In a recent interview with Mens Health Australia, Hamilton revealed an underlying anger towards the way in which he was regimented at a younger age, and that his extrovert persona now is making up for lost time.
Whilst at Mercedes, Hamilton appears to have been given more freedom, even to the degree where he doesn’t have a Mercedes employed personal trainer, instead taking up the responsibility himself. However, At McLaren under the chrome fist of Ron Dennis and even earlier in his career, the British driver opened up to just how clinical and pre-determined his life was. He said,
“There is a template that someone invented for a racing driver. You have to be a square and fit into a box and the shape is ‘boring as f***’.
Don’t do anything but live and breathe racing. Don’t enjoy, don’t smile. Now I feel I was robbed of being able to grow naturally…
I didn’t get to hang out with my friends, it was always racing, always business, always serious.”
– Lewis Hamilton
The recent liberation in this area implemented by Liberty Media has lifted the veil slightly, and the wider casual stance of corporate entities, who are now desperate to humanise themselves, has taken the pressure off of this dehumanisation of the race driver that occurs from a young age. There is no denying that McLaren have had mandatory commercial exercises drawn into driver contracts in the past. We doubt Jenson Button banks with Santander, or Mark Webber still drinks Canberra milk…
His monotonous singing is surely a submerged cry for help, Canberra Milk must have locked the Queanbeyan bloke in a recording studio. Hamilton’s comment does bring up a big question, should the interests of key team sponsors come before the ease of the driver in feeling comfortable in their own skin? There’s nothing wrong with being ambassadorial to the sport, or name-dropping a sponsor that funds the team, but to create a character vacuum entirely paints the wrong image.
It’s mandatory for Motorsport drivers to gain PR and media training to deal with difficult questions posed by the media, which is why a Thursday Press conference in F1 can feel like you’re watching a repeat even though it’s live.
Hamilton is a divisive character amongst F1 fans, with a very loyal following in existence because of the British driver’s interactivity on social media, but other see him as an egocentric figure and even last season, accused his extra-curricular activities as distractive, suggesting that life shouldn’t exist beyond the helmet.
He’s one of the drivers of this generation, and whilst some may question his extrovert character, he will be missed when he isn’t around anymore. We romanticise the image of James Hunt the playboy, and celebrate the mavericks of the golden era. Is Hamilton after his time? Or is he actively unlocking another cycle of a more casual, fan-friendly Formula 1 paddock?