F1 grid plays catch-up as Lewis Hamilton resumes his charge in Mexico

Lewis Hamilton - Formula 1

When the Greek philosopher Diogenes was discovered begging for money from a statue he explained to bewildered onlookers that he was “practicing disappointment”.

There are 19 Formula One drivers who will go through a very similar process during Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, when they will attempt to beat Lewis Hamilton, the world champion.

Hamilton has already won 10 races this year and if he wins the last three rounds he will equal the record for the most wins in a season, 13, which is shared by Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013).

When the 30-year-old was asked here what his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg had to do to beat him he looked stumped for an answer. “I don’t know,” he said. “How do you go about beating me? I’m not going to tell you because you’ll put it in the paper! How would I go about beating Ayrton Senna? I have no idea. So I have no idea how I would go about beating me.”

Rosberg could not try any harder. He works two hours a day in the gym, has a fastidious, sugar-free diet and sleeps a minimum of nine hours on the night before a race. But he still cannot get close to a man who can party like Kate Moss and still blow away the rest of the field on race day.

“But there are races where Nico beats me,” Hamilton insisted, a little unconvincingly. “I really don’t know what to say. It’s the same you would say to Usain Bolt, or Muhammad Ali, or other people winning in their sport. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t matter how hard those people worked to beat Ali. No matter how hard a kid is going to train, he might not beat Usain Bolt.

“There was a time when no one could beat Tiger Woods because he was too good. That’s not what I’m saying about myself, because I like to do my talking on the track, but that’s just how sport is. And [Nico] will continue to work. There’s all the opportunities ahead of us for him to win. It’s how you go about it. It’s not impossible.

“But I feel since I’ve been karting that if I apply myself a certain way, all the kids I was racing against I was going to beat. I pride myself on the same [feeling] today.”

Hamilton clearly views himself as virtually unbeatable. Formula One fans can only hope that Ferrari continue to up their game because Hamilton’s most serious rival in terms of ability is the four times world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Before his last race, in Austin last weekend, Hamilton said that the hardest thing was to be his team-mate. When this was put to Rosberg he replied: “That comment makes it even better for me because it I’ll get even more pleasure beating him next time. We’ll both be fighting it out for the win. The drivers and constructors championships are done, so it’s just going to be a battle as usual.”

The problem for Rosberg is that he has spent half his life racing Hamilton, going back to their karting days together. AndHamilton has always had the edge. Nor are there any signs that the British driver could leave Mercedes in the near future.

Would he still be racing in 10 years time, when he will be 40? “Absolutely not,” he said. “I have no plans to go that far. I’ve got a contract for another three years, and I imagine there will be one contract for three or four years beyond that, and that will be it. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13. I can’t see myself anywhere else”. McLaren were powered by Mercedes when he was at the team.

But Hamilton feels that he does not want to get in the way of an emerging talent in the future. “There’s only 20 seats. I remember watching Michael [Schumacher]. For every year he stayed – he was amazing – that’s one less seat for someone else who could have come along.

“I just remember how it was for me at the end of 2006 [at McLaren]. Juan Pablo Montoya was leaving, and Kimi Raikkonen left, and there was one seat available. If they hadn’t moved, maybe I wouldn’t be in this position today.

“I had a friend who had a chance and missed it – Martin Hines – so I don’t want to hog it. I’ve earned being here, but I just feel there’s a point where I’ve done my piece here. So I’m going to let someone else come.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul Weaver in Mexico City, for The Guardian on Friday 30th October 2015 22.00 Europe/London

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