As Lewis Hamilton limped home from what was almost a certain win, you’d have forgiven him for wishing his move to Mercedes would just hurry up a little bit.
Then again, since his move to the fifth-placed team was announced, Mercedes have completely lost all form, failing to score points in the last three races. Nico Rosberg was involved in a spectacular crash that destroyed yet another of the team’s cars, whilst Michael Schumacher was a peripheral figure throughout the race, finishing 11th without much of a mention during the day. Amidst all this failure and lack of control, Hamilton continues to look forward to the “challenge” of riding for a new team.
Following recent events, heck, the last season for McLaren, Hamilton might have had more chance of scoring points with HRT than in his current car. For the second time in the last couple of months, his engine simply cut out, just stopped working properly and his car simply trundled to a halt. It began in Singapore, viewers greeted with a visual of Hamilton’s gear stuck in neutral. It came all of a sudden then and it did once again (under the night sky once more, no less) in Abu Dhabi. Lewis was dominant, heading for a sure-fire win that meant relatively little in the drivers’ standings but may have let him enjoy a fond farewell for the team he has worked for since he was a child. Then, without any warning, the pack overtook him and Lewis returned to the pits without any sign of the anger that sometimes hides within him. Rather, his outlook seemed almost resigned to McLaren’s inadequacy and inability to build a reliable car as he praised Sebastian Vettel’s luck in reaching the podium in his absence.
So, Hamilton may be relishing breaking up the British pair of former world champions, in essence replacing another in Schumacher, but McLaren are the definite losers in this outcome. Not only are they struggling with a car that periodically decides to stop (thanks to Mercedes engines, subterfuge perhaps?) but they also have a much weaker driver line-up next year. Button is still talented, but he seems to have lost some of that edge that won him his single championship with Brawn GP. Sergio Perez is one for the future and may do well in a fast car but, like the whole of Mercedes, his form has dropped since the announcement of his departure and he finished the Abu Dhabi thriller in 15th, hot on the heels of the prestigious Catherham and Marussia teams. Maybe Hamilton is showing his true pedigree that, whilst all other movers are losing their heads, Lewis is keeping his despite understandable frustrations with his team.
The question remains, though – will Lewis Hamilton ever win again? In joining a team that has only won once this season in a “breakthrough” year, can he use his obvious skills in a car that hasn’t proved itself to be competitive? Having ousted Schumacher, parallels can be drawn about the German and how he helped to build Ferrari, but these are actually very different stories. Providing he continues to repeat the form that saw him power to pole position in Saturday’s qualifying and not return to the patchy, scrappy season of 2011, then he may have a chance. I won’t hold my breath, though.