Experience has taught Lewis Hamilton to finish the 2018 season as strongly as possible in order to try and carry momentum into the next year.
Hamilton’s fifth drivers’ world championship was wrapped up at the Mexican Grand Prix, and on the previous two occasions he’d secured the title early he had failed to win another race in the same season. This year, he duly took victory in Brazil and Abu Dhabi and says he has learned from experience having seen his early title wins in 2015 and 2017 lead to tough starts to the following season.
“Finishing off strong… I had won championships in the past and then the last few races you could say that I had relaxed,” Hamilton said in a Mercedes season review supporting Cancer Research UK. “I still would get decent results but you could easily say that it’s not the me you get to see at the beginning and most of the year.
“Anyways, I finished off strong this year just because I can and I wanted to finish off strong. I think as you get older your perspectives and viewpoints shift and I was like, ‘I want to finish off the way I plan to start my next season.’ So I gave it that last push and won the last two races of the year.”
As part of the review, Hamilton also reflected on an image of swapping helmets with main title rival Sebastian Vettel in Abu Dhabi, something he says was never meant to be public knowledge but shows the level of respect between the two drivers.
“Sebastian had texted me — and we don’t text often — and he said, ‘Would you like to exchange helmets?’ Footballers do it all the time, but helmets are a lot more expensive than football jerseys that get thrown about. These things are quite precious to us and I personally don’t give any of my helmets away.
“I swapped one with Michael (Schumacher); I think there might be one or two other drivers that I happened to exchange helmets with. So I don’t look upon it lightly but this was really quite a privileged moment because I’m standing next to a four-time world champion who has achieved a great amount, who is actually a really great man and an incredible driver, and we’re swapping our helmets.
“It’s the final chapter of your respect for another driver. Particularly when you’re in the heat of battle, when you exchange helmets that’s like the ultimate sign of respect. No matter what we’ve been through in the past and things that we’ve done, Sebastian knows how hard it is to do what we do. He knows it’s not by luck that the results have been the way they have. When he’s won his championships it’s not been by luck, and vice versa.
“So it was a cool moment. This was supposed to be a private moment that was just for us but it ended up being shared on social media, which ultimately is OK, it’s cool for people to see it, but that’s the whole point behind it.
“That’s one of his helmets from the race that I’ll cherish forever and hopefully it’s the same for him.”