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Lewis Hamilton: Continuing to make history

CHAMP: Lewis Hamilton celebrates his fth championship win

WITH HIS fifth title in the bag, Lewis Hamilton said this year's pursuit of the Formula One championship was the hardest he’d ever faced. Hamilton has topped the podium nine times this season.

His fifth championship win – fourth in five years – with two races to spare, puts him equal with the great Juan Manuel Fangio and two behind Michael Schumacher.

“It’s definitely the best year,” said Hamilton following his fourth place nish in Mexico, which ended a run of 10 successive podium finishes. Talking about how he approached the season, having won the championship last year, he added: “Ultimately it was the goal.

“When I won the championship last year, I was like, ‘How am I going to improve? How can I be fitter? How can I be more focused? How can I manage my time better and how can I just be a better all-round driver, not just in the car, but also in my team, in the garage, with my engineers, back in the factory?’ Just in all areas.

“This year I have been able to lift them all up. I don’t know if that’s something that comes with age. But I’m sure the experience helps. I honestly feel like I’ve performed my best this year. So I’m very happy with how it’s gone.”

Much of the pre-season hype had been about the impend- ing battle between Ferrari and Mercedes and the fact that the Italian car was being driven by Sebastian Vettel, himself a four-time F1 championship winner. Who would prevail?

Hamilton has demonstrated that this season hasn’t always been about who is in the best car, as race smarts have been a huge factor. Saluting his sporting adversary, German Vettel said: “Yeah, obviously not an easy day, but well deserved.

“Congrats [sic] to him [Lew- is] and his team, they did a superb job all year,
so I think we need to stand there, accept that and say congratulations. Obviously I would loved to hang in there in a little bit longer, but it wasn’t the case.”

This victory in Mexico was a long way from Hamilton's debut season in Formula One back in 2007, when the former McLaren driver missed out on winning the title by just one point to to Kimi Raikkonen. Struggling to take it all in, he said: “It’s been such a dif cult year and such a great battle but a lot of work.

BALANCE

“It was a lot of work and to try and raise the bar this year has been such a huge challenge and naturally, you know, I’ve trained myself this year. I prepare myself mentally, don’t believe in mind coaches and all those kind of things and so, I really work hard to make sure I’ve got the right energy, the right balance in my life and this year, working on all these different aspects to enable myself to perform better.

“I think I had a great year last year and I was thinking to myself how can I raise the bar, how can I squeeze some more out of myself? And honestly, you never know what the formula is and there is no secret formula.

“But somehow I managed to nd that balance and that ow and I’ve had some of my best races of my career and I think that’s ultimately why I’m sit- ting here.”

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