Lewis Hamilton admits eighth F1 title would be ‘mind-blowing’ and ‘mean everything’

Mercedes might have won the past eight constructors’ championships but their rivals are in good shape

Philip Duncan
Tuesday 15 March 2022 06:00
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Lewis Hamilton will be bidding to win an eighth world championship (Mercedes-AMG/PA)
Lewis Hamilton will be bidding to win an eighth world championship (Mercedes-AMG/PA)

Lewis Hamilton says winning a record eighth world championship would be “mind-blowing” – and he is ready to fight in order to make that happen.

Ninety-eight days after one of the most contentious races in Formula One history, Hamilton will again lock horns with Max Verstappen at Sunday’s opening round in Bahrain.

Hamilton, 37, toyed with retirement after Verstappen took advantage of a late safety car – and a hotly contested referee’s call by the now sacked Michael Masi – to beat his British rival to the title at the Yas Marina circuit on December 12.

But as he prepares to enter his 16th campaign on the grid, Hamilton sounds like a man motivated, not only to surpass Michael Schumacher and stand alone as the most decorated driver in F1 folklore, but to seek revenge for last year’s debacle in the desert.

“It would mean everything to win an eighth title,” said Hamilton. “It is impossible to know what the future holds and what it would feel like, but doing something that no one else has done would be mind-blowing.

Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to win the 2021 championship (PA Wire)

“Abu Dhabi was a difficult period of time. I had to unplug. I really needed the time to recentre, refocus.

“My whole life has been about winning and I have been racing for 29 years. But I have realised that winning is not everything, and sometimes when you lose, you actually win and grow.

“We shouldn’t be afraid of failure because you always meet failure on the way to success, and no matter how many times you stumble it is not about how you fall, but how you get up.

“I have come back to fight for that eighth title. That is what I am here for.”

The final race of last season attracted a global television audience of 108.7million, just four million fewer than the number who watched this year’s Super Bowl.

And Hamilton’s scintillating rivalry with Verstappen has breathed fresh life, not only into the sport, but seemingly the grid’s main attraction, too.

Mercedes driver Hamilton in action during pre-season testing (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The Mercedes driver added: “Today, I feel the healthiest, the fittest I have ever been and the most focused, too. My work ethic is better than ever.

“I still love what I do. I didn’t think at this age I would still feel so sharp, so energised. I am still getting up for my morning runs, still putting those workouts in and still putting the time in – more than the other youngsters do.

“And I have had that success so I am grateful I have still got that hunger. I know exactly what I want and I know how to get there.”

However, Hamilton’s mission could yet be derailed by the machine with which he will do battle.

Verstappen will enter the new season as the defending champion (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Mercedes might have won the past eight constructors’ championships – a record-breaking run in F1 – but the Silver Arrows have been unsettled by the sport’s greatest revamp of its technical rules in a generation.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team appear in good shape, while Ferrari, the grandest team on the grid, look well positioned to end a drivers’ championship drought which stretches back 15 years.

But testing is one thing and the real thing, another. And Hamilton will only discover if it is Mission Possible or Mission Improbable when the fireworks light up the Manama sky to greet the winner of this season’s first chapter on Sunday night.

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