Lewis Hamilton was overwhelmed at achieving his sixth drivers’ championship and paid tribute to the late Niki Lauda after securing the title at the United States Grand Prix.
A runner-up finish at Circuit of The Americas was enough for Hamilton to move clear of Juan Manuel Fangio in the all-time champions list, and one behind Michael Schumacher’s record of seven. The title comes six months after Mercedes non-executive chairman and three-time world champion Lauda passed away, and Hamilton admitted to being overcome with emotion.
“It’s just overwhelming if I’m really honest,” Hamilton said. “It was such a tough race today. Yesterday was a really difficult day for us and Valtteri (Bottas) did a fantastic job so a huge congratulations to him. Today I really just wanted to recover and deliver the one-two for the team and I didn’t think the one stop would be possible but I worked as hard as I could. I feel so much emotion, it’s an honor to be up there with those greats.
“Right now, it’s hard to understand what I’m feeling right now. Naturally it’s just pure happiness. I feel more humble than ever. I saw my parents as I came in and just looking at my dad’s smile just says it all. He’s supported my from day one, as did Linda (stepmother), as did my mum and they worked so hard for me to be here today.
“So I really wanted them to come out together. I think this is the first race I can remember for a long, long time of us being here together and all being united as a family. Cloud nine doesn’t even get close to where I am. I’m somewhere far above that and I’m just really grateful to everyone back at the factory, everyone who has supported me this year within the team, who have worked so hard to enable us to do what we do. It’s such a privilege and an honor to work for this team and to have the platform to put performances in like that today.
“I miss Niki so much and I know today that he would be taking his cap off. Yesterday he would have been saying he’s paying me too much, but today he would have taken his cap off and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Niki. He’s here with us in spirit.”
Additionally, Hamilton admitted he has struggled personally away from Formula 1 this season, thanking his support team for helping him through the year.
“This has been the hardest year that I can remember,” Hamilton said. “It’s really hard for people to appreciate that because people are not with me all of the time and don’t see the ups and downs that go on in an athletes mind. It’s been so challenging.
“I would say probably more so the ups and downs outside of the sport have been even more challenging. Navigating and working with the family and just creating a great squad and I would say definitely my Team LH, who have traveled throughout the year and supported me from home, they will never fully appreciate just how far those messages go.
“I really do try if I can find the willpower to put out some sort of message because we all struggle with something, so we can all relate to each other somehow. So If I can have a positive impact on at least just one person then that would be a huge delight for me.”