F1: Hamilton and Bottas take the W12 Mercedes around Bahrain
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Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is not entirely pleased with his current situation at Mercedes, according to former Lotus and Benetton driver Johnny Herbert. Hamilton is aiming to win an unprecedented eighth successive Drivers’ Championship title this year in order to cement his status as the greatest driver of all time ahead of Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher.
The Stevenage-born racer’s future with Mercedes was in doubt during the latter stages of last season, with his previous contract running out at the end of 2020.
He eventually signed a one-year deal to keep him with the German outfit for at least one more crack at glory, but whether or not he will decide to extend his stay into next season and beyond remains to be seen.
Hamilton got his 2021 campaign off to a flying start in Bahrain on Sunday, pulling out all the stops to keep Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at bay in impressive fashion and take the chequered flag for his first victory of the season.
The young Dutchman passed his Mercedes counterpart with only a few laps to go but was ordered to give up the lead after being forced to leave the track in order to sneak ahead.
It has been claimed that Hamilton’s new contract was mutually agreed between himself and Mercedes, but Herbert is less than convinced, with the three-time Grand Prix winner suggesting that all may not be as it seems behind closed doors.
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“I’ve heard he’s not particularly happy with the situation,” Herbert told Motorsport-total.com when quizzed on the current state of affairs.
“I hope he doesn’t stop, because he can still give Formula One a lot. We know how important it was for the global growth of the sport in many areas.”
Hamilton has rarely been troubled at the front of the grid in recent seasons as a result of his sheer dominance and the ability of Mercedes to produce championship-winning challengers year-on-year.
Herbert continued, claiming that the 36-year-old remains highly determined to succeed in F1 regardless of his prior achievements and suggesting that a tight battle with Verstappen this year could tempt him into staying on the grid for the foreseeable future.
“Motivation has always played a major role,” added Herbert. “Ayrton [Senna] always said about motivation that it was a big deal for him to come back year after year, to push himself, to keep getting better and better.
“And I think it’s exactly the same with Lewis. If you’ve had a success like his, then you need that kind of motivation.
“If Max and Red Bull can challenge him for a whole season, then he’ll enjoy it.”
Hamilton, who received a knighthood during the winter break as part of the New Year Honours, previously claimed that he only agreed to sign a one-year deal to keep his options open ahead of his 15th season in F1.
“Firstly, I’m kind of in a fortunate position where I’ve achieved most of the stuff I wanted to achieve up until this point,” he told Sky Sports last month.
“So there’s no real need necessarily to plan too far ahead in the future. We’re living through an unusual period of time in life and I just wanted one year.
“Then we can talk about if we do more, and keep adding it [by] one if we have to.”
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