British Formula 1 driver Sir Lewis Hamilton feels that he may never have won more than one world championship without taking “a risk”.
Hamilton believes his decision to join Mercedes in 2013 was risky and raised eyebrows. His teammate at the time, Jenson Button, had said that he didn’t “personally think it is the right decision”.
Since then, it is rather obvious that Hamilton’s risk proved to work out pretty well. In his eight years with Mercedes, the Stevenage-born driver has notched six world championships. His record of 74 wins has made him the most successful driver in the history of Formula 1.
For Hamilton, the gamble was crucial. He knew that if he did not take a chance, he would not have a shot at success.
“For sure it was a risk,” Hamilton told the ‘Formula for Success’ podcast.
“There were moments when I thought ‘I don’t know when I’m going to win again’. I had to really analyse the pros and cons but for me, taking the risk, if you’re not going for a gap – as [Ayrton] Senna used to say ‘If you no longer go for a gap then you’re no longer a racing driver’.
“If you’re not taking risks in life then you are standing still.
“I could have stayed there [at McLaren]. In hindsight, if I had stayed there, I wouldn’t have another championship to my name. I would still be a one-time world champion after 14 years.
“Things happen for a reason, one way or another, and I’m really grateful that I took that step, I took that leap of faith and it’s thanks to people like Niki [Lauda] and to Ross [Brawn] and to Mercedes for truly believing in me,” the 36-year-old said.
It is worth pointing out that McLaren in the second most successful team in the sport after Ferrari in terms of race wins.
Why the McLaren adventure was cut short
A winning mentality had been ingrained into him and the knowledge that he acquired while being at McLaren was crucial.
“McLaren had this amazing history, they had won multiple championships. They were super-successful and I felt that I wasn’t necessarily helping build something,” added Hamilton.
“It was already an illustrious team and already had all that success.
“It had the biggest cabinet of trophies. I wanted to go somewhere where I could be a part of building something.
“When I joined this team, it didn’t have many trophies in the cabinet. It was on the way up, it was growing, it was building.
“There were more people coming and I wanted to go somewhere I could utilise all that I had learnt all these years. I was privileged to work at McLaren, and applied those learnings to a team that had not been very successful to help them become successful.”