A jubilant Lewis Hamilton has declared that he’s “somewhere far above Cloud Nine” after clinching a momentous sixth F1 title.
Hamilton sealed an early coronation by finishing second in Sunday’s United States GP, and is now just one championship behind Michael Schumacher’s record of seven – with Sky F1’s Nico Rosberg insisting that his former team-mate is “now closing in on becoming the greatest of all-time”.
To Hamilton, this historic feat was far beyond his wildest imagination.
“My dream was to get to Formula 1 and it was so far-fetched,” an emotional Hamilton told Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz. “To think that we’re here, after the rollercoaster ride of emotions that we’ve experienced in these 13 years…
“I’ve grown so much since [my first title] in 2008. I think back then I wasn’t able to enjoy it and embrace it as I am now. I’ve got such a great group of people. My fans are here, my family’s here… it’s a lot more happy. A lot, lot more happy.”
Hamilton added to Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes: “It’s naturally just pure happiness and I feel more humble than ever.
“I just saw my parents and just looking up at my Dad’s smile, it just says it all. He’s supported me from day one, as did Linda (step-mum), as did my Mum and they worked so hard for me to be here today.
“This is the first race I remember in a long, long time of them being together and us being united as a family.
“Cloud Nine doesn’t even get close to where I’m at, I’m somewhere far above that.
“I’m really, really grateful to everyone back at the factory, to everyone who’s supported me in the team to enable us to do what we do. It’s such a privilege and an honour to work for this team, to be able to be out there and to have the platform to put performances like that today.”
Hamilton on his ‘proudest moment’
Martin Brundle described Hamilton as one of “Britain’s greatest sportsman” after his latest triumph, and the 34-year-old is certainly now one of his country’s most successful stars.
He spoke about representing the UK as an athlete after the race.
“The love and support I get from all over is incredible,” he explained to Ted. “I’m really proud to see the Union Jack in so many territories, we go to 21 countries around the world and we see the Union Jack flying high.
“When I’m standing there on top and seeing the Union Jack just above me, it’s the proudest moment for anyone who’s representing their country.”
Hamilton then had this message for fans: “I hope that I do you all proud, I hope you know that I appreciate you.
“This is not the beginning but it’s not the end. We’ve got lots more to do.”
‘So tough’ to ‘raise the bar’
Hamilton’s 2019 season has included 10 wins so far – the most victories he has ever had in a year is 11. But Hamilton also hasn’t been on pole since July.
“I really don’t know how we got to this point,” said Hamilton. “We’ve had to work so much harder than ever before. The work we do back at the factory, how we analyse everything, the steps that we take over the weekend.
“The pressure has been higher than ever I think because Bono, I and the guys have wanted to excel and exceed our own expectations, and raise the bar. And you know how hard it is to raise the bar after you have won every year? It’s so tough because you’ve already reached a level that you didn’t think you could do before.
“I’m extremely proud of everybody, grateful to everyone back at the factory. Mercedes has been a part of my life since I was 13 years old, every lap I’ve done in Formula 1 was with Mercedes so I’m really grateful for them believing in me.”
He continued: “This has been the hardest year that I can remember. It’s really hard for people to fully appreciate that because obviously they’re not with me all the time and understand all the ups and downs that go on in an athlete’s mind.
“I would say the ups and downs outside the sport has been even more challenging. We’re all struggling with something one way or another and so we can all relate to each other somehow. And if I can make a positive impact on even just one person, that would be a huge delight for me.”
Hamilton: I wouldn’t be here without…
Hamilton’s rise to super-stardom didn’t happen overnight. Even before he clinched that remarkable first title with McLaren, before this record-breaking streak with Mercedes.
First, he had to be noticed as a young karter from Stevenage.
Hamilton had a special message for the man who spotted him and helped him realise his F1 dream, former McLaren boss Ron Dennis.
“I haven’t managed to read it yet but I know I got a text from Ron today and I just want to send my love, and thank you for spotting me when I was 10 years old and believing in me,” said Hamilton.