Hamilton’s 2016 title defeat “annoyed” him, didn’t change him· RaceFans

by Nov 13, 20200 comments


Lewis Hamilton’s relentless pursuit of self-improvement is what sets him apart from other drivers, his Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has said.

This weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix could see Hamilton equal the all-time record for most world championships won by a Formula 1 driver. He is poised to match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles.

It would be Hamilton’s sixth championship from the last seven years. He narrowly missed out on winning the 2016 crown when team mate Nico Rosberg beat him by five points, and then retired.

Wolff doesn’t believe that defeat made a significant difference to Hamilton’s approach to racing. “I don’t think that played any role,” he said.

“I think that annoyed him back at the time and he just moved on. I don’t think there was a particular thing to learn in that year. Nico was strong, Lewis had some DNFs leading races and at the end, it is what it is.”

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Hamilton’s great strength comes from his constant self-examination and pursuit of improvement, said Wolff.

Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Imola, 2020
Hamilton ‘constantly seeks perfection’, says Wolff

“What I see or what I realised over the last years is his permanent self-analysis, how to get better, he’s become really good in identifying points of weaknesses and then tackling them. And he has progressed over the years as a racing driver in the car and as a personality outside of the car.

“That is something that you see very rarely with people that are critical enough whilst not beating themselves up in order to progress. Many others in Formula 1, or outside of Formula 1, you’re pretty stubborn, you’re not really good at identifying your own shortcomings and therefore you stagnate in your development. And it’s a thinking pattern that with him simply doesn’t exist is that is the constant seek for perfection.”

However Wolff is reluctant to draw comparisons between Hamilton and other highly successful sportspeople inside and outside of motor racing.

“In any sport and also in motor racing, there were people that stood out. In motor racing, it was Fangio, it was Senna, Michael of course, Sebastian [Vettel] in the 2010s and now Lewis. And I don’t think you can compare them really, because every time had different competitors and needed different skill sets.

“But certainly amongst them, his sheer record stands out and he’s on a par with Michael today who for me, personally, was the greatest driver in Formula 1. Lewis is still in his career and he can maybe achieve more in terms of the sheer record.

“In other sports this the same case, there is some very outstanding people that have really stood out. Roger for me is not only an amazing tennis player but he’s also a great personality. And within that generation you will have Roger and you will have Nadal and maybe that’s pretty much it, I think.

“You will have the same in golf and in soccer and in American football. You have these outstanding guys that have just natural ability, social intelligence and hard working skills.”

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