Lewis Hamilton insists 2018 has been the hardest season of his Formula 1 career, despite securing his fifth drivers’ championship with two rounds to spare.
Fourth place in Mexico on Sunday was enough for Hamilton to take the title, with Sebastian Vettel finishing second as the German’s challenge finally ended. Although he wrapped up the championship at the same point as last season, Hamilton said the battle with Ferrari has made this year his toughest.
“People watching only ever see the tip of the iceberg,” Hamilton said. “When you see someone successful on TV, it’s obviously without a full description of what they have done to get to where they are. You just see the success that they are having now.
“To perform this way this year, trust me, it has been the hardest season for me. To keep raising the bar and racing against a four-time world champion in a really incredible team who were so fast this year – most of the time faster than us – and to have pulled together as a team and turned it around has been a real collective effort from everyone. So I am really proud of everyone.
“Honestly, I never stopped believing that’s just how I am wired. I truly believed from the beginning of the year, even when we had difficult races such as Shanghai or Montreal. I never for a moment doubted or lost belief in this team, in my guys or in myself.”
Hamilton says there have been no wild celebrations of his latest championship, despite moving level with Juan Manuel Fangio at five titles.
“I got back to Los Angeles, where my dogs were,” he said. “I worked nonstop and had meetings all day on Monday. But I had dinner with a bunch of friends to celebrate. In general, I just feel content. I don’t need anything. I just want to enjoy and harness the feeling and try to realize what it is that I have done. Because to me, it was just another day of racing which I am really grateful for.
“When you think of Fangio, who is for me the godfather of racing drivers, he had five world championships, and now I have five as well. But it doesn’t connect at the moment. It doesn’t feel real, but I am humbled and grateful to all the people around me, because there have been a lot of them along the journey.”