Race Weekend Central

Lewis Hamilton Plans to Compete in Formula 1 Into His 40s

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Lewis Hamilton fans should be delighted that their hero plans to continue racing in Formula 1 into his 40s. The seven-time world champion, who is joining Ferrari next season, made the revelation in a press conference ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix in China. Hamilton’s announcement comes only a week after Spain’s Fernando Alonso signed a new deal with Aston Martin that will keep him in F1 until at least 2026, past his 45th birthday.

Hamilton turns 40 on January 7 but says he still feels young and capable of competing with Formula 1‘s young guns. Speaking to the media in China, Hamilton said, “I’m not the oldest driver here. I am going to be racing for quite some time still so it’s good Alonso is still around. I never thought I would be racing into my 40s. I’m pretty sure I said I wouldn’t. But life is such a crazy trip. I don’t feel 40. I generally feel great.”

The British star has won 103 Grand Prix from 336 entries, the most of any F1 driver in the sport’s history. Once a darling of people enjoying online sports betting due to his 30%+ win rate, Hamilton has not won a race and sprayed his adoring fans with champagne since he won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in December 2021. While some critics cite Hamilton’s age as one of the primary reasons for his lack of recent success, most experts agree that Hamilton is overperforming in a Mercedes that is just not competitive compared to the Oracle Red Bull team.

Hamilton will aim to enjoy his 104th career victory this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix. He has driven to victory in China six times, trailing only the Canadian Grand Prix (7 wins), the Hungarian Grand Prix (8), and the British Grand Prix (8) in terms of races won. However, two ninth-place finishes, a seventh, and a retirement from the first four races of the 2024 season suggest Hamilton could be in for a tough time at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Bursting Onto the Racing Scene

Everyone connected to motorsport knew Hamilton was destined for the top when he began karting in 1993 at only eight. Two years later, Hamilton won his first title and became the youngest-ever driver to win the British cadet karting championship.

Hamilton began climbing through the ranks, his reputation as a skilled and fearless driver growing with each race. In 2001, Hamilton debuted in Formula Renault and took to the new level like a duck to water. Only two years later, Hamilton triumphed in the Formula Renault UK championship, accumulating 419 points from 15 races thanks to 10 wins, 11 poles, nine fastest laps, and 13 podium finishes.

After finishing fifth in the 2004 Formula 3 Euro Series, Hamilton became world champion at that level the following year. He then won the GP2 Series in 2006, paving the way to Formula 1 for the 22-year-old.

Taking the Formula 1 World By Storm

McLaren was the first team Hamilton raced for in Formula 1, partnering two-time and defending champion Fernando Alonso in 2007. Hamilton finished third in his first F1 race at the Australian Grand Prix, followed by four runner-up finishes. His first victory came in the sixth race of the 2007 season at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton finished his rookie season with 109 World Drivers’ Championship points and missed out on winning the title by a single point from Kimi Raikkonen. Had Hamilton not been forced to retire from the Chinese Grand Prix at the season’s penultimate stop, he would likely have become world champion the first time of asking.

Hamilton won the first of seven world titles during his second Formula 1 season in 2008. After two fourth- and two fifth-place finishes in the drivers’ championship, Hamilton made a surprise move to Mercedes for the 2013 season, replacing the retiring Michael Schumacher.

Dominating Formula 1 and a Shock Move to Ferrari

Hamilton won only one race during his first season with Mercedes, resulting in another fourth-place finish in the drivers’ championship. However, the 2013 season was only a minor blip because Hamilton was a dominant force between 2014 and 2021. During that time, Hamilton won 81 Grand Prix and six world titles; he was the runner-up in the two seasons where he did not come out on top. 

Unfortunately for Hamilton, an eighth world title, which would set a new Formula 1 record, eludes him. Mercedes-AMG Petronas has fallen way behind the curve compared to some of its rivals, especially Oracle Red Bull Racing, who have won three consecutive titles with Max Verstappen behind the wheel.

Despite Hamilton losing patience with the Mercedes team’s inability to build a competitive racecar, he signed a two-year contract in 2023 worth an estimated £100 million.

Hamilton will not see out that contract because he triggered an exit clause before the 2024 Formula 1 season. Hamilton then announced he was joining Scuderia Ferrari in 2025, replacing Carlos Sainz Jr.

The move was described as one of the biggest shocks in the motorsport world, although Hamilton and Mercedes-AMG Petronas have downplayed its importance. Hamilton has since claimed it was his childhood dream to drive for Ferrari.

Could Hamilton Win His Eighth World Title

Hamilton has not hidden his determination to win his eighth world title and surpass the legendary Schumacher. Although Hamilton is approaching 40, his driving skills and reactions remain razor-sharp; his car is the only thing preventing him from becoming world champion again.

Ferrari once dominated Formula 1, but they have not had a world champion since Raikkonen denied Hamilton in 2007, some 17 years ago. It has been 16 years since Ferrari won the Constructors’ Championship.

Recently, there have been some green shoots of improvement in the Ferrari camp, with Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc winning one race and enjoying nine podiums between them in 2023 and one win and five podiums between them through the first four races of 2024.

If Ferrari can continue on this track and have Hamilton behind the wheel, it could prove to be a match made in heaven, and both Ferrari and Hamilton could capture the titles they crave.

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