Hamilton: In my early days with McLaren it just felt wrong

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Lewis Hamilton has revealed that during his early years in Formula 1 he was delivering on track but felt that all was not right with his life outside the car and these days he is far happier with the way he goes about his racing while living life to the full.

Hamilton burst on to the Formula 1 scene in 2007 with McLaren which was ruled with an iron fist by Ron Dennis at the time and the 22 year old prodigy was very much a ‘McLaren man’ conditioned to operate in the confines of a team with huge pedigree and also very set in its ways.

In a lengthy interview with Sportweek, Hamilton recalled, “At the beginning of my Formula 1 career I was doing the best job in the world, yet I was unhappy. Out of the car it just felt wrong, I did not feel complete. I could not take advantage of my potential, I used only ten percent of what I had in me.”

“When I got to Formula 1, many people said to me: That’s the way you have to be, it’s square and you have to become square. An attitude which crushes personality. It is one of the big problems in today’s world: the suppression of ideas.”

“To not accept this you must have a strong mental attitude, believe in yourself, in your values, in the direction and in the journey you have undertaken.”

“I went home after races, and I read what was written and I said to myself: If you only know what’s in my heart. Spread shit on me, but who are they to judge? I’m not offending anyone, I am just living my life,” added the 32 year old.

Hamilton went on to win his first Formula 1 world championship in 2008 with McLaren, after missing out narrowly on the title in 2007, his rookie season.

At the end of 2012 he stunned the Formula 1 world by departing the team that groomed him and accepted an offer to drive for Mercedes, which at the time was an unproven force. Many were critical of his decision. However. it turned out to be the shrewdest move of his career and the rest is history.

Since then he has bagged a further three titles and has never looked back, “When I think about how I felt years ago I have an image in my head: I’m tied up, nailed to the ground and incapable of moving. But I released myself from that state.”

“From the beginning, in high-level sports everyone from tells you how to behave. Instead you have to struggle to find where you fit.”

“Over the last five years I have escaped from that box and I feel better. Initially everyone said that I was not focused and so on, but I was doing everything well and was always prepared to deliver the maximum.”

“What I pursued – I’m looking for the right word – is diversity. Diversity is very important in the modern world.”

“In the last two years in particular, everything has changed. I’m another person. I learn, I read, I experience different things, educate myself and do the things I love away from the track.”

“When I go back I always do the best job in the world. When you’re at peace everything changes. I am a human being, I also have my moments, but I always aspire to be happy.” 

Through his own experiences Hamilton has advice for others, “Allow yourself to explore other worlds, which will give you energy and power.”

Hamilton is known to have a jet-set lifestyle and often travels to the United States between races, he provided insight on how he manages this, “I’m very lucky, for 12 years I have had the same assistant, Ellen. Each week we sit down to make a schedule. It’s hard to work with me because I have a lot of energy, if I do not use it then it goes to waste.”

“We often forget that we are not eternal, we have little time. And I do not want to throw away a single minute. I’m afraid of missing out on something, so I live very long days.”

“I come from Stevenage, a place with few inhabitants, and now I have the whole world available to me. I know a lot of people, after every race I turn my phone on and I find hundreds of messages. I want to answer everyone and sometimes it takes the whole week.”

Hamilton had a high profile relationship with pop star Nicole Scherzinger which lasted from 2007 and ran on-and-off until 2010. Right now he is a bachelor often dating supermodels, regularly partying with the rich and beautiful.

He said of romance, “Maybe in the future I will become involved in a stable relationship. I had one which was constantly in the spotlight and it was tough. I learned a lesson and it will not happen that way again.”

Fashion and music are among his passions, and he makes no secret of the fact that he knows he is different to his rivals on the Formula 1 grid.

“I am very proud of being different and this is the way it should be. Fans see Max Verstappen, a young guy who is very different to the others and this is good. I loved what the Williams sisters brought to tennis. These are new people coming up with new attitudes, we need them to make changes.”

In the paddock Hamilton keeps to himself and seldom hangs out with Formula 1 drivers, but if he had to choose drivers to socialise with, he revealed, “James Hunt, no doubt! Among those of today I would say Daniel Ricciardo, if I brought him to Miami for a week that would be fun for everyone. But absolutely James, he is a great one.”