Mark Hughes on why Hamilton is “right to consider extending F1 career”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Sky Sports’ Mark Hughes explains why “one of the greatest drivers F1 has ever seen” and “possibly the greatest of all”, Lewis Hamilton, is “right to consider extending F1 career”.

In a recent interview Lewis Hamilton indicated that he is thinking about extending his Formula 1 career beyond his current contract, which runs until the end of 2023.

In his Sky Sports F1 column, Mark Hughes gave his view on why he believes Lewis is right to do so.

“If he can retain that inner desire there is no reason he will not be able to access his extraordinary skills as effectively as ever for years to come,” Hughes wrote.

“Hamilton has a keen sense of the narrative of his own career history. He sees it in very personal terms as a triumph against adversity.

“His whole career has indeed been a truly magnificent triumph against so many initial obstacles; a Black kid from a council estate is not the usual starting point of an F1 career.

“Even if he had retired 10 years ago with just his one McLaren world title and never sat in a dominant Mercedes, he would still be one of the true greats of the sport; one of the greatest drivers F1 has ever seen.

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“But beyond just his level as a driver, his stature as a sporting icon – in terms of the inspiration to Black culture his success represents, the opening up of the sport to a huge previously uninterested, unengaged section of the population – makes him possibly the greatest of all.

“That stature has only been emphasised by the record-breaking success achieved after switching to Mercedes.

“The stature he had already attained within the sport – his reputation purely as a driver – before that switch, would come to be matched or even exceeded by the statistics made possible by that move.

“The events of Abu Dhabi 2021 – when on the cusp of what would have been an unprecedented eighth world title, misapplication of the sporting regulations saw him denied – still sit heavily upon him, as he confirmed in the recent interview.

“That this should be followed up by his first uncompetitive car in 13 years – preventing him from ‘doing the talking on track’ as he likes to put it – will likely only be storing up that inner desire and motivation.”

However, Hughes thinks Mercedes’ performance for the rest of the year, and in 2023, will play a big role in the seven-time champion’s decision.

“So the Spa TD [FIA’s ‘anti-porpoising’ technical directive] could well help Mercedes reduce its deficit to the front, but to take on Ferrari and Red Bull on equal terms is likely going to require more development.

“But the Spa TD should at least put Hamilton and George Russell in position to apply pressure to those teams. It puts them in the ballpark – and from there anything is possible.

“But of more interest to Hamilton and the team will be what these lessons mean for next year’s car.

“The outcome of that process and its implications upon Hamilton’s ability to fight for wins and titles once more after being doubly thwarted (once in Abu Dhabi ’21, once by this year’s car) are surely all the motivation he needs to give him access to his full ability and demonstrate to the world that he is not beaten.

“Only with that achieved might he feel in a position to make a call on whether to extend or stop,” the Briton concluded.

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