Lewis Hamilton created more history at the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul Park as he equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ titles. He sealed it in the best way possible by taking a superb victory in incredibly difficult conditions.
The Brit was understandably emotional following the face and talked about how he secretly hoped to match the German’s haul.
“I know often I say ‘it’s beyond my wildest dreams’ but I think my whole life secretly I probably have dreamt as high as this,’’ said Hamilton. It felt so farfetched. I remember watching Michael [Schumacher] winning those championships, and all us drivers are always doing the best job we can and just to get one or two, or even three, is so hard. To get so seven is just unimaginable.
“But when you work with such a great group of people, you really communicate and trust one another, and listen to one another there’s just no end to what we can do together, me and this team. And I’m so proud of the work we’ve done. Them trusting me out there today, that comes with experience obviously but what a day, it’s a lot to take in.’’
“Definitely a bit lost for words,’’ added Hamilton. ‘’Naturally, I have to always start with saying such a huge thank you to all the guys that are here and all the guys back at the factory, in both our factories, and all our partners for enabling us and giving us this opportunity. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t join this team and the journey we’ve been on has been monumental.
“I’m so proud of them. I want to also say a big, big thank you to Team LH for sticking with me all these years. And to my family, we dreamed of this when I was young when we were watching the Grands Prix. This is way, way beyond our dreams.”
“Mentally this year has been, for so many people out there, this year has been the hardest year for millions of people. And I know things always look great on here and on the big stage but it’s no different for us athletes. This has been a challenge that I didn’t know how to get through, but with the help of great people around me, through the help of my team, through the help of Team LH, I’ve managed to just keep my head above water and stay focused.
Hamilton hopes his achievements inspire others in the future to follow their dreams.
“I think it’s so important for kids out there to hopefully see this and don’t listen to anyone that tells you you can’t achieve something. Dream the impossible and speak it into existence. You got to work for it, you’ve got to chase it, and you’ve got to never give up and never doubt yourself.”
7X Formula 1 World Champion. Wow. To everyone that has supported me along the way, this is for you. To my incredible family, where do I even start? I am eternally grateful for your unconditional love, sacrifices and support... https://t.co/Uwb34qzCx2— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 15, 2020
It had proved to be an incredibly tough Friday and Saturday for the British driver and his Mercedes team. Hamilton could only manage 6th as multiple teams proved to be quicker in qualifying. He looked set for a long day at the wheel initially as he found himself 21s off the lead at the end of lap 5
“Today we knew coming here it was already such a difficult weekend, we weren’t really massively disappointed with our qualifying position. We knew that we were kind of on the back foot and we did the best we could but we learnt a lot. This is what we do as a team, there’s no blame game, we hash it out and we continue to try and improve our communication so that we can make moves forward.
“We don’t always get everything perfect, but today we had that small moment at the beginning of the race with the new tyres. And then I couldn’t get past Seb [Vettel] for a while, at that point I could see Albon pulling away and I was thinking ‘Jesus, this race is falling away from me. Falling through my fingers.’ But I just kept my head down, just kept believing that I’d eventually pick-up pace of some sort at some stage, and that’s what I did.”
However, when everyone switched to the inters in the early stage and Hamilton got through his graining phase (Vettel pulled away from him) on those tyres, he found another level to the rest of the field.
With Stroll, Albon and Vettel all pitting for a new set of inters in the second half of the race, Hamilton took full advantage of the clear track after overtaking Perez for the lead on lap 37.
The Brit took the flag and won by over 30s from Perez – and he made the right call to overrule his team about making a late stop as he learned and remembered races from the past.
“There was a point that Seb [Vettel] was pulling away from me and I couldn’t figure out at the time what it was. I was checking my temperatures, I didn’t know whether it was because my tyres were overheating or they were too cold. I think I went through the real rough phase of the graining of the tyre and then it started to come back, the grip started to come back.
“The track was drying in areas and I was improving my driving lines the whole way through the race, I started to pick up pace and then Seb [Vettel] pitted. For me, I knew that wasn’t the right choice personally. I decided to stay out and as the tyres got more and more slick, that’s exactly what we needed but fortunately because of that intermediate tyre, it holds temperature.
If I went out on new slicks I wouldn’t have made it around, it was the best decision. You remember I lost a World Championship in the pit lane, so I learnt my lesson from 2007, that’s for sure. I felt like I really had it under control, the grip was feeling good and I was going to deal with the rain if it dropped.”
“Out of a lot of races that I’ve done, I feel so proud of this one today. There were a lot of challenges along the way. I was thinking about Monaco 2008 and what I did with the tyres back then, and I was thinking about China 2007 when I lost the World Championship. All these things that I learnt along the way, I was able to apply today and that’s why you saw the gap in the result that I got.”
He did it. He really did it. 🖤💜 pic.twitter.com/32lPUlBRbp— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 15, 2020
As well as making headlines with his driving, Hamilton has been pushing for equality outside the car as well and wants to do a lot of work with the sport to make things better in countries they visit with a record of poor human rights.
“I feel like I’m only just getting started, it’s really weird. I feel like we’ve got a lot of work to do here. We’ve only just begun our work to hold ourselves accountable as a sport, to realise that we’ve got to face and not ignore the human rights issues that are around the countries that we go to. How can we engage with those countries and help them, empower them to do more to really change and not ten years from now or twenty years from now, now.
“I want to help Formula 1, I want to help Mercedes in that journey and also particularly moving more sustainable as a sport. The whole thing, we need to be more sustainable. I want to try see if I can be a part of that, at least the initial phase of that for a little bit longer.”