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Comment: Has Lewis Hamilton already given up on the season?

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes reacts during the third free practice session for the Formula One Grand Prix of Spain held at Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo, Barcelona, Spain, 21 May 2022. Picture: Alejandro Garcia/EPA

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes reacts during the third free practice session for the Formula One Grand Prix of Spain held at Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo, Barcelona, Spain, 21 May 2022. Picture: Alejandro Garcia/EPA

Published May 27, 2022

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Johannesburg - There is no denying that the recovery drive Sir Lewis Hamilton put in during the Spanish GP last week was peak performance stuff, but nevertheless I have a major concern.

The Brit found himself at the back of the field after the first lap and fourth corner due to a collision with KevMag (Kevin Magnussen), which punctured his tyre and forced an early pitstop.

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It was there, while contemplating his options at the back of the pack, that the seven-time world champion dropped a shocking admission over the team radio, saying that Mercedes should rather retire him and his car and save the engine, rather than continue the race.

Hamilton’s rabid fans have somewhat glossed over the incident, and that is understandable considering that he stormed to a brilliant fifth place finish in what was rightly acknowledged as the drive of the day. But I can’t stop thinking about it. Let’s be honest, the going for the Silver Arrows – and especially Hamilton – has been tough this season and after six Grands Prix, they are not competing at the level at which we are all accustomed.

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George Russell, Hamilton’s young teammate, has been rocking and rolling, meanwhile, finishing ahead of his more illustrious teammate on five of those six occasions.

I understand Hamilton’s argument that he believed that he would not finish in a respectable points-scoring position, but his brief exchange with his race engineer has me worried.

From the comfort of my armchair and having never raced anything prestigious, it seems to me that Hamilton is mentally not in the correct space, and that before the race, had decided to already give up on the season.

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For a multiple word champion who is venerated as the GOAT of the sport, that just seemed to come across as someone who has had it easy for years and now when the going gets tough, is not prepared to suffer and work for it.

Personally, I saw it as a moment of frustration and weakness from Hamilton and that can naturally be forgiven. But as the calendar progresses, it is my sincerest of hopes that it does not happen again.

In my humble estimation, Hamilton is too important and too good to ever throw in the towel, and the team realising that and pushing him forward, is surely all the encouragement he requires.

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One suspects that although they had an excellent weekend in Spain, there are still many tough races ahead for the Silver Arrows as they chase the leading Red Bulls and Ferraris.

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The dichotomy between Hamilton and Max Verstappen is notable, however, which is quickly quieting any criticism that the young Dutchman is not a worthy world champion.

In the last 14 races that he has finished, the 24-year-old’s record is quite astonishing: P1, P1, P1, P1, P1, P2, P2, P2, P1, P1, P2, P2, P1, P1.

So, while Hamilton’s current state of mind has only recently received a proper lift, Verstappen is in a wining mood that will be hard for anyone to beat, Charles Leclerc included, even if they have the superior machinery.

@FreemanZAR

IOL Sport

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