The figure of Lewis Hamilton has always never left anyone indifferent, even before his arrival in Formula 1, and that is because his condition as the only driver with African-American descent (his father is from Granada, a small American island country) has marked in sport. The Brit landed in the Grand Circus in the 2007 season at the hands of McLaren, with whom he was linked from an early age thanks to his achievements in the lower category, but the road was not easy.
After winning seven world championships and becoming the most successful in history, the Englishman reviews his life and the influences that have made him who he is. In an interview with fashion, politics and culture magazine Vanity Fair , due to be released in September, Hamilton revealed that even his tattoos were a source of criticism in Formula 1.
“I didn’t feel welcome, I didn’t feel accepted. God knows how many of these drivers say, ‘This is not what a Formula 1 driver is’, this is not how you behave,” the Mercedes driver said. “Tattoos? No! A Formula 1 driver has no tattoos! A Formula 1 driver has no personality…no piercings!”
Those words are just a demonstration of the struggle that Lewis Hamilton has had to carry out in his career, although in this case he was wrong, since the regulations indicated that no one could get on the car with jewelry and piercings. At the start of the 2022 season, the FIA issued a warning to grid members not to drive with these elements, and the Englishman took the hint.
“I’m the only one with jewelry, really,” he said, before revealing that he tried to provoke the international federation by walking around the paddock without removing his piercings . “I put on everything I could, I said I couldn’t take off at least two of them, and one I couldn’t tell where it was, but that was a lie.”
“Since I was a child, the rules, I have never liked being told what to do,” he said. ” When I was in school, I was dyslexic and I was like hell, I was one of the few black kids who was in the worst classes and they never gave me a chance to get ahead or even help myself.”
“The teachers told me that ‘it would never be anything’. I remember being behind the shed, crying and believing that for a split second,” Hamilton said of that fateful episode from his childhood. “It was the most demotivating thing to hear, especially when you see them doing the complete opposite, but I don’t hold a grudge against those people.”
A sample of his personality and the memory of that stage of his life, when he crossed the finish line of the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix to become seven-time Formula 1 world champion, he said a motivating phrase on the radio.
“ This is for all the children who dream of the impossible,” said the Englishman after celebrating the success, who explained why he expressed it. ” It was because of those past experiences, all the doubts that I had to overcome. It was one of the most emotional things in my life, that’s why I said it.”
“I always had, in the back of my mind, people telling me ‘you’re never going to be able to do that… There’s no way you’re going to do this,'” continued Lewis Hamilton, who in his childhood viewed motorsports as a way escape from the reality he had to endure.
“It’s like having a superpower,” he said. “I couldn’t be Superman, but that was like your cape. When I got in the car, I put on a helmet and they didn’t see me any different, you can’t see my skin color, you just see me as a driver, and I was able to do things that others don’t.” could do, no matter how old the other kids were, I could still beat them.”
One of the key moments in Lewis Hamilton’s career was the decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes, a team that was not the dominant force in Formula 1 but became a roller from the start of the era. hybrid in 2014 .
Before signing with the Germans, the one who would become a legend in Brackley, warned of the conditions they should accept: ” This is who I am, these are the things I like to do. Never try to control me, I will give everything for this And I’m going to help you win championships. I’m going to show you that being different isn’t bad for your brand.”