Lewis Hamilton On Pouncing Like Federer, Racing Like Bolt and 'Landing Blows' Like Joshua

British Driver Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 12. Hamilton became the most successful British driver in racing history when he won his fourth Formula One world title. Mark Thompson/Getty

After becoming the most successful driver in British racing history this year, Lewis Hamilton may have the right to compare himself to fellow sporting greats.

The four-time Formula One world champion, who secured his fourth title in Mexico in October, overtook Jackie Stewart to write his name into British sporting history.

And after the 2017 season came to a close on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, with Hamilton coming second to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, the 32-year-old was in a reflective, confident mood.

In an interview with the BBC, Hamilton compared himself to some of his contemporaries in other sporting fields as he assessed the way in which he clawed back the championship lead to beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

"Look at Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal," Hamilton said. "At some point in the game, one will see a slight weakness in the other—even if just half a percent. That's what they try to capitalize on and which makes the difference and that's really how it has been this year. The key for me is to be the most solid driver here."

Vettel and Ferrari had begun the season well, with the German leading the driver standings by 14 points ahead of the summer break, having won the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July. But Hamilton won the three subsequent races, in Belgium, Italy and Singapore, that saw him gain ground and overtake Vettel.

Hamilton compared his style to that of eight-time Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt, highlighting the way in which he takes a little while to accelerate and get into top gear.

Jamaican Sprinter Usain Bolt
Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua
Usain Bolt (L) at the Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 20, 2016. Anthony Joshua (R) at Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, October 28, 2017.

"I don't feel there's anything I can't achieve if I put the work in," he said. "How I strategize over these next months into next season... When you watch Usain Bolt out of the start blocks, he's just a little bit slower than the others. So he's just behind and then he creeps back."

But Hamilton did more than creep back. After the summer break, he won five of the next six races to turn the championship around, stepping on the gas at the perfect moment. Hamilton compared this timing to that of fellow Briton Anthony Joshua, the world heavyweight champion, who knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in April.

"It was like you've been sailing without wind then suddenly you pick up the gust," he said. "The right blow, like when Anthony Joshua gets the right punch and the guy's on the back foot after that."

Less than seven days after the final race of 2017 and Hamilton is already thinking of next season. He considers Red Bull's Max Verstappen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso among the "strongest drivers" with him and Vettel.

But the warning to the other three drivers for 2018 is there for all to see: a fast start is required to have any chance of winning, because Hamilton will be chasing after you in the second half of the season—pouncing like Federer, accelerating like Bolt, and landing blows like Joshua.