Lewis Hamilton heads into the 2020 season as the prey his rivals will seek to hunt down, but the feeling is nothing new for the Mercedes driver whose always had a target on his back.
Hamilton’s outstanding talent coupled with the mighty Mercedes squad’s excellence has yielded five world titles in the last six years, with former nemesis and teammate Nico Rosberg the sole driver to outrun the Briton since 2014.
Despite the supremacy of the Hamilton/Mercedes package, pundits are predicting a challenging campaign for the 35-year-old whom they believe will have a hungry pack of wolves trying to chase him down.
But that’s pretty much been the norm for Hamilton ever since he started his stellar career in racing.
“I’ve had a target on my back since the day I won my first championship when I was 10 years old so it’s nothing new to me,” he said.
“I’ve always been the only black driver there, I’ve always been generally at the front of the championships, so it’s no different to any of the other 27 years of driving – so I’m quite comfortable in that space.
“It’s also a positive when people are targeting you and looking to try and beat you because you want everyone to bring their ‘A-Game’.
“So if we do manage to pull it off and finish ahead, it feels even better.”
As routine as his success has become in the sport, Hamilton insists there’s been nothing “coincidental” about his or his team’s accomplishments.
“When I joined this team I believed we would be winning at some stage,” he explained.
“Did I think we would win as much as we have? Absolutely not.
“But I don’t feels it’s a coincidence that we have won as much as we have. Because the whole organization, the whole team, absolutely every individual is so focused.
“And you’ve seen our consistency over the years, it doesn’t come easy. But it comes from really great work, a lot of great communication.
“We’re very critical of ourselves, everyone’s very open, we’re not treading on eggshells around anyone. So it is the perfect team.”