F1: Hamilton ‘conflicted,’ humbled after matching Fangio
Lewis Hamilton admits matching Juan Manuel Fangio with his fifth drivers’ championship has yet to sink in as he is “conflicted” after a difficult Mexican Grand Prix.
Needing only a top-seven finish to secure the title — or for Sebastian Vettel to fail to win — Hamilton made the perfect start to run second to Max Verstappen in the first part of the race. However, Mercedes struggled with tire wear and the Briton faded to fourth place, still enough to win the championship as Verstappen beat Vettel to the race victory.
“It just doesn’t feel real at the moment,” Hamilton said. “It really doesn’t feel real. It feels like a normal day! It feels like a normal day when you’ve had a bad race. So I think it’s going to take a while to kick in, but honestly I just feel very humbled right now.
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“It’s a very humbling experience. Of course I dreamt of it and I worked towards it but did I know I was going to get number five? Of course not. And even today, all these things that were going up against us. It was nerve-wracking. It was quite an emotional race.
“It started off great and then I just couldn’t hold onto it and was falling further and further back. But anyway, I held on, I kept pushing and I nurtured the car as much as I could to get home, which I’m grateful for.
“I don’t know [when it will sink in], I guess I’m so conflicted because in my heart I want to win the race. I approached it like any other race, I didn’t approach it like the championship-winning race. Naturally I’ll get past the difficult day that we’ve had, but then hopefully get to realize what it is that I’ve been able to achieve.
“Ultimately this has been a year of really raising the bar and it’s such a blessing. The team have worked so hard, which I’m so grateful for. Mercedes have supported me since day one in 1997, so I feel very proud to be up there with The Godfather (Juan Manuel Fangio), which doesn’t even sound right, doesn’t even sound real at the moment! But I’m sure it will kick in.”
And the 33-year-old admits his emotions mean there are unlikely to be any celebrations on Sunday night, as he remains focused on wanting to hit back with victory in Brazil.
“It’s really weird because I don’t really feel like celebrating. I’m excited to wake up early in the morning and see my dogs, it’s weird! I quit drinking awhile ago so I don’t know! I’m looking forward to getting up and seeing the sunrise and just being grateful for another day.
“It’s a weird one, there will be a point this year when we can celebrate, but I don’t even feel like today’s the one. I’ve still got races I want to win and I’ve still got things I want to achieve this year so it’s on to the next one basically.”
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ABOUT CHRIS MEDLAND
While studying Sports Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, Chris managed to talk his way into working at the British Grand Prix in 2008 and was retained for three years before joining ESPN F1 as Assistant Editor. After three years at ESPN, a spell as F1 Editor at Crash Media Group was followed by the major task of launching F1i.com’s English-language website and running it as Editor. Present at every race since the start of 2014, he has continued building his freelance portfolio, working with international titles. As well as writing for RACER, he contributes to BBC 5Live and Sky Sports in the UK as well as working with titles in Japan and the Middle East.