SportF1Hamilton interview: how his love for F1 was put...

Hamilton interview: how his love for F1 was put to the test

Lewis Hamilton’s patience and love for Formula 1 have been tested like never before in the last 12 months. But, despite a more than discreet 2022 season , the Englishman is clear that his passion for racing has not cooled.

In fact, despite having many good reasons to end his F1 career, the desire to stay with his current team is stronger than ever . The question is not whether he will renew his contract with Mercedes beyond 2023, but when he will do so.

“We are going to renew,” he declared in an exclusive interview with various media, including at the last United States Grand Prix.

“We are going to sit down and discuss it in these next months, I would say. My goal is to continue with Mercedes. I have been with Mercedes since I was 13 years old. And really Mercedes-Benz is my family.”

“They have been with me through thick and thin. They were with me when I got kicked out of school. They were with me through everything that happened in 2020. They have stuck with me despite my mistakes, and the shit that has been published in the press They have stayed with me despite the ups and downs,” he summarized.

“I really believe in this brand. I believe in the people that are within the organization. And I want to be the best possible teammate for them, because I think we can make it even better, more accessible, and stronger than it already is.” it is. I think I can be a big part of that.”

The consequences of Abu Dhabi 2021 for Hamilton

Although Hamilton is excited about his future at Mercedes in Formula 1, it is fair to say that it has not been easy to overcome the turbulence generated after the famous safety car in Abu Dhabi in 2021.

Reflecting on his emotions after Abu Dhabi, he wanted to downplay rumors of his withdrawal.

“It seems like years ago,” he said. “I mean, it definitely broke my spirit, or it shattered my soul, whatever you want to call it. How could I not come back? I’m not one to give up like that, honestly.”

However, while withdrawing was never an option, that’s not to say that the pain of the Abu Dhabi defeat – and especially in the circumstances in which it happened – hasn’t cut deep.

“What really broke me was seeing that happen in this sport, when there are so many people you trust,” he said, reaffirming the thesis that the relaunch was not carried out correctly.

“You expect them to do their job well. And in the end a world championship, because a lot of people have worked very hard, is decided by a wrong decision.”

“That was probably the only thing [that could have made him consider retiring]. It wasn’t because of my lack of love for my team or racing, it was literally that…” adds a Hamilton who said he didn’t quite understand how he felt . You can lose a championship due to a wrong decision on the part of the organization itself.

“But I spent time with my family and that got me through it. I dedicated myself to being with the kids, building snowmen and being present in their day-to-day lives.”

“That allowed me to really recover. If I hadn’t been with them, I would have been stuck in a hole.”

Asked if he considers the decisions made by F1 race director Michael Masi to try to prevent him from winning an eighth crown deliberate, Hamilton replied: “I don’t know. It seems like a long time ago.”

“I think it was poor decision-making. I’m sure the ego is involved. There are people who whisper in his ear. It doesn’t seem to me like it was a specific target.”

Hamilton, on the costs of F1 2021

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

While the Abu Dhabi controversy remains a sensitive topic within F1, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitting he is still thinking about the outcome, Hamilton was determined to face the ‘trauma’.

“I have overcome it. I refuse to live in the past. I already lived it in 2007, when I was young, and it did not let me sleep. It was only negative.”

“When you hold on to negativity, when you hold on to hate or whatever, all you’re doing is holding yourself back.”

“I’m going to move on, regardless of what happened in the past. I’ve decided not to think about it anymore. There’s nothing I can do about it. I gave it my all. I gave it my all and sacrificed. But I’m willing to go back to do it. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Hamilton’s mentality to try to forget Abu Dhabi has recently been put to the test when it emerged that Red Bull had been found guilty by the FIA of having exceeded the budget cap in 2021.

He himself recently spoke about the impact that extra budget would have had on the fight for the title, indicating that the ghosts of 2021 may never fully go away.

“When you arrive in Singapore and hear about the cost cap, you can’t help but remember things from the past,” he admitted.

