"Real races where you’re overtaking and battling, that’s what I love"
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton knows he has plenty of rivalry for the 2015 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award next month, including major sports stars like Novak Djokovic, Rory McIlroy and Cristriano Ronaldo.
“Rory’s done an amazing job. Ronaldo, what a great player he is, Djokovic, I mean he’s killed everything,” said British two-time world champion Hamilton, in an interview with Laureus.
But also in the interview, the Mercedes AMG Petronas driver surprisingly revealed that if there was one place he would like to see more competition, it is on the race track, when this year’s Formula One season gets under way in Melbourne on March 15.
In 2014, Hamilton, with 11 Grand Prix wins, and team-mate Nico Rosberg, with five, won all but three races on the calendar, giving the Mercedes AMG Petronas team a comfortable victory in the World Constructors’ Championship.
A perfect season on the face of it, but Hamilton said: “I like to race, I really like to race. The 2015 cars are going to be evolutions of last year’s cars, so it’ll be the same people that we were racing with last year. Red Bull, Williams, and then you’re hoping that it’s a bit of a better year for those like McLaren and Ferrari, so that we have more people to race. The more the merrier.
“There was one year the first seven races were won by a different driver, a different team, that’s what people want to see. But, most importantly, if the cars are close you can have real races where you’re overtaking and battling and that’s what I love doing. That’s what racing’s about.”
Having just turned 30 in January, Hamilton also revealed his thoughts about the future, insisting he will know when it’s time to stop, though he believes that will be a long way down the road.
“If I’m lucky enough to be able to live out my whole Formula One career then I think I’ve got a good seven, eight years left in me. I’m sure I could go longer, but I think there’s only 22 seats in Formula One, so you’ve got to imagine that there’s going to be kids coming up along the way. I don’t plan on hogging my seat, particularly if I’m not competitive in my later years. I’ll definitely stop.
“Of course I look ahead to try and imagine what my life will be like in the future, but to be honest, generally the way I live my life is day by day, because I honestly believe you never know when it’s going to be your last day, so I want to make sure that I enjoy as much as I can whatever it is I’m doing, workwise or in my personal life.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have this incredible career, the incredible life that I have, the family, good people around me, so I try and enjoy it. There’s so many youngsters or people in the world who would love to be doing what I’m doing.”
Hamilton said he is ‘very grateful and proud’ to be one of the six Nominees for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, following his thrilling victory in last year’s world championship. Also nominated are Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, world golf No.1 Rory McIlory, Spain’s World MotoGP champion Marc Márquez, tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic and Renaud Lavillenie, the French pole vaulter who broke Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old world record.
He said: “I think 2014 was definitely one of the best, if not the best year of my career, it was just an exceptional year, where the team came together, did an amazing job with the car. We had some ups and downs. Even though we were at the front of the field the majority of the time, it was still a challenge to try and improve all the time. But we want to be better this year, we want to try and dominate even more.”
“I’ve never won the big Award at Laureus and obviously seen the greats that have. So, you know, I’d be massively privileged if I was amongst those. Knowing how prestigious the Laureus Award is I feel very, very grateful and proud to be amongst the great athletes that have been nominated.”
So can he win a second straight world title – the third in his career? With the first Grand Prix just more than a week away, Hamilton said: “I feel fresh, I feel fit. I will plan to drive as good as I did last year, but I want to be better. I hope that we have the package and I hope that we have some good races, but I’m just grateful that I get to race again.”