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Lewis Hamilton insists he will not allow his chase to become the greatest Formula One driver in history take over his life.
The 34-year-old will next year go in search of matching Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven world championships. He is also just eight grand prix victories shy of the German’s all-time win tally, too.
But the philosophical Briton, who clinched his sixth F1 title in Texas earlier this month, believes it will be a mistake to put his sole focus into pursuit of further glory.
“There are the drivers and athletes who train all day, every day, too much, they’re too focused, they’re too intense,” said Hamilton. “I read this book, The Alchemist, and I liked the story. There is this kid who meets the King. The King says to him: ‘I don’t have time for you right this second, but take this spoon with a drop of oil. I want you to go round to my house, enjoy it, and come back to me later. But don’t drop any of the oil’.
“So, the kid goes around focusing on making sure he doesn’t drop any of the oil, and when he comes back, the King asks him: ‘Did you see my great sculptures? Did you see my great paintings?’ And the kid says he didn’t because he was too focused on the spoon. That spoke a lot to me. You can focus so much on your career, and doing the perfect job, that you miss the world and your whole life can go by.
“For everyone there are certain sacrifices and choices you have to make. When you win a world championship, it does feel incredibly rewarding because of the effort you have put in, and there are things you could have done that you didn’t do in the hope that it will position yourself better. It really is about finding the right balance. I wouldn’t change my life. I wouldn’t go back and change any of the sacrifices that I have made. I wouldn’t change anything. Racing has given my life purpose.”
Hamilton, who was speaking at the Gran Turismo World Finals in Monaco, also vowed to use his platform to inspire the next generation.
Last month, the Mercedes star provoked concern when he wrote on social media that he “felt like giving up on everything” following a series of posts about climate change.
“We all go through difficult days,” added Hamilton. “I went through something yesterday, but I get positive messages from people, and I have good people around me, too. We all need to rely on each other. I am trying to have a positive impact. I looked at Ayrton Senna. He was a star in the sky and I want to somehow get up there. It is important to find people like that and that is what I am trying to be.
“If you look at young kids they are pure spirits. We are not born to hate or have negativity in our hearts. That is something we learn over time. It is passed to us by our parents, and whatever issues they have going on, and through people you interact with.
“It is always really important to stay true to your core values, and I am really fortunate that I have this amazing platform, that I never thought I would have. I am trying to be the best person I can.”
Hamilton will this week travel to the Middle East hoping to round out his fifth championship in six years with an 11th win of the campaign in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton could yet see his latest triumph rewarded with a knighthood in the New Year Honours List.
“Nelson Mandela said to me he was still learning at 90,” concluded Hamilton. “I’m always searching for perfection, and trying to improve. Each year, I write down a list of things I want to achieve and if there are 10 I might get through two or three of those.
“This year, I have done more; winning the world title, designing a successful clothing range, and another one has been designing eyewear, so each year I am managing to increase my capacity, and learning as much as possible.”