It’s all about speed. When you break it all down, racing F1 cars is the art of going tyre-shreddingly, stupendously fast, and as Lewis Hamilton reveals to RSNG.com, the thrill never fades.
The seven-times Formula 1 Championship winner is having a more challenging season than usual, but we found the 37-year old in a philosophical mood, as he reflects on the importance of living life to the max…
RSNG During this frustrating season, how are you keeping your spirits up?
LEWIS HAMILTON, F1 ICON “It’s a new thing, for me as an individual and for us as a team, but sometimes you need these new experiences in order to appreciate the good times.
“Of course I don’t enjoy the fact we are in a position where, with every race, we are playing catch-up – and sometimes we do catch up, sometimes we don’t – but it’s healthy to be in a position where we are looking to find answers, and when we do find those answers it’s a very satisfying thing, as a team.”
RSNG Anyone who watches F1 will know the patient attitude you have towards the limitations of your car, particularly this season – do you think the general public share that view?
LEWIS HAMILTON “You know, that’s not for me to say, and I don’t really care too much if people get the wrong impression from outside the sport.
“As a team we are united in our aims and we don’t stop looking for solutions – F1 is a team sport won by individuals, and I’m always the first to make sure the crew get the recognition they deserve. I couldn’t do anything without them. We win and lose together.
“There will always be conjecture about who I am and the way I handle myself. And at the heart of who I am is a philosophical person who is grateful to my team, my family, to God and so many other people around me.
“I have a passion for the sport that doesn’t ever change. From a very young age all I wanted to do was get in a go-kart and go as fast as I could, and I loved that thrill. And it’s all exactly the same now. Ok, the kart goes a bit quicker these days, and I’m not racing around the Rye House Circuit in Hoddesdon any longer, but it’s all the same thing – it’s still the same passion I have for going fast and the thrill that goes with it.”
There have been so many F1 champions who have dedicated their entire being to the track and it overtakes who they are
RSNG Do you ever miss the simplicity of life before this passion arose?
LEWIS HAMILTON “I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t have racing in my life, so no. It’s always been there. Sure, it goes up a level when you get signed, but I have been doing this all my adult life and this is me.
“I know it’s a lifestyle that people will look at and want to dissect. And that’s fine – I mean, it’s not normal is it… racing cars, being on boats, private jets and all that. This can’t really be a job – it’s more like a computer game. But the things that exist around the periphery of Formula 1 racing are just that really, peripheral side-elements.
“There is another way of looking at it. The time spent on the track is so short, so quick and so stressful, that there is a lot of downtime, and it’s important to refocus. There have been so many F1 champions of the past who have dedicated their entire being to the track and you can see, after a while, that it overtakes who they are… it consumes them, to the point they don’t have an existence beyond being behind a steering wheel. I didn’t ever want to be that person.”
RSNG Despite the car’s struggles of late, are you still confident of further world titles?
LEWIS HAMILTON “Of course. Of course I believe we will make the adjustments and the advancements and get back to where we belong, and that is at the top.
“You’ve got to stand back and have maximum respect for the other manufacturers and what they are doing, and you’ve got to look at your own role and accept the mistakes you make along the way, and I have made some bad errors this season; but beyond that you have to totally believe you have all the answers and you will access them.
“People know my next target is to match the great Michael Schumacher on eight world titles. As I’ve said before, I wonder if that’s ever going to be possible for anyone again, so to join him would be incredible. So we will try – we have a way to go, but we will bring what we can to the table.”
We get it wrong from time to time – we all get it wrong – that’s the sport
RSNG When things aren’t going to plan on race day, do you find yourself speaking up more, or less?
LEWIS HAMILTON “The planning on race day is really the very final part of the equation. Obviously it’s a vital part, but we wouldn’t even get to race day without the guys in the garage doing just incredible things all around the clock, so I am always eternally grateful for that. It’s difficult to criticize or speak up too much, when you know the work that has gone into just getting that car on the track in the first place.
“We get it wrong from time to time – we all get it wrong. That’s the sport.”
RSNG How do you summon up the mental fortitude to keep coming back?
LEWIS HAMILTON “The way I look at it, Formula 1 is dangerous. People have died in this sport. So I stay strong with my faith. I’ve come from nowhere. I feel really blessed to be here. I think there’s a reason I’m here.
“I have ‘powerful beyond measure’ written on my chest – it’s a short bit I took out of a quote, from the writer Marianne Williamson. On my back I have the cross and angel wings: rise above it, no matter what life throws at you.
“That way of thinking isn’t everything to me, but it does provide some nice context when I need it. Ultimately, I try to find a balance in my life... my style and my mindset works perfectly for me.
“And when my career is over, I want to make sure that I look back and can say that I lived it to the maximum. That is what I try to do – I enjoy my life. I move as much as I can – I get to places and experience as many things as I can; and do my job in the best way I can."
WHAT NEXT? For another RSNG.com interview with a world-beating sportstar, check out our conversation with Olympic Gold medallist Kevin Durant…