Lewis Hamilton has opened up on several key aspects post his seventh F1 title win, with diversity, emotional moments, learning from 2007, knighthood being the key points.
A handsome win in F1 Turkish GP helped Mercedes’ Hamilton to seal his seventh title and equal the record set by Michael Schumacher in his years of racing. The way the grand prix panned out at Istanbul Park, it was dramatic indeed, not just for the Brit but for all.
After a difficult qualifying to be sixth, Hamilton did not seem to have enough pace at the start but gradually, he got into a groove and eventually saw the chequered flag to not only with the Turkish GP but also secure a record-equaling championship win.
It was certainly an emotional moment for Hamilton – as it was a very rare situation to see the Brit shedding some tears post the glorious moment. He spoke about it at length as he also added on knighthood, learning from 2007 and diversity topic.
Here’s a full length quote of Hamilton on the emotional moment:
Hamilton: “I’m struggling to take the one in! Very rarely to do ever lose control of my emotions and I think those last few laps, I remember those last few laps and obviously we’re having a discussion whether we’re going to pit. I was just telling myself, ‘keep it together Lewis, you’ve got this’. I could feel it getting closer and also knowing that, if I finish where I’m finishing right now, that I’ve got this championship.
“So, all of these emotions were running through me, and I was trying to stop it because I was thinking about my whole career, y’know? From when I was five, when I drove in the go-kart, from when we’ve won our first British Championship, driving home with my Dad, singing ‘We Are the Champions’, and dreaming of being here – it is right there, minutes away and that was a lot to take in. When I came across the line, it really hit me and I just burst into tears, I think. That whole in-lap.
“And then I really just couldn’t get out of the car because I just couldn’t believe it. I just… for me, I’ve been very strong but I couldn’t have done it without the great man behind me, my Dad, who, on the days when I didn’t think I was good enough, or wasn’t going to do well enough, he stood me up and kept me going.
“So, I was thinking of him, I was thinking of my Mum, I was thinking of my step-mother Linda, my brother, who all stood by me through thick and thin. I didn’t want the visor to come up and for people to see tears flowing and all of that stuff – because I had always said that I would never let you see me cry. I remember watching other drivers in the past crying and I was like” ‘I am not going to do that’ – but it was too much.”
Learning from 2007 of no pitting:
Hamilton: “What I’m learning as I get older is to, most often, my gut feeling is right. And most often, like intuition, the first thought that I have is usually the right one, choice-wise, and so I’m learning not to question myself. So you saw today, back in 2007, I was a rookie. I was massively skilled but didn’t have the knowledge, didn’t have the experience to be able to lead the team, to tell them what was needed. If I knew what I knew now, I’d say ‘guys, I have to come in, I’m coming in.’ I didn’t know at the time I could tell my team that that was the case. I was still learning what I could and could not do.
“There was a lot of… among the success there was still doubt there every now and then. That’s not evident today in the Lewis that you see today. I think, as you saw, I was pretty certain I could get to the end. With, I think 18 laps to the end, I was thinking ‘I’m going to try and take this all the way’ but I started getting vibrations in my tyres, so I was constantly looking at my tyres and hoping that they… looking out for that bald tyre that I had in 2007 but I couldn’t see, again, in my mirrors, just like 2007.
“I couldn’t see the tread and whether or not it had gone through to that level. So that’s why I was asking the team, and so I was having to save the tyres through the high speed, trying to not kill them but keeping temperature up was really key. So that’s brake balance, that’s how you use them on the exit of the corners.
“It’s the lines that you have to navigate to take – there was a lot of wet patches still out there. And as soon as you touch that, you’re off. So, the key today was really just keeping my wits about me. As I said, learning as I went, and I was just chipping away again, getting faster and faster and more and more confident as I went on.”
On whether knighthood matters to him:
Hamilton: “I don’t think I’ll be here in my forties but, y’know, still, I’m only 35. I feel young and fresh. Every year we talk about this and I naturally get the questions and I don’t really have anything different to say, compared to before. I think when I think about that honour, I think about people like my grandad who served in the war, I think about Sir Captain Tom who got knighted and waited a hundred years for that incredible honour.
“The people that are running hospitals, the nurses and doctors who are saving lives during the hardest time ever. I think about those unsung heroes and I don’t look at myself as an unsung hero. I’ve not saved anybody. It is an incredible honour that a small group of people have had bestowed upon them. All I can say is that standing, and hearing the national anthem I’m very, very proud. I am a very proud Brit and that, as I said before, this really is like the most special moment to be able to represent… to be up there representing a nation.
“Having the flag over your head, over number one, that is such an incredible honour. That’s really all I have to say about it. It’s not something that I think about, it’s not something that I… I’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s more work to do here in this sport. As I said, we’ve got… I think this year we’ve had this awakening and I think people hopefully are starting to be held accountable and holding themselves accountable and realising that’s actually not a really bad thing.
“It just means we’ve got to work harder, we’ve got to not be so stubborn, open our minds up and educate ourselves a bit better so we can push for a more equal world. I’m not going to stop fighting for that. And then part-time maybe I’ll keep racing for a little while.”
Going more in-depth on the diversity topic:
Hamilton: “It’s obviously no secret that I’ve really walked this sport alone: the only black person here, or the only person of colour here and it’s a really interesting point. The fact is that as I’m bi-racial, whilst it’s the term of the black driver here, I’m bi-racial and I think this colourism that perhaps people should perhaps read about. I think that, hopefully, shows, when I was younger, I didn’t have anybody in the sport that looked like me and, so, you know, it was easy to think that that’s not possible to get there, because nobody of your colour has ever been there, you don’t see anybody on TV, any black people on TV that are in Formula 1, so… but I think hopefully this sends a message to the kids that are watching.
“Hopefully they’ve seen that performance today and hopefully they can see that it doesn’t matter where you come from, I think whatever your background, I think it’s so important to you to dream big. And if you are looking at places, industries that you don’t see someone of the same background as you, or the same ethnicity as you, or with the same religion, create your own path.
“Because that’s what we did. That’s what I’ve been able to do. And it’s been so tough. Tough doesn’t even describe how hard it’s been. I hope that sends that message. That’s the most important message for kids: to dream as big as possible and not give up, y’know?”
Here’s a special sit-down interview with Lewis Hamilton by F1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlyxK6c_Zlo
Here’s a special sit-down interview with Toto Wolff by F1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDgQEQQfYew
Here’s Lewis Hamilton relaying on his epic drive
Here’s Mercedes on Valtteri Bottas TV comment
Here’s Sebastian Vettel on his message to Lewis Hamilton