis Hamilton vs. George Russell ‘too close to call’
Another factor for Hamilton’s consideration is the fact that, even if Mercedes do suddenly unlock a lot of performance, he now has a much tougher teammate to deal with as Mercedes’ junior George Russell has embedded himself into the team over the past two years.
While Russell had a tough 2023, the British driver has shown plenty of potential and speed to become a consistent thorn in the side for Hamilton.
But, if it was for title glory, how does Brundle see it playing out?
“I think they’re so close, those two, if you look at the stats, but George had a couple of nightmare races this year. That’s a very good question,” he said.
“It depends if Lewis maintains his current motivation, but it’s so close to call.
“Lewis knows how to do that but George has got youth on his side. I don’t know the answer to that, but I definitely wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, Lewis without a doubt, because he’s already a seven-time champion.’ That I would absolutely not say.
“Until George is in a championship-winning position, we don’t know if he’s got the head to cope with it.”