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Hamilton’s drive to stay ahead of the pack

World champion already has his eye on another world crown

Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
Lewis Hamilton (left) of Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing have a chat during the official press conference of 2017 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Four titles under his belt, and world champion driver Lewis Hamilton is simply thirsty for more.

Hamilton, who is preparing for this weekend’s season-ending Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, may have already pocketed his fourth Drivers’ Championship with races to spare this season. But the Mercedes star is also seen as someone who can go a long way in becoming a true legend alongside the pantheon of champions that includes seven-time winner Michael Schumacher.

“I’ve always wanted to move forward,” he said. “If there has been one thing that has been foremost on my mind, it is this urge to always try and stay ahead of the game. I have always wanted to be two steps ahead of everyone else.”

In his drive to stay ahead of the competition, Hamilton is constantly kept on his toes. “That means staying two steps ahead of the game,” he added. “It is about raising the bar every time, whether I am training or whether I am in the car or understanding the technology or dealing with people that I am working with, I have always want to be ahead of everyone.”

After securing four world titles, the 32-year-old British driver says he still has a long way to go. “I am already cued on what I am doing and what I have to do, and what I need to do,” he said. “I am always ahead of myself. My focus always is: How can I understand things better than any other driver?

“At this point, and even though there is still one more race left, I am already into the next year as I try to understand what is going to be and how things are going to happen in the new season.

Hamilton, who won his first world title in 2008, with repeats in 2014, 2015 and this season, is also close to becoming the single most successful driver in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix history. Hamilton and Vettel have three wins each in Abu Dhabi, while no other driver has won here more than once. Hamilton first won the Abu Dhabi race in 2011, and followed this success in 2014 and last year, while his German opponent clinched the opening race in 2009 and repeated his success in 2010 and 2013 with Red Bull Racing.

During qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton took his first Suzuka pole and broke the track record previously held by Schumacher from 2006, by over 1.6 seconds. He broke another record during qualifying of the United States Grand Prix where he claimed his 72nd pole position and his 117th front row start, setting a new record for all-time front row starts and surpassing Schumacher’s previous record of 116.

Hamilton also became the first British driver to surpass Sir Jackie Stewart and claim four F1 championships.

But records are the last thing on Hamilton’s mind. “I never look at that. I never do,” he said. “I don’t know why, and it’s kind of cool when people mention it to you. But that’s not my goal simply because that doesn’t define who you are.

“I think it’s just how you work, the work ethics you follow and push forward each day while doing something new that defines who you are. I’ve now won four championships and I want to win another one next year.

“Ultimately, it is about team work. There are so many people involved. There are more than 1,000 people in this team [Mercedes] and all of them are incredibly intelligent. We have a near perfect set-up with everyone pitching in and doing their bit while helping us move forward.

“For me, I am already half way into the next season thinking about what I need to do and how I need to do it and get a fifth world title.”


Friday’s schedule

10.15am-11am: GP3 Series practice session

11.30am-12.15pm: FIA Formula 2 practice session

12.30pm-12.45pm: Track inspection

1pm-2.30pm: F1 first practice session

3.10pm-3.40pm: GP3 Series qualifying session

3.45pm-4.45pm: Paddock club pit lane walk

5pm-6.30pm: F1 second practice session

7pm-7.30pm: F2 qualifying session

7pm-8pm: eSports first race

8pm: Drivers’ Meeting

8.15pm-8.45pm: Marshal pit-lane walk