Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes in Abu Dhabi on his way to the 2020 world championship - the last of his 7 titles POOL via AFP / HAMAD I MOHAMMED

The F1 community, particularly the fans, were in complete shock when it was announced last month that Lewis Hamilton has decided to leave Mercedes at the end of the season to join Scuderia Ferrari from 2025 onwards. However, it now seems as though it was a long time coming and some of the events that led to the decision were featured in the recently released sixth season of the hit Netflix series "Drive to Survive".

Of course, everyone bore witness to the disastrous 2022 and 2023 seasons that Mercedes had to endure following a string of eight consecutive Constructors' World Championship victories (2014-2021). During that same period, Hamilton won six out of his seven Drivers' World Championship titles (2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020). His former teammate, Nico Rosberg, was the only man to break his streak by winning the 2016 title.

The success of Mercedes started to unravel in 2021, when Red Bull's Max Verstappen clinched a narrow victory over Hamilton in the Drivers' World Championship. However, things really went to the gutter in 2022, when they failed to field a competitive car amid a major regulation change.

Mercedes took a huge risk by adopting a no-sidepod design for their 2022 car, and they stuck to their guns in 2023 despite having already suffered a disastrous run the year before. Hamilton had a winless campaign in 2022 and 2023, with his last victory coming way back in Saudi Arabia in December 2021.

Red Bull ran away with the titles, while Mercedes even failed to clinch the second position in 2022. In "Drive to Survive", Hamilton narrated how he tried to tell the team that they needed to change their approach when it first became clear that their car was not competitive enough.

He said: "I remember complaining to the team and being like, 'look we have to make these changes, otherwise this is the trajectory we're going to go on and this is where we're going to end up'. Please, please do something about it. I remember they said, 'we know what we're doing, you're wrong'."

He said that after his suggestions were shut down, he decided to take a step back. However, it soon became clear that the cars were not improving enough to challenge the Red Bulls. Hamilton said: "I was like, 'okay, I'll step back, don't want to step on anybody's toes.' Then when we got into the season, then we spoke again [they said] 'oh, maybe you were right'."

Hamilton's frustration spilled over outside the track

In Episode 6 of "Drive to Survive" Season 6, Hamilton's frustrations were laid bare. Even while outside the track, one scene showed him impatiently telling the production crew to hurry along and "stop dilly-dallying" while they were in the middle of filming what appears to be a promotional video.

He was also seen complaining about how much earlier he had to get up compared to his teammate George Russell, in order to make it to the filming location. With the crew appearing to work a bit too slowly for his taste, he and Russell could be heard trying to take matters into their own hands by laying out the action scenes that they need to film.

Clearly at his wits' end, Hamilton even decided to go rogue and drove off in one of the high performance cars they were featuring while refusing to listen to instructions from the crew.

Earlier in the season, he was also seen having a serious conversation with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. The two of them discuss the dismal results of 2022, and Hamilton tells Wolff that he's at the twilight of his career and he does not have time to wait for the team to deliver a winning car.

Everyone knows what happened next, with the Briton eventually activating the release clause in his Mercedes contract. It was announced that he would be joining Ferrari from the 2025 season on a long-term deal that leaves Carlos Sainz out of a seat.

All of this drama has taken place before the 2024 season has started, and it remains to be seen if Hamilton and Mercedes can achieve success in their 12th and final season together. Based on last week's testing sessions in Bahrain, it looks like the Red Bulls will continue to dominate.

"Drive to Survive" Season 6 started streaming on February 23 on Netflix, and the 2024 F1 season starts on March 2 at the Bahrain International Circuit.