Hamilton ‘grateful’ for extra races in title fight

Jon Wilde
Lewis Hamilton PA

Lewis Hamilton is “grateful” the 2020 World Championship has been extended to 17 races, on the basis it will increase the title’s value for whoever wins.

Chasing Michael Schumacher’s record of seven World Championships, the Mercedes driver will equal that tally if he remains on top of this year’s standings through to the season’s end in Abu Dhabi on December 13 – he is currently 37 points clear of second-placed Max Verstappen.

Although Mercedes have been dominant again so far this year, Hamilton expects Verstappen and his Red Bull team to close the gap by becoming increasingly competitive – and would welcome a “fight” to make the title even sweeter if he does come out on top.

Formula 1 announced this week that this season’s schedule, which has been badly affected by the global health pandemic, will comprise 17 races after the addition of four more – two in Bahrain and one each in Abu Dhabi and, returning for the first time since 2011, Turkey.

“I’m grateful for the fact we have so many races being set up because I want it to be a Championship,” said Hamilton during his media interviews on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at Spa.

“I want it to be a fight. If you look at the success and progress Red Bull have made over the years they usually get stronger through the season, so hopefully it will become a closer fight as we get through.

“This is the most intense season we’ll ever experience with so many races in such a short space of time and it will be a real challenge.

“I’m really conscious of all the guys (in the team) that are just on the road for as long as they are – they get here before us.

“As a driver, just being able to deliver weekend in, weekend out is physically more demanding this year, being that we normally have a decent recovery period whereas (this year) it’s ‘bang, bang, bang, bang’.

“And then how we utilise our equipment this year, I think that will be a massive challenge.”

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Hamilton also suggested he would put more store by winning a World Championship in a year when life has been so badly disrupted – again being “grateful” that Formula 1 has been able to continue despite the obvious changes caused by the global pandemic.

“I think we are so fortunate to be able to go to work – so many people don’t have that and some people have obviously lost their jobs as well,” added the 35-year-old.

“It’s such a testing time for so many. Luckily, work gets me by. These are the good days, the ones in between are a little bit trickier.

“I think when you are at the races and you don’t see any fans as well, you feel a little bit removed from that contact.

“Also just in travelling, normally you’re at events, you’re with the team, you’re interacting with so many people and I’ve interacted with less people this year than in probably my entire life, which makes it tricky.

“Every day I’m just trying to remind myself to be grateful – to be healthy, to have my job, to be able to still do what we do.”

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