A triumphant Lewis Hamilton has reflected on his fourth world championship and wants to savour the achievement, but vows there is more to come from him in Formula 1.
Hamilton made British motorsport history on Sunday night by eclipsing Sir Jackie Stewart’s tally of three titles, finishing ninth at the Mexican GP while main rival Sebastian Vettel could only manage fourth after their first-lap collision.
The Mercedes driver believes he has silenced the doubters in 2017 by proving his lifestyle has left him in the best possible position to deliver the goods on-track, and is particularly proud of his maturity and ability to bounce back from a difficult start to the season.
Vettel: Hamilton deserved the title
What’s changed for Hamilton?
“In life, in the heat of the moment it always feels, when you go through difficult times or even good times, you wonder how much further to push,” Hamilton, who has won five out of seven races since the summer break, said.
“Do you stop, do you go left or right, or do you go in a different direction?
Lewis Hamilton joined the Sky F1 team after the Mexico GP to reflect on his fourth F1 drivers' championship
“It’s just when you eventually get there and realise it was all worth it. The way I’ve prepared this year is contrary to what people may think. Training on your own – no one can train on their own, that’s what people would say – travelling around the world and all these different things, you’re just doing it your own way and finding your own way.
“A day like you have today when you win the championship in front of so many people it just solidifies your belief in your yourself and your family’s belief in you and what they stand for. I’m proud of all my family and it’s crazy to think I’m continuing to stamp the Hamilton name in the history books. Beyond my time there will be kids that know the name and that’s probably what I’m most proud of.”
Where is Hamilton among the greats?
Hamilton’s momentous fulfillment already includes becoming only the fifth driver in Formula 1 history to reach the landmark of four championships – but the Stevenage-born racer is not done there.
“Four is a great number but I want number five,” he insisted.
Having suffered front wing damage in the opening lap of the Mexican GP, Sebastian Vettel then punctured the rear-right tyre of Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton has been lauded across the paddock and beyond following the race in Mexico, though the Englishman had wanted to seal the championship in different circumstances.
Still, recovering from 20th to ninth was just more evidence of Hamilton’s battling qualities, while it also gave him another chance to race and compare himself next to Vettel and Ferrari following their early contact.
“I think every single win, every single pole has felt new and different in its own way,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “I’ve not got bored of it. It’s not felt similar to another one. Every lap is different.
“Each championship has felt different in its own way, I guess because I’ve been in different place of my life, I’ve gone through different things.
“This one does feel like one of the best and that’s with fighting another team. Ferrari is such an iconic team, Sebastian is a four-time world champion so if I was winning the championship against someone who doesn’t have a championship, it wouldn’t feel as great. You want to be compared against the guy who is the most decorated.”
How long will Hamilton continue?
While Hamilton is aiming for a fifth crown – a total that would make him the most successful current F1 driver – he still refuses to commit to the sport post-2018, when his current Mercedes contract expires.
“I’m enjoying driving more than ever,” Hamilton added to Sky F1’s Simon Lazenby, Martin Brundle and Damon Hill. “Whether it’s a few [years], a couple, or one, I’m still going to be here next year and I hope for a little time beyond that.
“There is a long life after Formula 1 and I don’t want to make it any longer than it’s going to have to be because this is the best period of time in my life.
“There are still great things beyond my Formula 1 career which I’m working on right now but I’m enjoying driving more than ever.”
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