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SHIFTING GEARS

Photographs by Renell Medrano

Breaking records as a seven-time F1 world champion is not enough for Lewis Hamilton: now he wants to make his voice heard. He talks to Tom Ellen about coping with fame, taking risks and fighting back against racism

In a year when most people’s biggest achievement has been perfecting their banana bread technique, Lewis Hamilton is having an absolute belter. In October, the 35-year-old broke Michael Schumacher’s world record of 91 Grand Prix wins. When we speak last month, he has just landed in Istanbul ahead of the Turkish GP, which he will go on to win, bringing his grand total to 94, and sealing his seventh World Championship title. A week later, news will break that he is to be knighted in the New Year Honours list. Not bad going, all things considered.

But if you’re wondering whether this latest crop of successes might have gone to Hamilton’s head, the answer is not a bit. ‘I haven’t celebrated a single race this year,’ he laughs. ‘My celebration is to go home, order some food and have a glass of wine.’ He raises an index finger to correct himself: ‘Half a glass of wine.’

This low-key reaction clearly owes something to Covid-19 (hard partying and enforced lockdown don’t exactly go hand in hand). But it owes more to a single, horrific event back in May that caused Hamilton to drastically
reassess his priorities.

"When I saw that video [of george floyd], I was like: “I’ve got to help. I have to say something”"

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"For so long some people have been happy and comfortable with how things are, when it doesn’t really affect them. I have a responsibility as a person of colour"

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"I don’t really care what’s written about me nowadays, to be genuinely honest"

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At the Turkish Grand Prix this year

“If you’re on board with me, then I’m grateful. If not, it doesn’t affect me”

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