Lewis Hamilton has delivered an ominous warning to his Formula 1 rivals by vowing to improve on his virtually-flawless championship-winning campaign of last year.
Hamilton emerged from his winter hibernation at Silverstone yesterday to get his first taste of the Mercedes he hopes will fire him to a sixth world title.
Last year, the British star delivered the season of his career, winning 11 of the 21 races, to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and secure his fifth championship with two rounds remaining.
And – as he enters the first campaign of a new two-year Mercedes deal which will earn him a staggering £40m-a-season – he says he is ready to continue his dominance of the sport.
“2018 was a great year, but I feel like 2019 can be even better,” he said.
“I want to achieve more, I want to continue to keep pushing. I feel energised and I am ready to attack.”
I have this great platform and I want to achieve more, but there is a much, much bigger picture to what I am involved in, and what I and my family represent.Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton retreated for his off-season break mired in all-too familiar controversy after he likened his home town Stevenage to a “slum” at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in December.
During the live broadcast, Hamilton immediately retracted the reference, and the criticism aimed at him was unfair.
Away from the public glare, he admitted to cutting back on social media, but also spoke of his joy at tackling the waves with former surfing world champion, Kelly Slater, and obtaining a skydiving licence.
He joked that Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff would be his first passenger. Hamilton is entering the 13th season of his remarkable career, and will move to within just one title of Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven should he triumph again this term. But the Englishman, who remains the only black driver to have competed in F1, is keen to make his reach felt beyond the sport.
“I have this great platform and I want to achieve more, but there is a much, much bigger picture to what I am involved in, and what I and my family represent,” he added.
“What is driving me right now is to continue to push for diversity and change, not only in my sport, but also in the world, encouraging young people to dream big and really putting it out there in the universe.
“I have to keep pushing, keep evolving and keep driving.”