Five years to catch Schumi: Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton can equal Michael Schumacher's mark of seven Canadian GP wins this weekend. In the long term, the five-time F1 champion is looking to race for another five years as he targets the German's seven world titles.
Lewis Hamilton can equal Michael Schumacher's mark of seven Canadian GP wins this weekend. In the long term, the five-time F1 champion is looking to race for another five years as he targets the German's seven world titles.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Lewis Hamilton has no intention to retire in the foreseeable future, especially when the once-insurmountable Formula One records of Michael Schumacher are within his sights.

The German great won seven world championships and 91 races, both records, and Hamilton believes he can "definitely" prolong his career for five years to set new milestones in the sport.

"Michael retired when he was 38. I'm 33," said Hamilton, speaking on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman on Netflix, which was filmed last year and aired recently.

The Briton, who turned 34 in January, noted: "I can definitely do five years. I've got to keep going for as long as I can basically - until I'm not enjoying it."

The Mercedes driver, seeking his sixth world title, has won four of the first six races this year and leads the standings with 137 points, 17 ahead of Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton's win last month at the Monaco Grand Prix was his 77th career chequered flag, just 14 short of Schumacher's tally.

He said: "I am ridiculously determined to win.

"What really drives me, and I feel that the people I race against may lack somewhat, is that fire.

"I've got this opportunity. I could easily let go of it right now but I feel like I would be squandering it if I didn't continue to improve, grow and push."

For someone as obsessive about winning as Hamilton, the demands of F1 have not been easy.

"It's a hard, hard year," he said. "Mentally you have these massive highs, wins and success, but then you have these massive comedowns.

"It's something I've never really spoken about but you often do suffer from mental issues, instabilities, and keeping yourself together when you hit rock bottom, which you do as an athlete.

"If you're lucky you can find strength at rock bottom. It's about how you get up, not how you fall."

This weekend's Canadian GP is his immediate focus. He has six victories at the iconic Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal, one shy of Schumacher's record.

The Silver Arrows are planning to introduce an upgraded engine.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said: "We are beginning to see more clearly the strengths and weaknesses of our car.

"In the past six races, we were very strong in the corners but lost time on the straights.

"This will make Canada a huge challenge for us as the track characteristics could favour our opponents - there are many long straights and fewer corners in which to make up lap time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2019, with the headline 'Five years to catch Schumi: Hamilton'. Print Edition | Subscribe