Lewis Hamilton on Verge of 300th F1 Start Offers Sage Advice to His Younger Self

·4 min read
Photo credit: Vladimir Rys - Getty Images
Photo credit: Vladimir Rys - Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton is reaching a new plateau this week in his Formula 1 racing career in France, as he will be making his 300th career start in the series.

It's a milestone that only five other drivers in F1 history have reached. That list includes Kimi Raikkonen (349), Fernando Alonso (344), Rubens Barrichello (322), Jenson Button (306) and Michael Schumacher (306).

Hamilton's first start came on March 18, 2007 at Melbourne in the opening race of the season. His first win came in the sixth races later, on June 10 at Montreal.

Photo credit: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD - Getty Images
Photo credit: TORSTEN BLACKWOOD - Getty Images

In between race start No. 1 and Sunday's 300th start, Hamilton certainly has learned a thing or two. So, what advice would the 37-year-old Hamilton of 2022 give to a 22-year-old Hamilton walking to the grid in Melbourne?

"I really don't know if I'm honest," Hamilton said this week in France. "Have a deep conversation, probably. I don't know. Just enjoy. Just make the most of time.

"Time is so precious. And I think naturally when you're a little bit younger, you feel like you're going to live forever and that you've got all the time in the world. And I would just say time is precious so just maximize every moment you get with family with friends, create memories, that’s the most important thing. And don't stress too much."

Hamilton, while he may not be stressing these days, is having the most difficult stretch of his career. He's finished third in each of the past three F1 races, but the 103-time winner is winless in 2022. His last win came at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in the second-to-last race of the 2021 season—13 races ago.

Hamilton, a seven-time champion, is not used to not winner. He's won at least one race in each of his previous 15 seasons in F1—a consecutive season record he shares with Michael Schumacher.

Photo credit: PAUL CROCK - Getty Images
Photo credit: PAUL CROCK - Getty Images

History says continuing that wins streak won't be easy, as Father Time has not been kind to the 300 Start Club in Formula 1. No driver in F1 history has won a race after his 300th start.

Maybe Hamilton has reason to stress out, even if just a little.

"It doesn't faze me because I'm working towards getting that win," Hamilton said. "So I do believe at some stage we'll be able to compete with these guys. Whether it's this weekend, or in five races time. So yeah, I don't really think about that.

"I think more about the journey. The journey is the important part. I think we started off not where we want it to be, we've made progress, we started to reach a patch of a bit of consistency. Not a single person in our team has given up, and we've continued to push. So I'm really proud of the process and experience that we've had."

Photo credit: ANP - Getty Images
Photo credit: ANP - Getty Images

Alonso, who is on track to pass Raikkonen for the top spot in total F1 starts later this season, was Hamilton's teammate at McLaren in 2007. A two-time champion in his own right, Alonso said that Hamilton's talent was apparent early.

"I don't think that he changed much to be honest," said Alonso. "He had the talent, already in 2007 and he still has the talent now with experience and he has been a tremendous driver, and a legend of our sport.

"So it has been always a pleasure to share all this time with him and back then probably no one thought that someone will be able to win seven titles as Michael (Schumacher). But, yeah, the journey has been amazing and the team that they all build at Mercedes over these years, he was outstanding. Yes, congratulations for the 300 and hopefully another win soon."

As for a career highlight, Hamilton pointed right back at that first race in Melbourne.

"Just getting to the first Grand Prix in 2007," Hamilton said. "The amount of sleepless nights as a family that all of us had had, not knowing whether or not we would actually reach our goal, reach our dream, but never giving up nonetheless and being there so I think that's probably going to be the real highlight."