Hamilton was denied the title in dramatic manner final year, when a remarkably contentious choice from then race director Michael Masi gave Max Verstappen the possibility to pass him on the last lap of the time to be crowned champion for the very first time.
Mercedes feared Hamilton would stop the sport as a outcome, but the gentleman Toto Wolff described as a “lion” in previous season’s run-in is ready to combat yet again – starting off at this week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Not that Hamilton is anticipating this year to be any extra straightforward than the past.
Verstappen has confirmed he can match Hamilton over the program of a marketing campaign, when George Russell will hope to confirm a lot more aggressive than Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes seat. The new F1 polices also necessarily mean a potential challenge from the midfield, with Ferrari quickly in pre-time.
“We’re undoubtedly not at the major,” a pessimistic Hamilton claimed previous week, but Verstappen dismissed these responses while acknowledging Ferrari’s rate.
The Pink Bull celebrity proposed Hamilton and Mercedes would swiftly turn their fortunes all-around – and that undoubtedly matches with the Briton’s occupation to day.
“He’s an remarkable driver,” former Ferrari star Felipe Massa told Stats Complete, “a person who is undoubtedly the most important male in the sport these days due to the fact of the information he retains in Formula One.
“No one particular ever imagined that he would even arrive near to beating [Michael] Schumacher’s data. He overtook very a great deal absolutely everyone else. One particular additional title is missing to go in advance as a report holder.”
That eighth title will continue to be the objective this yr, but Hamilton could go forward of Schumacher in another sense as before long as Sunday he has won in 15 consecutive F1 seasons due to the fact 2007, which means victory in a 16th would best the German (1992-2006).
Hamilton’s pleased searching ground
In pursuit of that new benchmark, Hamilton will be delighted to be back again in Bahrain, exactly where he has these an exceptional background.
Of the 17 editions of the Bahrain GP, Hamilton has gained a report five races, such as the previous three. No other driver has gained 3 in succession at this party – and that sequence could be prolonged to 4 this 7 days.
Mercedes have recorded the most pole positions (six) and podiums (15) at the Bahrain Grand Prix, rating one ahead of Ferrari in each category.
The Silver Arrows and the Scuderia are tied for Bahrain wins (six) and fastest laps (five) heading into the 2022 race.
We are in a particular week for Mercedes, far too, as this is the team’s 250th grand prix. With 124 victories so far, they could mark the celebration by improving their earn price to an remarkable 50 for every cent, the best such overall performance by any 1 team.
Red Bull set for reality test?
Verstappen’s document at this monitor is not very so remarkable, even if he pretty much defeat Hamilton past period acquiring started out from pole, pressured to give his place back again just after exceeding keep track of limitations in passing his rival.
That was Verstappen’s seventh Bahrain GP without victory – an eighth fruitless physical appearance would make this the grand prix he has entered most devoid of winning.
He has retired a few situations at the Bahrain GP and, which includes the 2020 Sakhir GP, a career-superior 4 occasions at this circuit.
The Dutchman at least has the advantage of the self confidence of his championship triumph – and a “ridiculously quickly” Crimson Bull, in accordance to Hamilton – but to start with-time champions have not normally fared perfectly in the initially race of their title defence.
Only 3 of the earlier 14 1st-time defending champions have gained on the initially weekend of the new period: Michael Schumacher in 1995, Fernando Alonso in 2006 and Sebastian Vettel in 2011.
At least securing pole would indicate a good omen, as Pink Bull motorists have absent on to win the title on the 4 previous events they have begun the season by qualifying fastest (Vettel in 2010, 2011 and 2013, plus Verstappen very last calendar year).
Hamilton in 2015 and 2016 was the past driver to realize again-to-back Bahrain poles, whilst only 7 Bahrain GP winners have started from the front of the grid.
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