HAMIL­TON ON TWO WHEELS

Of late, Lewis Hamil­ton has come un­der fire for his ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, which some pun­dits view as a dis­trac­tion from his rac­ing. And yet these ‘dis­trac­tions’ seem to be mak­ing him stronger than ever…

F1 Racing (UK) - - CONTENTS -

How the cham­pion’s off-track ac­tiv­i­ties aid his on-track quest

it. I like de­tail, the shapes and curves of the bike. To see it all come to­gether and look beau­ti­ful was re­ally emo­tional. I try to be a sponge and ab­sorb from peo­ple like Tommy [Hil­figer], who has built an in­cred­i­ble brand. Ul­ti­mately, on my list, there’s a new dream there to do some­thing like he’s done within that busi­ness.”

The three MV bikes Lewis has ‘cu­rated’ oc­cupy a niche within a niche. Like most Ital­ian bike man­u­fac­tur­ers, MV has had a fi­nan­cially trou­bled past (Du­cati is now owned by Audi) and pro­duces highly rar­efied bikes, of which the lim­ited-edi­tion ‘LH44’ trio are more ex­clu­sive still. The F4 LH44 rid­den by Lewis on these pages clocks in at £54,000 (the ‘stan­dard’ model is a rel­a­tively mod­est £14,500) and only 44 were built. Based on the F4 RC, it­self a lim­ited-run,

“I TRY TO BE A SPONGE AND AB­SORB FROM PEO­PLE LIKE TOMMY HIL­FIGER, WHO HAS BUILT AN IN­CRED­I­BLE BRAND. UL­TI­MATELY, ON MY LIST, THERE’S A NEW DREAM THERE TO DO SOME­THING LIKE HE’S DONE WITHIN THAT BUSI­NESS”

LEWIS HAMIL­TON

£32,000 ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial en­abling MV to com­pete in the World Su­per­bike cham­pi­onship, the LH44 squeezes 212bhp out of its 998cc four-cylin­der en­gine. The ti­ta­nium ex­haust, the candy-ap­ple-red, car­bon-fi­bre body­work and ev­ery other as­pect of the bike’s trim – from the seat to the an­cil­lary com­po­nents – were spec­i­fied by Lewis in con­junc­tion with MV’S own en­gi­neers. Even the sus­pen­sion com­po­nents are black rather than the stan­dard Öh­lins gold.

Since the F4 was the last bike to be de­signed by Mas­simo Tam­burini, rightly hailed as one of the most gifted mo­tor­cy­cle stylists ever, you could de­scribe Lewis’s work as lily-gild­ing. Yet it re­mains ut­terly ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Still, there is a cru­cial dif­fer­ence be­tween Lewis’s ex­plo­ration of mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ces­soris­ing and his new fash­ion range, de­signed and launched in part­ner­ship with Tommy Hil­figer. The process has been much more in­ten­sive, and the de­mands on his time have man­i­fested them­selves in his day job – some­thing that many of his crit­ics have been swift to point out.

Lewis ar­rived late to the 2018 Ital­ian Grand Prix week­end, miss­ing his Thurs­day me­dia com­mit­ments and in­cur­ring the ire of ‘Fleet

Street’, for whom such in­ter­ac­tions pro­vide the bedrock of a week­end’s cov­er­age and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for a healthy ex­pense-ac­count spend. Hav­ing won that race, Hamil­ton went to Sin­ga­pore via an oner­ous-sound­ing, ten-day, 250,000-mile itin­er­ary that took him from Mi­lan to Lon­don, then Shang­hai, back to Lon­don, then New York, for the pro­mo­tional re­quire­ments of his new co-branded ven­ture with the fash­ion brand. In all he spent around 53 hours in the air, 21 of those on the fi­nal leg from New York to Sin­ga­pore.

There, in a burst of pre-emp­tive schaden­freude, the nat­ter­ing nabobs sharp­ened their pen­cils in ex­pec­ta­tion of a brain-fade-in­duced burnout. But in the event Lewis sim­ply snapped his vi­sor shut, got on with the job, and blew Fer­rari’s doors off at a cir­cuit around which the Mercedes

“FOR SIX YEARS I’VE HEARD, ‘HOW CAN YOU AL­LOW LEWIS TO GET OFF AND FLY AROUND THE WORLD?’ HE WAS IN SHANG­HAI ON THE CAT­WALK, HE WAS IN NEW YORK A COU­PLE OF DAYS LATER. THEN HE CAME HERE AND BLEW EV­ERY­BODY AWAY”

TOTO WOLFF

was gen­er­ally ex­pected to strug­gle. Sev­eral dozen op-ed pieces, glee­fully de­tail­ing the dele­te­ri­ous ef­fect that en­joy­ing the so­ci­ety of mod­els and rap stars has on a sportsper­son’s com­pet­i­tive­ness, ended up on the spike.

For Mercedes boss Toto Wolff it vin­di­cated his pol­icy of let­ting Lewis do his own thing. Af­ter all, Mercedes’ spon­sor­ship deal with Tommy Hil­figer was bro­kered by… Lewis him­self. “For six years I’ve heard, ‘How can you al­low Lewis to get off and fly around the world?’” said Wolff af­ter the Sin­ga­pore GP. “You know what? He did it to his most ex­treme in the past ten days, he loved it – he was in Shang­hai on the cat­walk, he was in New York a cou­ple of days later. Then he came here and blew ev­ery­body away. Let’s be non­judge­men­tal and let ev­ery­body judge how they per­form best. He knows what’s good for him.”

Al­though Lewis is more likely to be­come a fash­ion mogul post-f1 than a mo­tor­cy­cle de­signer, it’s clear that he thrives on cre­ative ad­ven­ture rather than be­ing dis­tracted by it. Com­pare Zen Mercedes Lewis with the mis­er­able late-mclaren era Lewis, frus­trated at be­ing held cap­tive within a cor­po­rate cage, and you’ll see just how healthy it is to get on your bike…

WORDS ROBERT HOLMES PIC­TURES MV AGUSTA

Lewis pushes his LH44 to its limit, mak­ing the most of the 212bhp pro­duced by its 998cc four­cylin­der en­gine

Ev­ery as­pect of the bike’s trim, from its red body­work to its black sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, was se­lected by Lewis

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