Lewis Hamilton rates the 2018 drivers’ championship as Mercedes’ toughest battle and believes he had to pull out “some special laps” this year to beat Sebastian Vettel.
Fourth place in the Mexican Grand Prix was enough for Hamilton to secure his fifth drivers’ title, equaling Juan Manuel Fangio in second place in the all-time list. The triumph comes in a season where Ferrari has often had a car that has been a match or quicker than the Mercedes, and Hamilton says his own performances have had to be at a higher level to deliver the championship.
“Through the year there were a lot of testing times for us,” Hamilton said. “Even on weekends where we didn’t have the package and we were on the back foot but then came away with that belief within the team, still, that we could come away with something good, we’d come away with wins, even though we weren’t the quickest.
“It took some special laps, it took some special moments in the car and I honestly could just re-live those moments all the time. Some of those experiences I had in the car were really magical. I truly believed that we could win this championship but it has been the toughest battle that we’ve had collectively as a team.
“So much work has gone on in the background. These guys in the garage have just been flawless every single weekend, with our pit stops, with our decision-making in the background, strategy and setup. That’s been key.
“Ultimately, for me, I feel like I can drive anything and I feel I can take the car to places that nobody else can. But to do that, you have to get the car in the right place and so that means ultimately you’ve got to work with the team, to help unleash what’s great within them so that you can unleash the greatness in yourself.”
Hamilton also revealed the title-winning weekend had been even more challenging after he lost his paternal grandfather the day before track action got underway.
“This has actually been a really difficult weekend, because my grandfather died on Thursday morning. Naturally, when someone passes away, it brings the whole family together, but he was the godfather of the family and so, my dad and me were already quite close, but it naturally brought us a little bit closer.
“I will always remember and I never will forget the things that he did in order for me to be here today and for our family to thrive. I really do aspire to be like him, as a strong, black man and as a father and as a human being for doing what he did in the difficult times, the little that he had. I think that’s testament to where we are.
“I think all that work that he put in, my grandfather would be so proud and grateful that the Hamilton name is there and established and will now go down in history, which is kind of crazy to think.”