Hamilton still “very much related to that kid” from GP2 days: “I feel so incredibly hungry to win”

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In Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend, Lewis Hamilton got asked about his journey from the GP2 paddock in 2006 all the way through to today.

Photo credit: GP2 Series

It’s been a remarkable story for the 38-year-old as he has become the most successful driver in F1 history since his debut at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix. In fact, it’s exactly 16 years ago to the day since he won his first Grand Prix in Canada.

Hamilton explained he doesn’t remember much from his GP2 races in Barcelona 17 years ago, although he did correctly point out he was taken out by ART teammate Alexandre Prémat on the last lap in the feature race when he was leading.

“I remember being taken out at turn 10 on the last lap I think, that’s all I remember from the race I had here.

“But yeah, I mean it’s crazy to think it’s 17 years here and you guys [journalists] have all grown so much older.

“Through the ups and downs, I think it’s been pretty incredible the journey. When I was in 2006 did I ever think that I would be a multiple world champion? No.”

Hamilton would eventually go on to win the championship in GP2. With Kimi Räikkönen leaving McLaren to join Ferrari, it opened up an opportunity for Hamilton to drive with the Woking-based team in 2007 alongside Fernando Alonso.

The seven-time World Champion gave some great insight into his mentality and how he needed to prove his quality every single weekend to make sure he made it to Formula One.

“I mean at the time I wasn’t sure if I would even get to Formula 1 still. Every second and every decision I made on track in my mind was the deciding factor of whether or not I would get an opportunity, whether the door would be open for me, whether I would get a hand up into the big league.

“That’s all I was focused on every single day when I was running, every mile that I was putting in. I was thinking about crossing the line first, I was thinking about how can I convince Ron Dennis to give me a chance, I was thinking if I win the championship they’ll have no choice but to give me an opportunity, so pretty crazy.”

Even now in 2023 after 103 wins and holding the record for the most championships in the history of the sport, Hamilton can very much relate to that young 21-year-old trying to break into the biggest category in Motorsport.

“But then getting here, similar sort of thing, now I’ve got to really show what I can do and I’ve got to continue to prove that every weekend. I’ve been doing that a long time now.

“I still feel very much related to that kid because I just feel so incredibly hungry to win and willing to sacrifice pretty much everything in order to get to where I need to be.

“That’s not changed since then [2006].”

Hamilton would go on to secure his 193rd podium finish in F1 last Sunday as he finished P2 in Barcelona.

Photo credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team