Lewis Hamilton has admitted he considered a break from Formula 1 and is now trying to make the most of the “part-sabbatical” he has been handed in the coronavirus shutdown.
The six-time F1 world champion has been an ever-present driver on the grid since his debut season in 2007, while he has never missed a race in that stretch having celebrated his 250th grand prix start at the 2019 finale in Abu Dhabi.
On the current F1 grid, only Kimi Raikkonen has made more grand prix starts, with the Finn on 312 starts, but he did take a two-year stint away from F1 when he missed the 2010 and ’11 seasons.
Hamilton says while he has kept quiet about thoughts of taking a year out he felt he would suffer when he returned.
“I’m generally a very quiet person,” he said in a Mercedes video interview. “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.
“Oh man, I love that challenge, and the year goes so quickly. It’s been nice not to be bothered too much, and to have a bit of that time. But I miss seeing my team, I miss seeing my friends, as everyone does.
“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.
“I think some days you’re sluggish, and other days you’re positive, but for me the key as I said is to remain centred, find things that you enjoy doing that you perhaps didn’t have time to do in the past. The most important thing is not to waste this time.”
Hamilton also revealed he’s also using the break to catch up on the French he studied at school.
“I’ve always wanted to learn a language, and I still don’t know any other languages. It’s embarrassing I feel, and I think it’s probably similar for many people who only speak one language.
“I aced French at school, it’s the only thing I aced, and so I’m trying to go on this online course.
“The course that I have is like a six-week course, and you’re supposed to do half an hour a day.
“When I do things I just do them to extremes. I sit down and I do a week in two hours basically, I just do one week a day.
“I was on week four by the fourth day, and I was so stressed, and I wasn’t enjoying it, so I stopped for about a week or so, and now I’m trying to get back into it.”