Lewis Hamilton identifies key areas of improvement as an F1 driver

Thomas Maher
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, in the paddock during testing. Bahrain, February 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, in the Formula 1 paddock during testing. Bahrain, February 2023.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has reflected on the areas in which he believes he’s become a stronger F1 driver compared to when he entered the sport.

Now entering the twilight years of his F1 career after making his debut in the sport in 2007, Hamilton has become one of the all-time greats as he’s secured seven World Championships to tie the record with Michael Schumacher, as well as winning an unrivalled 103 Grand Prix victories.

Ever since making his first Grand Prix start as a McLaren driver at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton has earned the admiration of fans, media, and rivals for his mixture of speed, maturity, and consistency.

But, are there areas the man himself feels he’s improved over the 16 years of being in Formula 1? That very question was put to him during a recent interview Hamilton did with Australia’s Fox Sports, with the British driver saying he feels most of the improvement actually comes from his work outside of the cockpit.

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“A lot of it’s been done in the background, in the processes in the background – how I engage with engineers, how I am able to extract what I need from all the different sections, different departments,” Hamilton replied, when asked to compare the Lewis Hamilton of 2023 with his iteration from 2007.

He explained that he particularly struggled with dealing with setbacks, something he said he processes far better nowadays.

“I think the bouncing back scenario – particularly when I was younger and had a bad race, you couldn’t talk to me for days, I was in such a dark place after,” he said.

How success has given Lewis Hamilton authority within his team

But it’s Hamilton’s experience and prestige that have made a particularly big difference in how he goes racing. While, in 2007, the 22-year-old Hamilton was unable to position himself with authority with the McLaren engineers, the intervening 16 years of huge success mean that he is now able to get the full attention of his Mercedes engineers when he has something to say.

“I was at the mercy of the engineers around me – I couldn’t dictate a huge amount,” he said.

“I couldn’t say ‘hey guys, this is the direction we need to go’. I can do that now. I know what I need in the car in order to do what I need to do, in order to be able to extract my performance and the performance of the car.

“So there are a lot of areas, and then there’s a calmness in the mind that I have now that I didn’t have then. It comes with experience.”

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“So being able to recover and get to past is past – five minutes ago, I can’t change that. But I can change how I move forwards.

“That was something that was a huge step for me, the physicality side of it. How you eat, how you prepare, time management, and understanding of tyres – I understand the car so much more than I did when I first got here.”