As he considers his options for 2024, Martin Brundle doesn’t believe retirement is on the list as winning that “eighth title is everything” to Lewis Hamilton.
Barring a massive upturn in form, and would need to be coupled with an equally huge decline from Red Bull, fighting for an eighth World title seems a dream and nothing more for Hamilton this season.
Mercedes have already conceded after just one race their W14 is not a car capable of being competitive, the team announcing “radical changes” to come, but those are down the line.
For now it’s all about small developments, with Toto Wolff vowing to leave “no stone unturned in the search for performance.”
But whether that will appease Hamilton remains to be seen after the Briton uncharacteristically hit out at the team after Bahrain, saying they “didn’t listen” to him when he told them what the “car needs”.
It has Brundle wondering what’s next for the seven-time World Champion as winning that eighth is “everything to him” these days.
“I think Lewis feels he was absolutely robbed in Abu Dhabi 2021, along with a lot of other people,” he told the Sky Sports F1 podcast. “I think it took him several months last year, through 2022, to get over that, then he was driving beautifully.
“I think it’s absolutely clear that taking that eighth title is everything to him now, to move that high tide mark on and be right up there and considered the greatest and to have won more than anybody else is is important to him.
“And I think he will want to drive wherever he can achieve that.
“Now, if you went to Ferrari, for example, would you be certain you could achieve that better there? They’ve got a number of their own challenges at the moment.
“Would he get in the door at Red Bull because that’s the only team right now you think he could go to. Could you have a Verstappen and Hamilton line-up? Could you afford them? You know, how would you manage that? Do you need that?
“I think Red Bull are quite happy with a sort of a number one and a number one and a half driver in their car. So it’s all very well saying he’ll go somewhere else, but where at the moment?
“So he’s better to make what he’s got in a magnificent team work.”
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The former driver turned pundit recalled Hamilton’s mannerisms when he retired from the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix and walked away from his stricken MP4-27 without looking back.
Five days later he announced he had signed a three-year deal with Mercedes, one that has since become an 11-year stay yielding 82 grand prix victories and six Drivers’ Championship titles.
“When he moved from McLaren I’ll never forget him getting out of the car in Singapore that night and he didn’t even look back at the car when his McLaren had broken down again,” Brundle remembered. “And I think I said in commentary, ‘he’s had enough of that’.
“Going to Mercedes looked like a risk at the time. But what we didn’t know is all the things that Ross Brawn and Andy Cowell and others could tell Lewis, ‘look, have a look at our hybrid power unit that we’ve got coming. We’re miles ahead of anybody else’. So Lewis was able to see that.”
But for his next move, should there be one, the Briton concedes Hamilton has to weigh up his options extremely carefully as it will be his last “roll of the dice”.
“He’s obviously in the latter part of his career,” Brundle concluded. “I could easily see him having another five years, look at Fernando Alonso for example. He’s three years older than Lewis and driving probably at his best or equal best.
“So Lewis has got a one more roll of the dice, hasn’t he, to join a team and make them World Champions and get all the accolades that he wants. So I think that’s where he’s at, at the moment.
“But if in doubt, stay put I would have thought is what he’s thinking – ‘I want to make this if I can make this work, that’s my best solution. If not, I may have to look elsewhere’.”