In the moments following the masterclass that assured him of his seventh world championship, the world caught a rare glimpse of the real Lewis Hamilton.
As if his emotional outburst over the radio wasn’t enough, those moments in the pitlane when he sat silently in his car, reflecting on what he had just achieved whilst attempting to compose himself said it all.
“Very rarely do I lose control of my emotions, but when I came across the line, I think it really hit me and I just burst into tears,” he subsequently admitted. “that whole in-lap, and then I really couldn’t get out of the car, because I just couldn’t believe it.
“I didn’t want the visor to come up and for people to see tears flowing and all that stuff,” he continued, “because I kind of had always said I’d never let you see me cry, because I remember watching other drivers in the past crying and I was like, ‘I’m not going to do that’. But it was too much.”
Two weeks earlier, the Briton had hinted that this might be it, cryptically suggesting that there was no guarantee he would be on the grid next season.
However, as he wiped the Champagne from his face and glitter from his hair, the Briton made clear that he is far from finished.
“I feel like I’m only just getting started,” he said. “It is really weird. I feel physically in great shape and mentally.
“I would love to stay,” he continued. “I feel like we’ve got a lot of work to do here. You know that we’ve only just begun. I want to push to hold ourselves accountable as a sport, to realise that we’ve got to face and not ignore the human rights issues that are around the countries that we go to. It’s how can we engage with those countries and help them, and empower them to do more to really change, not ten years from now, nor twenty years from now, but now. I want to help F1. I want to help Mercedes, in that journey.
“Also particularly making it more sustainable, you know, as a sport,” he added. “The whole thing of when we need to be more sustainable. I want to try and see if I can be part of that, at least the initial phase of that, for a little bit longer.”
The Briton subsequently took to social media to expand on his thoughts.
“Leading up to today and even after I crossed the line, I’ve been gathering my thoughts about what’s most important to me,” he wrote on Instagram.
“This year has been so unpredictable,” he continued. “With the pandemic and obviously the season being pushed back by several months, I had the most downtime I’ve ever had in my life. It gave me the chance to really think about my ultimate purpose.
“Seven World Championships means the world to me, I can’t even describe how much, but there’s still another race we’ve yet to win.
“This year I’ve been driven not just by my desire to win on the track, but a desire to help push our sport, and our world to become more diverse and inclusive. I promise you I am not going to stop fighting for change. We have a long way to go, but I will continue to push for equality within our sport, and within the greater world we live in.
“Equalling Michael Schumacher’s record puts a spotlight on me that I know won’t be here forever. So, while you’re here, paying attention, I want to ask everyone to do their part in helping to create a more equal world. Let’s be more accepting and kinder to each other. Let’s make it so that opportunity is not something that is dependent on background or skin colour.
“Nothing is impossible. A driving force for me this year has been to set an example for the next generation, to never give up on your dreams. I was told by many that my dream was impossible, yet here I am. I want you to know that you can do it too. Never give up, keep fighting, and let’s keep rising to the occasion.”
Check out our Sunday gallery from Istanbul, here.