On Sunday in Mexico, Lewis Hamilton won his fourth world championship title, but his post-race comments again show why his status as an all-time great is the subject of some debate among fans.
Hamilton has enjoyed an incredibly successful five years at Mercedes which has yielded him three drivers titles, four constructors crowns and has seen him take the record for the most pole positions in Formula 1 history.
For all his records and success, Hamilton’s status as an all-time great should be set in stone, but a champion is measured in both his or her ability to win and to lose — and Hamilton is one of the worst losers in the history of the sport.
When winning, everything is rosey and the 2017 champion will congratulate his team and say that they win and lose as a team but, when he is beaten, he can never let it go — the biggest example being when he was beaten to the title in 2016 by teammate Nico Rosberg. So big is Hamilton’s ego that he couldn’t help himself from having another pop at Rosberg in his champions press conference this past Sunday in Mexico.
Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth Formula 1 world championship title with a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Series runner-up Sebastian Vettel finished fourth Sunday, but needed to win or finished second to remain mathematically alive.
After taking the lead in the championship race at the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton won three of the following five races. As Hamilton was winning, rival Vettel was struggling. Sunday, Hamilton survived an early scare to wrap up the title in Mexico after contact on lap 1 with Vettel left him with a flat tire. He later fell a lap down but rallied back. Vettel needed to finish second to keep the title fight alive, but could only manage fourth.
“Viva Mexico!” said Hamilton. “I did everything that I could. I had a good start and, well, I don’t really know what happened at turn 3 but I gave him (Vettel) plenty of room. But I tried as hard as I could to come back and just a big thank you to my family, to my team — Mercedes have been incredible for the last five years, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
Hamilton joins an exclusive club of champions with four of more championships to their name — a club consisting previously of only Vettel (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013), Alain Prost (1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993) Juan Manuel Fangio (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957) and Michael Schumacher (1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004).
On top of this, Hamilton goes down in the history books as the greatest British driver to date — passing Sir Jackie Stewart’s three world titles.
“Honestly, it doesn’t feel real man. I mean, obviously, that’s not the kind of race that I want — when you’re 40 seconds behind or something — but I never gave up and that’s really, I guess, what’s important, what’s in my heart.
“I kept going right to the end, so I’m grateful for today and I just want to lift it up to my family and to God and, as I say, my team.”
“There’s going to be a point in which I’ve had enough,” said Hamilton. “I’ve already been blessed and had such a wonderful time here in the past 10 years. Each year, I could do the easy thing like Nico did and retreat with these four titles, but I think there’s more in me.
“There’s more to come, there’s harder times ahead but I love that and it would be so boring without it.”
By contrast, Rosberg, who bowed out of the sport after winning the championship to focus on family life with his newborn child, was one of the first to congratulate Hamilton on his victory.
“To begin with, Lewis, congrats,” said Rosberg in a YouTube posting. “Really awesome performance this year and really well deserved fourth championship — very, very impressive.”
The real problem is that, in victory, Hamilton is the humble boy from Stevenage who owes everything to his father working multiple jobs just to fund his racing but, in defeat, he becomes the spoiled brat who was gifted his dreams by McLaren at a young age.
I want to be able to call Hamilton the complete package, I really do, but he must learn to handle defeat better before I feel able to do that.
His ability on the track is undeniable, but a champion must be one both on and off the track. Once he does that, I will stop questioning his credentials, but until then, he will, in my head at least, not be viewed on the same level as Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna or Alain Prost.