Lewis Hamilton signed off for the 2019 campaign with a fine performance to clinch his 11th victory of the season in Abu Dhabi. The 34-year-old’s form tailed off towards the end of the term, failing to produce the levels of dominance he enjoyed earlier in the year. However, the Brit proved a point that he remains the top man at the top of the sport.
Hamilton has one year left on his deal with Mercedes, which could raise questions whether he has the ambition to remain in Formula One for the long term. He has no reason to call time on his career given his pursuit of Michael Schumacher’s record number of seven world titles. Hamilton is positioned on six ahead of the 2020 campaign where he is backed in the F1 betting odds at 4/7 to win the crown to match the German as the all-time leader in championship wins.
The 34-year-old claimed more points in a season than ever before in his run to the crown. Hamilton was helped by the reliability of his Mercedes, completing all 21 of the races during the schedule. It was only the second time in his 13-year career that the Brit had a clean season, suffering no issues that forced him out of a race. Therefore he will have great confidence in his team moving forward, and it would not be a surprise to see him pen a new deal with the German outfit, although there have been reports linking him with a move to Ferrari.
The Italian team could be in the market for a new driver, but the rise of Charles Leclerc would suggest that they do not need a number one driver. Hamilton would certainly not appreciate operating behind Leclerc as the secondary driver, while it would impede the development of the Monegasque to put the six-time champion ahead of him.
Mercedes are a well-oiled machine with Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. There’s no friction between two drivers, with the two brilliantly suited to their current roles. Bottas has made strides since joining the team in 2017, but has not been able to close the gap sufficiently on Hamilton at the top unlike his predecessor Nico Rosberg. As a result, there has been no pressure on the Brit in the closing stages of seasons to test his mettle. His recent surges towards the Drivers’ Championship have been inevitable due to his excellent starts to the season, which have put the rest of the field on the back foot from the off and facing an impossible challenge by the middle of the term.
It will take something significant from Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen or Bottas to disrupt the momentum of the Brit. It’s almost formulaic for him at the moment, even though Leclerc and Verstappen did enjoy brief moments of joy towards the end of 2019. Both drivers are going to have to take huge strides forward in their development to become as consistent as the Mercedes man as well as hoping as their respective teams are able to give them a fast enough vehicle and a reliable one to attempt to dislodge him in 2020.