It was a particularly difficult decision for Lewis Hamilton, which McLaren had taken under its wing fifteen years earlier. He had won the 2008 world title and already twenty Grand Prix victories with the British manufacturer. At the same time, Mercedes had only one success under its belt over the previous three seasons.
Needless to say, Hamilton's bet had been met with tremendous skepticism in the paddock, with the Englishman sometimes accused of leaving for Mercedes for financial reasons. The sequence of events, with the domination of the German brand since the beginning of the hybrid era, proved him right: Hamilton now on the way to becoming a seven-time World Champion.
However, even for him, it was not obvious: "At the time, it was one of the most difficult decisions to make, because I had been at McLaren for some time, and without their support as well as that of Mercedes (which powered McLaren, note), I would not would never have arrived in Formula 1: it's so expensive that it was impossible for my family to raise the budget that some families are able to spend in this sport. "
“I was loyal to them, but back then I had to think about what the future had in store for me and what I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be part of a team that maybe didn't. not been as successful, which was in the development phase. I wanted to live this adventure where we grow together. Build something relatively new. It was an exciting challenge, and I didn't know how long it was going to be. to win. But I had a real belief that we were going to get there one day or another. "
“Calling my employer – calling Martin (McLaren manager Whitmarsh, between Hamilton and Button in photo) in particular – was one of the toughest phone calls of my life. forgave me now! I think so, because he understands; in the end, I think it was the right decision. I knew it was the right decision for me, and life is generally like that : nobody can tell you what to do, only you know what is good or bad for you. You should not let anyone influence this decision. You have to do your job, do what is necessary for yourself, and at the time, it was did I do. "
Hamilton's record is giddy, the Mercedes driver having simply won more than half of the Grand Prix contested since the start of the 2014 season (68 out of 131). After three years of fierce rivalry against Nico Rosberg, the latter's surprise retirement led to the recruitment of Valtteri Bottas at the last minute, and for four years now the Finn has struggled to rise to the level of his formidable team-mate.
Eddie Jordan suggested that instead of Hamilton, he would go to Red Bull to compete against Max Verstappen, perhaps the most esteemed young driver on the grid when it comes to pure talent. Hamilton does not intend to be dictated by his career choices, however: "(Jordan) has never been in my position so there isn't much to say."
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