Lewis Hamilton admits he has considered taking a year out from Formula 1 in recent years, but felt his driving would suffer from a sabbatical.
The six-time world champion is on the verge of becoming statistically the most successful F1 driver of all time, with the chance to equal Michael Schumacher’s seven drivers’ titles in 2020 if the season resumes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hamilton, who has raced in 250 grand prix’s since debuting in 2007, says while the physical and mental burden of being an F1 driver made him contemplate taking a break, it soon dawned on him missing a year was “not on the cards”.
“I’m generally a very quiet person,” Hamilton said in a interview shared by Mercedes. “And I do enjoy ‘me’ time, and I think it’s really important for us all to have that.
“I’m a workaholic, and once you get into the rhythm you’re just moving, from one thing to the next, squeezing in training, and making sure that you find that balance.
“There have been times probably in the past five years or so that I thought to myself it will be good for my body and my mind to take a rest for a year. But you can’t step away.
“I don’t think for an athlete that’s in their prime that it’s ever a good thing to step away for a year, and then come back.
“Technology moves so fast, at such a rate, you need to stay on top of this car and the development – to take a sabbatical is just not on the cards. But we’ve been handed almost a part-sabbatical, which I’m enjoying, and I feel fresher and healthier than I’ve ever been, and the struggle for everyone is keeping your mind clear.”
F1 is planning to get the season underway with a series of behind closed-door races starting in Austria, which Hamilton said left him with an “empty feeling”.
During the break, the Briton has been devoting his time to training and working on areas of weaknesses in his fitness.
“Having this time gives you more time to focus on areas of weakness,” he said.
“So there’s tedious things like calf muscles, and doing calf exercises, which is not exciting. Glut exercises, which again are quite boring, but all really important.
“I think ultimately over time your body forms into a shape, into a pattern, there’s strengths and weaknesses on all of our bodies, and when you go to the gym often you work the big muscles, but not necessarily the small ones in between, and so I’m really trying to get in deep and really trying to refine my body.
“And again just trying to find the next level, how can I be fitter than I was? The start of the season I was feeling great, obviously it was a shame that we didn’t get to start, but this has been a real decent time to focus on trying to improve on other areas.”
Hamilton says he’s taking every positive he can out of the time off as he tries to avoid distractions concerning his profession.
“Getting accustomed to being in one spot, that’s taking some getting used to, but I really found that I’ve got my feet on the ground, I feel very centred, and excited about the next day,” Hamilton said.
“Every day I wake up and I’m excited about the sunrise, excited about the sunset, and then obviously what I get to do in the day, just training and trying to keep my mind as fresh and focussed as possible.
“You’ve got to look at the positives, and if you look around the world the skies are clearer, I think people are probably appreciating this time more, their families more, their relationships more, there are so many things to come out of this, and I really hope that we all can grow from this experience. And I hope that it passes soon.”