/ 19 September 2012

Hamilton: Dad’s words stopped me quitting F1

Formula One star Lewis Hamilton.
Formula One star Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton, under intense speculation over which team he will drive for next year, has often cut an unhappy figure this season despite his three wins. In 2011, his campaign was knocked off course by relationship problems.

But the 27-year-old Briton said he drew strength at difficult times from his personal motto, drilled into him by his father, Anthony.

"Never give up. That's just something I had from when I was a kid," Hamilton said at a promotional event ahead of this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.

"Everyone has tough times that people don't know about and I remember even in my career I was thinking, 'Shoot, maybe I'm not going to be able to make it'. And I remember my dad said, 'Never give up', and that just stuck with me.

"So there's times when I feel like I should maybe stop and then I think to myself, 'I'm not going to give up, I'm going to keep going. There'll be a brighter day, there's light at the end of the tunnel."

It was an interesting insight from the colourful former world champion, who is often in the headlines and is again the centre of attention in the build-up to the Singapore Grand Prix.

Hamilton, after nearly 15 years with McLaren and currently second in the standings, has admitted his team next year is undecided, with Ross Brawn's Mercedes team thought to be courting his signature.

The Briton, who sports diamond studs in each ear, was managed by his father until they split in 2010. He is now with impresario Simon Fuller's XIX Entertainment, which also handles David Beckham and Andy Murray.

He said his core motivation remained simply to win the Formula One title and end a wait that goes back to 2008, when he was crowned world champion at the age of just 23.

"I'm just constantly motivated, I want to win. I grew up wanting to win. Since I was eight years old, since I started racing, I've always wanted to be at the front of the pack," Hamilton said.

Outwitting competitors
"I've wanted to race people, overtake people and come out in front and outmanoeuvre, outsmart and outwit my competitors.

"I think what still drives me today is the future goal, which is to win world championships and be number one in the world out of all the top drivers."

He was speaking after performing screeching, rubber-burning doughnuts in a McLaren MP4-12C sports car in an attempt to scorch his initials into the tarmac, at the event organised by drinks-maker Diageo near Singapore airport.

One fan was selected at random to join him in the car, but he told AFP he opted out of the hair-raising ride because he had a "weak heart".

Later, Hamilton also recalled with pride how he passed his driving test at the first attempt, aged 17– despite intense nerves.

"I can comfortably say I did. I think Jenson (Button, his McLaren team-mate) didn't," he said. "I remember the actual start of the test, my leg was shaking like crazy," Hamilton added. – Sapa-AFP