Lewis Hamilton says missing out on his eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last year has only motivated him to continue his F1 journey as Mercedes target a return to the top.
The seven-time world champion was controversially denied in his thrilling battle with Max Verstappen on the final lap in Abu Dhabi in 2021 while this year, Mercedes have struggled to match the pace of Red Bull and Ferrari and, with six races to go, face their first winless season since 2011.
But despite 37-year-old Hamilton lying a lowly sixth in the Drivers Championship, the Brit insists he is not thinking about retirement and is instead focused on the work he and his team need to do in order to return to the top of the standings next year.
Asked if missing out in 2021 and this year’s struggles have only encouraged him to stay longer in F1, he told Racer: “Definitely. Because it’s going to take longer than one year.
“I think if we had just won last year and then we would win this year, definitely life would be in a different place and you’d be on a different course. I love that it’s gone through a phase even harder and we’ve got to pull through that thick slog and get to the point where we are a little bit lighter and we’re floating a little bit more. So yeah, I would say that it’s encouraged me to stay longer.
“Plus I’m feeling fit, I’m finding ways of feeling better physically. The mental challenge is a consistent thing and that will always be the case because that’s how it is for us athletes, we’re on the edge. But right now, where I am in life, I’m really grateful for the opportunity I have here. I like to think I still deserve a place here. So there is lots of work to do.”
Hamilton acknowledged that Mercedes’ issues this season – with early-season porpoising and bouncing curtailing any title challenge and pace deficits in qualifying impacting on potential race wins – have been difficult to accept but he insists he is “loving the challenge” of trying to find solutions to the Silver Arrows’ problems.
“It’s definitely tough,” he said. “But I don’t like the word ‘tough’ because I’ve just been in Africa and I’ve seen kids that have nothing, so nothing is ever really that tough. It’s something we say in our minds, right? But that should never be an excuse, it takes work and I wouldn’t really want it any other way.
“To be honest, if every day was easy and you’re just getting through it, it just wouldn’t be a challenge. I love the challenge of working with everybody and challenging the people and them challenging me. All acknowledging this year that we haven’t done a great job, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do a great job in the future. We have done it in the past.
“Does it hurt? I wouldn’t say it hurts. We all know what it could be. We would love to be in that battle fighting, and I wish that all the cars were a lot closer and we were all having a much better battle closer to the front. I wish there was only tenths between us all, you know? But that’s not the way our sport is.”
Hamilton will next be in action at the Singapore Grand Prix next week as he looks to maintain his 15-year record of winning a race in every F1 season he has competed in.