Four-time Indycar champion Dario Franchitti has praised Lewis Hamilton’s tenacity, especially considering the ‘horrendous’ amount of pressure he’s under to become the most decorated driver in F1 history, and to stay at the top of his game
Franchitti, who stepped away from racing after suffering a very serious accident during the Grand Prix of Houston in 2013, is also a three-time winner of the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Daytona – and believes motivation will be the key that unlocks the moment the seven-time world champion retires.
Speaking exclusively to Express Sport during Formula E’s Monaco EPrix weekend, the Scotsman said: “It’s not difficult, but the hardest part would be to keep the motivation, and he seems to have that.
“You know, there was that time he was doing all these other things and people saying, oh – he’s not focused, or whatever.
“It doesn’t seem to bother him, the way he gets to live his life, he gets results with what he’s doing in his life, away from the track, at the track, so fair play to him.
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“And as long as he wants to do it, why not? Why would you not. It’s his decision to make ultimately, he’s earned the right to decide when he steps away and what he does afterwards.”
Hamilton, who has just become the first F1 driver to hit triple figures for pole positions, is looking to overtake Michael Schumacher in the record books to become an eight-time world champion alongside Mercedes.
But Franchitti said the pressure to remain at his peak performance level will be enormous.
“I think the problem is, any of these sports, at the top level the pressure is pretty horrendous, time pressure – all that stuff,” continued the 47-year-old.
“It’s a pleasure, and I think you realise it’s a pleasure when you step away from it, but at the time you’re just under constant pressure, constant scrutiny, all that stuff – and Lewis maybe more so than anybody.”
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“But I would say that, with Indycar for me, there was a danger factor too with the oval, and that would always play on my decision when I decided if I was staying on for another year, also my decision was taken away from me by an accident, but for Lewis, I think when motivation and enjoyment goes, he will just go and do something else, have some fun I think.
“I won four in a row, and motivation is, you know, and I was a bit older, what was I? 35? Hamilton’s 36, so it can be difficult.
“It can, but every person is different, and Lewis is his own person. By the time I was about to stop, I could feel my motivation going away. He clearly doesn’t lack motivation, he certainly doesn’t lack speed and talent.”
Meanwhile, fellow Scotsman and three-time Le Mans winner, now Audi Formula E team principal Allan McNish agreed with Franchitti, explaining that when the fun stops – Hamilton will get off.
“With Lewis and Mercedes, they know what it takes to win,” said McNish, speaking exclusively to Express Sport.
“But also when you win consistently, then it becomes harder to keep that going, partly because of motivation and partly because everybody else has got more motivation to knock you off the top.
“But on the other side of it, Red Bull knows how to win. But Max [Verstappen] hasn’t had that sort of experience and he hasn’t had the world championship success yet.
“And so therefore, I think when you get to the end of the season, not now, because in reality, this is building for the end of the season, at the end of the season, that’s when it comes out, the last few few races when the pressure really builds.
“What I have seen is that Max Verstappen is pretty good at holding pressure. It’s not something that trips him up very often.
“And Lewis, we know, is well, he’s a street fighter and just keeps going until the end.”