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Hamilton has given himself more to think about than the F1 Drivers’ Championship as we head into the final six races of the 2021 season

 

Lewis Hamilton says his past experiences in Formula One means he would have checked on Max Verstappen had the roles been reversed in their collision at Monza earlier this season.

 

Hamilton, 36, and Verstappen were both wiped out of the Italian Grand Prix when the latter’s Red Bull hit the sausage roll on a turn and jumped on top of the mercedes.

 

Only the protective halo and roll hoop above Hamilton’s head prevented Verstappen’s right-rear tyre from a potentially disastrous accident. Verstappen, 24, got out of his grounded Red Bull first and stormed away from the incident, as Hamilton tried unsuccessfully to reverse from underneath his rival’s chassis.

 

Hamilton said after the race he felt ”blessed “ for not suffering serious injury in the collision, while Verstappen was hit with a penalty for his part.

 

Yet the Brit insists he hasn’t since dwelt on the crash.  “I don’t really have a certain feeling about it,” Hamilton told Channel 4. “Of course I felt that crash physically. Have you ever watched Cool Runnings? At the end they crash the bobsled, they get out and say they have to finish the race, that’s my mentality.

 

 

“The car was on top of me, so I thought about how to get back into the race. And so I didn’t expect him to check on me. I certainly would have checked whoever I landed on, but I’m older.

“I try to approach him respectfully, but I’m also a fighter, I don’t shy away from the race scenario.

 

 

“I always try to be sensible, because I have two thousand people who are counting on me to keep the car intact. It’s not just about me, it’s about us all winning the championship.”

 

 

Hamilton and Verstappen have certainly offered up the most exciting F1 title challenge in years. The pair are split by just six championship points with six races remaining.

 

 

Since Monza both men have swapped out their engines, taken grid penalties  and maintained the heat. It means we’re set for a showdown finish to this most dramatic of seasons.

 

 

Yet Hamilton isn’t just thinking about the next few months. His recently-signed new contract at Mercedes will keep him at the team until the end of the 2023 campaign. That will give him more than enough opportunity to leapfrog Michael Schumacher into first place on the all-time list of F1 champions.

 

 

But in recent years Hamilton has also begun to realise his influence outside of race weekends. Questioning the levels of diversity in F1 was followed by his spearheading of actions to tackle racial discrimination across the world. Drivers can now choose to take the knee before races – although some still opt out.

Written into Hamilton’s contract was a pledge from Mercedes to push for “greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport” and the creation of a charitable foundation.

And the 36-year-old – the only black champion in the sport’s history – is evidently thinking more and more about the legacy he leaves behind.

“It’s different and it’s unmarked territory, there’s a different thing that I’m fuelled slightly differently than I was when I was going for my first [title] when I was 22 years old,” he said.

“When I was 22 years old it was about me and my family and it was just about us, it was about us achieving a thing that we were told that we would not be able to do.

“Now, you’ve seen over this past year I’ve got a fire, I’m pushing to help try and work with the sport to become more diverse in the following years, so that is like a side focus that I have, starting Mission 44 and starting in my new contract, putting it in the negotiations saying to Mercedes ‘I want to do something far greater than winning World Championships’.

 

“‘I want to win World Championships with you but at the same time want to help youngsters to get into the sport that are coming from different backgrounds’.

“So that is like a real big focus for me, and seeing the response has been positive and seeing the progress that we are starting to embark on, that fuels me.

“I think it’s important to find inspiration from different things and helping people now is a big part of that.”

 

 

 

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