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Lewis Hamilton Talks Spanish Grand Prix and Top Moment with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton Talks Spanish Grand Prix and Top Moment with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton Talks Spanish Grand Prix and Top Moment with Mercedes

As the Spanish Grand Prix, round 10 of Formula 1’s longest season to date, is underway this weekend, one of the most successful teams in the history of the series finds itself in unfamiliar territory. Mercedes-AMG Petronas, World Constructors’ Champion for eight consecutive years—from 2014 through 2021—currently sits in fourth place, behind McLaren, Ferrari, and defending champion Red Bull. More surprisingly, its star behind the wheel, Lewis Hamilton, is presently eighth in the standings.

“We’ve not been at our best in the last few years,” admits Hamilton to Robb Report. The seven-time World Drivers’ Champion spoke with us a day prior to the first practice session at the 2.89-mile Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, partly to help promote team partner Marriott Bonvoy’s latest 1-Point Drop Moment. The exclusive opportunity is for a VIP experience at the Dutch Grand Prix in August, one that includes accommodation for five nights, tickets to qualifying and the race, and time with Hamilton beforehand. Recipients of the seven packages, which become available on June 26, will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lewis Hamilton observes some of the first practice session prior to the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images

Earlier today, Mercedes had a strong showing in qualifying as Hamilton and teammate George Russell earned the third and fourth positions, respectively, on Sunday’s starting grid. Hamilton’s final qualifying time of 1:11.701 was .318 seconds behind McLaren’s Lando Norris, who took pole position.

Lewis Hamilton during qualifying for Formula 1's 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Hamilton during Saturday’s qualifying, where he finished in third position.

Peter Fox/Getty Images

As this is Hamilton’s last season with Mercedes, each race carries new gravitas—every lap another grain of sand in the near-empty hourglass of opportunity to build on their shared legacy before he joins Scuderia Ferrari in 2025. Asked to reflect, Hamilton shares his standout moment so far with the Silver Arrows, what he’s learned about leadership from Mercedes principal Toto Wolff, and why this weekend will be a litmus test for the team.

McLaren's Lando Norrisand Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton share a lighthearted moment after the qualifying rounds of Formula 1's 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

McLaren’s Lando Norris, who captured pole position for Sunday’s race, shares a lighthearted moment with Hamilton after Saturday’s qualifying.

Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Are you seeing areas of improvement from the team that lead you to be optimistic about the rest of the season?

One particular area of improvement is just the way the mechanics prepare themselves each weekend. They’ve done a huge amount of practice and have gone much further in terms of improving the pit stops—with the training and the physicality side of it—and new processes have been put in place to get the team galvanized. We’ve now had some of the fastest and most consistent pit stops we’ve ever had—that’s just one element that’s been really positive.

A pit stop for Lewis Hamilton during Formula 1's 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

A pit stop for Hamilton during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in March.

Giuseppe Cacace/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

How are you feeling about the car going into this weekend?

I think the car is moving in the right direction. We’ve progressed the car in low-speed circuits, and it looks like we’ve closed the gap quite a bit. Now we’re at a high-speed circuit, which is much different. It’s going to be interesting to see how the car works somewhere like here. I don’t really know what to expect, but I do expect the car to feel a lot nicer than it did last year.

How does Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya compare with other tracks as far as the challenges presented?

This use to be the test circuit where we did all our winter testing. It use to have a combination of low-, medium-, and high-speed [sections]—it’s now mostly medium and high. It’s a very good test of aero package and air efficiency, so this is usually the track that tells you how good your car is. It will be a real teller of where we’re going the rest of the year.

Lewis Hamilton on a practice lap at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya prior to Formula 1's 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

No. 44 for Mercedes takes a practice lap at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Clive Rose – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

What has been your favorite moment with the Mercedes team, at least so far, and why?

I think probably our first championship together. That year was just spectacular. It was uplifting for everyone, for the new people and for those who had been on the team for a long time. It confirmed my belief that this was the right choice for me. It confirmed that I should listen to my intuition, my gut, which is what led me to that decision and, more often than not, has been the right thing for me.

Lewis Hamilton acknowledging the fans from the podium after winning the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and earning his first World Drivers' Championship title with Mercedes.

Hamilton acknowledging the fans from the podium after winning both the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and his first World Drivers’ Championship title with Mercedes.

Darren Heath/Getty Images

What’s the greatest advice given to you by team principal Toto Wolff, or lesson learned from him?

I don’t remember any advice that Toto has given me, but then again, I don’t remember any advice that anyone has given me—except my dad. I’ve always felt that Toto has been great at noticing what’s the best in everyone, putting them in the right place, then supporting them—not only in their job, but in the background, always asking how things are at home. How he manages people has been an interesting thing to understand, and to realize how positive that can be when working with people and working as a team. That’s what I’ve learned most from him.

Lewis Hamilton shares the podium with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team principal and CEO Toto Wolff after winning his seventh World Drivers' Championship after the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team principal and CEO Toto Wolff joins Hamilton on the podium after the latter secured his seventh World Drivers’ Championship with the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix.

Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

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Is there a travel experience that you’ve had through team partner Marriott Bonvoy that stands out?

There’s been so many. One of the best ones we did was last year in Mexico City. We went to a school, and it was really heartening and heartwarming to see how they are giving back. And then, again in Mexico City, the little bit of extra work they put in to making you feel at home when you get back to your hotel—it always feels like home away from home.

What can select Marriott Bonvoy members look forward to with you and the 1-Point Drop Moment in August?

The opportunity to come and engage with us at the Dutch Grand Prix. It’s always nice to connect with people and see people from different walks of life. Zandvoort is such a beautiful place, right by the beach. It’s an iconic track and there are a lot of fans, so the energy is pretty spectacular.

Lewis Hamilton readies for the start of Formula 1's 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.

Hamilton readies for the start of the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix.

Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Are you optimistic that the pipeline will expand for underrepresented communities when it comes to Formula 1 and motorsport in general.

I think it’s a very, very, very slow process. It starts at grassroots, so tackling the systemic issues within communities, within education, within the curriculum and educators; doing the work there to create opportunities and spark the minds of diverse individuals, at a young age, to want to follow paths in the motorsport or engineering space—the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] direction. Seeing the actual big shift is further down the line.

From my team’s perspective, I think we’ve really taken leaps and bounds. There have been massive changes that this team has done, and I’m really proud of them. We can always do more . . . I think that’s something we’re striving to continue to do. But I think what’s most important is that the team is conscious of it and it’s always a part of the thought process. The sport is slowly picking it up, but not enough has been done as a sport. It’s all about continuing to collaborate and discuss it. I’ve got to continue to hold those conversations with key stakeholders.

At an event leading up to the 2023 Miami Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton greets a group of local kids in attendance.

At an event leading up to the 2023 Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton greets a group of local kids in attendance.

Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

How is your foundation helping to effect this change?

I’m really proud of what Mission 44 is doing. We are now supporting 34 different organizations throughout the UK, we have four in Brazil, and two in the United States. I’m trying to expand it, but I can’t do it alone, can’t fund it alone, so I’m looking for partners to come in and be a part of it.

The 66-lap 2024 Spanish Grand Prix will be Sunday, June 23, at 3 p.m. CEST / 9 a.m. ET.

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