Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth World title at last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix – but on a weekend dominated by Max Verstappen, he knows that he needs to up his game to take his fifth.
Hamilton’s fourth title looked to be inevitable from Japan onwards, after a string of mechanical issues and crashes put his main title contender, Sebastian Vettel, almost out of contention. But until the summer break, it looked as though it could swing either way between the two drivers.
Verstappen’s run of bad luck and on-track incidents meant that for many races this year, he was forced to take a back seat, and up until Malaysia, had only one podium throughout the season. But after winning two out of the last four races, it looks as though he will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.
Hamilton recognises the threat that the young Dutchman poses – but rather than seeing this as a negative he instead wants to use it to improve himself as a driver for the coming seasons.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Hamilton commented that “I want to be better next year.”
“The challenge is going to be even bigger from Ferrari and Red Bull next year. Formula 1 doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t stand still.”
Verstappen is arguably the leader of an exciting crop of young drivers beginning their careers in Formula One, including the likes of Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. Hamilton knows that they will soon be the drivers he has to contend with for wins and championships.
“There is always someone there waiting to take my position. I’ve got Max sitting there waiting to take it. I’ve got to raise the game another level in order to stay ahead of him and that motivates me.
“There’s my motivation already for next year.”