Lewis Hamilton’s “leap of faith”, as he has called his decision to join Mercedes, is about to pay off with a record-equalling seventh Drivers’ Championship title.
Racing for McLaren in his early days, Hamilton won the 2008 World title but was unable to add another to his tally.
At the end of 2012 he shocked many, including his father Anthony, when he announced he would was leaving McLaren and heading to Mercedes to replace Michael Schumacher.
With Mercedes having won just one race in the three years since the German carmaker bought the championship-winning Brawn GP team from Ross Brawn, Hamilton’s decision was questioned up and down the pit lane.
Today everyone gets why he made the move.
Hamilton will claim his seventh title if he leaves Turkey this Sunday evening more than 78 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas. The current gap between the two Mercedes team-mates stands at 85.
“It was far beyond my wildest dreams thinking anyone would get to seven,” Hamilton said in the build up to the Istanbul race.
“I dreamt of trying to do something Ayrton had done and getting one World Championship was great, and then it was very tough obviously to get the second.
“I spent years trying to help the team [McLaren] win another World Championship and then I had to make a decision on whether to stay put and keep trundling along or go and do something more adventurous. Obviously I took that leap of faith.
“We’ve gone one after the other here and after each one I just try to count my blessings because you have to be grateful for what you have, not what you might have. I think it says that in life you have to make that leap of faith, do what you think is right for you and not what people tell you to do, do the homework so you have the pros and cons and then go with it all-in whether it’s good or bad.
“The numbers, figures and titles appear to me [to be] more from the outside. When you’re in it, it’s different. We’ll continue to fight for World Championships, to try and improve and continue to do what we do and what we love doing.”
How the Drivers' Standings shape up ahead of Turkey
If Lewis finishes in front of Valtteri on Sunday he will be World Champion for the seventh time 👇
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 12, 2020
Should Hamilton win Sunday’s Turkish GP it would be his 94th race win, extending his record.
Speaking about his decision to leave the McLaren family and head to Mercedes, he revealed both Niki Lauda and Ross Brawn took turns speaking him and trying to persuade him to sign up.
He said: “I was back home in Monaco, I talked to Niki [Lauda] and I’m pretty sure he was the first one I spoke to. He was saying ‘you’ve got to come to the team’ and I wasn’t too convinced, necessarily, at the beginning.
“The convincing stage that really made me look into it more was when Ross Brawn came round to my mum’s house, sat in the kitchen and we had tea and he showed me what the plan was for the team. That was the real in-depth insight to what the team was planning, the changes they were trying to do. That was really the selling point.
“With Niki, we worked on the layout of the deal. I think Niki realised we had a lot in common and that was the start of our friendship. I remember him saying ‘you’re a lot like me’. I think he realised we had a lot more in common than he had previously thought because we hadn’t really spoken before, so it had all been done on assumption and what people write.”