“I’m still on a mission,” says Lewis Hamilton, quashing retirement rumours

“I never liked being told what to do.” In one sentence, Lewis Hamilton set the stage. All the time the interview granted to Vanity Fair [article en anglais], published on Monday, August 8, the Briton will not deviate from his trajectory. That of a man of convictions. A difficult childhood, racism, criticism of his non-sporting lifestyle, a sense of injustice after missing out on the world title last season… the F1 superstar can face anything. Everything but spiders and road traffic.

Lewis Hamilton has always been out of place. Since his F1 debut (“I felt like I wasn’t welcome”) until today when his style of dressing is still sometimes controversial (“Shouldn’t an F1 driver have piercings and personality?”), always remained true to his line of conduct. So is the man from Stevenage, whom seven world championship titles and 103 Grand Prix wins have not corrupted.

Beating up a father and son, for no other reason than the color of their skin, in a shop in Newcastle when he was 12, Hamilton had to deal with racism at an early age. He kept the bitter memory of it (“To this day I still feel how horrible it was”), but it was also built around that. From school, where he was dyslexic, young Lewis faced adversity. Fortunately, he had this gift. A gift discovered early on, when, at the age of six, he was ridiculing adults in remote-controlled car races.

The sequel, from karting racing to the discovery of the prodigy by Ron Denis, the head of McLaren, will only confirm that Lewis was born to drive. But not only. “When I signed with Mercedes in 2013, I asked them not to try to control what I was doing off the track. A freedom to which the British is too attached to abide by the rules of a stable, however powerful.

Proudly, he recounts the counterpart of the agreement with the German firm: “In return, I’ll help you win titles and show you that being someone different isn’t bad for your brand.” He certainly achieved it beyond all Mercedes’ hopes. And this, without ever denying a way of life that his detractors consider exuberant and inappropriate to the almost monastic lifestyle in which pilots should be inspired. “I did the fastest lap of my life in Singapore, after returning from fashion week in New York”River.

What does not make him smile, however, is the memory of the last Grand Prix 2021 in Abu Dhabi. obviously The Mercedes driver had the title almost in his pocket when, due to a very controversial decision by the race director, Max Verstappen managed to steal the victory, and the title, from him on the last lap. “I don’t know if I can put into words what I felt”, he admits. “I just remember having to unbuckle my seat belt and get out of that car. He had to find the strength to do it but he didn’t have it. It was one of my hardest times in a long, long time.”

However, it would take more to overtake Lewis Hamilton. Only a cause like Black Lives Matter can bring him to his knees to try to move the lines in F1 (“In 70 years, no one in our sport has stood up, except to defend their own interests”). Despite 15 seasons on F1 tracks and a reluctant Mercedes this season, the man with 28 million Instagram followers has no intention of stopping permanently in the pits.

“Of course I questioned whether I wanted to continue. I was really in a dark period”, he confesses in reference to the painful epilogue of Abu Dhabi. But the passion for racing continues to irrigate his blood. Hammer: “I’m still on a mission. I still enjoy driving. I still enjoy the challenge. I don’t think it’s any time soon to retire.”

A monster of will and ambition, the joint holder of the world titles (7, with Michael Schumacher) is nevertheless capable of splitting the armour. What makes him so human. So you can drive cars at more than 300 km/y admit that you are not comfortable on the road to get your bread! “I find it stressful”trust, “anything can happen.”

A fear that he assumes perfectly. Unlike what he feels for spiders and that makes him inspect every corner of his room when he travels to countries like Australia, known for the danger of their arachnids. “It’s pathetic, I know”, River. Man has returned from everything, from injustice and prejudice, but he cannot even look at the image of a spider. Finally, it is true that every hero has his weaknesses.

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