What next for Lewis Hamilton after 300 F1 races?

Lewis Hamilton has become the sixth driver in F1 history to pass 300 races but what does the future hold for the Mercedes driver?

103 wins, 103 poles, 4,292.50 points, 5,405 laps led and seven Drivers' Championships. While there will forever be an argument of whether Hamilton is the greatest of all time, there is no doubt he statistically is.

As much as Mercedes has dominated the sport in the past decade, Hamilton has been at the forefront of that. He averages 268.28 points a season and has missed out on the world title just two times in the past eight years.

But, as reaches the mark of 300 races and finds himself in a car not yet able to compete for race wins, the world is asking what comes next?

Hamilton breaks the curse

Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher. What do they all have in common? That's right, they have failed to win a race after clocking up 300 grands prix.

Raikkonen has come closest, earning the last win of his F1 career in his 289th race while Hamilton himself last won in his 287th (Barrichello 281, Schumacher 247, Button 209, Alonso 202) but perhaps what sets the Mercedes driver apart is there has not been a notable drop off in his performance.

For every driver to have made it to the 300 mark, the latter stages of their career was spent battling it cars that never looked likely to win a race and while that is currently the case for Hamilton, he and Mercedes will be confident it is just a momentary blip in their otherwise exemplary recent record.

Even if Hamilton does achieve another race win, it seems unlikely he will go on to become the oldest driver to have ever finished first as that record belongs to Luigi Fagioli, who was 53 at the time of his victory in France.

Hamilton reminds everyone who is number one at Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell

Considering Hamilton's title prospects are all but eliminated (he is 107 points behind leader Max Verstappen) a more immediate, and more realistic, target is to beat his team-mate George Russell.

Hamilton's record against his team-mate over a season is exemplary having only been beaten three times (two to Button and one to Nico Rosberg most recently in 2016) and he will no doubt want to extend their advantage.

The arrival of Russell to Mercedes created a new dynamic. Whilst previous team-mate Valtteri Bottas was seen as a safe pair of hands, there was an increasing frustration from outside the garage that the Finn was not providing enough competition to Hamilton.

The arrival of Russell was meant to change that and while Mercedes' motives were more likely with an eye to the future rather than in the hope of rustling their biggest star's feathers, the start of the season did bring change.

Granted it was not the table-topping clashes that personified the 'Silver War' but Russell did prove far more capable of extracting the best out of the underperforming Mercedes.

But, the tide is turning.

Hamilton has beaten his team-mate in the last four races and has cut the gap to just 16 points in the Championship. With Mercedes only set to improve after the summer break, Hamilton will want to lay a marker down.

Hamilton will hope lessons are learned for 2023

2022 has been a miserable season for Mercedes. It seems a long time ago now when the team first unveiled their 'sidepod-less' W13 but since then it has become a problem child that will have no doubt given Hamilton, Toto Wolff and the entire Mercedes team many sleepless nights.

Having gone from favourites at nearly every track, Hamilton found himself battling to even finish within the points and the most excutriating part for him is the recovery has been painful and slow.

Whilst Hamilton was receiving his latest round of physiotherapy having been bumped around the track for two hours, the Mercedes team were trying to figure out just how to not only solve the porpoising issue but also maximise the potential of the car.

A double-podium finish in France suggests they are on their way but the damage has been done and Hamilton will be hopeful lessons have been learned in 2023.

In the post-race conference at the French Grand Prix, the seven-time World Champion said that he had already given his input for what he wants from the 2023 car and, considering he is entering the final year of his current contract, it could be a hugely significant one.

Another title run or time to hang up the gloves?

"We talked a few weeks ago about how long our partnership can go and the number that was discussed was five to 10 years, so we can get to 400."

Wolff may have said it with a flicker of a smile but the Mercedes boss' comments do hint that Hamilton is not planning on walking away anytime soon.

Flash back to late last year and there were questions as to whether we had seen the last of Hamilton on the F1 grid. He had just seen his eighth world title, rightly or wrongly, taken away from him and Wolff said the pair of them were feeling "disillusioned" with the sport.

Hamilton disappeared from social media, later saying he needed to disconnect from F1, but did return to the grid for his 16th season. With this campaign a write-off in terms of achieving that record-breaking title win, the question of Hamilton's long-term future is an intriguing one.

The most logical option seems for him to stay at Mercedes. The performances of Hamilton have hardly declined and if the 40-year-old Alonso is still able to do it, there's no reason why the 37-year-old does not have a few years left in him at least.

From Mercedes' point of view, it also makes sense. Unlike Alpine with Oscar Piastri, there is not a stand-out star waiting to take Hamilton's seat and the seven-time World Champion can continue to pass his knowledge down to Russell, a man Mercedes hope is their future.

Also on a commercial side, Hamilton remains the biggest name in the sport by far and attracts way more coverage than the likes of a driver like Pierre Gasly would.

But given his place in the sport, the decision will rest with Hamilton and he may even be open to a switch of teams. In the past he has spoken of his love for Ferrari and could fancy a homecoming to McLaren (even if both options currently look unlikely).

The final option would be to retire, safe in the knowledge that his many records look set to stand for at least a decade, if not longer.

Considering his increased work with F1 and the FIA in terms of promoting equality, it would be no surprise to see him take on an ambassadorial role in the sport or perhaps even go for a presidential run somewhere down the line.

Alternatively, he could just leave the sport entirely. As he has been racing since he was a boy in a go-kart, it makes sense he would want to explore what else is out there and appears to be the driver with the most on his plate when it comes to activities he enjoys away from the track.

Only time will tell what the future holds for Hamilton but whatever he does choose, there can be no doubt of the impact he has made on the sport.

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