Lewis Hamilton is thinking of a memorable year in which he not only became the most successful racing driver in history, but also gave in to a global epidemic that turned everyone’s life upside down.
Accustomed to more ghats around the world, this year Hamilton “lived like an instinct”, as Toto Wolf, the head of his Mercedes team, described, the race that was still exclusively in Europe.
This change, Hamilton says, was a mixed blessing.
“Finally being in one place for a week after the race,” he says. “I’ve never really got it, and it’s been good in many ways. But, you know, pretty challenging.
“It’s been a long time, just keeping your head above water, it must have been a challenge. But I know it’s the same for a lot of people around the world.
“I’ve got a variety of things to focus on. I’ve been able to make myself feel very comfortable. I’ve found peace and focused and just been happy. And I’ve been able to focus on weaknesses in training.”
Hamilton has lived virtually alone to stay out of the race, especially because of the coronavirus risk. Realizing that catching it could ruin his title challenge, he distanced himself from society and said he had “accepted more sacrifices than I have in my entire life.”
“I’ve never really been home [before]”She says.” In my winter I go to the mountains [in Colorado], Which I truly see as my main home, because it is a home and it is full of love and memories from family, people who come every winter.
“Where I live in Monaco, somewhere I went back and I called home but he lacks memories I’d been there for a very short time so it wasn’t that easy.”
The “bubble” he created to keep himself alive was basically just another person – Hamilton’s physio is Angela Cullen of New Zealand.
Cullen stays away from the limelight, but is often seen on Hamilton’s side during races, and Hamilton’s own home in the motorhome lives in the European Grant Prix.
“Thank God for“ Angela, ”Hamilton said.“ I mean, she’s got a family and I’ve tried to make her home in her family as much as possible.
“I think it’s not easy to spend time with someone for long periods of time, but we are room mates and you know, friends are pretty good too.
“We do well, and we do a lot of things together. We dive into the sky together, we surf together, we run together, we go to the gym.
“We’re aligned a lot in terms of the things we want to do. We’re both on a plant-based diet, so we’re learning a lot together, and some things I’ve raised that she probably didn’t know, and vice versa.”
The horizon is expanding
To tackle the challenges of epidemics and improve his performance on the track, Hamilton is trying something new.
After an impressive win in Spain in August, one of his strongest victories of the season, he spoke of being in a “zone full of precision” through the race, a mental space that all athletes seek, but find it very good to find them while performing.
He has since been working on the question of how to get there more often.
“I’m still in the process of it,” he says. “I’m practicing meditation. I was kind of … I didn’t think it would be much more [use].
“I’m reading about it and everyone is taking something from their lives. So, a lot of people have different ways of trying to get things done. Some people just keep fighting not to find things that can heal, things that can help you.” Achieve clarity and comfort and peace and happiness at the end of the day.So, I am trying things.
“I’m reading more, and trying different meditations. You know, yoga is not something I particularly enjoy – my dad is more flexible than me, which frustrates me; no amount of stretching seems to change too much but it does. Of course helping me understand I am a little more
“And I’ve read a few self-help books that have raised points that haven’t caught my eye [before] In the case of patterns about my energy levels, my reaction to things.
“I’m just trying to understand it more, to understand myself more and to improve the fields, because I’m far from perfect. But there’s been a lot of improvement in my daily life and in the use of my energy and my time.”
How to keep raising the bar
Hamilton often talked about the fact that he worked tirelessly behind the scenes to improve his performance in the car and with his team, but the details of what he did could hardly be made public.
The 35-year-old is his own biggest critic, but the reward for claiming so much of himself is the satisfaction he gained every year by returning better than his predecessor.
“It’s definitely been the most all-around, the highest level I’ve ever had,” Hamilton said of his driving this season.
“It’s a natural progression, really. You can’t always get it right. This year, we had a coward as well, so we were given more time to focus on areas of weakness and I would say last year racing was strong, but the qualifications were so big. No.
“I’ve tried to make sure I keep the strengths this season but work on the weaknesses, but I’ve been able to improve racing in terms of qualifying. I wasn’t expecting that.”
“Weakness” is a relative term when it comes to Hamilton, but it is this perfectionism based on his intense competition that makes him so deadly.
The results speak for themselves. Yes, Mercedes has become the best car in comfort. But Hamilton has so far won 10 of 14 races, and his teammate Valteri Bottas two; Hamilton has nine pole positions; Boot four.
If Hamilton thinks he’s driving better than he did this year, the question is, how can he move his game forward in 2021, when he aims to win the No. 8 title and stand alone at the top of all F-1 lists? . Record?
