Hamilton getting up to speed

Dubai: Pretenders to the Formula One throne — beware! Reigning four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton is not in a mood to relinquish his throne so soon.

The 33-year-old British driver, who was a special invitee to speak at the ‘Global Skills and Education Forum 2018’ held at Atlantis, The Palm on Saturday, has reiterated in no small measure that he means business going into the new season that gets under way in Australia next weekend.

“I am talented, but now I have something more. I am in the peak period of my career where the sky is the limit for me,” Hamilton told a packed house at one of the sessions yesterday.

“Racing is a way of life for me. It is something that I would never ever give up on. In fact, it is my desire to keep on innovating and being creative so that I can harness my talents and be the best I can,” he warned.

Hamilton will be aiming to win a fifth F1 Drivers’ Championship when the 2018 season kicks off on March 25 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Should he reign supreme again at the end of 2018, the Briton will match Juan Manuel Fangio’s title haul. Fangio and Michael Schumacher are the only two drivers to sit above Hamilton’s own tally on trophies.

“For me, it’s always about wanting to do something different. I don’t want to just exist. I want to be great. It’s up to me to shine that light that I’ve been given. I have been blessed with a great family that supports me in all that I do and it is my duty to just be the best I can and success on the track will follow,” Hamilton said.

Though he is hoping to win his fifth Drivers’ Championship this season, Hamilton is expected to face a much sterner challenge than in recent years with Ferrari, Red Bull and even his former team McLaren leading the charge. During testing earlier this month, Mercedes have often fallen behind Red Bull and Ferrari which has raised doubts over the defending champion’s ability to challenge at the front of the grid this season.

The German set the fastest time of pre-season testing with a blistering unofficial track record time of 1:17.182 on hypersoft tyres at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, while the reigning champion’s quickest time across the eight days of testing was over a second slower albeit on a slower compound and with the Silver Arrows concentrating on longer runs and race simulations.

The 33-year-old has admitted that he does not like practising, and that he would rather go straight into competitive racing as that brings out his best driving. “I always like to prove people wrong and thankfully, I still have this quality with me till today. Maybe it has come to me from my dad. I was able to get in there [into F1 racing] and change things and make myself to what I am today. This season is going to be no different,” Hamilton cautioned.

The four-time world champion has raced for the Brackley-based outfit since 2013 and has won three titles in five years with the Silver Arrows. But his current Mercedes contract runs out at the end of the 2018 season and he has been in talks to improve his terms to around £40 million a year and commit his future to the sport’s front-runners.

That said, Hamilton was open to even ending up on the losing side by the end of the season. “Losing is part of the process. Perhaps when I was a kid, I hated losing,” he related.

“But you are nothing if you have not gone through the entire journey that constitutes winning and losing. And until you get through that rough patch, you will never know how to enjoy your success. Each year I still have the same set of skills, but it is my hunger for excellence that makes me what I am,” Hamilton added.

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