Lewis Hamilton has four more chances to save a record-equalling streak which he started in his maiden Formula 1 debut in 2007.
Hamilton has won a Grand Prix in every season he’s competed in since making his debut 15 years ago, but that may come to an end if he fails to stand on the top step of the podium in one of the remaining four events.
He’s come close a couple times this season – chasing down the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz at Silverstone before a safety car stopped his momentum and suffering more safety car misfortune at the Dutch GP when battling for victory against Max Verstappen.
Hamilton has won a race for 15 consecutive seasons, the same number Michael Schumacher achieved between 1992 and 2006. However, he will find it tough to move onto his own pedestal.
What has Hamilton said?
Just the United States, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix remain for Mercedes to win a race in 2022.
They are bringing their final big upgrade to the car this weekend, which includes a new front wing, at the Circuit of the Americas which Toto Wolff is confident will move Hamilton and George Russell closer to the front.
Hamilton, who has won the United States GP on six occasions, isn’t getting his hopes up.
“A lot of work has gone into the upgrade,” Hamilton told the press. “I’m really proud of all the work that has gone in.
“In the past we have had expectations that an upgrade would bring, a tenth or whatever it may be, and then we struggle to extract that.
“I’m going in with a really open mind and hoping our car just works better in general at this circuit.
“They have flattened off some of the sections in Turns 4 and 5 so I’m hoping that’s better for our car.”
That’s what the 37-year-old thinks about his chances for this weekend, but what about winning a race before the end of the season?
Andrew Wright: I don’t see why it will happen
It’s not to say they can’t but a perfect weekend is required. And by perfect, I mean one or both Red Bulls need to run into problems.
Whether that’s in the form of inefficient strategy, a car failure, a crash, or a slice of bad luck, it needs to fall into the lap of Hamilton.
That’s to say he needs to be in position to pick up the pieces ahead of the Ferraris. All that means the odds are not in his favour, as much as I would like to see it.
In the plus column is the new update brought to the Circuit of the Americas. It’s the last of the season for the world champions and could help them claw back some lap time.
Also in their favour is the tracks left on the calendar. On the face of it, they should suit the W13, albeit the straight-line speed issues will still be hard to overcome.
It’s possible but if it hasn’t happened yet, I don’t see any reason why it will at one of the final four stops of 2022.
Nigel Chiu: Hamilton will win in Brazil
I’m going to back Hamilton to keep his streak alive and will even say which Grand Prix he will win. Brazil.
It used to be a bogey track for Hamilton in the past, but that changed last year with his spectaculer victory and the possibility of a chaotic race, some rain and an incident at the front at the start of the sprint race or the main race mean there could be opportunities for Mercedes.
Hamilton has been driving superbly since he stopped playing around with experimental setups and parts in the early part of the season, so I expect he will have the upper hand on Russell in the remaining races.
Of course, Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will be favourites for victory in the final events, but one last big piece of drama before the season ends, with Hamilton taking advantage might just happen.
It’s unlikely to happen on raw pace, but a slice of fortune might just swing the way of the seven-time world champion for once in 2022.
Ed Spencer: Unlikely Mercedes will win a race
For Hamilton, the possibility of a winless 2022 at the start of the year would have been seen as pure fantasy. But this season hasn’t been kind to him as a radical design concept appears to have backfired.
Even though he’s been quick after finally getting into the grove with the new generation of cars, Hamilton hasn’t managed to drag the W13 to victory, and on bumpier, more high-speed tracks, you could argue that the Briton has the fifth-fastest car at his disposal.
The only saving grace for him and Mercedes this year is the car’s reliability. Whilst Red Bull and Ferrari have struggled over the season, neither he nor teammate Russell have had to take grid penalties, helping them to a slew of podiums which have softened the blow slightly.
But that will be a small crumb of comfort as although Mercedes and Hamilton have managed the odd pole position and second place there.
It seems with Red Bull still hungry for wins and Ferrari hoping to finish the season on a high, it seems unlikely that Mercedes will manage to win a race this year.
Mexico was a track that Mercedes struggled on last year, and although Interlagos and Yas Marina don’t tend to favour a particular car, you would have to assume, barring grid penalties or a dramatic sprint race, that Ferrari and Red Bull will share the spoils.
Adam Dickinson: When Hamilton’s record falls don’t be sorry it’s over
It’s just not going to happen, and that makes me sad. I think Hamilton‘s record of a race win in every season is fantastically unique and perfectly reflective of the talent and maturity that he showed right from the start of his F1 career – people forget how much of an achievement his first two seasons were.
But Mercedes have had their chance. Silverstone, Zandvoort and the Hungaroring were all opportunities for the Silver Arrows to claim a victory, and were all much better suited than the upcoming races.
COTA will play to both Red Bull and Ferrari‘s strengths, whilst Mercedes are historically uncompetitive in Mexico and Abu Dhabi has been won by the championship-winning team every year since 2012, bar the COVID-affected 2020 finale.
That leaves Brazil, still a power track and even if Mercedes can gain parity with Red Bulls, Verstappen and the team have been executing on such a high level this season that I’d still give them a better than 50-50 chance of victory.
But maybe instead of reflecting Hamilton‘s continued competitiveness, his new racing record will reflect greatness in sport itself.
Tom Brady‘s never managed that unbeaten season, Don Bradman was felled agonisingly on a 99.94 average. Lionel Messi was powerless to prevent Germany from conquering the world in 2014 and Michael Jordan hopes everyone forgets his time as a Wizard.
Not everyone can go undefeated, not every sporting powerhouse can be Arsenal or Preston North End.
So when Hamilton‘s record falls after Abu Dhabi you don’t have to be sorry it’s over, just happy it happened.