Interview: Why Hamilton thinks he is getting better with age

After turning a 43 points deficit against teammate Nico Rosberg into a 19-point advantage, Lewis Hamilton will return from Formula 1's summer break as many people's favourite for his third consecutive world title.

Interview: Why Hamilton thinks he is getting better with age
Winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid in parc ferme
Podium: winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid in parc ferme
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the fans
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid celebrates as he enters parc ferme
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Race winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with team mate Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 and the team
Podium: winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Podium: winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W07 and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Podium: winner Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1

And if he does go on and deliver that championship success, it will be proof that the new, more mature Hamilton has learned how not to let adversity get him down.

Formerly notorious for wearing his heart on his sleeve and occasionally allowing his emotions to get in the way of his performance, the current racing season has seen him stay focused on the job at hand despite the obstacles put in his way.

But what is behind Hamilton's more mature approach? Is it a natural consequence of getting old, or has the Briton worked on rolling with the punches?

"I think it's definitely a part of growing and being the age that I am, but I think it's also interpreting other people's struggles," he said.

"You know many people have difficult times, but my brother... seeing him growing up, whether we played basketball or football, it's easy for me to kick around a ball and then my brother would trip, fall over.

"It's easy to run rings around him because he obviously can't move his legs like that. He'd fall over, get back up and never once ever complained, never complained that he couldn't get the ball off you, or I was whooping his butt.

"He just keeps getting up and keeps trying harder and I guess that's probably coming into real use, that kind of experience.

"I think also now I'm just in a place in my life where as you grow older your priorities shift and you understand what's it and what's not and you don't get caught up in the unimportant things.

"I think as I continue to grow those priorities will get clearer and clearer I would imagine. My friends are telling me that when you have kids then it changes again but I feel like I'm definitely in that transition, gone through that transition phase and now I don't get hung up on difficult times. I'm able to pass through it real quick and turn it [around]."

Several of Hamilton's colleagues have sought the services of sports psychologists to help better understand their behaviours, and to become better racers as a consequence.

Felipe Massa has heaped praise on the help he received in getting back to racing following his accident in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, while Romain Grosjean has been similarly effusive in praise for those who helped turn the Frenchman from "first lap nutcase" to podium-sitter.

Hamilton, however, prefers to look within for the growth he needs.

"I don't speak to people," he said. "I don't speak to anyone. I generally just try to grow in myself. I think we all are great within our higher self and then sometimes we let other things get in the way and sometimes lose our way: say the wrong things, and think the wrong things, and for a minute you come off the road and somehow you navigate your way back.

"I think [I'm] just getting better at doing that, basically. As I said, back in the day I wouldn't leave the hotel room for days in anger of making a mistake or something like that. Now, once I've left [the track] and am on the way home I feel it for a bit but then next day, it's a new day and it's a new time.

"I just have the new outlook that all I can do is change what's ahead of me, or I can help shape what's ahead of me, rather than what's behind; there's nothing I can do about it.

"It's just strange how life works where there are those times where you stumble and you go through that emotional roller-coaster ride and somehow as an athlete still manage to keep your head in the game, if not strengthen yourself through those experiences."

Turning 30 last year was something of a watershed moment for Hamilton, both as a racing driver and as a human being.

"I think last year, being 30, I was in the first year of the best years of my life," Hamilton reflected. "They say that, don't they?

"And my thirties so far have been my best; really enjoyed them and I think that's just part of me being mature and knowing what I want. I'm generally around people who are younger than me most of the time, I'm generally the older one there.

"I'm now finally in the place where I'm able to look at someone who is 25 or younger and actually give wisdom, which I was never in a position [to do] before.

"'I'm six years ahead of you and these are the things I've experienced in those six years, you've got loads more to learn so don't worry about it.' Those kinds of things. It's kind of crazy; I'm over that hill now and kind of hoping it's not too steep a hill downhill.

"I think I'm right at the top."

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