Hamilton wants to maintain the momentum by speaking out against racism and inequality to such an extent that it has become his main motivation to continue in the sport.
“As I continue to grow, I understand the sheer mass and size of issues surrounding us,” he says. “I would love to be able to do everything and help people. You can’t do absolutely everything, but I do believe that since I have been in this sport, it has not been diverse.
“There are still teams that have not been held accountable, still people who refuse to believe it’s not a problem. You have leaders past and present who come out and say it isn’t an issue, so it’s an ongoing fight that is not going to be won in a really short space of time.
“I’m heavily invested in it because I’m fortunate to be able to do what I love doing, which is racing, but on top of that, in the background, I’m on a lot of Zooms, holding uncomfortable conversations. Questioning. There’s a lot of work Mercedes are now doing to promote diversity in our team, which I’m really proud of. I want to see that happen more in other teams and the sport as well. That’s what’s really keeping me focused, and on top of that I get to go and do what I love doing. It’s given me a real reason for living, and I’m grateful for that.”
For anyone thinking that the one-year contract Hamilton signed to stay with Mercedes just a few weeks before the season would be his last, think again.
So, to Lewis the racer. I ask if he knows all his Formula 1 records and statistics, many of which are numbers increasingly rolling into three figures. “Honestly, I don’t,” he says. “The only one I’m of course aware of is how many championships I have.” Which is seven, in case you needed reminding, on top of the 100 pole positions, 98 wins, 169 podiums, 55 fastest laps and 3879 career points – and many of those are likely to have crept up following the Azerbaijan GP that took place after this was written.
Statistically, Hamilton is Formula 1’s greatest ever. But its greatest-ever driver? We’re not debating that today (seek out Andrew Benson’s feature from the 13 November 2019 issue for an answer, if not the answer, to that one). What I am interested to know is how Hamilton is able to win cleanly and without controversy and with almost no mistakes, practically every time.