Reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton says the full truth of what he experienced after the Spanish GP crash with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg will only be told after he retires from the sport.
Speaking in a UBS Q&A session that was streamed live on Facebook, Hamilton admitted that his first-lap clash in Barcelona was a “massive low," but one he’s managed to bounce back from.
He also spoke of how his mental approach has changed over the years, and made him stronger to recover from incidents like that – when previously he’d be in a “dark place."
“When I was younger, if I had a bad race, I was so hard on myself, it was a real negative,” said Hamilton.
“I remember some races, I wouldn’t leave my hotel room for three or four days – not speaking to anyone, not being on my phone. I was just trying to get myself out of this dark place I’d be in.
“Then somehow I’d pop out of it and turn it into a positive. You’ve got to look at the situation, you’ve got to try and find the positives from it and leave the negatives behind.
“I look at Barcelona for example this year, it was a massive low for me. There’s things that you won’t know until I retire that I’d tell you what I experienced.
"The next day, I got up and I went for a run, and I’m thinking about lots of different things and it’s crazy to think that the 43-point deficit that I had at the time, which seemed impossible [to close].
“I’m only human, those days I feel like it seems impossible, you’ve just got to keep going as painful as it can be and as hard as it can be. You might get over it quickly, sometimes it takes longer, but you’ve just got to keep going.
“Honestly I feel I’m stronger now. I have those days where it feels like the world’s coming to an end, I’m never going to win this championship, blah, blah, blah. Look where I am now, one point behind in the championship. If I had given up at any point, it shows you to never ever give up, no matter what."
In terms of his current state of mind, Hamilton says he has it all under control.
“In terms of mentally, I love the challenge of the battle with myself,” said Hamilton. "Only I know what’s going on in my head. I just find my way, sometimes it takes longer to dig yourself out of something, it takes longer to understand. I never let anyone interfere with my mental process.”
Retirement plan on horizon
Hamilton also reiterated his stance on his future in the sport, and that he plans to retire from F1 in the early 2020s.
“I try to think to myself ‘what’s your five-year plan?’ And then set out to do it,” he added.
“Right now I’ve signed for three years including this one with Mercedes, after that I see myself staying for another three years probably – three, four years – then I’m going to stop.
“I don’t have a particular desire to go on forever, when I’m 37 I’d say I’ll still be relatively young. I wanna be challenged by something else. But your views and opinions evolve, so who knows what I’ll be thinking in seven years’ time.
“I want to be as great as I can be, but I don’t want to be defined by someone else’s record.”