Formula One: Lewis Hamilton's charisma combined with his racing talent makes him real champion
Hamilton effortlessly connects with fans who see him as raw, authentic, human (and hence flawed), who has come up the hard way.
It all started when a 10-year-old Lewis Hamilton approached Ron Dennis at an award function and told him, 'One day I want to be racing your cars.’ Three years later, Hamilton was signed to Mclaren’s young driver support programme, and has never looked back since.
Over the years, he has had countless success in the world of motorsport, scaling the very pinnacle of Formula 1. Despite ‘only’ being a three-time world champion, Hamilton boasts of an impressive list of records. Most interesting of these for me is “Most Career Points”, a reflective of the consistently glorious stay he has had in Formula 1.
In the second half of this season, expect Hamilton to beat Michael Schumacher’s record of maximum pole positions (he currently has 67 to Schumacher’s 68). Eventually, he could also challenge Schumacher’s record of all-time wins (91, while Hamilton is at 57). Helps that the F1 season is much longer now than before, allowing drivers to break records with greater ease.
Of course, the only number that’s going to be on Hamilton’s mind for the reminder of the season is the magical number four. He is bidding to become a quadruple world champion and put himself in the illustrious company of (coincidentally) Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost.
The man, the legend
Clearly, Lewis Hamilton has long gone past the state of being just a world champion. He has long since achieved legendary status in the sport. While Hamilton is no doubt one of the most talented drivers the sport has seen, there are others who are just as quick. The difference lies in what Hamilton brings to the table – a unique and unmatchable combination of speed, charisma, individuality and oomph. He is a rockstar with a larger-than-life personality.
Try to slot him, and you will fail. Lewis Hamilton is a living paradox. He is the closest we have to the stereotype of the F1 champ of the yesteryears (with their champagne soaked flamboyance) which makes older viewers of the sport rather nostalgic. Yet at the same time, he has embraced younger fans through his deployment of social media. He flies around the globe in a bright red plane, partying everywhere from Barbados to Greece with everyone from Serena Williams to Paris Hilton.
Even so, Hamilton claims to be an introvert who loves nothing more than spending time with his pet dogs Coco and Roscoe. We know of numerous incidents where Hamilton has unleashed his bad boy avatar (remember his infamous motorcycle selfie last year?) while at the same time doing voluntary work for the UN.
One thing’s for sure, Lewis Hamilton has personality and does not believe in living life by the rules. We saw this when he moved from Mclaren (a championship team) to the then unproven Mercedes. While the paddock was shocked, Hamilton’s gutsy move brought him two world titles (2014 and 2015) and perhaps one more this year.
F1’s best ambassador
At a time when Formula 1 is desperately in need of a re-haul (with Liberty Media already getting the ball rolling), the sport is lucky to have an ambassador like Hamilton. He effortlessly connects with fans who see him as raw, authentic, human (and hence flawed), who has come up the hard way. This is in contrast with many of the other drivers on today’s grid, who have famous last names (hail nepotism!) paid their way through.
It certainly helps that Hamilton is spotted in all the right places with famous personalities. His high-profile friendships bring celebrities to races (case in point: Venus Williams, Justin Bieber, Drake) which in turn gives the sport coverage and aspirational value. To our business mind, Formula 1 could not have had it better.
The season that’s been
With specific reference to the 2017 season, Hamilton has had a few interesting moments. Surpassing Ayrton Senna’s record for pole positions would have been special for him, given that he considers Senna his icon. Formula 1 brought out its marketing genius to mark the moment by presenting Hamilton with Senna’s championship helmet. The second moment while speaks of the character of Hamilton is when he made way for Valteri Bottas at the Hungarian Grand Prix, choosing to keep his word rather than gaining a few extra points. While no hard-nosed racer in his place would have done the same, that’s what makes Hamilton so special, he wears his heart on his sleeve.
What gives him the edge?
Lewis Hamilton does not like losing. After a well fought battle last year, he still lost the title to his teammate Nico Rosberg. The loss would have stung for sure, especially since Rosberg was his long-standing nemesis over decades of racing as rivals. This year is his chance to redeem himself from it all. His rival this year, Vettel, is one of the few racers who have achieved more titles than him. Ironically, Vettel played a key hand in Hamilton’s loss last season at the deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, by letting Rosberg have track position, and hence the title.
Chandhok is one of the only two Indian drivers to have made it to Formula 1 with the other being Narain Karthikeyan.
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