When the news broke that Lewis Hamilton would be moving to Mercedes for the 2013 season, opinion was divided as to whether this was the correct decision or not.
It was arguably a bold move. Hamilton had won a race in every season he had been in Formula 1, and he was switching to a team where the great Michael Schumacher had failed to win a race in three years.
However, it was soon clear that perhaps this move wasn’t such a bad idea, as the Mercedes showed true pace at the end of pre-season testing. This pace carried over into the first race as he qualified third on the grid, and finished in fifth.
Significantly, Lewis was consistently outperforming his old team, McLaren, who would go on to have their worse season since 1980.
At the following race in Malaysia, Hamilton scored his first podium for his new team, and three weeks later he earned his first pole position for them. He was starting to prove his critics wrong.
But Hamilton’s season wasn’t smooth sailing. It was soon apparent that there was a fundamental problem with the car. Although it was quick in qualifying, in the race the car would destroy its tyres, and the Mercedes drivers would often struggle for pace.
This led to many predicting a Mercedes win in Monaco. Why shouldn’t this be the case? The Mercedes would qualify well and because it is so difficult to overtake at the historic track, nobody else should get past.
This was true. However, it wasn’t Lewis Hamilton winning the race. His team mate, Nico Rosberg, qualified on pole and went on to win the race. Hamilton endured a strategy error and finished behind the two Red Bulls in fourth.
The Brit had another shot at a win at his home grand prix. He qualified on pole, much to the fans delight, and was comfortably leading the race. However, he suffered a puncture seven laps in causing him to pit. When he emerged, he was the fastest driver on the track and fought his way up to fourth, just missing out on a podium. Again, his team mate won the race.
But at the 10th round of the season, Hamilton scored his first win for Mercedes, driving a faultless race. If his critics weren’t already silent, they certainly were now.
Although he has failed to win a race since, he is still aiming for third in the championship. Lewis has been troubled all season by the setup of the car, especially under braking. If he can resolve this problem for next year, he definitely looks like he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
When deciding his future in Formula 1, Hamilton ultimately looked towards 2014, when new regulations will come in. More focus will be on the engine and it is believed that factory-backed teams will have an advantage.
So one year on, was Hamilton’s decision to switch teams the right one?
Well the answer has to be yes, and Lewis himself certainly thinks so. He has outperformed his old team and if he had remained, arguably he would not have won a race this season. He also appears to be in a better situation for next year.
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