In a wide-ranging interview with Sky Sports F1, world champion Lewis Hamilton has explained why being a Formula 1 driver is an “art form” and his desire to be “creative” on and off the track – admitting it was a driving force for his career-changing move to Mercedes eight years ago.
Amid a remarkable and record-breaking run of success as an F1 driver, Hamilton has also been passionate and heavily invested in other projects in recent years – from launching his own Tommy Hilfiger clothing line to an award-winning vegan restaurant, just to name a few.
“I would say I’m a lot busier than any driver has ever really been,” said Hamilton, who also discussed at length with Sky F1’s Rachel Brookes about his F1 legacy and target for improved equality and inclusion in the sport.
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“I think there’s been a lot of experiences when I was younger, and even when I first got to Formula 1, about what you can and cannot do. When people say you cannot, that’s kind of a version of supressing you.
“I’ve been experimenting with all these different outlets, things that I’m passionate about. There’s so much I want to do.”
Speaking to Rachel in an exclusive before the superb season-opening win at the Bahrain GP, Hamilton admitted a lot of those other avenues were opened up by the, then surprising, move from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013.
“‘Don’t go to Mercedes’; most people would have said that,” stated the Englishman, who has won six of his seven titles with the Silver Arrows. “Probably… 90-plus per cent of people would have said that!
“But for me that was my opportunity to have a chance to be creative, to grow with a team that’s perhaps not at the front but has the potential to be at the front, to get back some of my time, some of my image rights to be able to do these other things that I do – and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without this team.”
Hamilton is conscious that “I wouldn’t be able to do all these other things if it wasn’t for racing” but also said it has come with a stigma – claiming below-par performances would often be attributed to his busy off-track lifestyle.
He said one of his best-ever F1 laps for pole position in Singapore qualifying shortly after travelling to Shanghai and New York for the launch of his debut fashion range “broke the mould”.
“And that’s what it’s all about.”
Hamilton on… F1’s ‘art form’
Hamilton also says creativity shouldn’t just be for life away from the racetrack.
“It’s an art form what we do,” he insists. “I don’t know if people look at it that way but it is really an art form.
“If you look at a painter whose trying to find his strokes, it’s the same thing with us as drivers, we’re constantly trying to finesse the car. And I guess you’re creating as you’re doing a lap, you’re creating along the way.
“I definitely think it’s a creative outlet. You’re trying to be creative with your setup, you’re trying to be creative understanding what can and can’t be done with the car, coming up with ideas of reforming the steering wheel, redesigning your pedals, redesigning the seat, the aero package that you have and where its best to use it.
“There’s a huge creative aspect.”
Referencing some of his masterful wet-weather drives, Hamilton states: “There’s no written way of doing that.”
Hamilton on… his music passion
One of Hamilton’s other big passions is his music.
As well as appearing in a song with Christina Aguilera under the name of ‘XNDA’, Hamilton has been increasingly open with some his creations on social media, even going live to share tracks last year.
“Aw man, I was so nervous. I was so nervous!” Hamilton reflects. “People would never know it but I struggle with anxiety.
“I’ve been doing music a long, long time – I never got into it with the goal of putting it out there or being a popstar or anything like that, I just loved creating.
A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton)
“Ever since I was like 12, 13, I was at home strumming alone in my room and I was trying to write down lyrics. Those days, most of the time, I’d just be thinking this is c**p ,this is no good, then I’d pick it up again and I just never gave up.
“I do that today and it’s quite therapeutic. Then I’m travelling and I play it to friends, and they’re like ‘you should do something with it, or put it out!’.
“I have so much more that I want to share so maybe I’ll do another live and show a bit more.”
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