Hamilton brings up Rosberg's early retirement during F1 title talk
Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth Formula 1 title after finishing ninth in the Mexico Grand Prix, a lap down on race winner Red Bull's Max Verstappen. The British driver headed into the weekend with a firm chance on winning the championship, after Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel's average run since the summer break.
This was the first time that Hamilton has beaten Vettel in a straight fight. In the previous three occasions, Hamilton won it against Felipe Massa (2008) and former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg (2014 & 2015) - though Robserg fought back to win against Hamilton last year.
The rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg shot up to extreme level in 2016, with the German looking like a different person - it went to a point that the two couldn't see each other, apart from a cordial teammate relation, which was indicated by Niki Lauda as well.
Having sealed off his first title win in an exhausting battle, Rosberg shocked the world announcing his retirement, citing family as one of his reasons, adding that he has achieved what he wanted to - much like how 1976 champion James Hunt talked upon.
Hamilton has remained quite on Rosberg's exit, however, after winning his fourth title and upon asked if the fifth run is on his mind - the British driver stressed on taking one thing at a time, although also making it more or less certain that he will extend his contract with Mercedes to stop the other drivers from taking away his records.
"Each year I don’t set a goal to make records," said Hamilton. "I have a goal of somehow....improving certain areas where you feel you could be better. I love racing, 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. I do look at my life… I travel so much, there’s so much that I do, it’s a lot sacrifices.
"People talk about Michael’s single-mindedness about his job but to stand out in the world today, it’s a lot harder, I think, to stand out today in this world, because it’s all been done before, so to do something different as a Formula 1 driver, not only be the greatest you can be as a racing driver but also do other things, prepare your afterlife to be just as great, not as good because Formula 1 is just the pinnacle of the sport.
"You arrive on the biggest wave and afterwards there are going to be much smaller waves but that doesn’t mean you still can’t do great things. So 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 socialising, 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 forty, there’s a lot to go and so the balance is: I can’t come back to Formula 1, 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 I want to go out on top so that’s my goal. Obviously each year, I could do the easy thing like obviously Nico [Robserg] did which is just stop and retreat with these four titles, 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."
When asked if this year's title was the most challenging from the previous three, Hamilton said every championship win had its own accords, but fighting against a different team's driver - in this case the Ferrari of Vettel - gives a different kind of motivation, where one has to not only beat his teammate, but also rivals from other teams.
"I think every one has been difficult, different in its own way. Of course, if you look back to 2015, consistency was good and obviously it came in a different way. Still, I think individually, it felt challenging on a personal level – but I think this year is a championship of which I’ve been hoping for, a little bit like 2008, where you’re fighting another team, fighting this historic team, which Michael raced for and won championships in.
"Ferrari is… the red car… red’s my favourite colour so it’s such a beautiful car to see on the track – but to fight it with a silver sword is, y’know, it’s like the master sword, you want to say. I’m really proud of that and to be able to battle someone else who is a four time world champion, a proven world champion, who’s got great skill and a team also that knows how to win championships, to extract the most from my guys, to compete with that.
"That’s how every championship needs to be, and I hope there’s more championships like this one where we have this tough battle. I think every single year there’s going to be things that are… reliability is always a challenge, which has been exceptional, thanks to the team but fighting the other teams is what we want to see. I think what Formula 1 wants to see. I remember growing up watching Formula 1 and that’s what I wanted to see. So I’m sorry if the last couple of years weren’t the greatest for you, but I hope this year was more exciting."
Meanwhile, in a fine gesture, Rosberg immediately took to the social media to congratulate his former teammate for his fourth title win and also Mercedes, who had clinched its fourth constructors' win in the US Grand Prix.