Lewis Hamilton believes that he would never have become equal to Michael Schumacher if he had stayed with McLaren at the end of the 2012 season.
Hamilton entered Formula 1 through McLaren’s young drivers’ programme that he joined when he was 13. He immediately impressed everyone in his first F1 season in 2007 and missed out on the championship by a single point.
He won his first F1 title the very next year, but he would not repeat the feat until 2014, one year after he made his move from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013. The rest is history.
“I’d been with McLaren since I was 13 so it was my family and I was very safe there, I was well taken care of,” the Briton told Mercedes sponsor Crowdstrike, one their “A Formula for Success” Podcast.
“But I think McLaren had this amazing history, they had multiple championships, they were super-successful and I felt that I wasn’t necessarily helping build something.
“It was already an illustrious team, it already had all that success. It had the biggest cabinet of trophies and I wanted to go somewhere where I could help, could be a big part of building something.
“When I joined this team [Mercedes], it didn’t have many trophies in the cabinet. It was on the way up, it was growing, it was building. There was more people coming.
“And I was like, I want to go somewhere and see if I can utilise everything I’ve learned in all these years, the privilege of working at McLaren, apply those learnings to a team that’s not being very successful to becoming successful.”
McLaren’s struggles started soon after Hamilton departed, and the team would not see an improvement in performance until 2019. Hamilton admits he was aware McLaren’s future didn’t look too bright even while he was still with the team.
“For sure there was moments when I was like, geez, I don’t know when I’m going to win again. I had to really analyse a lot of the pros and cons.
“But for me, taking the risk: Senna used to say ‘if you’re not going for a gap, you’re no longer racing driver’. I think if you’re not taking risks in life, then you’re standing still.
“So I could have stayed there. In hindsight, you look at if I had stayed, I wouldn’t have another championship to my name. I would still be a one-time world champion after 14 years.”
The people that were most instrumental in bringing Hamilton to Mercedes were the team’s former non-executive chairman Niki Lauda and former team principal (current F1 managing director) Ross Brawn.
“Things happen for a reason, one way or another, and I’m really, really grateful that I took that step. I took that leap of faith.
“It’s thanks to people like Niki – rest his soul – and to Ross and to Mercedes for truly believing in me,” concluded Hamilton.
hamilton says he would be a one-time champion at mclaren hamilton says he would be a one-time champion at mclaren
VERSTAPPEN BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN HAMILTON
FORMULA 1 BACK AT ISTANBUL PARK IN TURKEY
VALENCIA E-PRIX – JAKE DENNIS WIN RACE 2
SUZUKA F1 GP – NEW CONTRACT SIGNED UNTIL 2024
HIGHLIGHTS EPRIX 1 – DE VRIES WINS WET VALENCIA
FORMULA 1 – MIAMI GRAND PRIX FOR 2022
THE NEXT RACE 2021
|Bahrain ||26 Mar|
|14:30 - 15:30||Free practice 1|
|18:00 - 19:00||Free practice 2|
|15:00 - 16:00||Free practice 3|
|18:00 - 19:00||Qualifying|
|18:00 - 20:00||Race|
|Bahrain||57 laps||308.238 km|