Saturday, December 5

Hamilton marks ‘a Cristiano Ronaldo’ in full Mercedes party

What has always been known as a “party pooper” for some time now is “making a Cristiano Ronaldo.” This expression, more popular in the sports context than in society, refers to the announcement by the Portuguese footballer that he was leaving Real Madrid in full celebration of the Champions League conquered minutes before in the final in Kiev in 2018. It is not usual for an athlete to choose precisely that moment to announce his goodbye, or to threaten with it, precisely because what he does not want is to damage the atmosphere of merriment that is experienced when a success.

This Sunday, Lewis Hamilton made a Christian. Still clad in the commemorative T-shirt of the seventh Mercedes constructors’ world championship, something that no one had achieved so far (not immediately), he decided that it was a good time to publicly express what was already a well audible murmur in the circles. : it is not at all clear that it will be on the grid in 2021.

“I would like to be here next year, but there is no guarantee of that, for sure. There are many things that excite me about life outside of Formula 1, so time will tell, “he said, to the surprise of those who did not expect such an eloquent and striking statement so clearly. The laughter of the Mercedes party subsided in the box, when these words began to circulate through the mouth-ear of the garage of the seven-time champions.

It’s not new that Hamilton has been giving F1 a spin for a long time. Getting motivation when you win practically with inertia is difficult, especially when he sees that outside the circuits he enjoys more. It is no coincidence that as his sporting rise has picked up speed, so has his social activism. A phrase of yours about veganism, racism, police violence, the environment or any other flag you want to fly (and the deep contradictions that it entails) wins more prominence in the media than the umpteenth victory, the umpteenth ‘pole’ or the umpteenth podium. Not forgetting his musical side under the pseudonym XNDA, which has already made him appear on the Billboard chart with Christina Aguilera.

Reasons for withdrawal

Both Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff, the liner’s boss and manager, have haggled over the doubts of the press about the late renewal since the beginning of the year. The topics fringes have not finished being tied, a pandemic has swept away the renewal intentions and at the same time Formula 1 itself has also changed. Perhaps a figure like Hamilton at the front is no longer so interesting when, from behind, young people much closer to the future target audience arrive, such as Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, George Russell or Carlos Sainz himself.

Beyond the more ethereal than earthly approaches that Formula 1 poses as a competition, there is a mantra that explains much more clearly why what seemed so done in January is not so done in November: follow the money. The expression, coined in the obscene 80s on Wall Street, comes as a pause to explain why Hamilton is no longer so excited about staying in F1. His enormous fortune gives him this and two more lives to live like a king, but not for that reason it will be devalued to continue competing. As long as Mercedes continues to be the big favorite, Hamilton wants to maintain or improve its economic ‘status quo’, as a kind of equalization between value and price for its services. He knows what it is like to see his father have several jobs to earn a decent salary, and he does not want him or his family to go hungry for many generations.

Mercedes conquers its seventh World Cup and Hamilton already counts

However, the context works against him. The pandemic has forced the salary limit that had already been flying over F1 since Bernie Ecclestone’s time, which means that Mercedes can no longer offer (not without some financial engineering) the 40 million that its leader is charging right now. Having in the chamber a diamond like George Russell and a Valtteri Bottas who does not add much, but much less subtract, they consider the time of Hamilton at his side more than profitable.

If Hamilton makes good on his threat and leaves, Mercedes’ dominance will noticeably wobble, not so much in a stable 2021 where the future W12 may be the great reference, but in 2022 with the regulatory change. Despite this, they will get ahead and will be favorites again. It has already happened with Ferrari, which without Michael Schumacher did not dominate with an iron fist but did aspire to everything, and with Real Madrid, although the lack of Cristiano forces other footballers to push the pace much more.

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