Lewis Hamilton is a six-time world champion, the second-most successful driver of all time, and one of the most famous sportspeople on the planet – but just what makes the F1 star so successful and for so long?
Eleven years after winning his first world championship aged just 23, Hamilton added a sixth to his tally in Austin on Sunday in his 13th season in the sport and just two months shy of his 35th birthday.
Members of the Sky Sports F1 team dissect some of the key attributes behind a sporting phenomenon…
The all-round talent
Martin Brundle: “Can you imagine the mental stamina and fortitude to keep pumping in world championships? So many races, layouts, conditions, challenges, you’re risking your life at the same time.
“You need to be super fit. He’s nowhere near the youngest man on the grid but he just keeps turning up and delivering. He is one of the greatest sportsmen in our country.”
The drive and consistency
Ted Kravitz: “I think it’s important to remember the ‘wilderness’ years – let’s call it, Lewis Hamilton: The Wilderness Years.
“There was that early success in 2008, his second year of Formula 1 with McLaren, but in 2009 the car wasn’t that good, Jenson Button won the title with Brawn, and then we got into the Sebastian Vettel era. Hamilton battled through and I remember the McLaren wasn’t always great, he was maturing, figuring out his own way, and success was rather thin on the ground.
“He watched Vettel get four in a row and I think that has made him the driver he is today.
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“Like Juan-Manuel Fangio, the man who he has just eclipsed in terms of titles, he found the best team at the right team and has now won another five championships – and there’s no sign of him stopping. Why shouldn’t Mercedes, with everything they have had to overcome this year – another rule change and a resurgent Ferrari in the second half of the season – go on and deliver a car that’s capable of a seventh title?
“Whether Lewis decides after a seventh or an eighth that life has some other path for him, we’ll see, but you can’t doubt that we’ll look back at his career and think we were lucky to be watching it as it happened.”
The race craft
Anthony Davidson: “The thing that impresses me again and again with him is his ability to get very close in combat with other cars and rarely touch them. If he does ever get into a position where the two cars touch, nine times out of 10 he’ll be the one who comes out of it best.
“That’s a key attribute to building championships and winning them. That coupled with his speed and his consistency is something he’s worked on through the years and shows a level of maturity.
“That’s what has helped win him many championships in a row and is something other drivers should look to try and emulate if they want to be as good as him.”
The will to win
Johnny Herbert: “He wants the challenge and that’s how he goes racing – he has to be tested all the time.
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