Hamilton: I see my background as a strength


Reigning Formula 1 world champion gave an insightful interview to Russian TV presenter Sophie Shevardnadze where he spoke of his early days in the sport, his first world title, the current generation drivers he admires and F1 rules.

Do you feel the advantage, because you had it harder and you had to overcome more obstacles to get where you are right now?
LH: I see it is a strength and I see it as an advantage. It was, definitely, difficult for us and the family. My dad had four jobs at one stage just to keep me go karting, and, we went into a sport… it was ultimately white-dominated sport, so to get in, we had to put in work.

So was it your dream to do that?
LH: It was my dream to be racing driver, yeah. My dad sacrificed everything, absolutely everything, to make sure that food was on table but also so that I could drive… such an expensive sport, so… You do see, sometimes, there are drivers that may have talent, but others surpass them because they have more financial backing rather than a talent to come through. So, I was very fortunate that I was able to come through. I think, today, to get that harder as a kid, driving a car that was slightly worse than other kids had, enabled me to be champion that I am today.

When you won the title the first time did you even understand the caliber of what was going on?
LH: I did not. 2008 was my second year and I really wasn’t… I wasn’t able to enjoy, I didn’t really understand what the hell has just happened. I don’t know why, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did last year. I was 29 and I was able to just absorb it, enjoy the fruits of my family’s labor and my own, so…it was a great feeling.


You’re often compared to Ayrton Senna – the way, you drive, you’re a star, you’re rough and tough – who is your Alain Prost, you would say? Is there such person out there?
LH: I would imagine someone like… I think, Alonso, is, probably. It might be Alonso, it might be Sebastian – those two are exceptional drivers, with whom I’m looking forward at some stage racing close up.

F1 has had epic battles between Prost and Senna, and Schumacher and Villeneuve – you don’t really see that much anymore. Why do you think that is?
LH: It’s difficult in Formula 1, because every team builds [their] own car, and every team starts at different time in terms of development, every team has different budget, and it is how you interpret the rules. One year, the team will interpret the rules the right way, and it happens to get off on the right foot, like Red Bull did a couple of years ago, Ferrari did many years ago, McLaren did also, and last year, we got it from the right foot with these new rules, and it’s difficult for others to catch up, because you’re constantly developing through the years, so… which is a shame. But you know, there are times when you do get to see battles. Ferrari has been very quick at some races this year, so… but overall, we come up with a better package and myself and Nico did at our best, because, naturally, you’d want to win the World Championship, so…

What would you change in Formula One rules? Bernie Ecclestone’s not happy with the current Formula One rulebook…
LH: I don’t know… he’s done pretty well for himself and for the sport. We wouldn’t be here today without his genius. I think, I guess, Formula One needs to be more accessible, particularly for the fans, more engaging with fans. In terms of racing, we need to make cars that, the car in front has the best air force, the car behind has slightly less, and further more, but if they give us more mechanical grip, maybe we ought to have more… If you ever seen a golf cart race, they go around like this, and they have lots of overtaking, because they don’t have aerodynamics, it’s just mechanical grip – so I think, at some stage, we’re going to do some changes for 2017, where perhaps we can start getting close ad have more racing – that’s what makes wheel-to-wheel racing, where you see people touching almost, but making it through.

Ecclestone Hamilton

What comes next to you? I mean, you can’t be race car driver all your life, and that’s, like adrenalin rush that you get there, you don’t get anywhere. Have you though what you’re going to do afterwards, and not kill yourself from boredom?
LH: No, true. I try to keep myself energized doing lots of different things. I’m very-very open-minded, I do all sports I can possibly do outside, I ride bikes, I ride buggies, I do hiking, rock-climbing, so I don’t know… nothing, will, perhaps ever come close to what Formula 1 car feels like, but there’s so much more to do in the world, and there’s not enough time for us all. So, for me, it’s really about exploring. I think, I’m in a fortunate position to get back to kids, so that’s something I would want to do, whether it’s create an opportunity in racing, or whether it’s music or football..

Would you like your son to be a race car driver?
LH: If he’s driving and he’s good at it, then, of course I will do everything as my father did.

You’ve said: “If I weren’t a race car driver, I would probably be a soccer player”. Do you think you’d be just as successful, would you be like Messi?
LH: No, no, I was never that good. He’s pretty amazing, but, to be honest, I would have tried to be a soccer player, but I don’t think I would’ve been top soccer player, like, that awesome player, but… I don’t know I would probably follow in the family’s business: IT or something like that.