Ambitious Lewis Hamilton sets his sights on seventh F1 world title

• Hamilton: ‘I don’t think there’s a lot that can stop me’
• Seventh title would equal Michael Schumacher’s record

Asked for an insight into the genius of Lewis Hamilton, now six-times Formula One world champion, Toto Wolff opted for pithy rather than profound. “He just drives cars bloody fast,” the Mercedes chief said.

Luckily Wolff did elaborate. “It’s where talent meets a big push for self-improvement all the time,” he said. “That combination makes him stand out in his generation. He will always say there is room for improvement and I think this is the mentality you need to have.”

It is why Hamilton’s hunger for success is still nowhere near sated, even after passing Juan Manuel Fangio to become second in the all-time rankings, one shy of Michael Schumacher’s seven titles. Hamilton will celebrate his 35th birthday in January, then set his sights on matching the German’s record, convinced his skills are yet to peak.

He sounded restless and relentless on Sunday only an hour or so after his triumph at the Circuit of the Americas, where second in the United States Grand Prix behind his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was enough to seal a fifth title in six years with two races to spare.

Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.

Hamilton talked about the need to enjoy the moment but he also said that “from the outside things always look great but it’s not always the case. And I am also struggling with lots of different things and battling certain demons.” He was reluctant to elaborate other than to say that everyone has to wrestle with personal challenges in everyday life; negative thoughts and events that demand a positive outlook in response if they are to be overcome.

Certainly the death of the Mercedes adviser and mentor Niki Lauda in May cast a shadow over the season. Hamilton also referenced the death of Anthoine Hubert, the 22-year-old Formula Two driver killed in a crash at Spa-Francorchamps in August.

The stands were packed in Austin to watch Lewis Hamilton win a sixth world title.
The stands were packed in Austin to watch Lewis Hamilton win a sixth world title. Photograph: Pixathlon/Rex/Shutterstock

“I saw it on the TV, I saw it happen,” Hamilton said. “That again, when something like that happens, it can put lots of doubts in your mind and batting that off and thinking ‘OK, jeez, is it time to stop or shall I keep going because there’s lots of life afterwards?’ I still want to spend time with my family, I still want to have a family one day, all these different things, but I’m so charged to do and I love doing what I do so much that I don’t think there’s a lot that can particularly stop me in that sense.”

Bottas’s impressive drive from pole to win his fourth race of the year – the best season’s haul of his seven-year F1 career – suggests that, if the 30-year-old Finn continues to improve, he may push Hamilton closer next season (Bottas is second in the standings, 67 points adrift of Hamilton). Ferrari may have something to say about that, provided they can conquer reliability problems and cut out the errors that have pockmarked their campaign.

“We didn’t have the quickest package for a long time but we were able to make the least mistakes on Sunday and that was probably the biggest key of making us win the championship,” Wolff said. “There is a reason why the Schumacher record stands, because it’s just very difficult.”

Still, it would be no surprise if Hamilton made it four in a row in 2020 and Wolff added: “If we are able to provide our drivers with a good car next year that is competitive, we continue to work on the gaps we still have, try to minimise mistakes, and Lewis has a good season, I think there is no reason why he couldn’t go for a seventh title.”

Before that 2019 concludes with races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. “Usually the reflection comes at the end of the year, when work finishes and you can just take a load off and just sit back and have a beer,” Hamilton said. “I will be with my dogs, with my feet up and just only then can you have a moment to grasp how great a year it has been.

“In my mind I’m just too competitive, so I’m thinking: ‘OK, we’ve got two more races to go. How am I going to do a better job?’”


Tom Dart in Austin

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Lewis Hamilton relishing F1 title challenge from Valtteri Bottas
Lewis Hamilton goes into this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix supremely confident in his own abilities and at the top of his game but still expecting a tough fight

Giles Richards in Barcelona

10, May, 2019 @2:39 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton urges Mercedes to step up F1 title fight with Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes will have to operate with maximum effort in their battle with Ferrari, who have yet to get the best from their cars

Giles Richards in Shanghai

15, Apr, 2019 @11:02 AM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton claims Mexico Grand Prix but has to wait for title
Lewis Hamilton held off the challenge of Sebastian Vettel in a brilliantly executed strategy and is likely to seal his sixth title at the next race in Texas

Giles Richards at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

27, Oct, 2019 @9:51 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton knows he has ‘much work’ to do in F1 title race
Mercedes driver arrives at Belgian Grand Prix in a commanding position but a sixth world crown is not a given

Giles Richards at Spa-Francorchamps

30, Aug, 2019 @4:06 PM

Article image
Title chase stopped me holding my line in Monza F1 clash, says Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has said he will adapt his driving after Charles Leclerc was not penalised for squeezing him off the track on his way to winning the Italian Grand Prix

Giles Richards at Monza

09, Sep, 2019 @12:25 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton cruises to secure sixth F1 Chinese Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has led from the first lap until the last to secure his sixth F1 Chinese Grand Prix win of his career with Valtteri Bottas second

Giles Richards in Shanghai

14, Apr, 2019 @7:53 AM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton speaking to Ferrari about ending F1 career with team
Lewis Hamilton’s future is once more under debate with the world champion speaking to Ferrari about a potential move

Giles Richards

01, Dec, 2019 @3:59 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton gears up for stressful talks over new Mercedes contract
Lewis Hamilton was not looking forward to discussing a new deal with Mercedes

Giles Richards

15, Nov, 2019 @4:40 PM

Article image
Lewis Hamilton hails atmosphere at Mercedes after poor form in Germany
Lewis Hamilton has praised what he described as a uniquely open and honest atmosphere at his Mercedes team after a poor performance at the German Grand Prix

Giles Richards at the Hungaroring

01, Aug, 2019 @5:31 PM

Article image
Valtteri Bottas wins Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton second
Valtteri Bottas won the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third

Giles Richards

28, Apr, 2019 @2:18 PM