World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he was “way too hard on myself” during the early stages of his Formula 1 career, believing with hindsight that it was an unhealthy approach.
Hamilton has taken six world titles and 84 wins, second only in both record tables to Michael Schumacher, but let slip a sizeable points lead during his rookie campaign in 2007.
Hamilton, speaking as part of the Hewlett Packard Performance Under Pressure series alongside World Champion gymnast Simone Biles and NBA title-winning coach and player Steve Kerr, said he struggled to deal with setbacks in the early stages of his top-level career.
“I lost the world championship pretty much in China [in 2007] and oh god it still makes me sick to this day!” said Hamilton.
“But I do think a lot of things are meant to happen and it was a character-building moment for me.
“When I was younger, I was very, very hard on myself, way too hard on myself when I failed, I would almost punish myself, and it was a very unproductive thing, for so many years, and it was hard to get out of that headspace.
“Over the years I’ve learned to find the joy, and the most important thing is to enjoy what you do, and to torture yourself just ends up being negative.”
Hamilton added that he still remains motivated to improve upon his weaknesses as he approaches the start of the delayed 2020 season.
“I think that every year you’re constantly evolving and understanding your body and the mental side more and more, you notice patterns within things and understand how you can channel that,” he said.
“Every year I look back on my seasons and none of them have been perfect, the races that you learn most are the ones that you’ve lost, or you’ve failed and it hurts so much.
“But those are the times that you grow the most, I’m 35 and I feel each year I’m trying to do better.”