Lewis Hamilton is coming off a crushing defeat for a file eighth Components One championship and is 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 will probably be 38 years previous.
Many thought he’d stop the game when he misplaced final yr’s F1 championship to Max Verstappen in a controversial sequence 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 troublesome seasons for the motive force who holds the F1 file 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 did not stop F1 following the injustice he believes he was dealt final yr in Abu Dhabi.
He used an analogy of a uncommon time without work he had final week to clarify how he is wired. He’d travelled 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 is simply one thing in my DNA,” Hamilton advised the AP. “I really like this sport. I really like racing. I’d have positively stated on the finish of final yr 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 isn’t any stopping . We need to get quantity eight.”
It will not be this season as Verstappen clinched a second consecutive F1 title final month, and regardless of the progress, Mercedes has made in bettering its automotive this yr, the crew nonetheless cannot problem Crimson Bull on pace for wins. Verstappen, in the meantime, has received a file 14 occasions this season and heads to Interlagos hoping to increase Crimson Bull’s profitable streak to 9 consecutive races.
Hamilton, nonetheless, is coming off consecutive runner-up finishes to Verstappen which have buoyed Mercedes.
“Although we have had probably the most troublesome yr this yr, I really feel that we’ve got climbed mountains collectively as a crew,” Hamilton advised AP. “It has been one of the stunning experiences to see everybody working so exhausting. And , we simply had two seconds in a row and that appears like wins for us.”
Hamilton final November received in Brazil to begin a three-race profitable streak that despatched him into the Abu Dhabi finale tied with Verstappen for the championship. Hamilton dominated the complete 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 is ever needed to work on his psychological well being.
“It was one of many hardest occasions of my profession, for certain I struggled,” Hamilton advised the AP, explaining how he surrounded himself with rapid household, put down his cellphone, and averted social media and all information. He additionally went to the seashore together 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 cheerful place and never deal with racing.”
Hamilton has not received 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 fallacious flip within the growth of its automotive and would wish the complete season to undo the injury.
“You simply pivot. As an alternative of how can we get on prime of this automotive and battle for the championship, it was ‘OK, we’re most certainly not going to be preventing for the championship, so how do I steer this ship that is going within the fallacious path? How do I preserve this crew motivated?’” defined Hamilton. “We have now dug deeper and turn into a stronger, extra full crew. So I do know that after we construct the automotive that I dream of, subsequent yr, I do know as a crew we’re extra strong and have a greater basis than ever earlier than.”
That Hamilton is not planning to retire anytime quickly is just not a shock to Russell, who has discovered his fellow Englishman to be the consummate skilled and teammate. Russell stated Hamilton is devoted to turning Mercedes round.
“He’s positively not lifted his foot off the throttle pedal, and he’s positively the previous couple of races performing in all probability higher than ever,” Russell stated. “For me to have the chance to be his teammate, to go immediately 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 attempting to carry Mercedes again to profitable methods.
“I believe we’ve bought a extremely, actually nice relationship, clear relationship and yeah, be nice to be teammates for plenty of years to return.”
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