Lewis Hamilton says the way Sebastian Vettel has bounced back from difficult situations in 2018 is “the true showing of a champion” after beating the Ferrari driver to the drivers’ championship.
Vettel has had a number of difficult races this season, including hitting Valtteri Bottas at the start of the French Grand Prix and crashing out from the lead in Germany. On each of those occasions, Vettel finished on the podium at the next race and then won the following round after that, recoveries which Hamilton thought impressive given their high-pressure situations.
“He is a deserving four-times World Champion and this year, the pressure he would be under in Ferrari who’ve not won a championship for many, many years — it’s a lot to ride on one’s shoulders,” Hamilton said. “I think this year, even though he’s had some difficult times, he’s still bounced back, like [in Mexico], and that’s the true showing of a champion.
“I’ve been very fortunate to race against a lot of drivers and it’s all small percentages that separate us all. And that’s the great thing about this sport.”
And Hamilton cites his own recovery in the British Grand Prix earlier this season — where he got a poor start from pole position and then dropped to the back after contact with Kimi Raikkonen — as a crucial moment in his title success.
“Coming back from last to second, in my mind was like OK, I think that might have been quite a confidence boost, but then of course we went on to some great races after that. Budapest, going into the break, it’s great going into the break with a win, particularly when we knew that we weren’t quickest at that point of the season. And we knew that that was more a confidence blow to the other team.
“And then Hockenheim, Monza… I think we just went from strength to strength after that and we just kept taking a step up.
“I think undenyingly, we’ve been very very close on performance through the year and I think it’s still arguable whether or not we’ve had the perfect package but I think, as a team, we’ve operated better than any other.”