Hamilton admits to self-doubt


Seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton has admitted that at times this year he wondered if he was at fault or his car.

For the second successive season the Briton failed to score a win, having claimed at least one victory a year ever since he first entered F1.

Much was hoped for from Mercedes latest contender, but as early as pre-season testing the team knew that it had gone in the wrong direction.

Though he finished third in the standings, and for the most part had the better of his teammate, speaking to BBC Sport, Hamilton has admitted to self-doubt.

"Ultimately, when you have difficult seasons like this, there are always going to be moments when you're like, 'Is it me, or is it the car? Do you still have it? Has it gone?'" he admits.

"Because you're missing that... you know, when the magic happens, when everything comes together, the car and you... that spark, it's extraordinary. That's what you're in the search for.

"I'm only human," he continues. "If anyone in the world tells you they don't have those things, they're in denial. We're all human beings."

A veteran of 332 Grands Prix, the third most in the history of the sport, and winner of most races, Hamilton's latest contract will see him racing into his forties, something he didn't originally envisage.

"What you've got to learn is you should never say never," he says. "But at that point, I definitely didn't think I'd be continuing. They are frickin' long seasons. It's a long time away from everyone. I've been doing it for 16 years. It's gruelling.

"There's a lot of glitz and glamour and lots of positives but it's by no means easy to stay at your best, to stay committed, to keep up the training, to continue to deliver," he admits. "It's a lot of pressure.

"You're being scrutinised all the time and I'm in a place in my life where there's no way I can win. If I win a race, it's, 'Oh, he's a seven-time world champion, you've got 103 wins.' If I don't do well, it's... I can only lose at this point in life. So for sure there was a period of time when I was questioning whether I wanted to go through that.

Like his millions of fans, and team boss Toto Wolff, Hamilton remains bitter over the events of Abu Dhabi 2021 and admits that he considered walking away from the sport.

"For sure, yeah," he replies when asked if quitting in the aftermath of that night entered his mind. "There was so much going through my mind during that period in time.

"But I think one of the worst things you can do is make decisions based on emotions, because when you are emotional and in the heat of that moment, more often than not, you're not going to make the best decisions.

"Emotions were high, it was a really, really difficult period of time, so I had to just wait until things calmed down, and that I was clear in my thought and I was able to then make the right decisions."

"I still love driving," he insists. "I still love getting into the car. When they start the car up and you have all those people around you, the crew, you go down the pit lane, I still get this smile on my face the same as I did the first day I drove.

"Most of my race performances have been really good. So I am happy with... building back up to the level I should be."

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Published: 30/11/2023
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