HOCKENHEIM, Germany, July 19 - Lewis Hamilton will take part in his 100th Formula One Grand Prix at Hockenheim, reluctant to celebrate and with a certain sense of frustration.
Having finished second in his debut season in 2007 and winning the world title at the age of 23 the year after, the subsequent years have been something of an anti-climax for the British driver who has been upstaged by Sebastian Vettel.
Asked if he felt he could have achieved more, Hamilton responded with a clear “yes” during a media briefing at the circuit on Thursday.
”But if I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be the driver that I am,“ he added. ”I can’t deny it, putting aside the fact that I‘m very proud and grateful that I’ve had the chance to be competitive in a competitive car.
”Every year, I feel like I’ve prepared myself and had the mental ability and skill to have won more but, just with the circumstances, we haven’t been able to do so. It’s been a tough 10 or 15 years for this team.
“I‘m waiting for that time when they have their highest point. I hope at some stage it’s our turn.”
The 27-year-old, who followed up his 2008 world title with fifth in 2009, fourth in 2010 and fifth again last season, said it was “insane” that time had gone so quickly.
”I don’t think I‘m excited simply because its my 100th grand prix,“ said Hamilton, who has won 18 races. ”I don’t think it’s good to celebrate getting older. To think I’ve done 100 Grand Prixs feels so unreal.
“I didn’t keep track of my tenth or my twentieth or my fiftieth grand prix, but to get to 100 is important. It would definitely mean a lot to me to win my 100th but I‘m just looking for the (race) win.”
He added: “When you’re having a good time, time flies by and the years have gone by very quickly. I‘m in my sixth year of Formula One, it’s insane.”
Other drivers praised Hamilton’s competitiveness although they were reluctant to be drawn on whether he could have done more.
“Fans want gladiators who give it their all and exceed limits,” said seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher. “For all of us he’s a very serious competitor and good to have.”
Fernando Alonso, his former McLaren team mate, disagreed that Hamilton should feel frustrated.
“Like everyone else, he could have won more championships, but nobody who has won the world championship can be disappointed for only doing it once because there are hundreds of drivers who don’t have that chance,” said the Spaniard.
Hamilton, fourth this year and 37 points adrift of leader Alonso after a disappointing outing at Silverstone, said he still believed he could get back in the title race.
“There is still a long, long way to go, the way the championship has gone so far, anything could happen,” he said. “We still have time.”
”We’ll find out tomorrow how competitive we are,“ he added. ”I know what we have and how much we have. I really hope it gives us a chance to at least fight for the win.
“If you have to dice with someone, this is a great circuit to do it. I did it in 2008.” (Editing by Justin Palmer)