Hamilton's second F1 title: A long time coming

Crash.net F1 Editor Chris Medland looks at the catalysts for Lewis Hamilton's second drivers' world championship, six years after he won his first title
Hamilton's second F1 title: A long time coming

When Lewis Hamilton burst on to the scene in 2007, he was a breath of fresh air. Quick, attacking, ruthless, and often smiling through a tumultuous year.

While that championship ultimately slipped through his fingers after he slid in to the gravel in the Shanghai pit lane, Hamilton soon bounced back to dramatically take the title that he appeared destined for a year later. Surely the first of many...

That it has taken six years for Hamilton to add to that tally is a surprise. Unable to mount a meaningful defence in the face of Brawn's fairy tale story in 2009, Red Bull then reeled off the next four championships. Hamilton was in the mix in 2010, but it would have taken an extraordinary sequence of events for him to snatch the title that season.

As a driver, Hamilton's skills were never in question, but being outscored by team-mate Jenson Button at McLaren over their three seasons together showed he was lacking the consistency - and perhaps temperament - to win as many titles as he was capable of.

Then came the switch to Mercedes. While the move wasn't universally praised, Hamilton had broken free from the shackles at McLaren. His new team allowed him to be himself, and in a sport where drivers are often criticised for being PR robots it was another breath of fresh air regardless of whether you share his interests or not.

It was a turning point in Hamilton's career.

No longer constricted within the sport Hamilton was able to focus even more on the things he likes, and racing comes high up on that list. Yes, being himself sometimes means being quiet, monosyllabic and subdued - even after a pole position or a win - but the history books will record the race results. They are what really matter.

2014 was the year that really brought the significance of the move to the fore. Mercedes had the dominant car, and Hamilton had been working on all the little areas where observers had questions his skills.

"Looking at the years I remember all the talk about 'Can Lewis make his tyres last? His aggressive driving style... is it this? Is it that?' I think throughout the races this year I've proved time and time again that I'm able to utilise my tyres as good as anyone, at least," Hamilton said. "I've positioned my car quite well to get past people and I've had to use my race-craft. That's the greatest feeling."

If the move to Mercedes is the significant point in Hamilton's career, then the Belgian Grand Prix was the significant point in his season.

After the clash with team-mate Nico Rosberg, Hamilton acknowledges his own reaction to the situation in the following days was pivotal.

"Spa was a low moment. It was a very difficult scenario to be in and going back years ago, I wouldn't have reacted the way I did this year. I would have chosen another way which wouldn't have been a positive and I guess with age and just maturing and having a different perspective on life, I think I handled it a different way, I really thought for the following days and really turned my focus to a different area.

"I came back to the next races with a slightly different approach and I won't explain exactly what I did because I need to bring it to the next races next year but I did tweak some of my approach throughout the weekend which helped me get those wins."

Since Spa, six wins out of seven highlights Hamilton's resurgence while also displaying his mental strength, which Rosberg tried to find a weakness in right until the lights went out in Abu Dhabi.

So what next?

"Watching past drivers have that following year they seem to continue getting stronger," Hamilton said after the morning after victory. "It's like a positive curve, a curve of real strength so I hope that's the case for us next year.

"Of course I'm going to push as hard as I can. I'm grateful that I generally feel great, I'm still young, still have got a lot to learn, still a lot to improve on and I'm definitely not finished. I'm going to come back stronger."

The second title was a long time coming. You sense the wait for a third will be shorter.

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