Formula 1 has been described as a travelling circus in the way it packs itself up and moves between cities. However, it also has to face the media circus and no one has to face this more than 5 times world champion (and the reigning one at that) Lewis Hamilton. Anything he says is analysed and critiqued trying to make headlines - but rarely positive ones. Many people will have their own opinions as to what the legacy of Lewis Hamilton will be. Yesterday, he attempted to answer that question himself.
Below is the unedited response Lewis Hamilton gave in the Drivers’ Press Conference in Montreal on Thursday June 7th 2019:
In terms of my legacy, it’s difficult to say, really. I think there are so many elements that are to be worked on. Ultimately, I want to somehow find some more… help pave the way for some younger drivers to come through from a similar background to myself for example. That means getting involved in go-karting from the early phases of motor racing. It’s so expensive now, to race go-karts.
I think when I started, I think me and my Dad told me we spent £20,000 in the first year which was a huge amount of money from where we come from on a council estate in the UK. But today, to do a professional season of karting, it’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, like two or three hundred thousand dollars or something to be professional. Now that’s a lot of money to spend in a year.
I want to be a part of somehow shifting that, also helping shift the diversity a little bit because there really is the most minimal diversity within this sport and I really somehow want to be a part of shape-shifting that with Formula One, working in co-operation with Formula One and the FIA. I don’t know why there’s not enough university students, engineers, mechanics and even within the media, coming through from more diverse backgrounds. I don’t know that’s always been the way it is today but I see a real opportunity there to be a part of shape-shifting that.
So that’s ultimately, in 20 years’ time, I want to look back or if I ever hear someone whispering they would say that I was a part of shifting that.
Positive comments from a World Champion trying to give back to the sport he loves which has given him so much and trying to make it more diverse. However, you would have to try hard to find coverage of this seeing how during the press conference Lewis Hamilton also made a comment saying:
I would go back to V12s…I would have manual gearboxes, I’d make it harder for the drivers, take away all these big run-off areas that you have everywhere…You should be just so physically exhausted after the race, to the point like a marathon. Also it’s a man’s sport, you know, and a lot of youngsters come in and it’s quite easy for them to get straight into it…
This is what the media pounced on and in no time the headline ‘Hamilton takes aim at young drivers’ was created. Lando Norris was quoted (after the conference) saying ‘Why would he say things now, not 10 years ago? So, in response to the way his comments were perceived, Hamilton took to Instagram and wrote:
‘Honestly not targeting anyone and definitely not you. It’s a wider point I am speaking of. You are doing a great job. I wasn’t a teenager when I got here.’
This is the time we are in. People want drivers to be open and speak freely but then find ways to attack them if they are. No wonder Kimi Raikkonen speaks so little!
Ironically, Lewis Hamilton also said earlier in the Drivers’ Press Conference:
‘’We all have our own lives and we don’t know how long or short they’re going to be. You just have to maximise every opportunity. Every day that I have, I’m trying to grow, trying to be the best I can be, do what I love, regardless of people’s opinions, and just live life to the fullest.’’
It would be pleasing to see the mainstream media have less opinions and for Hamilton’s legacy to not be one that constantly involves him having to put out statements or make retractions – but that does not make good headlines.
Thankfully, Media Day is over for now and the cars will finally be on track in Montreal to make some real headlines.