Lewis Hamilton says he was thinking of all the people who helped him into Formula 1 as he finished his 300th race in the sport in second place at the French Grand Prix.
Hamilton joined Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button in starting 300 races at Paul Ricard on Sunday, and marked it with his best result of the season. Finishing second to Max Verstappen and comfortably ahead of team-mate George Russell in third, Hamilton says it was a special podium for him as he reflected on his time in the sport so far.
“I think, collectively as a team, whilst we didn’t have the pace of the lead cars, this is an incredible result for us,” Hamilton said. “For George and I to be here — George did a great job today as well — this is progress. Even if we’re not really closing the gap as such in actual qualifying performance, but this is great points for us.
“And this is my 300th grand prix. Obviously it was mentioned at the beginning of the weekend and I didn’t really think much of it, and this morning I woke up just feeling incredibly grateful just thinking about all the people who have been with me along the way.
“For Ron [Dennis] and Mercedes giving me the chance when I was young. Martin Whitmarsh, Mansour Ojjeh, Toto [Wolff], Niki [Lauda], Ola [Kallenius)] Britta [Seeger]…Dieter [Zetsche] — just all these incredible people that have supported me since I was 13 — to then have this incredible journey with them, every race powered by Mercedes. [I’m] so very proud to be up here representing them alongside George.
“We just gotta keep pushing. Every weekend we’re hoping that we’re going to get a little bit closer. This weekend we somehow weren’t as close as we hoped but he was only ten seconds up the road so that’s a positive.”
With Russell also getting the better of Sergio Perez in a straight fight in France, Hamilton says it’s a result that gives him confidence ahead of the summer break even if he acknowledges there is still a big deficit to the top two teams.
“At the beginning, keeping them behind was definitely tough given that their straight-line speed was impressive, so having to try and keep them out of the DRS zone was really the trick, and then just tire usage was probably the key today. I definitely don’t think George and I expected to be second and third. It’s the highest I’ve been all year, so this is a huge day for me overall and looking forward to taking this positive energy on to Budapest.”