Lewis Hamilton admits that he sees “a lot of parallels” between his younger self and the current crop of upcoming drivers in Formula 1.
The Briton burst onto the scene as a rookie with McLaren in 2007, coming within one point of clinching the Drivers’ Championship in his debut season before winning his maiden title in his sophomore campaign.
Hamilton, now a seven-time World Champion, is the second oldest competitor on the 2023 grid, behind Fernando Alonso – who is competing in his 20th F1 season.
The ex-McLaren team-mates accompany Max Verstappen as the only F1 title winners, but Hamilton disregards the view that those three are on a different level to the rest.
“I would never say that,” he responded in an interview with Swiss outlet Blick when that proposition was put to him. “All the drivers who are here are doing a good job.
“But everyone has different requirements, hopes and challenges. But I see a lot of parallels with the young Lewis in the young pilots. This is simply great.
“Fernando, Max and I are usually competitive and will go the furthest to achieve our goals. I can’t say anything about their personalities, I’ve never sat in their living rooms.”
Hamilton has reiterated his belief that he should use his privileged position to inspire people down the racing ladder and also open up opportunities to those less fortunate.
When told that many upcoming talents fail because they lack the necessary support, he said: “That’s right. But let’s just look at the reasons for our life on this earth. It doesn’t really matter who we are. When it comes to the end, we all have nothing to take with us. But we can leave something behind.”
He added: “I think we need more compassion for people, we need people who help and care for others. I’m grateful that I had this help in my younger years before Formula 1.
“But most of them are suddenly faced with roadblocks. Then you need the people to clear the way again. In particular, children who are not so privileged should have no fewer opportunities than those with a rich background. I’m working on that and hope I can change some things.”
Hamilton, who is regularly open about his outside ventures away from racing, documented his own personal journey since he shot to stardom in his rookie F1 season.
“In the first year of Formula 1 I was 22. I was still a child, inexperienced, fast, but I didn’t feel very comfortable in my own skin at the time,” he conceded. “I was on a journey of discovery of my personality and who I wanted to be.”
“I’m much happier than I was then and I know who I am,” he added. “I know my goals outside of the racetrack and would say that I have done a lot of things right.
“I enjoy what I get to do. And we should all learn to never say never.”