Why did Lewis Hamilton leave McLaren?

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November 4, 2020 10:53 pm

Lewis Hamilton is a household name, and rightly so, considering his achievements and the influence he wields on and off the track.

He boasts of 6 World Championships and a number of other accolades; for instance, he holds the record for the highest number of pole positions at 97.

Unlike most drivers, Formula One has not consumed the British powerhouse; for he is very active in the arena of philanthropy and puts in a lot of time and energy into his altruistic projects.

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton wearing a “Black Lives Matter” face mask, scoots around the track ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Usurping Michael Schumacher as the record holder for the highest number of career wins with 93 under his belt, the Stevenage born and bred driver has been unstoppable.

The highest-paid driver in the paddock started his career in karting, before making the jump to Formula Renault, Formula Three, and GP2 before hopping into the Formula One scene.

He made his debut in F1 with McLaren in 2007 and put forth a series of staggering performances, especially for a rookie. He jumped ship to Mercedes in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since.

Championships with McLaren

Hamilton’s debut in 2007 saw him fight his way to a podium finish, and he has been unstoppable since then. He set several records and bagged several accolades on the trot over the course of his first season.

In addition to 9 podium finishes in a row and 4 joint victories, he also bagged the maximum number of points in his first season.

: Formula One – F1 – Brazilian Grand Prix 2008 – Interlagos – November 2, 2008, McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the World Championship with the McLaren team and his brother Nicholas (C) Courtesy: Reuters

Hamilton earned the first chequered flag at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. It was his sixth Grand Prix in his debut season; however, this was just the start.

His rivalry with teammate Alonso was extremely tense and tough. The Britton, in his second season, claimed 5 titles and 10 podium finishes. He subsequently went on to become the first and youngest colored motorist to pinch the Drivers’ Championship.

Problems with McLaren

A contract renewal shackled Lewis Hamilton to the Woking-based outfit till 2012. However, unlike the 2007 and 2008 seasons, his 2009 season kicked off on the wrong foot.

So much so that his mighty reputation suffered a huge dent; what’s more, his spiteful attitude and way of racing fell under the scanner and were subjected to a lot of scrutiny.

For the first time in his career, it seemed like Lady Luck was not on his side; for he was seen struggling for a mere podium finish. The team blamed Lewis Hamilton for his flawed form of racing.

FILE PHOTO: McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (L) overtakes Mercedes Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany during the Monaco F1 Grand Prix May 29, 2011. Courtesy: Reuters

Hamilton, in 2010, not only tried to get his act together but also suggested viable changes to the team to bolster their performances. However, all his suggestions fell on deaf ears and the otherwise flawless driver continued to struggle.

2012 saw the Brit mount a massive challenge to clinch the Drivers’ Championship; however, all his efforts were in vain as Sebastian Vettel bagged his third title with Red Bull Racing. His failed title run seemed like the last straw forcing him to jump ship to Mercedes.

Niki Lauda’s Convincing Powers

The ‘Billion Dollar Man’ always claimed to have fought his way to the top of the food chain. He always emphasized on how he was “Not born with a silver spoon in mouth”. Everything he achieved was through sheer hard work.

Niki Lauda clearly recognized Hamilton’s brilliance and did not want to see it go to waste. He played a major role in helping Hamilton chart a course to Mercedes. While, in McLaren, the racer lacked freedom and proper competition, in Mercedes, he was finally promised both.

Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Saturday 9 May 2015. Niki Lauda, Non-Executive Chairman, Mercedes AMG, with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG. Courtesy: Getty

The late Niki Lauda admitted, “I was impressed with his approach to things, very pragmatic, no emotions whatsoever.” He further mentioned how finally, “it convinced him that the challenge is what he wants to do.”

Hamilton on Lauda’s death anniversary expressed immense gratitude for all that the ‘King Rat’ did for him. He also admitted that ‘King Rat’s’ influence was a major reason behind his success in the sport right now.

READ MORE- “It Would Be That”- Lewis Hamilton Reveals What He Learned From Niki Lauda

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