In Brief

Lewis Hamilton’s F1 legacy: making positive change, not just winning world titles

Five-time world champion opens up about the proposed 2021 rules, ‘boring’ races and Formula 1’s future

The 2019 Formula 1 season may only be eight races old but is there anyone out there who can stop Lewis Hamilton from cruising to a sixth career world title?

Hamilton scored his sixth victory of the year at Sunday’s French Grand Prix and alongside team-mate Valtteri Bottas Mercedes celebrated another 1-2 finish and their eighth successive win.

The commanding victory at Paul Ricard means the British ace now has 187 points from eight races and is 36 points ahead of Bottas in the drivers’ championship.

After the French GP Hamilton warned his rivals that he’s going to get even better. “I know people might not want to hear it, but it is going to get stronger from here,” said the 34-year-old.

“I can’t believe it has been as good a season already to start with as it has. Particularly as I felt I really struggled in the first few races trying to get on top of the car.

“The races have been strong but in qualifying and practice I have been really struggling to put my finger on where the performance was and how to extract it. But I’m getting there.”

Despite Hamilton securing a 79th career victory, his and Mercedes’s dominating performance in France and the season as a whole has left some fans and pundits saying that F1 has become “boring”.

F1’s future

The future of F1 - and in particular the proposed 2021 rule changes - have been a major topic of discussion for drivers, teams, fans and stakeholders within the sport.

Hamilton revealed that he and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg attended an F1 rules summit in Paris two weeks ago on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA). In Paris it was confirmed that the deadline for the 2021 regulation changes would be delayed until October.

Sky Sports reports that Hamilton has opened up about F1’s future, the “boring” races, 2021 rules and the legacy he wishes to leave behind when his driving career comes to an end.

Here we look at the highlights from his post-race interview in France…

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates his victory at the 2019 Formula 1 French GP
The ‘boring’ French GP

“If you say that it’s boring… I totally understand it. But don’t point the fingers at the drivers because we don’t write the rules, we have nothing to do with the money shifting, all that kind of stuff… [You] should put the pressure on the people that are at the head, who should be doing the job.

“I empathise with the fans watching, I empathise with you guys coming every week. For a race like today, in my heart I’ve just raced my heart out and I’ll continue to do the same thing but for you it might not be so exciting to watch. So I empathise with that.”

F1’s 2021 rule changes

“They’ve extended the decision of making the rules. I think they need to because they’re nowhere near where it should be in my opinion and they’ve got to make some serious changes to the decisions that they’ve already made of how 2021 should be.

“But what I’m encouraged by is that Ross [Brawn] and his team are working - for the first time - on a real aero package that hopefully will have an impact on following [another car], for example.

“People really enjoyed the speed of the cars between the early 2000s I think it was. It still needs to be Formula 1, the pinnacle of sport and the fastest cars that there are around the world.

“So hopefully we will be part of it, hopefully we can make a real cool change and it’s not only that, it’s the format of the race weekend that maybe can shift a little bit for the fans, it’s how we bring the fans in, it’s all these things which can be better.”

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates his victory at the 2019 Formula 1 French GP
Attending the F1 rules summit

“I don’t think we’ve ever been in that room before so it’s the first time us drivers appeared in the room. I really think we made an impact, I think the guys were like ‘shoot, we do need the drivers here’. The fact that it’s taken them so long to realise that is not so great.

“But on the positive side, they’ve listened, and I’d like to think they’re welcoming us to be in the decision process. But we need to be in the next meeting and be part of the next chain of emails so we can… even if it’s just small things.”

His legacy in F1

“I’ve been here a long, long time and the thing that I’d really love to have... if I look at my legacy, I’d love to look back and say I was a part of that positive changes for the fans that are watching Formula 1, even beyond my time.

“That’d be a cool thing to be a part of at the end, not just as a driver who won titles but someone who actually cared about the sport’s legacy.”

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