Lewis Hamilton says the challenges he is facing with Mercedes in 2022 are likely to keep him racing in Formula 1 for longer than if he was still winning championships.
The seven-time world champion missed out on last year’s title in controversial circumstances, and his efforts to secure his eighth title this season have been thwarted by an uncompetitive Mercedes. Despite his disappointment, Hamilton says he is relishing the challenge of trying to improve the team’s current situation, even if it means he has had little right of reply to Max Verstappen on the track this year.
“Does it hurt? I wouldn’t say it hurts,” Hamilton told RACER as part of a wide-ranging interview. “We all know what it could be. We would love to be in that battle fighting, and I wish that all the cars were a lot closer and we were all having a much better battle closer to the front. I wish there was only tenths between us all, you know? But that’s not the way our sport is.
“So I don’t worry about that. It’s not something I can control at the moment. I just focus on what I can (do) and that is trying to do a better job with what we have got and steering it. My worry, what is keeping me up at night, is what have I left out? Who do I need to speak to at the track? How can I support Bono (race engineer Pete Bonington)? How can I support Marcus (Dudley, performance engineer) and Shov (trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin)?
“In the aero department, how can I support them to make better choices for the next car? When I damage the car, I take money away from the budget and I’m like, ‘Oh, God! Don’t do that!’ That’s really what I’ve been focusing on, and I’m hoping when we come back in February next year, the car touches the ground and it does what we hope it does.”
Hamilton said the fresh challenge of trying to return the team to winning ways is likely to prolong his F1 career.
“Definitely, because it’s going to take longer than one year,” he said. “I think if we had just won last year and then we would win this year, definitely life would be in a different place and you’d be on a different course.
“I love that it’s gone through a phase even harder and we’ve got to pull through that thick slog and get to the point where we are a little bit lighter and we’re floating a little bit more. So yeah, I would say that it’s encouraged me to stay longer.
“Plus I’m feeling fit — I’m finding ways of feeling better physically. The mental challenge is a consistent thing and that will always be the case, because that’s how it is for us athletes, because we’re on the edge. But right now, where I am in life, I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have here. I like to think I still deserve a place here, and there is lots of work to do.”