On "Schumis" traces: Lewis Hamilton in the form of his life?
Lewis Hamilton explains why Roger Federer is perceived differently from him and is not yet at the pinnacle of his Formula One career
Lewis Hamilton was first and twice second in the first eight races of the 2019 Formula 1 season. In the drivers' championship, his lead over Valtteri Bottas is 36 points, Sebastian Vettel even 76 points. No wonder that the five-time world champion has reportedly slowly envisaged Michael Schumacher's seven world titles as the next major milestone.
In the first four races, it seemed as if Hamilton had to adjust to team-internal competition from Bottas this year. But the longer the season lasts, the better it gets going. Which causes observers to see him in the form of his life. Hamilton sees himself as more critical.
"I'm in a good mood," he says, but: "I always feel that things are going better, I was in great shape last year, but then you get into a new car, and that's every time Again a big challenge, especially this year, because the tires are so difficult to understand. "
"But slowly I'm coming back to where I was at the end of last year when I was feeling so good, I think I'm a better driver than there, because with new experiences you're getting better and better To get the best performance, even mentally, but that's always 'work in progress'. "
Wolff protects Bottas: "Pace agrees"
While the 34-year-old always seems to be struggling to improve, the development of Bottas stagnates since some races - at least according to the results. For Toto Wolff, that's nothing to worry about: "The pace on a round is absolutely right for Valtteri and I have no reason to see why that should change."
"But in the race Lewis is just able to go one better, Lewis is exceptional as a driver, that's the most visible, but to win a race and a championship, all the other factors count," said the Mercedes team boss.
What is not visible is the hard work that Hamilton does behind the scenes. While he usually only shows his jet set and party life on his social media accounts, insiders report that it happens that in the evenings he buries himself in dozens of data prints in the hotel room and studies for hours how he can get even better.
"This is an element that is often overlooked," Hamilton tells journalists: "You always try to capture things, but there are so many secrets behind the scenes, maybe my greatest strength is - yes, I'm good at driving - how I work with these great engineers and designers. "
"These guys all come from universities like Oxford or Cambridge and they've got something on their backs, they come to us and I need to communicate with them so they can pull something out of me, and sometimes I enjoy saying, 'The Data is like this. ' And then I can counter: 'Did I tell you yes!' "
"This interaction is really cool, because these guys are sitting at the laptop thinking that this and that will happen, and then things will turn out differently, and that's where the human element comes in."
"In the last race, they did not know that the tires would last as long as I did, but I was almost on the fastest lap, and that makes me proud," says Hamilton. "The engineers are sometimes a bit stuck, it's not always easy to get them off track, but that's what I enjoy."
Hamilton and the "Yellow Press"
Hamilton claims that he is often criticized by the "Yellow Press" in his native Britain, "I do not mean that at all negatively, but I will not let that get in. Everyone has a right to his opinion Does not affect whether I do my job well or bad. "
"I know what a great job I am doing as a team, and I know when I'm not so good at a weekend," says the Mercedes star. In part, he explains the criticism of his person as follows: "There are only 20 of us who drive these cars, no fan and no journalist knows how it is."
This is unlike other sports: "When I play basketball, I sometimes manage a litter like LeBron James or Steph Curry, sometimes I play tennis with my dad - we Hamiltons are not good at tennis, but every so often I meet them Corner with a superfast serve, so I feel like Federer for a moment. "
"Finding something like this in a Formula 1 car is not possible - not everyone can just go for a lap, so it's probably harder to get started with our performances and to see the nuances in performance and strategy, but there are also the people who admire the spectacle and the technology. "
However, Hamilton does not deal with the fact that Mercedes can win the eleventh Grand Prix in Austria in a row - something only McLaren has done so far (1988): "Maybe it's different for Toto and the team, maybe they have a list of all records It's great, but it's not high on the list of priorities. "
"But it is remarkable that we are in the 125th year of Mercedes-Benz's history, breaking so many records in this era, and I'm very proud to be part of that era," he says. The fact that he could catch up with Michael Schumacher in two other World Cup titles in 2019 and 2020, of course, is a certain charm.
"It's still awesome to go through the Mercedes Museum," enthuses Hamilton. "I remember when I was there in 1996 or 1997 and saw the cars of David Coulthard and Mika, so I wished that one day a car of mine would be there too, there are already several, and I hope that there will be a few more ... "
This article was written by Christian Nimmervoll, co-author: Edd Straw