Lewis Hamilton says the millions he earns being a Formula 1 driver is a “bonus” but the real reason he’s in the sport is for the “challenge”.
This year Hamilton wrapped up his sixth Drivers’ Championship, only the second man in history to achieve six.
Arguably the best driver on today’s grid, he’s also the top earner.
Hamilton reported draws a $57 million salary from Mercedes, a good 12 million more than Sebastian Vettel and 40 more than third-highest earner Daniel Ricciardo.
The Brit, though, insists it’s not about the money.
“The thing is I never got into it for money,” he told BBC Sport.
“Of course it is great that that piles up – no problem. That is a bonus. As long as those things don’t become the lead factor of what I do.
“The core of what I do is that I love racing. I love the challenge.
“I love arriving knowing I have got these incredibly talented youngsters who are trying to beat me and outperform me, outsmart me, and I love that battle that I get into every single year.”
Although he’s only one away from Michael Schumacher’s all-time record, Hamilton has struggled throughout his career to get the respect and credit he deserve.
The Brit has raised eyebrows with his jet-set lifestyle while more recently his comments on climate change have irked some.
He adds: “Most of the time, I wear my heart on my sleeve, so it was an emotional post, which is not always good to do. It just felt like I was banging my head against the wall and not gaining ground.
“There is a lot of push-back on a lot of things I do, and a lot of questioning of everything I do and say. You live your life under a magnifying glass.
“And the pressure for anyone that’s in the limelight…. we’re only human, so at some stage you’re going to buckle a little bit.
“But I always say it’s not how you fall, it’s how you get back up. And I really turned that negativity into a positive and came back and won that next race.
“And you’ll probably see if you look back in the history of the times I’ve often had those difficult phases, I’ve often won the next races. That’s where my strength lies.”
Asked how he felt when others questioned his choices, he replied: “I just understand it’s just the way of life but the fact that is the way it is doesn’t make it any easier.
“I would say I have a very complex life. I’m sure we all have complex lives. But I can’t talk about absolutely how complex it is.
“I am trying to be more open about that, as you’ll see on my social. But there is a line where it’s the limit and for me personally that one there was slightly over the limit.
“But I don’t regret it. Because I think for those who are following me and are on this journey with me, I don’t think showing vulnerability is always a bad thing. They can just see I’m human at the end of the day.”