“It’s something you bury to move on and then it comes up again, and it’s like another kick. And, yes, that does reopen the wound. So you have to bury it [the memory] again and move on.”

Which way things go now is for the FIA to decide, but even in the unlikely scenario of Red Bull and Max Verstappen losing championship points and the 2021 title over the cost cap issue, Hamilton would not. I would be satisfied.

“No, because the damage is already done,” he said. “I’m clear on everything we did as a team and how we achieved it, and that’s what I’m sticking with. We gave it our all and we did it right, and I’m proud of that.”

The porpoising problems of the Mercedes F1 2022

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

The fact that 2022 is not being an easy season for the German team does not help to forget the controversy in Abu Dhabi either.

The 2022 W13 has proven to be a tricky car. Mercedes took too long to understand their problems and, with the budget limitation as a backdrop, they failed to evolve their prototype in time.

It was, without a doubt, a totally different campaign from the ones Hamilton experienced at Mercedes . And, although both parties say they have taken positive things from the experience, it has not been a pleasant time.

Hamilton confirmed that things started badly in the pre-season tests, in a particularly tough winter for Brackley’s men.

“I don’t think it was perfect for anyone,” he explained. “I’m sure Toto would tell you the same”

“When we met in February we were all optimistic. Everyone told us that we were going to have a very fast car, and I’m sure everyone who worked on it was convinced of that.”

“It’s been a very tough season for all the members of the team, because that’s when they really work hard and put in a few hours. Normally, you hope that period will be calmer.”

“But finding out that the damn car wasn’t working, and we had a lot of rebound, it was hard on everyone. I think we all had a rough time.”

“And we all went through our own process of how to deal with it. But I think surprisingly, it’s helped us go through a transformation with a lot of potential. It’s made us stronger and it’s brought us together as a team.”

But how hard was the mental reset for Hamilton? “I think it didn’t cost me too much, from the beginning,” he reflected. “But obviously you wear yourself out, because you have the hope of getting back to the front and we were a while without doing it.”

“Suddenly we start finishing some races on the podium, but the next test it’s not. The car is good one weekend, then it’s not good for another two, three or four grands prix, and then it works again. And you never know [how the car is going to respond].”

“You do all the work in the simulator and the simulator tells you things that you can’t do on track. It’s been a very confusing year emotionally.”

“You think the car is going very well on a weekend, or the engineers tell you that you have a margin of improvement of three tenths, but when you get to the circuit it turns out that you are one tenth slower,” added Hamiltón, who acknowledged that the frustration in those cases is enormous.

“I think I’ve learned not to get my hopes up about anything. It’s better not to have too many expectations, so if it’s just as good, it’s just as good, and if it’s better, it’s better. In terms of preparation, I think we’re better [than before]”.

As for how he himself has responded to the challenge of not fighting for victory every weekend, Hamilton believes he has handled the situation better than in the past.

“There are always positive things and experiences you can learn from,” he said of 2022. “It’s not like I’ve never had a season like this. I’d say more… In fact, I think it’s been better than other bad years.” “.

“I think I’ve been a better teammate than ever. And I think outside, in my personal life, I’ve had an even better balance than in the past. I think it’s been good.”

Looking to the future of Lewis Hamilton in F1 and Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, with Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG

However, what was never in doubt was Hamilton’s desire to get back to the front. And that remains his first objective, before dedicating himself to something else.

“Regarding my plans for the future … every year at the end of the season, you sit down and reflect and try to figure it out,” he said.

“I don’t know how you guys do it, but I try to analyze my year and analyze my plan for three to five seasons. It’s hard to do ten.”

“But, where do I see myself? What things do I want to do? What are my goals? And things are being added. And I am also starting to think about various business projects, because I have many businesses going. I have a lot of things that They have turned out well for me, really positive, that they have many opportunities for success outside of racing.”

“But I want to keep running. I love what I do. I’ve been doing it for 30 years and I don’t think I should stop.”

“I would say I’m still earning my salary. I want to do better, still. But I plan to be here longer.”

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