Lewis Hamilton believes winning an eighth Formula One title this season would be his greatest championship victory. The world champion has been locked in a season-long struggle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and going into the final two decisive rounds, beginning this weekend in Saudi Arabia, Hamilton insists he has left nothing on the table in his attempt to win. He is calm and ready to race in the know ledge he has given his all.
With seven titles already under his belt and the prospect of surpassing Michael Schumacher’s record with an eighth, the 36-year-old acknowledged he is in the battle of his career with Verstappen. Hamilton agreed that should he win it, having at one stage been 32 points behind the Dutchman, this would be the best title he has secured during a remarkable 15 years in F1.
“If I get the job done, I think it will, yes,” he said. “But also, no one has ever been able to fight for an eighth, aside from Michael. It is a new position, uncharted territory.”
Verstappen leads the championship by only eight points after a gripping season across 20 races. Two remain, with 52 points on the table. Verstappen can take the title in Saudi Arabia if he wins and takes the fastest lap and Hamilton finishes sixth or lower, if he wins and Hamilton finishes seventh or lower, or if he outscores Hamilton by 18 points.
Yet unless Hamilton endures a DNF the competition will go almost certainly to the wire at the finale in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton was considering these climactic races as he prepared to go to Saudi Arabia. Having returned to the UK to work with the team, and staying in a London hotel, he was relaxed, upbeat, animated and in fine humour. Hamilton is always personable but there was no trace of tension or apprehension at the task ahead. His experience, which may well yet be telling, is surely playing a huge part in how calmly he is approaching these pivotal moments.
He has competed in nail-biting run-ins before, in 2007, then to take his first title in 2008 and against his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016. He also had to see off strong title challenges from Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in 2017 and 2018. This year with a car that has been marginally outpaced by the Red Bull he is content that, in a season where the lead has changed hands five times, he could not have done more.
“This is the best I have been able to give in a year, the training, the time balance that I have,” he said. “I made every sacrifice I could this year. I don’t think I have left anything undone, so at this point of the year there are no regrets. “I am proud of everything we have done. There were times when we were 32 points behind. I know how hard it is to catch them up and at the time it feels impossible, but somehow we recovered.”
Ever the complete competitor, Hamilton confirmed he was still charging as hard as he could to make the difference. Never a fan of working on the simulator, he explained he had spent seven hours in one day last week on the Mercedes simulator at their Brackley HQ and a further four on Monday as he prepared to head to the Jeddah circuit in Saudi Arabia, which is hosting its first race.