Lewis Hamilton has conceded he had to undergo an “extreme diet” before the Dutch Grand Prix in a bid to shed some of the weight he had put on over the summer break.
The Mercedes poster boy has been operating well below the level that has seen him win a joint-record seven world titles since new FIA regulations were implemented at the start of last year. Having spent six years at the top of the sport, winning six championships in a seven-year period, Hamilton himself is now struggling to deal with Max Verstappen’s dominance.
Two years on and Verstappen, and team Redbull, are aiming for a third consecutive title and look like they could pull off the impressive feat. It is a contrasting story for Hamilton, who is finding it hard to just finish on the podium as of late.
Hamilton has managed four top-three finishes this year, coming second in Australia and Spain but the best he could do on the Zandvoort circuit was a sixth-placed finish on Sunday, his first race back since the four-week break for summer.
The Stevenage-born racing icon was honest enough to admit he needed to lose weight quickly before the race in the Netherlands. Speaking after the race, Hamilton told reporters: “I ate so much food. My weight has to be between 73 and 74 kilos, and I was almost 77 kilos on Saturday. So I had to go on an extreme diet these past days.”
He certainly clocked up some air miles during his time off, with Hamilton spending time in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Namibia as well as visiting family in Los Angeles. It was seemingly out in the States where the Englishman enjoyed his downtime the most.
“I did the first week in LA with my niece and nephew,” Hamilton added. “It was really sunny, it was beautiful. I was mostly working while I was out there. And then I did some hiking in the mountains. And then I had a real unplugged rest in the sun so I got a really good tan.
“And otherwise [I was] just competing with my niece and nephew every day, running and jumping in the ocean. My niece, she just wants to do cannonballs all the time – just cannonball, cannonball, cannonball.”
Attentions are now firmly back on the track and Hamilton has also claimed he could have challenged Verstappen in the Netherlands had it not been for errors of judgement. “I think today, in those conditions, if we had made the right call, I had the pace to be challenging the top two,” he added.
“I think we would’ve been challenging Max [Verstappen] if I’m really honest. Particularly when we got to the dry, pace wise, we weren’t terribly far off.” Next up on the hectic F1 calendar is the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, where Hamilton is aiming to overtake Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ standings.