How Lewis Hamilton banished his demons with most emotional F1 win yet

Lewis Hamilton's ninth British GP win was a timely response to his doubters, writes Lewis Larkam from Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

We learned at the British Grand Prix that, even as one of the world’s most successful athletes, Lewis Hamilton still struggles with moments of self-doubt. Just like the rest of us.

As Hamilton crossed the line to seal a record-extending ninth F1 British Grand Prix win at Silverstone, the relief spilled out with the seven-time world champion unable to keep his emotions in check during a raw team radio exchange with race engineer Peter Bonnington.

“Get in there, Lewis! You’re the man, you’re the man! Oh mate, I have been waiting for this,” shouted ‘Bono’, who has forged one of the tightest driver-engineer bonds with Hamilton over the past 11 years working together.

“Thank you so much, guys. It means a lot. A lot to get this one. A big thanks to the fans here, I love you guys,” Hamilton choked in response, fighting back the tears.

Of all the 104 grand prix victories racked up across his illustrious career spanning 17 seasons, this one hit differently. This one had an extra special meaning.

For Hamilton, it ended a 945-day drought stretching 56 grand prix and nearly three years since he last tasted victory at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. That win came a week before Hamilton’s world was turned upside down when he missed out on a record eighth world title in one of F1’s most controversial championship deciders.

“It feels different to previous races,” Hamilton told the assembled media including in Sunday’s FIA press conference. “The adversity we have gone through as a team and I have personally experienced, the constant challenge, like we all have, to get out of bed every day and give it your best shot.

“So many times when you feel like your best shot is not good enough, and the disappointment sometimes you can feel. We live in a time when mental health is such a serious issue and I am not going to lie [and deny] that I have experienced that.

“There have definitely been moments between 2021 and here when I didn’t feel like I was good enough, or I thought it was never going to happen again. I have never cried coming from a win. It just came out of me. It is a really great feeling and I am really grateful for it.”

Lewis Hamilton holds back the tears after his record British GP win
Lewis Hamilton holds back the tears after his record British GP win

A prolonged spell of success for Hamilton abruptly ended in contentious circumstances after the now-disgraced former FIA race director Michael Masi freestyled the Safety Car rules and opened the door for Max Verstappen to, through no fault of his own, capitalise and claim his maiden world title.

No one could have foreseen how the last two-and-a-half years would have panned out for Hamilton and Mercedes. Hamilton’s win at Silverstone marked his first since before Verstappen, the now dominant force in F1, became a world champion. The Dutchman now has three world titles and is on course for a fourth straight crown this year.

In contrast, Hamilton entered a barely believable barren spell, failing to win for two consecutive seasons for the first time in his career, and taking just one pole position in that time as Mercedes struggled to get to grips with F1’s new regulations in 2022.

“Honestly, when I came back in 2022, I thought that I was over it,” Hamilton said, as he spoke candidly about his heartbreaking title loss in Abu Dhabi. “And I know I wasn’t, and it's taken a long time to heal that kind of feeling.

“That's only natural for anyone that has that experience. I've just been continuing to try and work on myself and find that inner peace day by day.”

One of the most striking images from that fateful night in Abu Dhabi was when Hamilton’s father, Anthony, fresh from graciously offering congratulations to Verstappen and his dad Jos, consoled his visibly devastated and shocked son.

Poignantly, in a near-full circle moment, it was Hamilton Sr once again providing a source of comfort and support as he embraced his son, whose tears - this time of joy - were shielded from the 160,000 fans and millions more watching at home only by his helmet and half-open visor. It was a particularly vulnerable and hair-raising moment as the crowd erupted in response to the scenes they were witnessing on the big screens.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme with his father Anthony Hamilton (GBR). Formula
Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme…

Hamilton’s mother, Carmen Larbalestier, also had a touching, personal moment with her son in parc ferme before he went up to the podium. Hamilton had those he holds most dear to him in attendance at Silverstone, and took his family onto the stage with him in the fan zone after the race.

Factor in that this was Hamilton’s final British Grand Prix outing with Mercedes before he leaves to join Ferrari next season, and there was an extra edge of emotion attached to the long-awaited triumph.

“Your parents are getting older, you know. We're travelling so much,” Hamilton said. “Time with family is a constant challenge. My niece and nephew are growing up and growing out of their cuteness. But I've had them here this weekend.

“We all try to be there for each other, even at a distance. I know I've always had their support, but to be able to see them there and share this experience, they wanted to be at my last race, the last British Grand Prix with this team that have been so incredible to us.

“Mercedes obviously supported me since I was 13. So it's definitely meant the most today to have them there and to be able to share it with them.”

Hamilton’s return to the top in F1 is a story of resilience and never giving up. His victory at Silverstone, in front of an adoring and raucous crowd, marked a moment of redemption at the end of a very long, and sometimes dark, road.

It taught the now 39-year-old Hamilton valuable lessons along the way, and is a reminder to his harshest critics and doubters of just how good he is when there is a sniff of victory, and that he should never be written off. 

Lewis Hamilton celebrates with the Silverstone crowd
Lewis Hamilton celebrates with the Silverstone crowd

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