Lewis Hamilton 'humbled' by F1 wins record and explains why GP build-ups still 'terrifying'
"The crazy thing about this is that I would have thought I would get used to things. But I was getting ready getting my helmet on in the garage today - nerves, uncertainty. All these different things you go through and it's still terrifying!"
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 26/10/20 6:22am
Lewis Hamilton said he felt "very humbled" about becoming the F1 driver with the most victories and explained why, despite his record-breaking success, build-ups to races remained "terrifying".
The Englishman is now out on his own at the head of Formula 1's all-time winners' table after taking a 92nd victory in a dominant showing at the Portuguese GP, brilliantly recovering from losing ground in the early laps to win by almost half a minute from team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
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In an absorbing post-race interview with Sky Sports F1 - which can be viewed in full in the video at the top of the page - Hamilton said he was grateful for the historic success.
"I feel fantastic. Very humbled," said Hamilton, who had tied Michael Schumacher's long-standing mark of 91 wins at the previous race in Germany.
"Very difficult to explain the feeling. I feel young, I feel energised. And, of course, I'm very grateful. I'm constantly thinking of the guys I'm working with."
'It's still terrifying!' - Hamilton on why winning doesn't get easier
Hamilton was 22 years old and in just the seventh race of his rookie season of F1 when he won for the first time at the 2007 Canadian GP, with McLaren.
His landmark 92nd success came in his 14th season, with the vastly-experienced 35-year-old within touching distance of a Schumacher-equalling seventh championship.
77 points ahead, Hamilton could clinch that historic title as early as the Turkish GP on November 15.
Now holding all the sport's other big winning records, Hamilton would supplant Schumacher as the most successful driver of all time.
Hamilton: The F1 records he now holds
|Most race wins||92|
|Most points finishes||225|
|Most races led||159|
|Most pole positions||97|
|Most front-row starts||156|
But while the relentless nature of his success with Mercedes means there has been a certain inevitably over the identity of F1's race winner in recent seasons, the Englishman says he still experiences plenty of doubts and uncertainties ahead of every start.
"Each race - and each race win particularly - there have been certain characteristics, a different journey, each time," explained Hamilton, who appeared in his 262nd Grand Prix on Sunday.
"The crazy thing about this is that I would have thought I would get used to things. But I was getting ready, getting my helmet on in the garage today [and there were] nerves, uncertainty. Have I remembered my strategy? Have I remembered my switch settings?
"All these different things you go through and it's still terrifying!
"You wake up on a Sunday and every Sunday you feel different. It's hard to register - am I good today?
"There are days I'm getting in the car on the grid and I'm like 'I don't feel good, this is not going to go well' then I drive the best ever.
"Then I have days that I feel really good and it's not so good. So you never know what to expect but all I try to do is by preparing myself the best way I can."
Praising the Mercedes team's role in his achievements, Hamilton said: "Even though I've had all the success, I study more than I've ever studied. I practice multiple things, that's why you're seeing certain things done as consistent as they are.
"Also I work with incredible people. They really, really are phenomenal.
"You look at the reliability I've had [one retirement in the last 79 races and none in the last 45] - that's no coincidence.
"That's done from the guys really not taking no for an answer and people not sitting back on success, and continuing to develop together."
Hamilton won at Portimao despite the first-lap setback of dropping behind Bottas and the fast-starting Carlos Sainz.
Speaking in the post-race pen, Hamilton said: "All these things don't come easy so it's like the first time every time. That's why I really love doing what I do.
"To be able to do it at the level that I was able to do it today - of course I didn't know that was going to happen, but I pushed for that. Even though I fell back to third I kept believing - 'it's good, I'm going to get back, there's a long way to go'.
"I wish there were more cars to race later on in the race, but I was pretty on it today."