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Lewis Hamilton

The Hamilton-Mercedes marriage appears destined for a messy divorce

Lewis Hamilton has endured a difficult start to his final Formula 1 season within the Mercedes organisation - and it could get even worse as the campaign tapers on.

Hamilton out of Quali China
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To news overview © XPBimages

Lewis Hamilton’s start to his final season with the Mercedes squad could not have commenced in a worse way and it seems to be ever clearer that there will be no successful swan song to see out arguably the greatest driver/team pairing in Formula 1 history.

Mercedes has endured various struggles across the last two seasons and it appears no closer to reeling in Red Bull after the opening rounds of the current campaign.

Hamilton’s best grand prix result came at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, where he crossed the finish line in seventh.

The following four rounds have consisted of a trio of ninth-place results and a non-finish in Australia, adding up to the Briton’s worst start to a season in his entire career.

And it could get even worse from here.

Bump back down to reality

Hamilton’s gloomy start to the season was given a hint of a breather during last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix as he qualified on the front row for the sprint race, before finishing the shorter outing in second place.

But the brief glimmer was not enough to diminish what has been a dismal few weeks, and the seven-time world champion was bumped back down to reality soon after he crossed the line in second, as he qualified towards the back of the grid for the grand prix.

Hamilton’s issues over one-lap this year have been apparent in the fact he has out-qualified team-mate George Russell just once this season, while he is yet to take the chequered flag ahead of his compatriot.

There was a strange exchange in China when Hamilton commented that his set-up went in a very different direction to Russell’s - a claim that the latter refuted.

Whatever truly occurred and whatever is behind Hamilton's ongoing woes behind the wheel, nothing has swayed Hamilton from voicing his desire to see out his Mercedes tenure on a high note and provide his maximum effort until the very end - but just how realistic is such a scenario?

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Phasing out

Should Hamilton be confined to competing at the lower end of the top 10, a sense of resignation and a switch in focus could soon become a reality for him.

While there is no reason to question his commitment, Hamilton is moving to pastures new next year with a lucrative move to the Ferrari squad to pair himself alongside Charles Leclerc in what is one of the biggest driver transfers in F1 history.

Very soon, the realities of the decision will kick in and Hamilton will start to feel like something an outsider when he is phased out of meetings over the 2025 car.

Such policies are traditional when any driver is leaving a team for a rival, but Mercedes has been his home, his nature even, for so long that it will create an unnatural scenario for him when he is not central to discussions.

Throw in the prospect of circulating far away from the front-running competition and the situation could soon get uncomfortable for Hamilton.

The circumstance will soon turn into a frighteningly unfamiliar one for the 39-year-old.

It could very well be the case that Hamiton hopes his final Mercedes outing comes sooner rather than later - as emotional as it will be, it will bring an end to the agonising period that looks set to lie ahead.

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