Hamilton: Growing up in F1 gave my life 'meaning'

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Lewis Hamilton admits the challenge of growing up in Formula 1 has been difficult but that it gave his life "meaning".

Now racing in his 13th season, the fresh-faced kid that turned up at McLaren in 2007 has become a five-time champion and an international superstar thanks to the freedom given to him by Mercedes.

However, having stepped straight into the spotlight alongside Fernando Alonso and challenging for the title from GP2, Hamilton concedes it was quite the whirlwind.

“Well naturally I was 22-years old, pretty much a kid still and for me, personally, I feel like I’ve matured a lot later,” he told Crash.net.

“I was thrown in at the deep end of this incredible circus and sport. One thing I was prepared for was to race but I wasn’t prepared for the whole circus that comes along with it.

“I don’t know if I could say what the sport’s taught me. Naturally, through all these different experiences I’ve learned a lot about who I am, how to adapt to the different situations that surround me.

“I’ve done everything through trial and error, I’ve made a lot of mistakes over these years.

“I’m not perfect but I’ve grown a huge amount with the sport and the sport’s given my life meaning so I’m forever grateful to it.”

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As a driver, Hamilton is still the same aggressive, unrelenting character on the track that made such an impact on his rookie season and saw him become champion a year later.

But he explains how through experience, he has gained other traits that have made him so tough to beat.

“Naturally today, I’m 34-years old, I’m a grown man and still love driving,” he said.

“I’m still driving with the same heart that I did, I think, when I was 22 but just a much more level head on my shoulders, a much wiser head on my shoulders which has enabled me to drive with the style and the skill that I had before but just finesse it a lot better."

This season, Mercedes junior and possible 2020 teammate Esteban Ocon has been watching on as reserve driver in the garage.

And the Frenchman commented on how valuable it has been to watch Hamilton at work.

"You can understand why Lewis is always so successful, and why he has won so many titles, and that is not a coincidence," he told Motorsport-Total.

"He works hard on the track and asks the right questions. If there is something interesting, he immediately picks it up and speaks to it. I did not know him so well before, and now I have a very different picture of him than before.

"If you succeed, there are reasons for it, and it's at his peak right now."