“Any athlete is at the top of their game, you could always say that raising the bar is going to be very difficult,” he says. “The easiest thing is to slip it.
“But I don’t think it’s new. I know what I need to do to get myself to the right head and the right place physically. I don’t see it as a matter of maintaining consistency, but it’s a small increment.
“I don’t know if it could be better. For example, racing is very strong yet there are still elements that could be better but it’s not easy to improve everything.”
Work behind the scenes
Those who want to downplay Hamilton’s achievements usually focus on the quality of his equipment. People are saying that any number of drivers can win a Mercedes.
At Mercedes, they didn’t see things that way. Chief Engineer Andrew Shovlin said he was “missing the point” to raise the issue as it was raised.
“It’s all about getting all the ingredients to win the series consistently,” he said, “and Lewis has obviously played a big role in keeping the team in balance.”
After each of his victories, Hamilton quickly garnered praise from his peers, but he is also keen for people to understand why there is more to his role than just being the fastest driver in the world.
He said part of his responsibility was to force the team to open their minds to new ideas.
“When I first started here [in F1]“I always knew the challenge,” Hamilton said. At McLaren I challenge things about how I prepare tires and tire temperatures and all these kinds of things and they never listen. They just did their job.
“When I joined this team, I had a lot of struggles trying different things.
“The team will have a simulation that will tell you what the best car is, but it can’t do what I can. It doesn’t even make sense.
“I’ve given the boys a lot of challenges and there have been times when I’ve been wrong. But I’m perfectly fine with being wrong. That’s part of learning.
“But by thinking outside the box and trying different things, they’ve really moved on. And then you have a good result or a good race and you like it,” he said. Let’s move on. “This is one of the things that has helped us continue to grow.”
He gave an example of his relative’s fight in last year’s qualifiers compared to this year, when he got the ‘only’ pole position, the same number as the boots.
Hamilton said the team focused on making this year’s car more responsive to corner entry, which is a weakness of 2019, but the car was the same as last year in the winter test.
“I had some challenges that I put on the team that were how we set up the car that changed,” he says. “It’s hard to say too much, but the weakness we had last year with the car turning; we don’t have a problem anymore.”
He presents a consistent list of different ways in which he and the team continue to honor their work patterns, before adding: “You have to joke. You have a strong team of intelligent, passionate and determined people and of course you have a team leader. , Who is the main rudder.
“But in terms of development, it’s my job to figure out how to move the car further and work on the driver’s features and I’ll say I’m very proud of it. Unfortunately, people don’t get to see it in the background.”
Driver or preacher?
The impact he has had in the fight against racism is one that he is most proud of this year.
In the wake of global outrage following the death of George Floyd at the hands of U.S. police, Hamilton persuaded Mercedes to paint their cars black – the team ran silver cars since the 1930s – and joined forces with the F-1 to launch an anti-diversity campaign. Anti-caste demonstrations were included.
This has defined his year as exactly his track-breaking exploitation.
Hamilton will be touring the F1 for a while – talks about this The new deal with Wolf is expected to begin soon – But in this work, an idea has started to take shape after Hamilton’s career-F-1.
“You’re starting to see things, glimpses of things that will become a part of my future,” Hamilton said.
“I’ve been racing since I was eight years old. So when I stop I’m always racing from the heart. But I’m really trying to show the weak side so show that it’s okay to show this side year and show yourself more, hopefully people. You will see that I am human.
He mentioned a day in Monaco at the Ranacup of the Grand Prix in Turkey last weekend when he was “able to get out” and it led to an epiphany about where he was going and what he wanted to do.
“It was a beautiful day,” Hamilton said. “I went upstairs with Angela. She was working on her own, and I was able to stop and see the world from the empire to the sea.
“In life, we wake up and we get caught up in our things and we forget to take a moment for ourselves, which I do now with meditation. We often value things. So, try not to take things for granted and the blessings that we have. Be grateful for that.
“It simply came to our notice then [I was thinking], ‘I love this planet. It’s beautiful. We have so much beauty around us ” and I don’t want my time here to be just for fun. I want to help and make a somewhat positive impact, even if it just helps a kid get the often bad things.
“The other day I was talking to some young people. He was: ‘I’ve really struggled with depression this year.’ And I texted her and she enjoyed a lot.
“So I just want to make sure that I have a positive impact while I’m here.
“Racing is all good and everything. But there’s a lot of things here and there’s a lot to do. And and I want to try and help people because there’s a lot of great people out there doing great work. So my goal is goal.”