Hamil­ton eyes more suc­cess at Mercedes

Brit keen on stay­ing and match­ing Schu­macher’s record seven For­mula 1 cham­pi­onships

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

>> ST PETERS­BURG: Lewis Hamil­ton looked for­ward to more suc­cess with Mercedes af­ter col­lect­ing his fifth For­mula One world cham­pion’s tro­phy at the gov­ern­ing FIA’s gala awards on Fri­day.

Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful rac­ing driver, and only the third man to win at least five ti­tles, also won a me­dia vote for per­son­al­ity of the year — deny­ing Red Bull ri­val Max Ver­stap­pen a fourth in a row.

“It does feel i ncred­i­ble,” the 33-year-old told the au­di­ence gath­ered in the Grand Hall of the St Peters­burg Phil­har­mo­nia, af­ter FIA pres­i­dent Jean Todt had handed him his tro­phy.

Asked whether match­ing Michael Schu­macher’s record seven cham­pi­onships was his ul­ti­mate goal, Hamil­ton said he had never set that as a tar­get.

He made clear, how­ever, that he would be around long enough to give it a try.

“I’ve just signed for an­other two years...so I’m ex­cited about the next cou­ple of years,” said the cham­pion, who won 11 races out of 21 this year. “But right now I’m happy that the rac­ing’s over.

“Next year’s go­ing to be so tough, the seasons are get­ting longer and longer. I don’t know how long I’m go­ing to go, cur­rently two years sounds good for me.

“But I still love rac­ing so maybe I’ll be go­ing a lot longer. Who knows?”

Hamil­ton, who said also that his par­ents had wanted to be present but had a prob­lem with the Rus­sian visa process, had ear­lier been a no-show at an of­fi­cial news con­fer­ence.

Mercedes said he had not felt “100 per­cent”.

Fer­rari’s run­ner-up Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and third-placed Fin­nish team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen were also on stage, the lat­ter ear­lier seen bran­dish­ing a cigar and look­ing like he was en­joy­ing the party.

“Kimi has en­joyed tonight a lot,” ob­served the show pre­sen­ter.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was pre­sented with the con­struc­tors’ tro­phy by mous­ta­chioed For­mula One chief ex­ec­u­tive Chase Carey — the team’s fifth in a row.

Wolff and his team’s non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Niki Lauda were also re­cip­i­ents of the FIA pres­i­dent’s spe­cial award, with the triple world cham­pion ab­sent as he re­cov­ers from a lung trans­plant. “He sends his re­gards, he is re­cov­er­ing very well,” said Wolff. “Next time he’s go­ing to be here.”

Charles Le­clerc, Vet­tel’s team­mate at Fer­rari next year, was the rookie of the year for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive sea­son af­ter win­ning the For­mula Two ti­tle in 2017.

The Ac­tion of the Year, voted by fans world­wide, went to Fin­nish rally driver Teemu Suni­nen for a mas­sive slide on his home event.

For­mula One world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton, right, poses for a pho­to­graph with a fan in St Peters­burg.

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