IG­NI­TION

What next for Lewis Hamilton?

F1 Racing (UK) - - CONTENTS - An­thony Rowl­in­son Cre­ative con­tent di­rec­tor

Who will re­mem­ber the scrappy race for a P9 fin­ish that con­firmed Lewis Hamilton as 2017 world cham­pion? Prob­a­bly not too many F1 Rac­ing read­ers, I’d ven­ture – un­less they’re ar­dent fans of dom­i­nant race win­ner Max Ver­stap­pen of course.

It was a flac­cid ti­tle con­clu­sion to a sea­son that has been pos­i­tively thrilling for two thirds of its du­ra­tion – that is un­til lap 4 of the Ja­panese Grand Prix, when a spark-plug fail­ure on Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s SF70H ush­ered him into re­tire­ment and si­mul­ta­ne­ously ban­ished his ti­tle hopes to the realms of ‘math­e­mat­i­cal pos­si­bil­ity’.

What a re­ver­sal! Vet­tel had led the driv­ers’ world cham­pi­onship for 12 un­in­ter­rupted rounds, from Melbourne to Spa. But since the sum­mer break and Hamilton’s win in Bel­gium, he and Mercedes have been dom­i­nant, win­ning five from six, with P2 in Malaysia and only that one slip-up in Mex­ico. No ques­tion, then, that the right man won – and

F1 Rac­ing will be cel­e­brat­ing Hamilton’s stun­ning achieve­ments in full next month. As the most suc­cess­ful Brit by any sta­tis­ti­cal mea­sure, and surely one of the fastest men ever to have driven an F1 car, he is wor­thy of the ad­mi­ra­tion of ev­ery fan.

Yet Lewis’s claim to great­ness would be fur­ther en­hanced if he did one thing: race for Fer­rari. In­deed, I’d go fur­ther, he must drive for Fer­rari to es­tab­lish him­self as an im­mor­tal, for in em­brac­ing the Scud­e­ria he would em­brace the pos­si­bil­ity of fail­ure and im­per­fec­tion. These qual­i­ties may be anath­ema to the ti­tans who’ve marched through F1 over the years, but they’re in­trin­sic to the magic of the scar­let team and es­sen­tial to un­der­stand­ing why ‘The Reds’ and their driv­ers are so revered: they ap­peal to our souls as much as to our heads.

Nigel Mansell, heroic though he al­ways was for Wil­liams, only be­came Il Leone at Fer­rari. The Schu­macher le­gend was writ­ten in red ink. Gilles Vil­leneuve: the Fer­rari archetype. Senna, we know, had agreed to con­clude his rac­ing ca­reer in cars from Maranello. Imag­ine the power of a Hamil­ton­fer­rari com­bi­na­tion, were he to make the switch.

By 2021, Vet­tel’s con­tract will have ex­pired and Kimi Räikkö­nen will surely have re­tired – so an op­por­tu­nity is likely to arise whereby Hamilton could join Fer­rari as a five-, six- or even sev­en­time cham­pion. It’s an en­tic­ing prospect, even if all these con­ver­sa­tions are ren­dered moot by the emer­gence of Ver­stap­pen as The Man.

Enough ro­man­ti­cism al­ready! Though, maybe not… We make no ex­cuses for paint­ing F1 Rac­ing red this month, to cel­e­brate Fer­rari’s 70th year.

Long may they rule our hearts.

An­thony Rowl­in­son @F1rac­ing_­mag face­book.com/ f1rac­ing­mag in­sta­gram.com/ f1_rac­ing_­mag

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