Lewis Hamilton 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix - LAT Images for Mercedes

Formula 1 News: Winless Hamilton having self doubts

Lewis Hamilton has not won a race in 2 years, and getting beaten by Max Verstappen regularly may be wearing on the soon-to-be 39-year-old.

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Hamilton has opened up on the self-doubt he has faced amid Mercedes’ recent Formula 1 struggles. During Hamilton’s winless streak, Verstappen has won three world titles and 35 F1 races.

For a driver on top of the world for so many years and thinking he was the most talented, it’s a shock to the psyche to realize there is actually someone even more talented than you.

And while Hamilton has committed himself to helping Mercedes get back to the front of F1 with a new contract that keeps him committed until the end of 2025, he has confessed about times when he questioned his own performances.

Speaking to selected media including Motorsport about having moments of doubt amid recent difficulties, Hamilton, who turns 39 in one month said: “Of course. I’m only human. If anyone in the world tells you they don’t have those things they’re in denial. We’re all human beings.”

Asked about the significance of being without a win for two years, he said: “I think that’s a misconception. When I was younger, I had bad years when I was a kid.

“In 2009, the car was horrendous. We did have a win through the year because we had a second upgrade in the season.

“Then 2010-11, also not great years. One on my side from a personal [point of view] the other more often than not the car was not spectacular.

“So, it’s maybe the biggest drought in terms of success, but if you take away those wins, it’s been similar to those seasons.

“I think I’ve learned a lot about my mind state and how to keep it in a solid place and staying positive, adding new tools into my armory so I can continue to do what I do.

“I’m 38, nearly 39 years old, and I feel great in my body. That’s due to certain tools I’ve been able to accumulate during these two years. Time that I’ve been able to manage outside racing, I think I’ve been able to do a much better job of maintaining energy and focus.

“I’ve got a better team around me than ever before. I guess 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?

“Because you’re missing that [moment] when the magic happens. When everything comes together, the car and you, and you get that spark, it’s extraordinary, and that’s what you’re in the search for.”

“For sure, yeah,” he said when asked if an instant retirement entered his thoughts.

“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.”

Many say Verstappen is the greatest driver ever

Everyone says it, even the late Niki Lauda of the Mercedes F1 team Verstappen was the greatest driver in a century, despite Hamilton being one of his drivers.

iki Lauda 2018 Großer Preis von Großbritannien, Samstag - Paul Ripke
Niki Lauda 2018 German GP – Paul Ripke photo

That had to be a gut punch to Hamilton, but if there was a thing you knew about Lauda, he was brutally honest.

Related Article: Win #54 – Tracking Verstappen’s march to greatness

Jack Baruth said it best – “As the third-winningest driver in F1 history, Verstappen’s place among the greats was already assured. But this season was indisputably the finest one ever enjoyed by a racing driver. Period, irrespective of era, genre, league, or machine. There has never been anyone better.

“How do we know for sure? You can make the car faster by making it harder to drive, and Adrian Newey and his design team did just that, knowing Verstappen could master anything.

“That’s where Max Verstappen comes in. His father, Jos Verstappen, was an F1 driver of some distinction. But his mother, Sophie Kumpen, was a kart-racing prodigy who equaled the performance of at least one future F1 world champion and was at one point considered to be an F1 prospect on her own merits. Perhaps as a consequence, Max has extraordinary eyesight.  A study of his in-car video once showed that he blinks at about one-third the rate of a normal human.

Max Verstappen with his mother Sophie Kumpen
Max Verstappen with his mother Sophie Kumpen

“Verstappen was the youngest driver to ever start an F1 race, and the youngest to ever win one. He set the all-time record for passes in a race back in 2016, and was described by former F1 champion Niki Lauda as “the talent of the century.”

“In each season since then, he has measurably improved. Which is what allowed Red Bull’s lead car designer, Adrian Newey, to give him a car that is by many accounts more difficult to drive than anything else on the grid. This is not a decision Newey could have made lightly. But having Max on the team made it possible.

“If you watched the races, however, you saw more. Verstappen thrived in all conditions, from rain to triple-digit heat to the freezing desert in Las Vegas. By the end of the season, his car was obviously weaker in qualifying performance than the Ferrari and McLaren competition, but in the races, Verstappen’s ability to execute 50 or 60 near-perfect laps in a row rendered the speed disadvantage irrelevant.

“Most of his races appeared to be lonely, boring affairs in which he led the field by half a minute or more, yet watching the in-car footage of each lap showed a driver at the absolute limit of possible performance, lap after lap.

“When all was said and done, Verstappen had 575 championship points to the 285 points of second-place Perez, giving Red Bull the constructors’ championship as well. The second-place constructor, Mercedes-AMG, had just 409 points from two world-class drivers.”

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