Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes driver ‘incredibly hungry’ in F1 and enjoying chasing Red Bull ‘for the short term’

0
2

Lewis Hamilton's first win came at the Canadian GP in 2007, where the next F1 race will take place this weekend

Lewis Hamilton’s first win came at the Canadian GP in 2007, where the next F1 race will take place this weekend

Lewis Hamilton says he is still “incredibly” hungry to succeed in Formula 1 and admits he is “enjoying” being the hunter for the short term.

Hamilton, who held talks with Toto Wolff regarding a new Mercedes contract following the Spanish Grand Prix, hasn’t won a race for over 18 months after enduring his first winless F1 season in 2022.

He made his F1 debut in 2007 as team-mate to Fernando Alonso at McLaren and the pair are now the two most experienced drivers on the grid.

“Through the ups and downs I think it’s been a pretty incredible journey. Back in 2006 I never thought I would be multiple world champion. I wasn’t even sure if I would get to F1,” reflected Hamilton.

“Every second and every decision I made on track, in my mind was the deciding factor of if I would get the opportunity and whether the door would be open for me, to get the hand up into the big league.

“That’s all I was focused on every single day when I was running, every mile I was putting in – thinking about crossing the line and how I could convince [then McLaren CEO] Ron Dennis to give me a chance. I thought if I win the championship, they would have no choice but to give me an opportunity. It’s pretty crazy.

Lewis Hamilton is fourth in the drivers' championship, 12 points behind Fernando Alonso

Lewis Hamilton is fourth in the drivers’ championship, 12 points behind Fernando Alonso

“Getting here [to F1] , it’s a similar sort of thing. I have to really show what I can do and prove myself every weekend. I’ve been doing it a long time and I still feel very much related to that kid.

“I don’t know how, but it [still] feels so incredibly hungry to win and willing to sacrifice pretty much everything in order to get to where I need to be, and that’s not changed.”

Verstappen reaping rewards of red-hot Red Bull

Since controversially missing out on a record-breaking eighth world title at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton has had few chances to fight for the win.

Max Verstappen has largely dominated the sport since Ferrari and Charles Leclerc’s 2022 championship challenge faded, while Mercedes have struggled with their car concept.

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were the top two at the Spanish GP

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were the top two at the Spanish GP

Verstappen is in a position that Hamilton experienced for years when Mercedes were the team to beat, and the British driver explained what it’s like to be in the benchmark car.

“Once you get on top of the car and the car works in this window, and it’s consistent, it’s much easier to get it into that setup,” commented Hamilton.

“When you are with a car like I have, for example, you’re trying everything, every different setup and combination to try and eke out a little bit more performance.

“But when you have performance in hand, you are not necessarily always having to make risky choices throughout practice in order to get that extra half a tenth.

“You don’t have to push the bodywork as tight as possible, put the engine on the rim of the temperature because you have a little bit of breathing space.

Watch all of Mercedes' overtakes at the Spanish GP as they secured a double podium finish and moved ahead of Aston Martin in the Constructors Championship

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Watch all of Mercedes’ overtakes at the Spanish GP as they secured a double podium finish and moved ahead of Aston Martin in the Constructors Championship

Watch all of Mercedes’ overtakes at the Spanish GP as they secured a double podium finish and moved ahead of Aston Martin in the Constructors Championship

“Then you don’t have to push the tyres as hard, so you can lift and coast a little bit more, which ultimately means longer stints. All these different things compound and the more you practice it, the easier it gets.

“But you still have a job to deliver, you still have to be focused and still can’t make mistakes, still have to make the right decisions and that comes with a lot of pressure.”

He continued: “For me, it was easy just to stay focused on the job in hand and focus on the things I can control and making sure the team is consistently pushing forward.

“I never got tired of it or comfortable. It’s a great feeling when you know you have got a car you can compete with. From our perspective, we know we are not fighting for a win, so it’s arriving hopeful that you can find a little bit of magic in the weekend.

“Every small decision, every position that you get in qualifying makes that difference and I would say I’ve been enjoying this more, for the short term.”

Lewis Hamilton's second place in Spain was his joint-best result of the season so far

Lewis Hamilton’s second place in Spain was his joint-best result of the season so far

Hamilton: Sidepod change not my decision

Mercedes introduced a raft of upgrades at the Monaco Grand Prix last month, which appeared to pay off a week later in Spain as Hamilton and George Russell both finished on the podium.

One of the biggest chances was a move from their so-called no sidepod philosophy, to wider sidepods which are more in line with Red Bull.

“We have had a lot of input as a team over the past year. Those constant conversations of ‘why does that look like that and we look like this, have we tried that?’ We now have the wider sidepods more in the direction of Red Bull and it’s not been my decision to go that way,” said Hamilton.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was delighted after the team secured a double podium in Spain with Lewis Hamilton finishing second and George Russell coming third

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was delighted after the team secured a double podium in Spain with Lewis Hamilton finishing second and George Russell coming third

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was delighted after the team secured a double podium in Spain with Lewis Hamilton finishing second and George Russell coming third

“It’s been clear since we dropped the car back on the ground in the first test, it’s been the identical twin to last year’s car, except for the bouncing.

“We have taken note of where we are and where we have gone wrong, so are slowly chipping away back to the front. It’s just a long process.”

Sky Sports F1‘s live Canadian GP schedule

Friday June 16
6pm: Canadian GP Practice One (session starts at 6.30pm)
7.45pm: The F1 Show
9.45pm: Canadian GP Practice Two (session starts at 10pm)

Saturday June 17
5.15pm: Canadian GP Practice Three (session starts at 5.30pm)
8pm: Canadian GP Qualifying build-up
9pm: Canadian GP Qualifying
11pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday June 18
5.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Canadian GP build-up
7pm: THE CANADIAN GRAND PRIX
9pm: Chequered Flag Canadian GP reaction
10pm: Ted’s Notebook

F1 returns in Canada from June 16-18 with all sessions live on Sky Sports F1, including race coverage from 5.30pm on Sunday June 18

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here