*APRIL FOOLS! – NOW IF HE REALLY WERE TO DO THIS, IMAGINE THE CHAOS!*
Lewis Hamilton has stunned the world following news that he is retiring from Formula One in order to pursue a career in rap.
The announcement comes in spite of recent speculation that the reigning champion would renew his Mercedes contract for a further three seasons, with the Briton citing the disappointment of second place at last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix as a catalyst for the about face.
“This will be my final season as a Formula One driver. It hasn’t been an easy decision, but after Malaysia I had plenty of time for soul searching and coming second isn’t what makes me happy, making music is. “, Hamilton said.
Having competed in his 150th Grand Prix at Malaysia, the 30-year old boasts 34 victories and a formidable 72 podiums, complemented by 40 pole positions.
Hamilton made his debut with McLaren in 2007, enjoying a spectacular campaign which saw him stand on the podium at each of his first nine races – delivering his maiden victory at just his sixth start. Though he squandered the drivers’ standings lead in dramatic circumstances at the final event, the Briton quickly atoned, becoming the sport’s then youngest World Champion twelve months later.
Four subsequent seasons at Woking failed to deliver the promised second title, with Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel claiming all before them, yet the announcement of his switch to Mercedes from 2013 was greeted with derision.
As McLaren floundered in his absence, Hamilton silenced critics with an imperious 2014 campaign, and despite a hotly-contested intra-team battle with Nico Rosberg, eleven victories left no doubt surrounding the legitimacy of his second championship.
Hamilton later tweeted “It’s been a blessing to enjoy so much support since I came into the sport, so many memories. Two titles, who knows, maybe a third? #blessed.”
A second consecutive title and a further seven victories throughout his final campaign would draw Hamilton level with the three championships and forty-one victories enjoyed by childhood idol, Ayrton Senna.
Despite being two races into a nineteen-event season, attention will undoubtedly turn to the identity of Hamilton’s replacement. The most coveted berth in recent history, Fernando Alonso immediately springs to mind, with the Spaniard presently mired in an unhappy reunion at McLaren and speculation regarding the true nature of his pre-season testing accident still rampant.
Valtteri Bottas has been mentioned in the past, and come November, the Finn will be prepared to rise to another level following three seasons at the forefront of the Williams resurrection. Nico Hülkenberg could finally be afforded the opportunity to advance from the midfield with a strong campaign.
The German marque’s reserve driver, Pascal Wehrlein, would represent a left-field internal promotion, yet a refreshing show of faith and statement of intent from the Mercedes powerholders that its’ commitment to Formula One is unwavering in the wake of Hamilton’s exit. The German acquitted himself sufficiently during pre-season testing duties for both Mercedes and Force India at Barcelona.
There are seventeen races left to admire Lewis Hamilton the racing car driver. He certainly won’t be lost the spotlight – once his music career ignites, he will become more prolific than imaginable had he remained in motorsport. There had never been a character quite like him in Formula One prior to his arrival, and there is unlikely to be one following his departure.