Lewis Hamilton celebrated his Formula 1 title triumph with watermelon juice, a couple of sips of Cognac and by swapping stories of his formative years in go-karting.
The morning after becoming a double world champion the night before, Hamilton had clearly not followed in the footsteps of 1970s star and renowned party animal James Hunt, looking as fresh as a daisy at a 9am press conference in Abu Dhabi.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff looked a little worse for wear sitting alongside him after his own celebrations at the end of a tough season on and off the track.
For Hamilton, becoming the 16th man in the 65-year history of F1 to win at least two titles had still to sink in. Hamilton added: “It’s definitely an incredible feeling to wake up this morning fresh in my surroundings and with all the different people who have been involved in my career over 21 years. The sun is shining and I feel really blessed. I’ve not looked in depth at my phone, but it’s gone crazy with all the messages, emails and texts. It will take easily the next couple of weeks to get through them as I always like to get back to them.”
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Hamilton, who described Sunday as the greatest day of his life, added: “Winning the first title (in 2008) was exceptional, an incredible feeling obviously, achieving the life-long goal of becoming a Formula One world champion. I don’t know if I was in the place to embrace it and absorb it in the way I am today.
“I’m in a different stage of my life. It just feels sweeter now I am a bit older – very, very special, and very much a humbling experience.”
There was no big drinking session for Hamilton though at the team’s after-race party. It was all very different in 1976 champion Hunt’s day, and he certainly would not have entertained the idea of such an early wake-up call to speak to the media.
“I had a great evening,” said Hamilton. “It was quite busy at the track, there was so much energy within the team which has been through so much, even way before I came here. The happiness within the team was amazing to see, talking through that and embracing every one. Then I came back with my family and had a nice dinner and reminisced over all the different things we had experienced over the years.
“We talked about sitting in the back of the (karting) trailer with flasks of chicken noodle soup and sitting by the gas heater; shaking my dad’s hand before heading out on track, all the stages we went through. Then I popped out to the party – Toto was all over the place at that point. All the team were there and I had the chance to go and mingle with everyone. Everyone was enjoying themselves with all the stress and worry gone, seeing people in the happiest moment of their lives.
“I got to hang with everyone, my brother, family, my girlfriend, and we left quite early, particularly as we had this press conference – I didn’t suggest this early!
“I don’t know why it’s so early, but Toto is definitely feeling it way more than I am! I feel fresh, I only had one drink on Sunday night, which is more than good enough for me. I don’t drink champagne. I had a watermelon juice at dinner, which is my favourite. Then when I was at the party there was some kind of Cognac thing. I generally drink Cognac, so I poured a little bit in, but it didn’t taste very nice, so I had a couple of sips and that was it. I knew I had to be up early as well.”
Hamilton plans to save anything more exuberant for time with family and friends on his return home, adding: “Everyone has phones these days. I didn’t want to be walking out of the club... and it was all Formula One fans there as well, so I was constantly being snapped.
“When I get home I’ll be with all my friends and family and then I can go all out if I want to, and they will have the memories and the shots. I also didn’t want it to be a one-night thing, I want it to be over a long time. I don’t really drink either, so if I’d had any more it takes me days to recover.”
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