Hamilton tells of 'Stevo', the Mercedes staffer on the Eifel GP podium
Lewis Hamilton reflects on the 91 F1 wins, talking about the good times, the bad ones, and one man who has stuck with him throughout.
Along the way to his 91 race victories in F1, Hamilton has competed for two different teams, across four major regulatory eras; suffice it to say, a lot has changed since the Briton secured his first world championship on that fateful November day in 2008.
One thing, however, has remained consistent; there remains one thing in his racing career untouched by the momentous fingers of time. That has been his race team coordinator, Stephen Lord, whom he frequently refers to as 'Stevo'.
When Hamilton moved from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013, Stevo was in tow. For each of the 91 wins enjoyed by Hamilton, he was there. In fact, Lord accompanied the Briton on the podium of his record-equaling win in Eifel GP.
Others have surrounded the six-time world champion on his journey to the top of the F1 record books, and it is these people that Hamilton expressed gratitude for after becoming the joint-winningest driver in history alongside Michael Schumacher.
"I’m just thinking about all the people that have helped me get to this place," Hamilton began. "If you see on the podium with me, Stevo [Stephen Lord – Race Team Coordinator] had been with me every single race in F1. He moved with me from McLaren to Mercedes and he’s been with me through every single one of those 91 wins, which is… the journey that you go on with so many people is what really matters and what really counts.
"Of course the number is great but I think what we collectively have done, I’m just unbelievably grateful to Mercedes for giving a young black boy a chance when I was 13 years old and supporting me all the way," Hamilton added.
When pressed on some particularly difficult moments on the taxing road to 91 victories, Hamilton responded that leaving McLaren was one point at which things became particularly difficult, or uncomfortable. "I think it’s pretty impossible to say what is the hardest moment because like all of us, all of us as individuals, we all go through multiple difficult moments, particularly when it comes to making big decisions," he said.
"I think that whilst it looks great now, when choosing to move to Mercedes, everyone spoke so negatively about the decision to move and I don’t know how, but not for a moment did I ever think… I knew that it was the right decision for me and I wanted to be a part of that journey. I’ve grown with a team that’s hungry for success but I would say that’s one of the most difficult moments, because I’d been a very loyal person, I think.
"I was with McLaren-Mercedes since I was 13 so to decide to leave a team that’s given me a place in the sport was very, very difficult for me and to call your boss and tell him that you’re leaving, it was damaging and just emotionally difficult. But then I’m still with Mercedes, every win and every race that I’ve done has been powered by Mercedes and for that I’m incredibly grateful," stated Hamilton.
On the matter of particularly memorable races, Hamilton didn't specify any one. Rather, the Brit spoke in detail on the emotion a win brings him. "I always try to relate it to everyone because I think we can all understand what it’s like when you’re a kid dreaming to be there and my Dad and my Mum and my step-Mum sacrificed so much to get me to F1 so to be on top of the podium, I felt like I’d finally reached the top of the mountain.
"With all the different slides and things and adversity we faced, I just will never forget that moment, looking down at my Dad and to get finally… I’ve made him proud, perhaps today, so I will always remember that moment, and also it solidifies the amazing support and belief that McLaren and Ron and Mercedes had in me from the get-go," summed up Hamilton.
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida and edited by Darshan Chokhani]