MONACO, CMC – Lewis Hamilton said consistency would bring the ultimate reward in what has been a closely-fought title race this season with four-time world champion Sebastien Vettel, as the two prepare to renew rivalry in Formula 1’s showpiece Monaco Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old Hamilton, whose family roots are Grenadian, is currently second in the drivers’ standings on 98 points, six behind Vettel, with their respective Mercedes and Ferrrari tightly matched, as the two drivers have come up with two wins apiece so far this season.
With the winners of seven of the last nine F1 titles already more than a race win clear of their respective team-mates, Hamilton said he had no intention of engaging in psychological warfare with his German rival as the pair prepare for the unique challenge on the streets of Monte Carlo, preferring for their battles to be fought and won behind the wheel.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’m very strong mentally and that’s something you can admire about someone else you’re fighting with, like Sebastian or Fernando Alonso,” said the three-time world champion. “And it’ll be interesting to see. He seems solid.
“I want Sebastian to be at his best when he gets in the car, so I don’t have any intention of playing psychological wars outside the car. I want to beat him in a car because when he’s at his best and I beat him that says what it needs to say, rather than have him on the back foot.”
Hamilton continued: “But it is definitely part of it for this year for both of us, being it’s such a long year – just like it is in golf. Over 18 holes, whoever’s the most consistent generally ends up winning, so I’m excited about it. This an all-round battle – physically, mentally, technically – and that’s why it’s a great battle.
“Right now, I’m not leading the championship, so the goal this weekend is to just try to win and, naturally, that would mean being in the lead leaving here.”
Claiming pole position is always crucial at the Monaco GP and it will be an extra-special occasion for Hamilton if he achieves it.
Hamilton could equal the mark of earning 65 pole positions, currently held by the late great Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, but he has down played down the significance of the achievement, which would move Hamilton second on the list of Formula 1 pole-sitters, three behind the legendary German racer Michael Schumacher.
“To be honest, I love to watch the old onboard footage of Senna racing in Monaco,” said the England-born Hamilton.
“. . .Seeing him coming out of the tunnel and thinking, ‘Hey, that’s what I do every year now’! And matching his qualifying record? That somehow feels very unreal and I am very honoured being up to him. But there is no pressure about that: if it happens, it happens; if not, then not.”
Now resident of the city-state, Hamilton has twice won the Monaco GP in his now 11 seasons of F1 racing and had three other podium finishes, playing into his affection for racing on the street circuit.
Race experts believe that this year’s Monaco GP will be a bigger challenge than previous year, as the cars and tyres are much wider, but Hamilton was not prepared to speculate, nor moan about his previous missed opportunities at this event over the years.
“Probably, I could have won two or three more, but in the end, I am happy with the ones that I have – especially with how these two wins came in 2008 and 2016. Those were real ‘quality races’ – really earned. But sure I want more!”