Lewis Hamilton is a force of nature. The Briton had the most challenging 12 months of his career, a period that began by losing what would have been a record eighth world title on the final lap of the final race of 2021 and could end with his taking the first win that would endure in his career. illustrious campaign. race without victory.
And yet, he doesn’t let that get him down. Instead of contemplating a way out and retreating, the losses only serve to recharge him while he ponders the next chapter.
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“As far as my physical well-being goes, I feel better than ever because I’ve really focused on that growing up,” says Hamilton as we settle into the Mercedes caravan before lunch. “I am very fond of driving in general, so I am working on a plan. I can’t tell you what that is yet, but there is no limit to what we can do.
“I want to be creative and keep doing all the other things that I can do. I can be myself in this team, and the support from Mercedes has been incredible from day one. Together it is not just about winning, we can be part of the many people in the world who are trying to change the world for the better, and we can try and do it together because it is a great brand that has a great impact that can impact the world. “
Hamilton is determined to make his mark on and off the track
Given that Hamilton is in his happy place at Mercedes, it’s no surprise that he is in talks to extend his stay with the Silver Arrows on a multi-year deal. The 37-year-old is currently in his 10th season with the Mercedes factory team and 16th overall in F1, as the German manufacturer powered Hamilton’s first-team McLaren.
The extension makes sense as they give you a lot of freedom, from what you wear to what you do off the track, and support, particularly for causes you’re willing to give a voice to on your platform.
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He also gets along well with the boss. “Toto [Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal] He is one of my best friends. We’ve had tough times, we’ve had tough negotiations, there have been emotional outbursts, a roller coaster of emotions together over the years, but we’re like a family. I want the best for him. He wants the best for me.
“We can always jump on the phone and talk about whatever. Our values are aligned and our goals are aligned: on the brand helping this team grow and what they want to achieve.”
Hamilton has developed a close relationship with Wolff over the years.
Hamilton quickly forged a strong partnership with teammate George Russell, a Mercedes junior who was promoted after three years at Williams, including a super substitute for Hamilton at Mercedes in Bahrain in 2020.
Things could have turned awkward when the young contender entered alongside the veteran a year after his run of utter dominance courtesy of Max Verstappen and Red Bull came to an end. But instead, facing the less competitive Silver Arrow that Brackley and Brixworth have produced since the start of the turbo-hybrid era, Brackley and Brixworth have worked together for the greater good, with Hamilton playing an active role in helping his compatriot. to land accessible. underfoot.
“As for George, he was one of the youngest drivers [here] — sat down with the reports and the technology to learn about the process and the state of the country here,” says Hamilton.
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“He goes in and he pushes himself, he knows what to expect. And for my part, he was just trying to be engaging and engaging him, trying to communicate a lot about the car, what can I prove, what can you prove to get us to point A?
“I’m just trying to work with him like I did with Valtteri. When he adds new people it takes time to get everyone into a groove, but I think he’s done a great job, we got into a decent groove early on and continue to work on fixing whatever issues are causing it. yield at this rate.”
Hamilton and Russell have achieved 15 podium finishes so far this season despite Mercedes’ struggles
The longer Hamilton has been in Formula 1, the more things he has done outside of the sport, from starting his own foundation, Mission 44, to help young people from underrepresented backgrounds, to co-owning the Denver Broncos NFL team.
But rather than lose sight of the jackpot, in a bid to keep his balance, he has actively improved his approach to approaching a race weekend on the track to ensure the day job is not affected and remains the Maximum priority.
“I’ve changed my weekend rhythm for years,” he says. “These four days [Thursday through to race day on Sunday]I am here for one reason only. It’s not how you talk in the media or it’s not how they see you, but that’s how you come across, it’s the work you do on the track, how you drive on the track, how you make the car work, the best it can be and How can you be the best you can be?
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“So I try to use all the time and the quietest part of the day is especially at the end of the day as there’s no one around and that’s when I don’t have any distractions. I can review the data and I am in constant contact with the simulation team at the plant, so I can interact live with the driver who drives there during the operation.
Hamilton and Mercedes continue to push for their first win of 2022 after coming close in the US and Mexico
“I eat on the track and then I’m exhausted when I’m done. I start to relax at the end, I go back to the hotel, and then there is a short time between falling asleep and waking up, I like that.
“I don’t want to finish here early and go to dinner. I don’t feel like going to dinner and wasting time barking. I’m here for one reason, and that’s to win races. That [dinner and other events not linked to racing during a race weekend] It’s all the distraction for me, so I don’t do it very often, if at all.”
To win races, Mercedes will need to turn things around next year after a difficult season that saw the Silver Arrows, Red Bull and Ferrari far behind.
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On a positive note for Hamilton and company, they’ve closed the gap in recent races and been involved in the battle for victory in both Austin and Mexico, but the seven-time world champion knows they still have work to do if they want to recapture that form he carried. Mercedes to dominate F1 from 2014 to 2020. With that in mind, Hamilton is focusing on all the details he can control and working with the team to push them forward.
Hamilton remains as motivated as ever to claim a record eighth world title
“The hill we have to climb is huge,” he says. “It’s important for us to think of it as the biggest, steepest, most difficult mountain you can climb, because if you think it’s going to be a normal hill, you become too weak. You must think that this is the hardest climb imaginable, which means that you will have to dig deep.
“There is a lot of work that we have already done to this point to understand where we are, where we went wrong in previous decisions that were made last year this year.
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“In terms of the right steps to take next year, it’s not easy to navigate as there are so many different options, but I try to communicate with everyone to make sure there are no loose ends or misunderstandings about what I’m in the car for. feel and what I want in the car and make sure we are in constant dialogue.
“Today I sat down with Shov [trackside chief Andrew Shovlin]Ron [Meadows, Sporting Director] and Mike [Elliott, Technical Director] – just firing off questions – ‘this is my concern, this is what keeps me up at night, what can we do about it? How can I help you do better, do more?’ There’s not much you can do since we have to trust the process, but it lets people know you’re there; You don’t have to figure this out on your own, we’ll figure it out together.”