It means that in his battle with the usually more aggressive driving Max Verstappen, he is more wary than ever. “You have to avoid a collision at all costs, even if you sometimes have to leave the track. If you are stubborn and stand your ground, you will crash,” said the 36-year-old Mercedes driver, who is fighting with Verstappen for the world title in Formula 1.
With two races to go, the Dutchman has a narrow lead of 8 points.
“I think I have been very neat in most cases,” he says about his duels with Verstappen. Twice the drivers really collided, at Silverstone and Monza. In many other cases, Hamilton said he chose to hold back because Verstappen would have driven him off the track otherwise. “Sometimes you have to be the smartest and that will cost you points, but so be it. I don’t feel too big to take my loss sometimes. I’ll fight back another time.”
In the video below, reporter Erik van Haren discusses the fierce title battle. Article continues below the video.
Last September, the Briton also said this in an exclusive interview with De Telegraaf: „Yes, I hold back in certain scenarios when I drive against Max. Because otherwise we would crash more often. Then I try to outwit him in a different way. If I survive that turn, I may be able to beat him later on strategy, just to name a few. That all comes with experience.”
But, suppose you can become champion in Abu Dhabi by knocking out Max… „That is not a question. I would never want to win like that. Even if it means I won’t become world champion. At least then I’ll keep my dignity. I want to win the right way. I do everything I can to do that, together with the team.”
It has to do with upbringing, Hamilton believes. “I was bullied as a child, both at school and on the track, and my father taught me to bite the bullet on the track. The neat way, not by crashing or knocking someone else off. When you win like this, no one can deny that you are the best.”
Age and experience also play a part in his thoughtful approach. “I’m 36 and have been doing this for a long time. It’s not the first time I’ve raced against a driver who is good and bad in certain ways, but I can deal with that much better now than when I was about 24, 25 years old. Then I also made a lot of mistakes. I don’t even talk to him about it. I know from Max that he is super fast and he will get better and better as he gets older.”
The fact that Lewis Hamilton has won twice in a row does not mean that Max Verstappen now suddenly has no chance in Jeddah and/or Abu Dhabi. So says former F1 driver Christijan Albers in yet another Formula 1 podcast: