The Undercut: Lewis, don’t leave McLaren for Mercedes, it will be a big mistake!
Hands up (if you can remember that far back) who else at the end of the 2012 F1 season, thought Lewis Hamilton was making a huge mistake in leaving the mighty McLaren for the so far, unimpressive Mercedes?
Who thought it was just a move for the money and leaving the British team to join those German types was likely to be the end, at least for the foreseeable, of any more wins, let alone titles?
Well, yours truly for one.
I tweeted at the time, in my supreme wisdom, that Lewis wouldn’t be needing a new trophy cabinet for a while.
Humble pie, ordered, paid for and well and truly eaten.
Sir Jackie Stewart, a man who knows his onions, said at the time: "I personally would have stayed with McLaren, they have the resources and the money. So, if I was thinking long term, then I would be looking to stay there.”
Sky pundit Johnny Herbert agreed, saying “"What is there about the team that could convince Lewis that he would have a better chance of winning titles there? McLaren though have proved that they can develop a car during the season, as Red Bull have and McLaren have done it year in, year out. They have an outstanding record in terms of the development of their car."
How times change.
And who back then thought it an impossibility that any driver could ever match Michael Schumacher’s seven titles and ninety one wins?
Well here Lewis is, six seasons down the road and with four titles and dozens of wins hoovered up in that period, while McLaren have not won a single, solitary race in the same period. You have to say that Hamilton’s careers teacher deserves a pat on the back.
So with Lewis now on, of course, five titles and seventy one wins, all of a sudden, or so it feels, those gigantic numbers set by Schuey are within a more than realistic reach.
More impressive for Hamilton though, is that through virtually all of his winning years, Schumacher was the team number one. No ifs or buts, he was the sole focus.
The whole raison d'être of Benetton and Ferrari back then was to make sure he won, to such an extent that whoever the poor sap was in the other side of the garage, he may have to be occasionally nobbled to keep him in place.
Lewis meanwhile, has not had that luxury.
Much to their own cost in sanity during the Nico Rosberg years, Merc bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda let both drivers race each other and so unlike Michael, Lewis's biggest problem was to be his team-mate.
Yes, poor old Valtteri Bottas had to give his win to Hamilton at the Russian Grand Prix but by that stage, it was as clear as day that his hopes of a title challenge were as dead as a dodo.
Benetton and Ferrari made it clear to their number two drivers, that was their role. Only one person made Bottas a number two – and that was him.
While Ferrari might actually remember one day how to string a title winning year together and Honda might (stranger things have happened) give Red Bull a proper motor, there isn’t a lot to stop the Hamilton steam roller. That is unless of course they throw an Esteban Ocon or Max Verstappen in the other car, but you have to wonder why they would want to do that.
Only one driver can win the title after all.
I’ve just realised that I’ve got near to the end of this supposed review of the Mexican Grand Prix without having yet mentioned it.
Fair to say it was more of a siesta than a showdown.
Max Verstappen lead pretty much the whole thing with not a lot to worry about for his fifth win, and his second on the bounce here, with the Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen next up with Hamilton, safely in fourth with Bottas behind him, so far back as to render his wing man role redundant for the day.
Pole sitter Daniel Ricciardo, who surely must have smashed a mirror over a black cat at some stage had yet another failure on his car.
Reportedly, after the race the (for once) unsmiling Aussie said: "Honestly, I don't see the point of coming on a Sunday. I don't see the point of doing the next two races.”
DNF after DNF has put a dent in that Honey Badger style, never-give-up attitude he used to have.
Towards the end of the race, Lewis was clearly not in the mood to try and get up to the sharp end, he only needed seventh after all, regardless of what Vettel did. Indeed, when the German came to overtake him, Hamilton gave him a space big enough to drive a double decker bus through.
The usual teams were at the front, the midfield were still, well the midfield and the usual dreadful teams were still rubbish, though Stoffel Vandoorne did manage to drag his McLaren into the points for the first time in fourteen races, not that anybody noticed.
His team-mate, Fernando ‘I’ll be off soon’ Alonso found a new way to retire, after his car got clobbered by a bit of somebody else’s wing just after the start.
Unfortunately for him, not that it matters in the scheme of things, retiring cost him the chance to set the record for the most laps ever raced in F1.
He was his usual “I’m still fighting in every race” self in the post-race interviews but you feel, like Ricciardo, the last two races are of little point.
Far, far more use to McLaren would be to stick Lando Norris in the car to finish the season, a handy bit of race experience and Fernando can ride off into the sunset.
Up next, the epic track that is Interlagos for the Brazilian Grand Prix followed by the season ender at the not so epic Yas Marina for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Apparently, as there is a price for everything in F1, circuits pay a premium to host the last race of the season, in the hope they’ll get a championship decider.
I wonder if they’ll ask Ferrari for a refund?