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Burning rubber: Hamilton’s long term plans good news for fans

Mercedes buoyant at half-way mark of the season

Gulf News

I’ve got some good and some bad news for the world of Formula One, its enthusiasts and its competitors alike.

Firstly, the good news for thrill-hungry Grand Prix fans worldwide is that superstar Lewis Hamilton, three times the world champion, has vowed to keep on racing for at least another six years.

And that’s also the bad news for some. At least for his fellow drivers who, looking to feature prominently in their own personal success story, would be only too relieved to see him pack it all in and give them a better chance for a slice of Grand Prix glory. No such luck …

The 32-year-old’s winning style, attitude and continuing determination to emerge as the most successful driver in F1 history underpins and reinforces his restless drive into the depths of genius and memorable greatness. The sport’s numbers game reveals the constant record-breaker has competed in 198 GPs, been the victor 57 times, has stepped onto the podium on 110 occasions, with 67 pole placings and 37 fastest laps ahead of his hapless pursuers.

He was at his brilliant best with a sensationally overwhelming win in fine, fearless and skilful style last time out in his home British Grand Prix around the very, very testing high-speed Silverstone circuit. And he is planning an all-action replay of that stunning show in the Hungarian round in Budapest this Sunday, a favourite track of his where he has been the winner five times with six podiums and four poles.

Ahead of the championship’s halfway stage 70-lap, 190-mile challenge, and his title takeover bid to overtake title topper Sebastian Vettel and erase the German ace’s one point advantage, Hamilton opened up in a fully frank appreciation of his own ability. ”Right now I am feeling in my prime. I am driving better than ever and I am loving being in this Mercedes team. I will always want success — and now we are going to Hungary, one of the great track and an absolute favourite of mine.”

Then he revealed: “I have got five or six more years left in my career in racing. My only fear, more than anything, is not being as great as I know I can be. Racing is all about who is willing to go further, deeper into his ability, who is willing to take that extra step … and that is just me.

“I am ready, willing and able to take any amount of pain and heartbreak to be the winner. I am that hungry for success. I don’t have any fears. I love racing in Formula One. And even if … and when … I win another world championship it will not mean I will pack it all in and hang up my gloves. I shall always … always … strive my hardest for success.

“There is no reason right now why I should stop. I am really enjoying myself — and so much so I intend to see out my contract with Mercedes. They are one great team.” Rumours are rife that he and Vettel will swap places and teams when their contracts are up — but that remark then erases any predictions on a changeover.

It is a point underlined by Toto Wolff, the mightily powerful head of the Mercedes team — and an unashamed admirer of his star turn.

Wolff stresses: “The championship is in the balance right now. We at Mercedes are building up to a run in with calm appreciation in a logical manner and with great confidence in Hamilton. Behind the scenes at the factory the energy and enthusiasm of everybody is like never before.

“It is completely inspiring and I am sure that is what Lewis feels, too. He has delivered some superb performances this season … Silverstone and his great and spectacularly convincing British Grand Prix win in particular. Right now he is phenomenal and is equalling, setting or matching new records all the time. And will continue to do so.”

— The author is a Formula One expert.