Sir Jackie Stewart has urged Lewis Hamilton to retire from Formula 1 to protect his legacy, adding it was “a pity” the seven-time world champion did not go out at the top and suggesting Hamilton might wish to focus instead on the fashion industry.
Stewart, 83, has been critical of Hamilton in the past and his latest comments are likely to irritate the 37-year-old, who recently rebuked those questioning his commitment to Mercedes.
Despite a difficult start to the 2022 season following a long period of dominance, Hamilton said it was “not in his DNA” to quit and insisted he was “100 per cent" committed to getting the Brackley team back on top.
Stewart, though, believes Hamilton should have retired already. “He has done extremely well,” Stewart told The Convex Conversation podcast. “He came from modest beginnings. His father had four or five jobs to afford his karting before Ron Dennis picked him up because he was so good at karting and took him to McLaren and got him winning grands prix. He is very talented.
"And when it came time to leave McLaren, it was his decision, not Ron Dennis’, it was Lewis Hamilton’s decision, to go to Mercedes-Benz because he saw the potential. And now he has won eight [seven, sic] world championships.
“But anyway, he’s now struggling a little bit because he’s had a new teammate [George Russell] who has been quicker than him in qualifying so far this year, which is going to be hard for him to handle."
Stewart added: “I think it’s time for him to resign. He’s got music, he’s got culture, he loves clothing and the rag trade would be absolutely suitable for him. I’m sure he’ll be very successful because he’s been earning a huge amount of money — rightfully so because he’s been the best of his time. And that’s the best you can do. Juan Manuel Fangio, way back in the 1940s and 1950s, and [Tazio] Nuvolari and [Rudolf] Caracciola in the 1920s and 1930s, there’s always somebody up there, whether it was Jim Clark in the 1960s… Juan Manuel was the smoothest, bestest I’ve ever seen, I carried him to his final resting place.
“[But] Lewis is in that group of the Ayrton Sennas and the Alain Prosts — or even the Jackie Stewarts maybe. He’s carried the sport very well. I’d like to see him resigning now. It’s a pity he wasn’t resigning at the top but I don’t think that’s going to happen now. But nevertheless it’s wiser to stop than go through all the pain of not being able to do what you did before.”
Hamilton lies sixth in the championship after nine races of the 2022 season, 98 points behind leader Max Verstappen, although Mercedes were more competitive at the most recent race in Canada where Hamilton finished third, his joint best result of the year.
In April, Hamilton said he was committed to turning the team’s season around. “Just because we’ve hit a rough patch, it’s just not in my DNA to back out,” he said. “We are still world champions and we can fix this. It’s just going to take longer, it’s going to take a painful year.
“I think, ultimately, this is going to be a painful year that we’re going to have to ride out together with belief that we can rectify it at some point, maybe through the year or even the worst case scenario, at least for next year.”
The season continues at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Hamilton’s home race, next week.