The newly crowned 2018 Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton regards the fight for his fifth title has been the toughest collectively as a team with Mercedes.
For the first time since 2014, Ferrari looked a credible threat to Mercedes on several occasions in the 2018 season but Mercedes fought back in every way possible to help Hamilton retain his crown and take it for the fifth time in his career.
It looked pretty close at times and to a certain extent Sebastian Vettel had it under control as well after the DNF for Hamilton in Austria. But Vettel’s costly error in Germany set him slightly on the backfoot – although the two DNFs for either drivers got cancelled out.
Hamilton did end the first half on a high but Vettel came back strongly in Belgium. However, it started to fall apart in Italy while the races in Singapore and Russian dented Ferrari’s chances when the team looked nowhere competitive.
In fact, Vettel conceded Singapore as the turning point while admitting the mistakes done by him and the team collectively. After the troubles earlier in the season, Hamilton and Mercedes, on the whole, handed the situation well when it was needed the most.
They even opted for team orders – which neither Hamilton nor fans supported well whether in Germany and or Russia more. The British driver acknowledged the hard work put in by the whole team to come on top of the situation.
“Through the year there were a lot of testing times for us,” he said. “Even on weekends where we didn’t have the package and we were on the back foot but then came away with that belief within the team, still, that we could come away with something good, we’d come away with wins, even though we weren’t the quickest.
“It took some special laps, it took some special moments in the car and I honestly could just re-live those moments all the time. Some of those experiences I had in the car were really magical. I truly believed that we could win this championship but it has been the toughest battle that we’ve had collectively as a team.
“So much work has gone on in the background. These guys in the garage have just been flawless every single weekend, with our pit stops, with our decision-making in the background, strategy and set-up. Ultimately, for me, I feel like I can drive anything and I feel I can take the car to places that nobody else can.
“But to do that, you have to get the car in the right place and so that means ultimately you’ve got to work with the team, to help unleash what’s great within them so that you can unleash the greatness in yourself. I think naturally at the beginning of the year, we started out great in the first race.
“Then we had that fall back and then we had some testing races after that. Then we had that DNF when I think we were leading the Grand Prix or at least one-two or whatever in Austria and then we the difficult collision at Silverstone but came back.
“I think when I came back at Silverstone, firstly being on your home circuit is always something so special and when you see that crowd that really lifts you up. Ever since my first Grand Prix there but most importantly, the second one, 2008, I could see the guys in the grandstand.
“That’s probably the first time I started noticing people standing up and cheering me on. And that has never faded, all these years being going to the British Grand Prix. So coming back from last to second, for me, in my mind, was like OK, I think that might have been quite a confidence boost, but then of course we went on to some great races after that.
“Budapest, obviously, going into the break, it’s great going into the break with a win, particularly when we knew that we weren’t quickest at that point of the season. And we knew that that was more a confidence blow to the other team.
“And then Hockenheim, Monza, I think we just went from strength to strength after that and we just kept taking a step up. But look, we’re still here in Mexico and it was a tough race for us and the Ferraris were quickest than us again.
“I think undenyingly, we’ve been very very close on performance through the year and I think it’s still arguable whether or not we’ve had the perfect package but I think, as a team, we’ve operated better than any other.”
[Read Also: Vettel feels Singapore was turning point]