Hamilton heralds 2019 ‘the hardest year’ he can remember

Lewis Hamilton is the 2019 Formula world champion-elect

Lewis Hamilton believes 2019 has been one of the hardest years that he can remember because of ups and downs away from the track.

The 2019 world champion-elect finished second in the United States Grand Prix to mathematically seal his sixth Formula 1 title.

It moves the 34-year-old to second behind Michael Schumacher in terms of most number of world championship victories, having been previously tied with Argentinian legend Juan Manuel Fangio on five.

Success in 2019 is also Hamilton’s third in a row, a feat previously only achieved by Fangio, Schumacher, and Sebastian Vettel.

“It’s hard to understand what I’m feeling right now, to be honest,” Hamilton said after the race in Texas.

“IĀ feel more humble than ever, I think. I just saw my parents as I came in and just looking at my Dad’s smile, it just says it all.

“Cloud 9 doesn’t even get close to where I am. I’m somewhere far above that, and just really, really grateful to everyone back at the factory, everyone who supported me this year.

“This has been the hardest year that I can remember,” he added.

“It’s really hard to fully appreciate that because you’re obviously not with me all the time and understand the ups and downs that goes on in an athlete’s mind but it’s been so challenging.

“Working with the guys, the fitness side of things, the health side of things, the travelling that we’re doing, the ups and downs that we’re going to experience.

“I would say probably more so the ups and downs outside the sport has been even more challenging.”

During the course of the season the team lost its figurehead, Niki Lauda, who had been integral in recruiting Hamilton to the marque.

The Austrian, himself a three-time world champion, died in the days prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, and left an indelible mark on the team.

“I miss Niki so much, I know today he would be taking his cap off,” Hamilton said.

“Yesterday he would have been doing this (rubbing his fingers together), he was paying me too much, or I have to pay him, but today he would have taken his cap (off).

“I wouldn’t have been able to have done this without Niki. He’s here with us in spirit.”

One world title shy of Schumacher’s tally, Hamilton is also closing in on a host of other records.

With 83 wins he is just eight shy of Schumacher’s record, and is only five podium appearances away from beating the German’s record number of top three appearances.

He is already the most successful driver in Formula 1 history when it comes to qualifying, with 87 poles to his name versus 68 for Schumacher, and 65 for Senna.

Two races remain in the 2019 world championship, the first in Brazil and then the finale in Abu Dhabi, and victory in both would see Hamilton equal Schumacher and Vettel for most wins in a season on 13.

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