When Lewis Hamilton misses out, he comes back better than ever before

After coming agonisingly close to greatness in 2021, history shows Lewis Hamilton THRIVES following his career near-misses – last year’s cruel blow will only fuel his fire for the fight and in 2022, you’ll see a driver better than ever before

  • Lewis Hamilton enters his 16th season in F1 hunting a record-breaking crown 
  • The Brit has previous of missing out in heartbreaking fashion in the final race 
  • In his rookie season of 2007, in 2016 and 2021, Hamilton was cruelly denied 
  • But whether it’s for McLaren or Mercedes, he has come back with vengeance 
  • Now in his 38th year, Hamilton is more determined than ever on the race track 

In viewing the highly-anticipated new series of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, it does not take long for Lewis Hamilton to set up his story arc. Seven minutes, in fact. It’s almost as if he’s been here before. 

Ahead of a 2021 season which will go on to be remembered for its controversy as much as its unheralded drama, the rhetorical questions come out in full force: ‘Do I still have it? Am I still fit enough? Am I still driven? Can I still keep up with all the new kids that are coming?’ 

He’s teasing us, isn’t he? Because while Hamilton on paper has nothing to lose – a seven-time title winner, multi-millionaire, why does he need to go again? – in actual fact he has everything to lose.

Lewis Hamilton is saying all the right things after the cruel blow of missing out last year 

The Mercedes driver was denied by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in controversial fashion

An eighth world crown, a feat which was one cruel lap away in 2021, is record-breaking. History-making. For all the podiums and race wins, the ultimate indication of motor racing greatness is that all-time World Championship leaderboard – and nobody knows it more than Hamilton.  

Last year saw the Brit knocked down on several occasions. Ahead of the British Grand Prix in July, Max Verstappen had a 32-point lead and was on a three-race win-streak. 

Regardless of whether you hold Hamilton or Verstappen responsible for what followed at Silverstone, specifically at Copse Corner on lap one, it was another case of the British driver refusing to buckle. 

We saw it again in Brazil in November, when disqualifications and grid penalties triggered a fired up Hamilton – with team principal Toto Wolff’s ‘f*** them all’ ringing in his ears – to storm through the field. In coming top of the podium, it was arguably his greatest-ever race win. 

Hamilton stormed through the field in Brazil in 2021 for arguably his greatest-ever race victory 

While ultimately the racing gods were against him come the finale in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton’s resistance in the gusts of wind are a feature of his 15-year Formula One career that is unmatchable. 

You can date it all the way back to 2007, springing into the spotlight in his rookie season. Paired with reigning world champion Fernando Alonso, Hamilton did not play by the rules, leading to a frosty relationship as the two McLaren drivers fought for the World Championship, alongside Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. 

Unable to propel himself out of the gravel trap in China in the penultimate race and a gearbox problem in the final Grand Prix at Interlagos saw a famous triumph fall by the wayside.

In response a year later, Hamilton won the World Championship. His first. 

Hamilton responded to the disappointment of missing out in 2007 by winning in 2008 

It was the Brit’s first world title triumph, in just his second season in Formula One for McLaren

In 2016, another tumultuous partnership with a team-mate festered with Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. Clashes on-track – most memorably in Barcelona – and off-track saw a bitterly close title race conclude with Hamilton once again coming out second-best in Abu Dhabi to the German. 

In response a year later, Hamilton won the World Championship. His fourth. 

Now 37, Hamilton’s hunger for the battle shows no signs of wavering, in spite of 2021’s agonising final blow. 

After a near two-month absence from social media and public life, the Mercedes driver returned to the cameras with a stern message at the 2022 car launch last month. 

In 2017 he won his fourth title – after losing in a tight battle a year earlier with Nico Rosberg

‘I’m generally a very determined person and I like to think to myself whilst moments like this might define careers, I refuse to let this define mine and so I’m focused on being the best I can be and coming back stronger.’

Laughing off retirement rumours in the same press conference, question marks about his future have once again been quickly dismissed. His £40m-a-year deal at Mercedes expires at the end of the 2023 season – an extension would mean he would race in Formula One into his 40th year. 

So, of course, those questions aren’t going anywhere. But until No 8 is in the bag, the GOAT status certified, nor is Hamilton.   

Speaking towards the end of episode one of the new Drive to Survive docu-drama, he says: ‘I still have the hunger and if anything I feel more driven then I was before, it’s quite overwhelming.’ 

That was 12 months ago. As the man himself says now: ‘If you think what you saw at the end of last year was my best, wait ’til you see this year.’ 

History shows failure is only followed by success for Britain’s greatest-ever racing driver. Beware the wounded assassin. 

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