Lewis Hamilton has pledged to race on in Formula 1 and continue his fight for equality and sustainability after clinching his seventh drivers’ title.
The 35-year-old’s victory in Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix made him the most successful racing driver in history.
Hamilton described his achievement as “the pinnacle of my life so far”, adding: “There is a much bigger win we all need to work together towards.
“That’s pushing for equality, so we can create a better future.”
Briton Hamilton has become a champion of anti-racism this year, as well as continuing his campaigns on environmental issues.
“We have had this awakening this year,” he said, “and people are starting to be held accountable and holding themselves accountable and realising that is not a bad thing.
“It just means we have to work harder and not be so stubborn and open our minds up and educate ourselves a bit better so we can push for a more equal world.
“I am not going to stop fighting for that and then in my part time maybe I’ll keep racing for a little while.”
What about his contract?
Hamilton is out of contract with Mercedes at the end of this season but said he had been putting off talks with team boss Toto Wolff until he had clinched the championship.
“It definitely is something we do need to get on to,” said the Englishman. “It’s been, like, I have a job to do, I have a contract in place, I don’t feel like I should add pressure. It has to be organic and not something that’s forced.
“I wanted to put it aside and wait until the job is done. Probably over these next weeks – we have these three weeks in the Middle East so it’s a bit more chilled. But I still have three races ahead of me that I want to win. It’s not done. But we will get it done, I’m sure.”
There are three races remaining in the F1 championship, two in Bahrain and one in Abu Dhabi, but Wolff said he would not be surprised if contracts talks were not completed until after the end of the season.
“There isn’t any pressure,” Wolff said. “When it’s done, it’s done.
“He loves racing and the competition, as does the team and myself. If we wouldn’t have the competition against the stopwatch, life would not be as fun.
“So I see us going for more next year. Maybe putting another great year on and we have this tremendous challenging regulations change for 2022. So we’ll go for a while.”
The anti-racism fight
Hamilton said he hoped his achievement “sends a message to kids that it doesn’t matter where you come from, whatever your background, it is so important to dream big”.
“If you are looking at places, industries that you don’t see someone of the same background as you or the same ethnicity, or the same religion, create your own path.
“That is what I have been able to do. It has been so tough. Tough doesn’t even describe how hard it’s been.
“I have walked this sport alone as being the only black person here or the only person of colour here.
“The fact is I am bi-racial and there is colourism that people should perhaps read about.
“When I was younger I didn’t have anybody in the sport that looked like me so it was easy to think it was not possible to get there because nobody of your colour has ever been there, you don’t see any black people in F1.”
The magnitude of the achievement
Hamilton’s seventh title matches the achievement of Michael Schumacher, whose record for career victories the Briton broke last month.
Hamilton admitted he had been in tears in the car on the slowing down lap, after winning a dramatic race in difficult wet conditions.
“Very rarely do I lose control of my emotions,” he said. “Those last few laps, we were having the discussion whether we were going to pit, I was just telling myself, ‘keep it together, Lewis, you got this.’
“And I could feel it getting closer and also knowing that if I finished where I was right now I have got the championship. So all these emotions were running through me and I was trying to stop it.
“I didn’t want the visor to come up and people to see tears cry. I always said I am not going to let you see me cry, but it was too much.”
Wolff said Hamilton had “cemented his position among the all-time best sportsmen in the world”.
And Hamilton said he had provided an answer to his critics who claim his success is all about his car, on a day his team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished 14th and was lapped having spun five times.
“I want more of these weekends more tricky conditions like this,” Hamilton said. “The more opportunities like this, the more I am able to show what I am able to do.
“Today I deserve my respect. My peers will know how hard a day like today is, will know it is not a car thing. I couldn’t have done this without an amazing group of people behind me but there is another great driver alongside me who has the same car who didn’t finish where I finished.
“Of course you have to have a good team and a great car. That will always be. But it what you do with it also counts and hopefully you can see that today.”
Wolff added: “[His new contract] got really more expensive today. His driving was impeccable.
“There was not one foot he put wrong today while everybody else did. With a car that was today in terms of interaction with the tyres for sure not the best car.”