Lewis Hamilton felt races like F1 Turkish GP showed his mettle as he feels it somewhat answers his critics, while adding that he knows success is not just about own driving but also the equipment.
In the modern era of F1, few races pose such unique challenges as those presented to drivers in last weekend’s Turkish GP at Istanbul Park. The circuit, upon its reintroduction to the calendar this year after a nine-year hiatus, was frightfully low on grip having been resurfaced immediately prior to the sport’s visit.
Rain during the weekend did little to help grip levels, especially with the hardest available tyre compounds in use during the weekend, and cool temperatures. The payoff of these factors was such that innumerable drivers suffered spins, crashes, or other forms of adversity.
There was no shortage of complaints from the part of the drivers, among those to voice concerns Williams’ George Russell. However, Mercedes’ Hamilton – the winner of the weekend’s race – enjoyed the challenges, after saying in the wake of Friday’s practice that the track surface was “S**t”.
The Brit believes such conditions allow him to demonstrate his skill more so than in typical circumstances, and that he did in the F1 Turkish GP when he rose to the front of the field from sixth, to win with a significant margin – in fact, he drove almost all-through the grand prix on used set of intermediate tyres which became kind of slicks in the end.
“I want more of these weekends,” said Hamilton. “More tricky conditions like Turkey. The more opportunities like this, the more I’m able to show what I’m able to do. I think I deserve my respect. I think I have that with my peers. I think they will know how hard the weekend was, particularly that it is not a car thing.”
The 35-year-old has been criticised by F1 drivers of earlier times, with the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti having made remarks viewed as impudent. Hamilton acknowledged their comments, and pledged to show greater respect to those who find success after him.
“But there is another great driver who is alongside me, who has the same car who obviously didn’t finish where I finished,” added Hamilton. “I do notice that there are these interesting comments from past drivers, particularly. I really, really promise you, and hope that I stand by my word, when I stop in ten, 20 years from now and look back, I want to be embracing and encouraging the next youngsters that are here, whether it’s Lando, whether its George, whoever it may be, whether it’s Max.”
In fact, Hamilton shared an anecdote from his karting days to stress the need for good equipment. His driving of the utterly dominant Mercedes’ has led many to suggest – without evidence – that his success comes only from the performance of his F1 cars.
“I know how hard it is to do the job and I know how this world works,” said Hamilton. “Of course you have to have a good team and of course you have to have a great car. There is no driver that’s ever won – really won – the Championship in the past without it. It goes back the same all the way down to karting. You’ve got to have the right equipment.
“I remember my first championship. I raced and the kid that won was on rocket engines, which Jenson Button’s Dad had tuned. Those engines were real rockets. Compared to the cheap, crappy engine that I had which was fifth hand, there was no way I could keep up with these kids, and I remember that one weekend he was moving on to… Kimbolton in 1992, 1993, and he was moving on to the next class, he was selling on these engines.
“I remember my Dad had to re-mortage the house to get this £2000 engine – but what we did that day was me and this kid, who’d been winning everything, we put his other engine that I was going to buy, that we were looking to buy, in my car and I was ahead of him all the time on track. So, of course, you’ve got to have the equipment, of course you’ve got to have it and that’s something that will always be in this sport. But then it’s also what you do with it that really also counts – and hopefully you can see that,” summed up Hamilton.
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