F1: Can Lewis Hamilton fight back in 2023 season?

Lewis Hamilton will return to the track for the 2023 Formula One season in a bid to regain his position as the top driver in the sport. The rise of Max Verstappen knocked Hamilton off his perch in controversial circumstances in 2021 as the Dutchman beat the seven-time champion in the final lap of the last race of the campaign to snatch the title.

Hamilton and Mercedes were far from impressed by the manner of Verstappen’s triumph, which revolved around a decision by race director Michael Masi to allow lapped drivers to pass the safety car in the race in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton’s loss was Verstappen’s gain, and he duly converted the opportunity to win his first Drivers’ Championship.

Many expected Hamilton and Mercedes to hit back in the 2022 season, but the W-13 Mercedes lacked the speed of its rivals. It resulted in Hamilton’s worst Formula One season as he failed to win a race during a campaign for the first time, and he finished well off the pace of Verstappen at the top of the standings down in sixth place.

Brazilian GP 2022 – Lewis Hamilton  – Wolfgang Wilhelm

There were signs towards the end of the term that Hamilton was starting to come to terms with his vehicle, but three second-place finishes in a row were the high point of a miserable term for the Brit. Retirement was under consideration for the 38-year-old, but he has reiterated his commitment to Mercedes and there is even talk of a new contract. Before he pens a new deal, Hamilton will be curious to see which direction Mercedes are trending as another underwhelming campaign may convince him to call time on his career.

Improvements At Mercedes

This is a necessity for Mercedes to bounce back after an underwhelming campaign. Not only did the German outfit fall behind Red Bull, but they were also beaten out by Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship for second place. Red Bulls were far and away the dominant outfit, allowing Verstappen to march his way to the crown.

However, Ferrari managed to surpass Mercedes for second place, displaying the speed from the early days of the season, which resulted in excellent starts for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr. Mercedes were able to make ground towards the end of the campaign, but by then it was too late to make a decisive impact in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship races.

Mercedes’ issues related to the aerodynamics of its W-13 vehicle, suffering difficulties with porpoising. It took a great deal of time for Mercedes to resolve the problem, which put them well behind their rivals on the track. Sidepods were also highlighted as a deficiency of the W-13, failing to provide the same levels of downforce and speed that Red Bull and Ferrari found from the same system. Mercedes’ number two driver George Russell insisted that these were not an issue, but it was clear to see the difference between the W-13 and its counterparts.

Mercedes are a team that is not used to losing, and team manager Toto Wolff has claimed that they have thrown everything at the new model for the 2023 season. The W-14 may give Mercedes the chance to hit the ground running akin to their performances from 2014 to 2020. That alone will give Hamilton the chance to take control of the sport again.

Hamilton’s Desire

When you have already won seven Drivers’ Championships there’s not a lot more you can prove in the sport. But Hamilton will have one eye on breaking his tie with Michael Schumacher to become the most successful driver in Formula One history. If he had held out in Abu Dhabi in 2021, Hamilton would have secured his eighth crown and surpassed the German. Fate intervened, and now the Brit will be concerned that Verstappen could have the ability and longevity to beat out both him and Schumacher at the top. So, there is still work to be done for the 38-year-old to prove that he can put the upstart in his place.

Hamilton has been in this situation before in his career, albeit when he was younger and in his prime. He was the rising star before Sebastian Vettel came along and stormed toward four successive titles between 2010 and 2013. Hamilton had to bide his time before moving to Mercedes, but from 2014 onwards, he was unstoppable, winning six out of seven Drivers’ Championships. He only lost out to his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by the tightest of margins in the 2016 season; otherwise he would have reeled off seven titles on the bounce.

His success put Hamilton on the map worldwide and he remains a superstar wherever he travels, especially in the United States, where he is now part of the ownership group at the Denver Broncos. Formula One has grown in popularity in the USA due to Hamilton and he remains the most synonymous driver in the sport. You can find odds for him to return to the top of Formula One in 2023 with the best New York sports betting sites on their futures markets. BetMGM, Fanduel, and Caesars Sportsbook are rated as some of the top options on the market.

Given his history of success, few would bet against Hamilton from achieving another triumph, although it will be a difficult challenge ahead to dethrone Verstappen.

Verstappen and Challengers

Verstappen will not relinquish his title without a challenge. He was downright relentless in the 2022 season. The 25-year-old was incredible behind the wheel, winning 15 out of a possible 22 races, finishing 146 points ahead of his nearest rival Leclerc. Red Bull will provide Verstappen with another stellar vehicle to give him the best chance of securing his third crown in a row, joining Vettel, Hamilton, and Schumacher in achieving the feat in the modern era. The Dutchman has the same drive that Hamilton has to remain at the peak of the sport. He will not be willing to allow the Brit back into the title race by any means necessary.

Verstappen has been accused in the past of a ruthless streak, which has caused controversy on the track. It highlights how focused he is on emulating Hamilton and his desire to get to the top of the sport. Winning two crowns is extremely tough and Verstappen has proved that he is a true champion, but clinching a third will demand another flawless effort from the Dutchman. Along with Hamilton, Leclerc and Russell will also be vying for the crown, while Sergio Perez will be out for a stronger season in the same Red Bull as Verstappen.

Those drivers will be probing for weaknesses in the Dutchman, none more so than Hamilton. If there is one man that can beat out Verstappen it will be Hamilton. Russell had a breakthrough at Sao Paulo at the end of the 2022 season to secure his maiden F1 victory. Leclerc flashed brilliance at times but also showed inexperience that prevented him from keeping pace with Verstappen.

Both Russell and Leclerc will be out to sustain their success over the entire season, but Hamilton has been there and done it all before. He knows what it takes to win and if Mercedes provide him with a capable vehicle he will be able to put pressure on his rival. The 2023 season promises to be a thriller, with twists and turns all the way to the final race of the campaign.