“There’s a lot of growth that has gone on within our team, especially with Valtteri and I. Understanding that you need to be comfortable in your own skin, and being less susceptible to other people’s opinions. It’s been a big factor in achieving goals in life and in F1,” explains Lewis.
“For example I remember getting my first tattoo on my back, and getting my ears pieced. I did those things because they were things I wanted to do. But I remember people’s comments and how they thought it would negatively impact my career. Now I can pretty much do what I want with my style. It’s amazing how you can shift people’s perception.”
“I’m always in discovery mode when I’m away from the race track now, whether that’s fashion, music, travel, or pushing myself physically. You have to enjoy life, and I think to be successful at something as high-pressure as Formula One you need to be able to let go in other ways. It’s the best way to keep growing.”
Indeed that mental strength, grind, and a need to discover and grow is perhaps the best weapon against the competition Lewis has in his arsenal; far outweighing his natural gift. “I think that’s one of the most important things we can do as human beings; keep learning about yourself, keep improving and be proud of who you are. There was a long long time in my life where there was a yearning to want to blend in. But in actual fact the best thing is that you don’t blend in. That you look different; and you are different - and to see that as a positive rather than a negative.
“It’s not handed to you though. I get my head down and work - my schedule is pretty crazy and I have a lot of targets. And I know the only way to achieve them is to work towards them,” continues Lewis. “I want to be the best I can be - I love working with my team, I love racing, I love competing… the strive for perfection is where its at. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning."
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team boss Toto Wolff recognises this trait too, and gives Hamilton the kind of freedom rarely afforded to racing drivers in the buttoned down world of Formula One.
"Most important is to acknowledge that we are all different individuals and we need different frameworks in order to perform well," reveals Wolff. "Lewis is somebody who needs to be able to pursue his other ambitions and interests. Rather than putting somebody in a box and saying, 'This is how a racing driver needs to behave - you need to be on time, you need to avoid jet lag before the race, or don't record music overnight when you are jet-lagged but try to sleep,' I realised very early on that giving him the freedom of pursuing his interests, we were able to extract more performance on track.