“I’ve won races and you go straight into meetings and then you go home and watch TV or do normal stuff. You don’t capture the moment. I think it was just important for me to enjoy it.”
These are just some of the words Lewis Hamilton used earlier today to comment on claiming his second pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Briton burst into a primal scream once he learned he had snatched the pole position and surrendered to tears after dedicating his pole to the late Niki Lauda. His over-the-top celebrations following his pole lap have not been witnessed for a while, which triggered some sort of curiosity amongst the fanbase.
Why was he that much over-hyped? The pressure of Valtteri Bottas beating him twice in the last two races must have been rather heavy on the 5-time champion’s shoulders. Owing to the ultimate ‘Bottas exploit’ in 2019, it would appear almost impossible to say that Hamilton remained completely unfazed by the leap his teammate made in terms of attitude and competitiveness.
Therefore, his certainties started trembling as soon as Bottas got back on winning ways and conquered pole positions in mesmerizing and dominant fashion. Hence, it just became crucial, almost an imperative, to beat him in qualifying. The tension and the thrill of the final shot in qualifying played a huge role in building up the emotions he let out after the session, with the extremely recent news of Niki Lauda’s passing adding to that.
“You never know when that moment’s going to happen again so I’m just grateful for it. I was waiting for a long, long time to find out,” he said. “I was like, ‘where the hell is Valtteri?’” Hamilton commented.
“Talk about sitting on the edge of your seat when you don’t know what’s happening... But when you get that call, whether it’s good or bad, it’s horrible, the wait. Sometimes you get it and it wasn’t good enough and you start to reminisce the lap and think ‘I could have done better here’ but fortunately it was good.”
Hamilton also stressed the importance of the support received by his race engineer, whose excitement was as contagious as his: “I’ve been with Bono [race engineer Peter Bonnington] seven years, it’s the longest relationship I’ve had with an engineer, so it’s really great to see his encouragement and his excitement as well.”
The Briton needs the utmost focus in order to stay strong and keep his standard as high as possible in the title fight, as the rivalry against Bottas shapes up. It has been a long time coming, as Bottas tiptoed near the top positions for two years before imposing himself as a true and believable contender. Now his time has come, but the hunger of a 5-time champion at his prime (shapewise) is only being fuelled by the stimulating challenge Bottas his giving him.