Try to make sense of 2008 Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton's current situation. Hamilton moved from the
powerhouse Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team during the offseason to the "Wow, we're spending a ton and getting nothing for it" Mercedes AMG Petronas F1
On the surface, Hamilton's choice looks like LeBron James' career played out in reverse. As if James started out the first six seasons of his NBA career with
the world-champion Miami Heat and then decided to sign with the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers.
The "bizarro-world" parallels don't end there. James toiled with one of the worst teams in NBA history for several seasons, but his immense
talent and competitive nature improved the culture within that organization. James changed it from an epic loser to a perennial contender.
Hamilton, by comparison, was plugged into the model F1 team from inception and he immediately prospered.
James brought the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, but bolted to Miami so he could win a championship. Now he has that ring and leads a group of
talented players who can dominate for years. Players want to be a part of that team.
Hamilton was essentially groomed by McLaren, a driver's dream outfit, since he was in the womb. They made him rich, put him in competitive cars and delivered him an F1 title in his sophomore season. So when Hamilton decided to forsake that and jump ship to under-achieving Mercedes, it was an eye-opener despite . The 28-year-old says that he felt the relationship with McLaren had run its course. He
wanted the fresh challenge of turning Mercedes into a championship contender.
He's certainly got his work cut out for him.
With management changes also taking place at Mercedes,
Hamilton's abilities as a development driver an leader of men will be put to the test. His driving skills have never been questioned, but with a large and
established machine like McLaren, how much of the chassis and aero development was Hamilton actually responsible for?
It's one thing for a driver to look brilliant when the solutions are served on a platter, which is how McLaren functions. It's entirely different
when, as he's found at Mercedes, the team looks to Hamilton to play a greater role. Hamilton is replacing Michael Schumacher, the premier development driver of his era. Those are massive shoes to fill. And
then there's the leadership function. Is Hamilton capable of being the charismatic driving force Mercedes needs? This was another area in which
Schumacher was the clear No. 1 in the sport. The comparisons will always be lopsided, and Hamilton has to deliver in a way he's never been asked to before.
If Hamilton is lucky, he'll collect championship points along with those big paychecks from Mercedes, but don't be surprised if it's a while before both are
streaming in at equal measures.