Lewis Hamilton admits his peformances dropped off after he secured this year’s championship, but still thinks he performed at a higher level than in 2015.
Of his four drivers’ championships, two have been won at the final race and two were secured prior to the end of the season. On the latter occasions, Hamilton failed to win another race after wrapping up the title, with Nico Rosberg winning three in a row to end 2015 – a run he extended into the start of his own title-winning year – and Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas taking victory in the final two races of this season.
“I think in previous years it probably dropped more than this year,” Hamilton said of his performance level after finishing second in Abu Dhabi to end 2017. “I think this year I’ve tried my hardest to stay more on it but I was doing other things; celebrating a lot so… I think I still drove relatively well, but I wouldn’t say it was a hundred percent like it was whilst in the season.
“What can I say? When you’ve won [and] you win, it doesn’t matter with two races to go at the end. You’ve got to enjoy it, so I do, and try and still turn up and do the job. It’s just not so easy.”
Despite Hamilton’s comments, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff thinks such an opinion underplays the performance of Bottas in Abu Dhabi, where the Finn took pole position and won the race while also securing fastest lap.
Asked whether he believed Hamilton’s performance dropped away, he said:
“No I don’t think so. He’s somebody that is very intelligent in progressing and learning. I don’t think 2015 has happened [this year]. He had an incident in qualifying [in Brazil] that happened after he’s won the championship. Where did that come from? I don’t know but these guys are pushing the cars to the limit.
“He didn’t make a mistake, he didn’t put a foot wrong all season and it happened in Interlagos, after having won the championship not before.
“[In Abu Dhabi], he looked very good until qualifying and then Valtteri just put it all together, and I think you just have to acknowledge it was Valtteri’s weekend.”