The news say that Lewis Hamilton risks being sacked from Mercedes after not respecting team orders in Abu Dhabi. This seems like something the mainstream British media (including tabloids, of course, as today tabloid is mainstream) speculated to sell more papers. The chances of that happening are one in a thousand. Anyway, if that happened, one could guess that Wehrlein or Ocon would be promoted, and Lewis would take a sabbatical year before signing a grandee for 2018. So, let’s speculate together: this won’t happen, but it could be the best thing to happen to the british Triple Champion.

Hamilton chasing Juan Manuel Fangio?

There are several strong, very strong arguments to say that Juan Manuel Fangio was the best driver of all time. The most reasonable answer to this question is that it’s not quite possible to compare drivers from different ages. The same happens with football: who is the best, Messi, Ronaldo, Pele or Maradona? And what about Di Stefano?

The fact that Fangio is not mentioned more often is due to the fact that almost no one has a living memory of him racing. Sir Stirling Moss, once asked about this, said that choosing Fangio was “an easy answer”. Fangio does not hold absolute records anymore, but ALL the main records in percentage are his:

  • Wins: 46% (24 wins out of 52 entries)
  • Pole positions: 55.8% (29 pole positions out of 52 entries)
  • Fastest Laps: 45% (23 fastest laps out of 52 entries)
  • Championships: 71% (yes, Fangio won 5 of the 7 full seasons he entered! Schumacher “only” won 41%, 7 in 17.)
  • Front row starts: 92.31% (48 front row starts out of 52 entries!)

Titles with most different teams

There’s another record that seems really untouchable.

Fangio won championships with 4 different teams (Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Ferrari and Maserati). After him, all others could do was win with 2 teams; no one else won it with 3. The nearest examples, besides Hamilton, are Schumacher (Benetton, Ferrari) and Prost (McLaren, Williams).

One could say that Fangio’s magic meant that he could really win with any car, in the Fifties; and also say that today the driver’s influence in the final outcome is smaller, and so this is harder to achieve.

Notwithstanding, statistically it would be really significant if Lewis got his fourth title with a third different team.

Leave Mercedes, but where to go?

Alonso said recently that he does not have a crystal ball to guess who will be the next dominant team (although he was right regarding his bet that Ferrari would not be a leader over the next 3 seasons after his leave).

Anyway, there could be no better moment for Hamilton to leave. The regulations will change, and recent history says these are the moments when new teams create hegemony: it happened with Renault (2005), Brawn (2009) and Mercedes itself (2014).

Leaving now, Hamilton could bet on a new hegemonic player to rise up in 2017, and sign up with it for 2018. In fact, that was precisely what Alain Prost did in 1992, waiting a year before getting into Williams-Renault. The crystal ball has been working really well for Lewis; who knows what the future could bring this way?