Lewis Hamilton left Max Verstappen ally thinking it was ‘time to go’

Lewis Hamilton opens up on difficult season for Mercedes

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Lewis Hamilton left Max Verstappen ally Tom Coronel believing it was ‘time to go’ as the Mercedes man struggled towards the start of the season. The Brit trailed new teammate George Russell for much of the early stages of the year and ended up coming behind him in the final standings despite getting back to his best as the season progressed. 

Hamilton and Mercedes struggled to hit their usual heights over the course of 2022 after dominating Formula One for much of the last decade. It was the first time since 2013 that the Silver Arrows had failed to win the Constructors Championship, while the 37-year-old endured the worst season of his career statistically as he finished sixth in the standings and lost his proud record of winning a race every race since making his debut in 2007.

The early weeks of 2022 were when the team faced their biggest difficulties with the W13 badly affected by porpoising. The issue appeared to affect Hamilton more and he fell behind Russell in the first nine races. The 24-year-old claimed a top-five finish in all the Grand Prix during the period while the seven-time world champion only achieved five. 

Now, Dutch TV pundit Coronel, who is a close ally of Verstappen having regularly exchanged texts with the Red Bull man, has said he believed it was time for Hamilton to leave Formula One after the early stages, suggesting he was still suffering a hangover from his controversial defeat in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021. 

“At the start of the season I was like ‘it’s time to go’,” he told Motorsport.com. “I really thought so. I don’t even know if it was so much the motivation. The blow you take as a sportsman after last year, of course you don’t just get over it. It gnaws in your head and you have sleepless nights.

“Everyone has that, no matter how such a great sportsman you are, so I think it was not so much the motivation with Hamilton.”

However, the former McLaren driver rallied as the season progressed to claim nine podiums, and was unfortunate to miss out on wins in the US and Brazilian Grand Prix. Coronel has argued Hamilton got his bite back as the season progressed. 

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“Lewis lacked the positivity in those first months,” continued Coronel, “but that gradually came back – actually from Barcelona little by little. Then I saw him bite again, just as we are used to from him.

“At the end of the season he was really strong again. I mean Russell did indeed take Mercedes’ only win this year but if you look at how he ended the year then Hamilton deserved that win too.

“I have to say at the end of the year Lewis has driven really well and also showed that the fighting spirit is back, especially towards next year.”

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