Lewis Hamil­ton drives into the record books

His re­cent For­mula 1 win was a record-breaker – and rac­ing champ Lewis Hamil­ton al­ready has his sights set on what’s next

YOU (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - COM­PILED BY THU­LANI GQIRANA

THEY told him it was im­pos­si­ble – he’d never do it, the prophets of doom said. There were too many hot­shots out there, he was too young, too green, it was too hard. But Lewis Hamil­ton proved his crit­ics wrong – not once but four times.

And the 32-year-old For­mula 1 whiz­zkid is walk­ing on air now af­ter seal­ing his dom­i­na­tion in the world of the ul­tra-fast by win­ning the Mex­i­can Grand Prix – and with it be­com­ing his coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful F1 driver to date.

The Bri­tish speed freak took to In­sta­gram af­ter his record-break­ing crown­ing to praise the peo­ple who helped make it all pos­si­ble.

“As a kid, I al­ways dreamt of be­ing in For­mula 1,” he wrote. “I never lost sight of that dream, even when peo­ple said it would be im­pos­si­ble.

“I stand here now with four World Championships and I’m proof that if you fol­low your dreams with ev­ery­thing you have, they can come true. I’m so grate­ful to all 1 500 peo­ple in my team who all have a dream of mak­ing the best F1 car and tire­lessly make that dream a re­al­ity.

“My fans, #TeamLH, I wouldn’t be here with­out you. You’ve car­ried me through ad­ver­sity and shared my joy in mo­ments such as these. Truly, thank you. We’re all ris­ing to­gether and I am so ex­cited for what our fu­ture brings to­gether. #LH4 #Stil­lWeRise.” WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE F1 ACE? Hamil­ton’s con­tract with Mercedes ex­pires at the end of 2018 but he isn’t go­ing any­where, he says.

He’s on the verge of sign­ing a new deal with the Ger­man mo­tor ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer, which could make him the rich­est sports star in the world.

The deal will be worth £120 mil­lion (R2,1 bil­lion) over three years, ac­cord­ing to Bri­tish news­pa­per the Lon­don Evening Stan­dard. He re­port­edly wants to stay with Mercedes un­til at least 2021 and doesn’t fore­see any prob­lems get­ting the new con­tract sorted.

“It’s quite an easy process for us,” Hamil­ton says. “We al­ready have some­thing in place and it’s re­ally just about ex­tend­ing it and en­hanc­ing it, work­ing on what more I can do for them, for the spon­sors, the brand and vice versa.”

Bri­tish F1 ex­pert Ted Kravitz be­lieves Hamil­ton won’t bow out be­fore ful­fill­ing his dream of driv­ing for Fer­rari.

“I’m not so sure it’s about how many ti­tles will sat­isfy him, it’s about see­ing what he can do in the ca­reer that he’s got left. He’s 32 so he has ar­guably an­other five or six years be­fore leav­ing For­mula 1,” he says.

He be­lieves the cham­pion will be bored by the time he hits his for­ties.

“I think an­other two or three years with Mercedes, which will take him to more than six years in one team, then he’ll go and join Fer­rari once [Sebastian] Vet­tel goes off. He’ll fin­ish his ca­reer at Fer­rari and win a cham­pi­onship there.”

But for now the driver is ex­pected to head to the Brazil­ian Grand Prix on

12 Novem­ber be­fore clos­ing the sea­son in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month. BREAK­ING RECORDS Hamil­ton is now poised to chal­lenge Michael Schu­macher’s record, ac­cord­ing to Grand Prix leg­end Jackie Ste­wart. Hamil­ton broke Ste­wart’s 44-yearold record as Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful F1 driver. Ste­wart has three world championships to his name. Now the only two peo­ple with more F1 championships are SchuLEWIS macher with seven and Juan Manuel Fan­gio – the Ar­gen­tine who dom­i­nated the sport in the ’50s – with five.

“There’s no rea­son to as­sume Lewis won’t go even fur­ther and I wish him the very best,” Ste­wart says. “He’s earned ev­ery­thing and de­serves recog­ni­tion for win­ning four world championships.

“Records are made to be bro­ken. It’s al­most dis­ap­point­ing no other Bri­tish driver has come along in 44 years to beat my record.” SIR LEWIS? Now that Hamil­ton is Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful rac­ing driver, he says he’d be hon­oured to be recog­nised with a knight­hood, in the same way Ste­wart was.

“I’ve been try­ing to rep­re­sent Eng­land the best way I can and if that’s at some stage recog­nised by the queen I’d be in­cred­i­bly proud,” he says.

Ste­wart was knighted in 2001, years af­ter achiev­ing his feat, but re­cently the trend has been for star Bri­tish ath­letes to be given the hon­our while still com­pet­ing. Cases in point are ten­nis player Andy Mur­ray and dis­tance run­ner Mo Farah, both of whom were knighted this year. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY Hamil­ton might love what he does for a liv­ing but the bucks surely help. Ac­cord­ing to the Sun­day Times Rich List, the Brit has a for­tune of £131 mil­lion (R2,49 bil­lion).

And that’s not all. Hamil­ton also has en­dorse­ment deals with Swiss watch com­pany IWC, Mon­ster En­ergy en­ergy drink, L’Oréal, au­dio equip­ment gi­ant Bose, Puma cloth­ing, MV Agusta Mo­tor­cy­cles and Bom­bardier Recre­ational Prod­ucts, which earn him about £6 mil­lion (R111 mil­lion) a year. WHAT’S A CHAMP WITH­OUT A RI­VAL? Hamil­ton’s No 1 com­peti­tor is fel­low F1 champ Sebastian Vet­tel – the ace Ger­man driver who equals his cham­pi­onship ti­tles.

Hamil­ton em­braces it. “Com­pet­ing with a four-time world cham­pion you know you’re com­pet­ing against the best,” he told The Guardian news­pa­per.

“You’re both on a knife-edge and one of you is go­ing to fal­ter. I love that chal­lenge of try­ing not to be the one who fal­ters.”

Af­ter claim­ing his fourth cham­pi­onship, Hamil­ton in­sisted he wasn’t go­ing to cre­ate a bit­ter rivalry with Vet­tel.

“Nat­u­rally you’re hav­ing a bat­tle with the guy be­hind you. There’s that fa­mous say­ing, ‘In the art of war, keep your friends close and your en­e­mies closer.’

“I watch Sebastian, I know what he’s achieved in the past years, I know how con­sis­tent he’s been, and I know where his strengths and weak­nesses are. I know where the strengths and weak­nesses of his car are.” THEN THERE’S HIS LOVE-LIFE . . . Hamil­ton has never lacked for a date to take to all those par­ties and events he’s in­vited to. Ear­lier this year the speed­ster was ru­moured to be en­joy­ing the com­pany of 19-year-old model Sofia Richie, singer Lionel Richie’s daugh­ter.

He’s also been linked to singer Ni­cole Scherzinger and mod­els Win­nie Har­low and Bar­bara Palvin.

Other ru­moured flames are singer Rita Ora and su­per­star Ri­hanna, with whom he was friends for a long time be­fore they re­port­edly took their re­la­tion­ship to the next level in 2015.

TOP: Lewis Hamil­ton with his bull­dog Roscoe. ABOVE: With leg­endary Bri­tish rac­ing driver Jackie Ste­wart.

ABOVE LEFT: The F1 champ’s mom, Car­men Lar­balestier, was there to cheer him on when he won his fourth world ti­tle. ABOVE RIGHT: With his dad, An­thony, who nur­tured his tal­ent from a young age.

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