Check out what happened when Lewis spoke to Laureus.com following his nomination for 2015 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year!
What are your thoughts now looking back on 2014?
I think 2014 was definitely one of the best, if not the best year of my career, it was just an exceptional year, where the team came together, really pulled together, did an amazing job with the car. We had some ups and downs. It wasn’t an easy year by any means, it was a real challenge still for us. Even though we were at the front of the field the majority of the time, the leader of the pack and ahead of others, it was still a challenge within us to try and improve all the time. But we want to be better this year, we want to try and dominate even more.
You went through a run of six wins out of seven races. Have you ever been through a run like that before?
I have, yes. Nothing as special as that because it’s Formula One, but I think it might have been Formula Renault or Formula Three where in one year I had 17 wins out of 20 or something like that, so I’ve had an experience like that before. But, in terms of performing at the pinnacle of the sport, I’ve never had that before. In the past getting a second [Grand Prix] win after the first one has always been a real challenge, in my whole Formula One career. So last year, to have two, three, four, five and up to six, it happened so fast. We just kept doing the job we came to do the best we could.
You are 30 now. Are you someone who looks ahead and says ‘I have a target of how many world titles I want to win’ or do you just take life and your sport day by day?
Of course I look ahead to try and imagine what my life will be like in the future, but to be honest, generally the way I live my life is day by day, because I honestly believe you never know when it’s going to be your last day. This could be it, so I want to make sure that I enjoy as much as I can whatever it is I’m doing, workwise or in my personal life. Of course you’re always hoping to see another day, but in life no one really knows when it’s going to be up and I’ve been so fortunate to have this incredible career, the incredible life that I have, the family, good people around me, so I try and enjoy it. I try and embrace it and utilise it because there’s so many youngsters or people in the world who would love to be doing what I’m doing.
So you don’t have a target saying ‘I’m going to quit at 35’, you’ll just do it until you don’t want to do it?
No, I think if I’m lucky enough to be able to get to live out my whole Formula One career then - I’m just turned 30 - I think I’ve got a good seven, eight years left in me. I’m sure I could go longer, but I think there’s only 22 seats in Formula One, 18 of us now, so you’ve got to imagine that there’s going to be kids coming up along the way. I don’t plan on hogging my seat, particularly if I’m not competitive in my later years. I’ll definitely stop.
Did beating Nigel Mansell’s British record of 31 Grand Prix wins mean something special to you?
It’s not something I really think of. When I win a race, I don’t think ‘hey, that’s 30 something, whatever it is’. I’m not counting. It always feels like the first time when I win a race. It feels different every single time but it’s definitely neat when you meet with a legendary driver, like Mansell for example, and then the guy comes up to you and wishes you the best for that next race, which is the race that you’ve got to win to pass him. It’s very cool. But yes, I’m not one to particularly look at stats, but when I’m reminded about them it’s a very, very surreal feeling because I remember sitting at home watching all the Grand Prix, watching Michael [Schumacher] win all his championships and sitting there thinking ‘oh I hope, if I keep working at this, hopefully one day I’m going to be racing up there with those guys’ and then to think ‘now I’m here’. I’ve had such a great time in Formula One, you have to pinch yourself every day.
So what about 2015? Can you win another world title? How do you feel going into the year?
At this point in the year I feel very relaxed. I’m always ready to drive. I’ve been racing my whole life, well since I was eight, so two thirds of my life. I feel good about this year. Well, you know what, to be honest, at this point of the year, you don’t really know how you feel. I feel fresh, I feel fit. I will plan to drive as good as I did last year, but I want to be better. I hope that we have the package and I hope that we have some good races, but I’m just grateful that I get to race again.
So who do you think your rivals are going to be this year? Obviously Nico Rosberg will be driving the same equipment?
Well, it will be a guess, but it’s the same guesses you have every year. It will be the same top teams as it always is. It’s an evolution. The cars are going to be evolutions of last year’s cars, so it’ll be the same people that we were racing with last year. Red Bull, Williams and then, you know, you’re hoping that it’s a bit of a better year for those like McLaren and Ferrari so that we have more people to race.
You don’t want to totally dominate, you like the idea of a bit of fun?
I like to race man, yes. I really like to race. Particularly with the challenge of other teams, because there’s always strengths and weaknesses of another driver and another team so I love that. That’s what racing’s about, it’s to be racing with everyone. But the way Formula One is, the way the rules come out and the seasons pan out, each year the best team, with all the cream, will rise to the top and be at the front. But, yes, the more people the merrier. There was one year we had, it was like the first seven races were won by a different driver, a different team, that’s what people want to see, but, most importantly, if the cars are close you can have real races where you’re overtaking and battling and that’s what I love doing.
You won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award in 2008. What is it like to be nominated this year for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award? It’s been won by Michael Schumacher a couple of times, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer.
I’ve never won the big, big award at Laureus and obviously seen the greats that have. So, you know, I’d be massively privileged if I was amongst those. Knowing how prestigious the Laureus Award is I feel very, very grateful and proud to be amongst the great athletes that have been nominated. You know, racing has been my life and to be a sportsman and be at the top of my game has been my challenge my whole life. It’s great when you have these kind of awards, which recognise the excellence and the commitment from lots of different individuals. I’m proud to be amongst them.
In the same category you are going to be up against names like Rory McIlroy, Novak Djokovic, Cristiano Ronaldo; that’s quite a line up.
It is. It’s all the best from whatever their craft is. Rory’s done an amazing job. Ronaldo, jeez what a great player he is, Djokovic, I mean he’s killed everything. It’s been great to watch him come up and achieve what he has done. They’re all different sports and they all have different approaches and different strengths and weaknesses and yes, I could only have ever dreamed at this period of time in my life, to be up amongst them.