F1: Lewis Hamilton talks money, social media and not fearing retirement

It’s been another blockbuster season for Formula 1 icon Lewis Hamilton. 

With ten wins from 20 races the British driver has secured his sixth F1 world title and alongside team-mate Valtteri Bottas the duo have led Mercedes to their sixth successive constructors’ championship.

One grand prix remains on the 2019 F1 calendar, the finale in Abu Dhabi on 1 December, and Hamilton will look to finish the year on a high with victory at the Yas Marina Circuit. 

He may be a six-time world champion but the 34-year-old has told BBC Sport that he’s not planning on stepping away from F1 just yet.

During his interview with the BBC’s Andrew Benson he discusses a range of topics, including the 2019 campaign, money and the reaction to his sometimes-controversial social media posts

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Lewis on the 2019 season

“It’s crazy because we got to August and I’m thinking ‘Jeez, I’ve had eight wins’. And as a team we’ve had, like, 14 wins and you kind of forget those things because you’re just always looking forwards and time is always ticking. But it was not intentional not to be ‘wow’. I’ve been searching for that ‘wow’ lap this year. And honestly I’ve had good laps but they’ve not shown in the order, necessarily, you know? Some of my second places that split up the Ferraris, for me felt like relatively quite ‘wow’ laps, but because I wasn’t on pole by half a second it doesn’t appear that way for you. But for me internally it did.”

Lewis on money and the challenge

“The thing is I never got into it for money. Of course it is great that that piles up – no problem. That is a bonus. As long as those things don’t become the lead factor of what I do. The core of what I do is that I love racing. I love the challenge. I love arriving knowing I have got these incredibly talented youngsters who are trying to beat me and outperform me, outsmart me, and I love that battle that I get into every single year. And I am working with these guys [his Mercedes engineers] who are so much smarter than me and they make me feel smarter. When I am challenging them and proving them wrong so many times, it is unreal.”

Lewis on social media 

“Most of the time, I wear my heart on my sleeve, so it was an emotional post [about the climate crisis], which is not always good to do. It just felt like I was banging my head against the wall and not gaining ground. There is a lot of push-back on a lot of things I do, and a lot of questioning of everything I do and say. You live your life under a magnifying glass. And the pressure for anyone that’s in the limelight… we’re only human, so at some stage you’re going to buckle a little bit. But I always say it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up. And I really turned that negativity into a positive and came back and won that next race. And you’ll probably see if you look back in the history of the times I’ve often had those difficult phases, I’ve often won the next races. That’s where my strength lies.”

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Lewis on adapting to new situations

“I’ve always been able to adapt. One of my strengths is I think I am probably one of the most adaptive drivers there is. I’ll jump into almost any scenario and figure my way through. And that’s why it works so well in the rain, for example, because you have to be dynamic in those places. Constantly shifting your driving style.” 

Lewis on other sports stars 

“I have also studied other athletes. I listen to Valentino [Rossi] and how he feels he’s had to change his driving style to keep up with the newer generation and I question myself whether that’s necessary. That’s his journey. He was so great, you know? But I look at that and try and figure out how I would position that. If you look at tennis players and how they change their swing. I speak to Serena [Williams] and the nuances she goes into. I watch golf and see how Tiger [Woods] has slowly come back after improving his swing. It is very similar to a driver. You can change these small things that just give you a wider platform and a wider foundation to be able to pull laps together. But, man, it’s millimetres, or micrometers, and it’s very, very hard to see the differences always.”

Lewis on retirement 

“I don’t fear it. Naturally for athletes, it has to be the saddest day, to hang up and stop doing something you’ve loved your whole life and as long as you can remember. But that is why I have all these other things in place that I can fall back on. The fashion side, for example. I’ve found another business that I can do for a long time if successful. Currently that is going really, really well but I don’t know how long it will go. But at least I have another interest. There are a lot of different things I can be interested in. I know my life is not going to be over when I retire. And that gives me a lot of comfort. But right now I feel physically good enough to continue so I’m going to try to eke that out as long as I can.”

For analysis of the biggest sport stories – and a concise, balanced take on the week’s news – try The Week magazine. Start your trial today 



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