Hamilton: I would drop into a really, really dark place

One could argue that the difference between Lewis Hamilton and most of his rivals is – Hammertime – the zone the Mercedes driver operates in when he digs extra deep to usurp the best-of-the-best and deliver performances that set him as the benchmark of this era.

It transpires that the desire to succeed was fueled by an inner-turmoil that took him to “a really, really dark place” when he did not win.


It could be argued that this season Hamilton did not always have the best car at his disposal and still managed to wrap up the championship, his sixth.

At the same time his demolition of Valtteri Bottas continued unabated, the Finn – a good driver – but nowhere near his teammate’s level and trails Hamilton 7-13 in qualifying, where Hammertime is unleashed on occasion, when and if needed.

In terms of victories this year, the score is 10-4 to the guy in the #44 car.

During an interview with BBC, reporter Andrew Benson asked where the champ found the inner-chi to take it to the next level when needed, Hamilton replied, “From myself… hard to explain it.

“Like when you wake up, you’re kinda groggy and not 100%. Then you hit… we all hit a perfect peak at different points in the day. Just finding a way to be more fine-tuned physically. I think I’ve become the most fine-tuned physically and mentally I’ve ever been and that’s a constant – every year I’m trying to improve that.”

“I’ve always been able to adapt. One of my strengths is I think I am probably one of the most adaptive drivers there is. I’ll jump into almost any scenario and figure my way through. And that’s why it works so well in the rain, for example, because you have to be dynamic in those places. Constantly shifting your driving style.

“I have also studied other athletes. I listen to Valentino [Rossi] and how he feels he’s had to change his riding style to keep up with the newer generation and I question myself whether that’s necessary. That’s his journey. He was so great, you know? But I look at that and try and figure out how I would position that.

“If you look at tennis players and how they change their swing. I speak to Serena [Williams] and the nuances she goes into. I watch golf and see how Tiger [Woods] has slowly come back after improving his swing.

“It is very similar to a driver. You can change these small things that just give you a wider platform and a wider foundation to be able to pull laps together. But, man, it’s millimetres or micrometres, and it’s very, very hard to see the differences always.”

It is clear that Hamilton hates losing, which in F1 is anything other than victory but these days he keeps himself in check and has matured over the years in the way he reacts to not winning.

He explained how he reacted to the disappointment of not winning, “I remember, like, 2007 and 2008, in those times I couldn’t leave my hotel room for three days.

“Through my whole karting, I was so hard on myself. In my mind, that is just how I deal with things. And people couldn’t understand it: You finished second or finished third or fifth or whatever it may be.

“And they couldn’t understand the turmoil that I would drop into – a really, really dark place, and I couldn’t get myself out of it. And that applied to a lot of things in my life.

“As I’ve grown older I’ve just understood how to stay centred, get myself out of these dark holes, and I am less… even in the worst cases, they are not really that dark.

“That is just growth. There was no quick, short route to doing it. But it still sucks to lose,” added Hamilton who won 83 of the 249  he started since his debut wit McLaren back in 2007.