Lewis Hamilton is coming off a crushing defeat for a document eighth Formulation One championship and on the verge of the primary winless season of his 16-year profession.
His Mercedes has been a beast to drive all season and a flaw in its design created a bouncing impact that causes his enamel to chatter and his again to ache. New teammate George Russell outranks him within the season standings — Russell is fourth, Hamilton is sixth — and a 24-race schedule is looming for subsequent season, when Hamilton shall be 38 years outdated.
Many thought he’d give up the game when he misplaced final 12 months’s F1 championship to Max Verstappen in a controversial collection of calls within the December season finale at Abu Dhabi, however he returned for what is going to go down as arguably one of the vital troublesome seasons for the motive force who holds the F1 document with 103 profession victories.
Now comes phrase that Hamilton has opened talks with Mercedes on a multi-year contract extension on the deal that expires on the finish of subsequent season.
Forward of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in Brazil, the place earlier this week Hamilton was awarded honorary citizenship, The Related Press requested Hamilton why he needs to proceed to race into his 40s and why he didn’t give up F1 following the injustice he believes he was dealt final 12 months in Abu Dhabi.
He used an analogy of a uncommon day without work he had final week to clarify how he’s wired. He’d traveled to Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California, the place Hamilton spent eight hours within the wave pool.
“I used to be within the pool the entire time, and I fall and I stumble off of a wave and I get again up and attempt to do it once more. And I proceed to try this, and that’s simply one thing in my DNA,” Hamilton advised the AP. “I like this sport. I like racing. I might have positively mentioned on the finish of final 12 months that I misplaced a little bit of the love for it, as a result of as , it was troublesome.
“However I simply refuse to let that second be a deciding think about my life and my profession. And I nonetheless really feel match and centered and there’s no stopping. You understand? We need to get quantity eight.”
It gained’t be this season as Verstappen clinched a second consecutive F1 title final month, and regardless of the progress Mercedes has made in bettering its automobile this 12 months, the crew nonetheless can’t problem Crimson Bull on velocity for wins. Verstappen, in the meantime, has gained a document 14 instances this season and heads to Interlagos hoping to increase Crimson Bull’s successful streak to 9 consecutive races.
Hamilton, nonetheless, is coming off consecutive consecutive runner-up finishes to Verstappen which have buoyed Mercedes.
“Despite the fact that we’ve had probably the most troublesome 12 months this 12 months, I really feel that we’ve climbed mountains collectively as a crew,” Hamilton advised AP. “It’s been one of the vital lovely experiences to see everybody working so laborious. And , we simply had two seconds in a row and that seems like wins for us.”
Hamilton final November gained in Brazil to begin a three-race successful streak that despatched him into the Abu Dhabi finale tied with Verstappen for the championship. Hamilton dominated your entire race till a late warning scrambled the end and the since-fired race director broke from protocol in his rulings.
It allowed Verstappen to move Hamilton for the win and the championship, and Hamilton vanished from public view instantly after the race. He advised the AP that two month interval after Abu Dhabi was the toughest he’s ever needed to work on his psychological well being.
“It was one of many hardest instances of my profession, for positive I struggled,” Hamilton advised the AP, explaining how he surrounded himself with instant household, put down his telephone, and averted social media and all information. He additionally went to the seashore along with his niece and nephew and allow them to bury him within the sand.
“So I stand up on daily basis and deal with being current and profiting from the time that I had and creating reminiscences. It was to maintain myself in a contented place and never deal with racing.”
Hamilton has not gained since that three-race streak forward of Abu Dhabi, which wasn’t actually what he anticipated when he re-emerged on the finish of January to start preparations for 2022. Mercedes wasn’t conscious it had taken a mistaken flip within the improvement of its automobile and would want your entire season to undo the harm.
“You simply pivot. As an alternative of how will we get on prime of this automobile and combat for the championship, it was ‘OK, we’re almost definitely not going to be preventing for the championship, so how do I steer this ship that’s going within the mistaken route? How do I maintain this crew motivated?’” defined Hamilton. “We’ve got dug deeper and develop into a stronger, extra full crew. So I do know that after we construct the automobile that I dream of, subsequent 12 months, I do know as a crew we’re extra strong and have a greater basis than ever earlier than.”
That Hamilton isn’t planning to retire anytime quickly will not be a shock to Russell, who has discovered his fellow Englishman to be the consummate skilled and teammate. Russell mentioned Hamilton is devoted to turning Mercedes round.
“He’s positively not lifted his foot off the throttle pedal, and he’s positively the previous few races performing in all probability higher than ever,” Russell mentioned. “For me to have the chance to be his teammate, to go instantly head-to-head with him and develop on this journey that we’re on collectively, as a result of it actually does really feel like a journey that the 2 of us are on, together with the remainder of the crew, in making an attempt to convey Mercedes again to successful methods.
“I believe we’ve acquired a extremely, actually nice relationship, clear relationship and yeah, be nice to be teammates for quite a lot of years to come back.”