Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says that 2018 has been the toughest year of his career so far, after beating Sebastian Vettel to the title in Mexico.
Hamilton wrapped up his fifth world championship last weekend, despite finishing off the podium after a problematic race. With Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel coming home P2, Hamilton’s points lead became insurmountable and he was Champion with two races remaining.
Now that the reality of his new success has set in, Hamilton says that 2018 has been his toughest season in racing so far, even tougher than the hard fought title battles of 2008 & 2014/2015 which went to the final round.
“People watching only ever see the tip of the iceberg.” said Hamilton. “When you see someone successful on TV, it’s obviously without a full description what they have done to get to where they are. You just see the success that they are having now. To perform this way this year – trust me – it has been the hardest season for me. To keep raising the bar and racing against a four-time World Champion [Vettel] in a really incredible team who were so fast this year – most of the time faster than us – and to have pulled together as a team and turned it around has been a real collective effort from everyone. So I am really proud of everyone.”
While Hamilton’s title quest was greatly aided by numerous errors from Vettel & Ferrari, Mercedes did endure some difficult races where they were clearly bested by the Scuderia. Hamilton said that, even on those lower days, he never had any doubt that he could bring home the title again: “Honestly, I never stopped believing – that’s just how I am wired. I truly believed from the beginning of the year, even when we had difficult races such as Shanghai or Montreal. I never for a moment doubted or lost belief in this team, in my guys or in myself.”
His fifth title brings him equal to the late Juan Manuel Fangio, the man who was one of the dominant figures in Formula 1 during the 1950s, especially with Mercedes. Now that he has drawn level with one of the talismanic figures of the sport, Hamilton says it hasn’t quite sunk in yet: “I think it is going to take some time to really digest everything that has happened. I am just really proud. After the race, I was with the engineers, and we all had a drink together. It was so great to see them all. Everyone is so united, everyone has worked so hard this year, and everyone has raised their game. I just want to be the best me I can for them.”
“I have been in this team for six years now. From day one, the day that I decided to join this team, I truly believed that something great was possible. Look what we have achieved together. Now we need to complete the job this year by winning the constructors’ championship.”