Sunday’s historic Chinese Grand Prix brought Lewis Hamilton his 6th win at the SAIC International Circuit. His performance also brought the title ‘Victor of the 1000th Formula One Grand Prix’. Hardly a surprise considering Hamilton had previously won the 900th . Lewis Hamilton is described by those in his team as ‘a rock star’ and he is certainly the man for the big occasion. Such success on Sunday will do no harm to the Hamilton brand as it continues to grow from strength to strength. Although, he did not get all the accolades as the bonus point for Fastest Lap went to Pierre Gasly who may have finally turned a corner at the start of his Red Bull tenure.
Team LH China had been out in force since the exclusive On Track Thursday Drivers’ Autograph Session right up to 2 hours after Sunday’s race when their hero came out to thank them and pose with his deserved winner’s trophy.
As you looked around the SAIC International Circuit in the crowd there were many fans adorned in the colour of red. Not the red of the Scuderia Ferrari though (although Sebastian Vettel had his fair share of fans) instead, this was the red of the exclusive Lewis Hamilton Mercedes baseball cap – chosen (following special permission from his team) because red is a lucky colour in China.
However, there was nothing lucky about Hamilton’s victory, his 75th in F1 and another milestone, as the Brit showed lightning reaction speed at lights out and had jumped pole sitter Valtteri Bottas to lead the race before turn 1.
You would have been hard pressed to find anyone at the venue saying Hamilton would not win the race (barring a technical issue0. This is due to the dominance of the racer and the expectation of the crowd - whether fans of his or not. Yes, Mercedes are a dominant team but by the time the current World Champion had crossed the line for his 2nd lap, the Media Center was already saying ‘that’s that then.’
As for Hamilton, the love he has for his fans is evident. First of all, the astute observer of the post-race press conference would have seen a small version of Hamilton with a winner’s trophy. Such a figure is just one of many gifts he receives from fans throughout a season.
In the press conference itself Hamilton gave an insight into how the adoration and support makes him feel and the impact it has on his performance:
“ It is a real privileged position to be in and it is quite surreal to have youngsters and even adults come up to you, shaking or nervous when they are around you but there’s such great energy and ultimately there’s a real strong platform to deliver key messages to a position to inspire. I feel very, very privileged. I try to do it in the best way I can at the same time as living my life and making the mistakes that you do in life. Yeah, you feel like you’re on cloud nine this weekend, from the moment I landed, got off the plane and the fans just fill me up with joy, you know, and they have done all weekend. When I wake up in the morning I’m groggy and I get down to the lobby and they’re outside all smiling. They’ve been there for at least an hour and they’re buzzing and when I get home tonight or back to the hotel in the evening they’re there again and they travel so far around the world, people save up and spend their money to go to all these different locations to support. It’s incredible, it’s absolutely incredible and it’s very very hard to put it into words just how awesome an experience it is but also how grateful I am.”
Hardly the words of an arrogant man as many in F1 choose to think of him.
Team LH China and all Team LH groups the world over feel that part of Hamilton’s success comes from their support and that support is going nowhere. Why? Well, they have a 6th World Championship to win and at the moment it is hard to see who will stop them.