The 2015 Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton was in relaxed mood in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (1 December) as he made a visit to his Mercedes team's fuel supplier and engineering partner Petronas at their Malaysia headquarters.
Hamilton won his third world title, after being 2014 champion too, in October with victory in the US Grand Prix. It was one of 10 wins this season for the Briton. His Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg won six and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel took three wins.
"It has been such an amazing year," Hamilton told reporters. "Last year I think took us by surprise, we exceeded our expectations. I think Petronas pushed the boundaries way above their own expectations. But it is down to a huge core of people who come together and work in synergy with the team back in Brixworth," he said, referring to Mercedes's high-performance engine factory in England.
By winning three world championships Hamilton equals the tally of another British driver, Jackie Stewart, of his hero Ayrton Senna of Brazil, of Australia's Jack Brabham, Nelson Piquet of Brazil and Austria's Niki Lauda who is retained by Mercedes F1. France's Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel are on four championships. Then come Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio on five with Germany's Michael Schumacher top of the list with seven.
"I have no idea what the future holds," Hamilton said. "I am grateful for the ones I have, I have reached my target and my goal, which was always to get three world titles. And now it is kind of into the unknown area around me, but I was never, since I was watching Formula One and watching Michael [Schumacher] winning seven world championships, I never sat there saying 'I want to do that.' I don't know why, I don't have the desire to have eight world championships. I will continue to push and try to win more. If I get there, then cool! But anything more is just like the cherry on top of the cake really."
Hamilton finished second in the final three races of the season, behind team-mate and chief rival Nico Rosberg. He said that his car was not at its best in those final races in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton picks rivals for 2016 Formula One season
"One day I won't be driving any more and you just have to cherish the moment even if it isn't handling perfectly. It has been the best car I have ever driven but the last couple of races it wasn't feeling as spectacular as previously, but I am looking forward to next year's car. It is going to be a new car again and I get to experience something new again, which I am excited about," said Hamilton.
He added that he could never be happy to finish second in a race but his 10 victories this season helped him get over it. "Any competitor, not just in Formula One, a tennis player, whoever it is, anyone who finishes second or even further back, can never honestly be truthful with themselves if they say they are happy to finish in that position," said Hamilton.
"Our goal is to excel and be at the front and be first. So you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth, there will be those days when it is not going your way and you need to learn that and harness that energy to apply it next time. So the last three races I came second, still performed relatively well, quite happy still with that performance, of course could have been better but ultimately you have to not lose the view of the bigger picture having won 10 races previously to that, so I am still pretty happy with how it went."
Hamilton reckons his main rivals next season will be his team mate Nico Rosberg once again, and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, as he figures Ferrari will be especially quick in 2016.