EDITORIAL: Why is Hamilton’s career questioned and Alonso’s isn’t?

© Jiri Krenek for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

By Adrian Mann

The dip in performance from Mercedes in 2022 has seemingly ruled Lewis Hamilton out of title contention for the first time in the last nine years. This has led to a certain number of fans, observers and pundits questioning if Lewis’ career could (or should) be over sooner, rather than later.

It’s interesting that a few races of setbacks, after a record-breaking run since 2014, are enough for some people to start bringing up retirement talks. Granted, Lewis is 37 years old, and he has said on numerous occasions he will not drive long into his forties, but if he is to retire, it will definitely not happen because of one year of lesser performance (from himself or his team).

It’s also interesting that the same people who are questioning Lewis, are not questioning the career of Fernando Alonso, who is forty and hasn’t won a Formula 1 race since 2013. Not only that, but he hasn’t been even near title contention since then. Yet some people are still saying he is one of the greatest drivers of all time, and there are no questions being raised about whether he deserves to be in Formula 1 at such a late stage in his career.

Of course, it could be that Lewis is being held to a higher standard, but I don’t believe these peope are coming from a place of respect for Lewis and his accomplishments. No, there’s a certain amount of ill will aimed toward Lewis Hamilton, coming from a certain type of fans, observers and pundits, and I suspect it has nothing to do with his actual level of performance.

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I’m not even going to get into why that is, but it would be nice if these people would at least keep a certain amount of realism in their speculation, and stick to the facts. Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in the history of Formula 1, he has surpassed almost every relevant record there is, and it would have been ‘every’, had he not been cheated out of his eighth championship title win at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Even if Lewis is performing worse than he was in the last eight years, and it’s a stretch to even suggest that, his performance level has been so high for basically his entire career, that even with a dip in performance, it’s a level that most drivers on the grid will never reach. Leave the talk of who is driving the best car for your friends at the bar, while sipping on your beer and adding that it’s a ‘tough racket’, and while you’re at it, leave the talk of a two-time champion who hasn’t won a race since 2013, being the best driver of all time, for the same time and place.

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