Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton should have retired after last year’s heartbreaking defeat to Max Verstappen, according to former driver Eddie Irvine.
The ex-Ferrari driver believes Mercedes’ struggles in 2022 would be highly frustrating for the seven-time world champion.
The Silver Arrows have been woefully off the pace since the start of the campaign.
Although they have won eight consecutive constructors’ championships, this year it doesn’t look like the team has quite cracked the code to challenge the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Hamilton chose to remain silent and even left social media in the aftermath of the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.
Many had anticipated at the time that this would be Hamilton’s last gig in the sport and he would soon call time on a glittering career.
However, he soon proved his doubters wrong by announcing his return at Mercedes.
A podium finish in the season opener did little to hide the cracks that have begun to appear at Mercedes, all the way from the early part of pre-season testing.
Why Irvine believes Hamilton should have retired
Irvine thinks that Hamilton was cruelly denied a chance of winning a record eighth title, but believes he should have quit the sport when things did not work in his favour last year.
“Verstappen makes a mistake because he gets carried away with his aggression [last season],” he said.
“Hamilton last year acted in such a way as to avoid accidents for quite a while.
“Then he must have thought, ‘that’s enough, you want collisions? You’ll get them’.
“That almost cost Verstappen the championship because Lewis destroyed him in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s a shame he didn’t win it because he deserved it, but he should have retired.”
Irvine doesn’t see Hamilton challenging for title in 2022
Irvine doesn’t think Hamilton will be able to do much this year.
“Yeah, because I don’t think he’s going to be able to do much this year,” he said.
“He’s tough, but even for him, who is used to the best car, to qualify so far behind is frustrating.”
Irvine believes Mercedes has its work cut out and is happy that the team is feeling the heat due to the budget cap.
“I don’t know. They have the means and the infrastructure to do a lot, but now they have to deal with the spending cap which wasn’t there in my day,” he said.
“I don’t mind a struggling Mercedes because it’s not a brand I’m crazy about.”
However, he reiterated his respect for both Hamilton and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
“Mind you, Hamilton is a great character and I love Toto Wolff for what he thinks and says. They are two stars.”