Lewis Hamilton hasn’t had his old Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate and longtime rival since childhood, Nico Rosberg, to race this season for the first time since both entered Formula 1 more than a decade ago.
But Hamilton couldn’t resist poking the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion a bit when reflecting on his fourth title achieved on Sunday in Mexico.
“Obviously each year, I could do the easy thing like obviously Nico did which is just stop and retreat with these four titles,” Hamilton said during the post-race press conference.
“But I think there’s more in me, I think there’s more to come, more of a challenge, as there’s harder times ahead and I like that, I love that, that’s challenging.”
Rosberg’s shock retirement after winning the 2016 crown in Abu Dhabi last November turned the Formula 1 world on its head. Rosberg was a clear one-and-done in winning a title, emulating his father Keke and fulfilling his own childhood dream.
But Hamilton, who’s already made an assault on the record books over the course of his 11-year career with a record 72 pole positions and 62 race wins (second to Michael Schumacher’s 91), said he still has quite a bit more he wants to accomplish.
“I think, first and foremost, we all know how exceptional Michael (Schumacher) was and his records have lasted for so long and he will always… there’s one particular record which is going to be very hard for anyone to catch,” Hamilton said.
“Each year I don’t set a goal to make records. I have a goal of somehow… improving certain areas where you feel you could be better. I love racing, I love the… I’m different. I love my different qualities, compared to the others. That doesn’t mean they’re better or worse, I’m grateful for the qualities and the abilities I have in the car. It is very very crazy to think that I’ve matched certain records from people; weekend in, weekend out, someone tells me of a new record that I’ve crept up on, but there potentially many many more years to go.”
Hamilton’s life outside racing is just as notable for all the things he’s done and headlines he’s made, taking F1 to an arena far beyond the racetrack. His social media presence crafted over the last few years has generated as much attention as his on-track prowess. Those elements are as much a part of his legacy as what he’s done on track.
Still, although he’s won four titles, Hamilton still desires to go out on top – as Rosberg did last year – but with even more titles at his disposal. Schumacher holds the title record with seven World Championships, but Hamilton can equal second-placed Juan Manuel Fangio with five if he was to win the title again in 2018.
“Doing something different that helps you stand out, that really highlights your individuality I think is really important and that’s really something I’m working on, so I’ll continue to race while I love it.
“As I’ve said, I’ve enjoyed it this year more than ever. I do think about Jeez, it would be so nice at some stage just to live in one place, a lot more socializing, walking your dogs every day or surfing, whatever it is, but staying in one place for a period of time.
“But then I’m thinking there’s a lot of life to live beyond 40, there’s a lot to go and so the balance is: I can’t come back to Formula One, so there’s going to be a point in which OK, I’ve had enough.
“I’ve already been blessed and had such a wonderful time here in these ten years. Hopefully I have my place here and I’m going to continue to – whilst I’m at my best – continue to try and… and I want to go out on top so that’s my goal.”