HAMILTON THE DIFFERENTIATOR
“HIS RACECRAFT HAS ALWAYS BEEN ONE OF HIS STRENGTHS. BUT THIS YEAR IT WAS A KEY FACTOR”
FOR HALF OF THE 2018 SEASON, THE BATTLE FOR THE world championship swung back and forth between
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. But from his victory in September at Monza, which Hamilton himself considers the key turning point that broke Ferrari’s challenge, the Mercedes driver marched imperiously to the title.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was in no doubt that Hamilton’s continuous excellence made all the difference. “He has been the differentiator,” said Wolff after Hamilton’s title victory in Mexico. “Our car was the fastest at times, then not the fastest at other times.
“Keeping calm and holding his nerve [is a strength]. We had times when the car was good enough to win and times when the car was not good enough to win, and he was very stable. His racecraft is great and that is always one of his strengths.
But this year that was definitely one of the key factors.”
Wolff has Hamilton signed up until the end of the 2020 season after a new contract was finally completed mid-season. If he wins both of those titles, which is possible, he will match Michael Schumacher’s record of seven crowns. Wolff is focused only on the now but, while Hamilton and the team continue to perform, he sees no reason why they shouldn’t keep going.
“We said that one of his great character traits is that he concentrates on the today, and before matching Michael he has to get a sixth one,“says Wolff. “We haven’t scored a single point for that one. So I think one step at a time. As long as we provide a car that is competitive and can win championships and he continues to drive like he does, this can be a relationship forever.”
Wolff certainly believes that Hamilton, who turns 34 in January, is still getting better. That’s an ominous sign for anyone hoping to beat the reigning champion in the coming seasons. “This is the best Lewis Hamilton I’ve seen in the last six years,” says Wolff. “He has driven better, he has been better out of the car. Very, very complete.”
Wolff says his driver just keeps getting better