Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed great successes in his Formula One, many of which have happened behind the wheel of a Mercedes F1 car. But the Briton faced a tough challenge so far in 2022, with his W13 car not on a comparable level with Ferrari and Red Bull in terms of pure performance, as the team had to fight the porpoising phenomenon for the early part of the season. Hamilton’s best finishes so far have been second places in France and Hungary.
Speaking to RACER.com, Hamilton explained how he takes inspiration from other great athletes like tennis player Serena Williams, in the way they face adversity and try to come out of it in a better shape:
“I think it’s the same for everyone. I take a lot of inspiration from other athletes like watching Serena, seeing everything she’s gone through and in conversations, just the way she’s pulled herself back up and the great performances… she is just such a warrior and she’s my inspiration right now.
“So it’s really just about taking time to sit back, reflect, figure out what you can do better. As athletes, we are super-determined, we don’t like to lose, we don’t like to fail. Failure is not an option, but sometimes you do, and that’s part of the process. It’s how you then don’t beat yourself up or beat yourself down, it’s how you take it on, put it on your back and use it as experience to power forward.”
The Briton pointed out how he doesn’t “take lightly” if he makes a mistakes due to it’s wider implications to his team and the people around him, using the example of his opening lap collision with Fernando Alonso at this year’s Belgian GP:
“And it’s not easy. It could take you one day, it could take you five minutes, it could take you multiple days. These past few days (since his error at Spa) have not been easy and I don’t take lightly mistakes that I make. And some people will be like, ‘well, don’t be so hard on yourself,’ but that’s how I’ve got to be the driver I am today.
“And there’s so many implications of a mistake. For example, the one I made. The team, the damage, the points for the team, the morale. So I go back into the factory and I’m like, ‘I’m so sorry’. But we win and we lose as a team and we pull back together and that’s the part I really do love. I’m not alone in the emotional roller coaster ride.
“I feel bad for my friends that came to (Belgium) and sat there ready to go, even if they’re one of a couple in a big orange field of Max (Verstappen) fans. I’m so proud of them for the bravery they have, especially with what’s been going on this year. It’s not easy to stand in a crowd of the opponent’s fans. But they have been amazing, and so I know I’ve got to get back up for them as well. So that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Despite dramatically missing out on the world championship in 2021 to Max Verstappen with no fault of his own, Hamilton said that it doesn’t “hurt” him that the Dutchman is heading to winning another championship this season, in comfortable style, and says his full focus is on improving his car and keeping strong connections with key team members:
“I wouldn’t say it hurts,” Hamilton says. “We all know what it could be.
“We would love to be in that battle fighting, and I wish that all the cars were a lot closer and we were all having a much better battle closer to the front. I wish there was only tenths between us all, but that’s not the way our sport is. So I don’t worry about that, and it’s not something I can control at the moment.
“My worry – what is keeping me up at night – is what have I left out? Who do I need to speak to at the track? How can I support Bono [race engineer]? How can I support Marcus [Dudley, performance engineer] and Shov [Andrew Shovlin, trackside engineering director]? In the aero department, how can I support them to make better choices for the next car?”
While Hamilton admitted he wishes F1 would be about just “pure ability”, he recognizes that the sport is about team work and is relishing the challenge of “steering it in the right direction”:
“I think that comes with the lesson that you have to focus on what you can control. And whilst we do worry about things we can’t control, you have to try to learn not to,” he says.
“I do watch (other) sports and I wish that it was just the pure ability that I have that makes all the difference. But there’s so many people’s ability coming together – the communication, the amount of work, the processes, the direction you will go. It’s like we’re all rowing the boat and whilst we’ve got Toto (Wolff) above as the steering mechanism, we as drivers are also the part of the rod that’s steering it in the right direction.”
Hamilton said he “loves” the fact that he hasn’t had it easy after the disappointment at the end of 2021, saying that the challenge of making Mercedes’ 2022 car faster has “encouraged” him to stay longer, as there is “lots of work to do”:
“Definitely because it’s going to take longer than one year. I think if we had just won last year and then we would win this year, definitely life would be in a different place and you’d be on a different course.
“I love that it’s gone through a phase even harder and we’ve got to pull through that thick slog and get to the point where we are a little bit lighter and we’re floating a little bit more. So yeah, I would say that it’s encouraged me to stay longer.
“Plus I’m feeling fit, I’m finding ways of feeling better physically. The mental challenge is a consistent thing and that will always be the case because that’s how it is for us athletes, because we’re on the edge. But right now, where I am in life, I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have here. I like to think I still deserve a place here, and there is lots of work to do,” he concluded.
P19 ➡️ P5. Great result, especially given how much of a struggle it was at the start. Thanks always to the team, feels good to bring home some points 🇮🇹🏁~ pic.twitter.com/wk5RraMIc3— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 11, 2022