Lewis Hamilton has given a rare insight into what makes him tick – and insisted he isn’t in Formula One for the money.
In a wide-ranging interview, the recently-crowned six-time world champ also said his desire to hunt down Michael Schumacher’s records is stronger than ever before.
The Brit’s latest title triumph was his fifth in six years and moved him to within striking range of the German great’s record haul of seven.
He is also just eight wins short of matching the Ferrari icon’s all-time No.1 tally of 91 and comfortably stands as the greatest British driver in F1 history.
And the 34-year-old says it is his exploits on the track, not his £40million-a-year-contract with Mercedes, that keeps him motivated.
The thing is I never got into it for money,” he told the BBC. “Of course it is great that that piles up – no problem. That is a bonus. As long as those things don’t become the lead factor of what I do.
“The core of what I do is that I love racing. I love the challenge. I love arriving knowing I have got these incredibly talented youngsters who are trying to beat me and outperform me, outsmart me, and I love that battle that I get into every single year.
“And I am working with these guys [his Mercedes engineers] who are so much smarter than me and they make me feel smarter. When I am challenging them and proving them wrong so many times, it is unreal.”
Off the track, Hamilton caused uproar last month when he urged his fans to go vegan in a series of posts to his 13million Instagram followers.
His views were slammed by former F1 rival Fernando Alonso, who accused Hamilton of hypocrisy due to his extravagant lifestyle and globe-trotting exploits.
Hamilton, though, stands by the reasons for voicing his views on the environment
“I would say I have a very complex life,” he added. “I’m sure we all have complex lives. But I can’t talk about absolutely how complex it is.”
“I am trying to be more open about that, as you’ll see on my social. But there is a line where it’s the limit and for me that one there was slightly over the limit.
“But I don’t regret it. Because I think for those who are following me and are on this journey with me, I don’t think showing vulnerability is always a bad thing. They can just see I’m human at the end of the day.”
Hamilton wears his heart on his sleeve and it is this attitude that has seen him race through the ranks to become arguably the finest driver of his generation – perhaps any.
At 34, he has entered the twilight years of his racing career and already has other interests including his own clothing collection with fashion giants Tommy Hilfiger.
But he isn’t thinking about calling time on a career just yet.
“I don’t fear it (retirement),” he says. “Naturally for athletes, it has to be the saddest day, to hang up and stop doing something you’ve loved your whole life and as long as you can remember.
“But that is why I have all these other things in place that I can fall back on. The fashion side, for example. I’ve found another business that I can do for a long time if successful.
“There are a lot of different things I can be interested in. I know my life is not going to be over when I retire. And that gives me a lot of comfort.
“But right now I feel physically good enough to continue so I’m going to try to eke that out as long as I can.”