Photo: Monster Energy

LEWIS HAMILTON

The champion

The British Formula 1 driver has won six titles and is second only to Michael Schumacher on the all-time greats list

In the past 70 seasons, the Formula One championships were won by 33 drivers, and only 16 of them were able to return to this pinnacle of the world’s car racing. Among them is Lewis Hamilton, who, having won his sixth title this year, is second only to Michael Schumacher on the all-time greats list, but this hasn’t put an end to the Briton’s ambitions. Determined, enterprising and unquestionably gifted, Hamilton had already drawn attention to himself in his debut season. Ron Dennis, who spent years sponsoring Hamilton’s races in lower categories, opened McLaren’s door for him, pairing him with Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard, who had entered the British team with two titles, did not expect his main rival to become a fellow team member. In an open war that didn’t fall short of blows below the belt, both of them lost the title, but the next year would see Hamilton take his first win. He won his next five titles racing for the Mercedes team, a team that developed alongside him. My personal success, like the success of Mercedes, is the result of teamwork.

It may sound simplistic and banal, but when I decided to leave McLaren eight years ago, many thought I was making a mistake. However, I believed in the plans presented to me and they came to fruition. At the bottom of it all, there is a lot of time and effort put by the entire team into planning each season, each race. The starting point of everything is hard winter’s work on development and innovation, which is truly incredible in every season, and I am very proud of all the members of our team, which is very well-balanced at all levels.

We are all committed to the top score and, fast or not, we all keep this ultimate goal in mind. It’s a very special kind of chemistry that’s hard to describe. Even though behind him is a season in which he was the only driver who finished all races within the points (17 of them on the podium) and set a record of 413 points, Hamilton is nonetheless self-critical. The relentless desire to do better the next day and the brutal honesty in acknowledging mistakes and failures are characteristics that Toto Wolff, his boss, is quick to commend. There’s always room for improvement. Not throughout the whole season have we been perfect and there are areas where we can certainly improve, but we can be proud of the work we’ve done as a team. It’s a great thing that we’re still focused on how we can improve the next year. There is not a moment when we think we have done everything and that we are perfect. We want to continue to raise the bar, which will not be easy after such a season, but our goal is to be even better next year, although, at the moment, we have no idea what obstacles we will have to face. To equal or beat Michael Schumacher’s records (91 wins, 7 championship titles) for Hamilton are neither an obsession nor a goal, but he does not hide the desire to draw level with the most successful driver of all times

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