Hamilton, 35, has just matched Schumacher’s record of seven world titles, an achievement only reached by the German before, and he currently holds the record for most pole positions and most victories in F1 history. Although there are still some sceptics that believe his achievement is only linked to the performance of the car he driven, Hamilton says that even he did not fully understand the huge role that the drivers play in car development before he joined Mercedes as a replacement for Schumacher. He admits that the consecutive championship winning performance opened his eyes about the role of Michael in the team before he arrived, and he believes it is something that people outside of the sport do not understand and appreciate.
As he said in a recent interview with motorsport.com: “In terms of helping develop the car, that’s something that I think that drivers – and as I’m approaching where Michael was – I never fully understood. It’s difficult for someone starting in F1, for young drivers, it’s hard for them to fully understand what it is that Michael did, what I am doing in this team. They’ll just see that we have a good car, just see that Michael had a good car, but now I’m here I understand what Michael did with the team, or perhaps what he might have done with this team. I’m sure it’s similar to what I’ve had to do. You know, you have to be the rudder. You have this powerful group of intelligent, impassioned people and of course you have the head of the team which is the main rudder.”
He added: “But in terms of development, how to get the car to go further and work with the characteristics of the driver, that’s my job and I’d say I’m definitely very, very proud of that. Unfortunately people don’t get to see all that in the background.”
Hamilton also admitted that 2020 season felt like a step above from his previous seasons and achievements. As he said: “It definitely feels like the most all-rounded highest level I’ve been at, yeah. It’s a natural progression, naturally. You can’t always get it right. This year, being as we’ve also had Covid, we’ve had more time to focus on areas of weakness and I would say last year the racing was strong, qualifying wasn’t so great and I came into this season trying to make sure I kept the strengths but worked on the weaknesses. But in improving in qualifying I have managed to improve the racing, which was a bit of a surprise. I was not expecting that.”
The 35-years old Brit from Stevenage, England, believes there is still room for improvement in the future, and he needs to keep up his performance instead of making the standards drop. As he said: “For any athlete that is at the top of their game, you could always say it is going to be hard to raise the bar. The easiest thing is to let it slip. But it is not like I am new to this. I know what I need to do to get myself in the right head space and physically in the right place also. I don’t really see it being an issue of keeping consistency but it is much smaller increments in terms of raising the bar. I don’t really know whether it can get any better. The racing, for example, is super-strong. But there are still elements that could be better. But not everything is easy to improve on.”
Will we see Lewis win his 8th title in 2021? Will it be his last season then in F1? There are of course increasing talks about those topics, but the driver still did not give any information about his future just yet.