Double F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen was impressed with Lewis Hamilton and how he kept his motivation to claim a fourth world championship title in 2017, pointing out that it is not always easy to stay focused and determined as was the case for the Finn when he was targeting a third title in the aftermath of his back-to-back triumphs almost two decades ago.
Hakkinen wrote in his Unibet column, “Lewis’ achievement in winning four World Championship titles is impressive, and you can see that he has kept the hunger alive. That is critical.”
“When I won both my World Championships in 1998 and 1999 I went into 2000 absolutely determined to win a third title, but it was not to be. After that year, when I felt my energy levels drop a little, it was not long before I retired.”
“Some drivers are happy with one title, others need to keep going. Michael Schumacher was able to push himself year after year, but there are not many who can sustain that level of motivation.”
“Looking back at the Formula 1 season, it is easy to think that it was another straightforward success for Mercedes and Lewis, but this is definitely not the case. They had to work hard for it, and you only have to look at the early part of the season to see why.”
After the first half of the season, Hamilton trailed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 14 points, it was only after the summer break that the Mercedes driver swung the ‘hammer’ to take command during the second Asian leg of the championship.
“In the first nine races, we had four different race winners, with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton winning three Grands Prix each, Valtteri Bottas taking two victories and Daniel Ricciardo a win for Red Bull Racing.”
“Having dominated Formula One since the hybrid regulations started, Mercedes had some problems with this year’s car; I think they described it as a ‘diva’ because you were never quite sure what to expect. Sometimes it was very quick, other times the rear stability was not there and the setup of the car was on a knife-edge.”
“It made life difficult for Lewis, even though he had a lot of experience with the previous Mercedes cars, while for Valtteri it meant that his first experience of driving for the team was not easy. He was always going to face a big learning curve, and the issues with the car made that an even greater challenge.”
“Some people think the turning point in Lewis’ season came after the summer break, when he won three Grands Prix in a row at Spa, Monza and Singapore, but for me his dominant win at home in Silverstone was the trigger.”
“Behind him the Mercedes team had been working very hard to understand this year’s car, and the best way to get the most from the new regulations. When I visited pre-season testing in Barcelona I could see the new cars were very quick – physically larger with bigger tyres and a lot more downforce. Definitely more demanding to drive.”
“Mercedes worked hard to get the most of their ‘diva’, and this is where the teamwork became so important. There are a massive number of people involved in a competitive Formula 1 team and you need everyone at the factory to keep on pushing to the maximum level, making the changes that will solve problems, make the car go faster.”
“You could even see the level of team work at Mercedes between their drivers; in Hungary, Valtteri handed his race position over to Lewis, and when Lewis was not able to do anything about Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in second place, he handed it back to Valtteri again. That showed great maturity and professionalism from the drivers and the team management,” added Hakkinen.
Big Question: Can Lewis stay motivated for a fifth title push in 2018?