Formula 1 | Hamilton: I really wanted to understand my place in the world

Hamilton: I really wanted to (...)

Many already know the story of Lewis Hamilton in F1, the boy who, together with his incredibly dedicated father, overcame challenge after challenge to become the most successful driver of all time.

The multiple jobs Hamilton’s father Anthony had to take on to fund his child’s karting career has been well documented, while it is also widely believed that when Hamilton made his Formula 1 debut in 2007 was not a sport where a driver of his profile would necessarily be welcomed.

“Having to operate in a predominantly white organization, having to speak differently, being different, I remember the pressures that I had to be different,” explains today Hamilton, who remains the only black driver to have raced in F1.

« I spoke many years ago about feeling like I had to squeeze in, slip into a different shape to fit in. There’s a shape that can come into F1 and if you’re not that shape, then you’re not welcome. Going into it just so you can make it happen, and then when you’re there, you can slowly become yourself, and that’s what I did. »

This is also what partly motivated him to travel to Africa this summer.

« I think it was to try to really understand my place in the world. Growing up I had a lot of traumatic experiences with discrimination, some that I even discovered recently. I was visiting my parents and they told me things they had never told me. »

Another key factor in planning his trip was finding a purpose after the conclusion of the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi in December. Hamilton had driven perfectly and was close to being crowned champion, before a hugely controversial decision by the race director saw Max Verstappen overtake him on the final lap.

After being knighted in London just days after the incident, Hamilton virtually disappeared from the public eye for the next two months, leaving time to focus on himself.

« I made the decision in January that I was going to undertake this kind of discovery. After the New Year, I was thinking about how I wanted to live with more intention and plan ahead, which I don’t do. I live with a bit of everything that stimulates in the moment, and more often than not when it’s like that, you’re not always maximizing the time, you’re not always where you really want to be. « I had a pretty tough time late last year, I needed to recover from that, refocus on a new season. Then have something to think about because I planned this trip so far in advance. »

« And that was one of the most special experiences for me, if not the most special. Just seeing a little piece of Africa and seeing a few different countries. I haven’t been to the wealthy areas, I know there there’s a lot of wealth and big buildings and businesses, but I really wanted to go to the rarest and rawest part of the country, and see how people live on very little. It was really empowering for me, just to think that my ancestors were in one of these tribes. »

Hamilton posted regular updates on his social media as he spent time in Namibia, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania, describing himself on Instagram as « completely transformed » at the end of his two-week trip.

« We live in such a bubble. There’s so much going on in the world and so many people struggling with so much. It’s sad to see that if you really watch the news, it’s like it’s worse than ever. »

« This experience in Africa, to see people with so little – I say so little but they also have everything, they are so happy – it was also to see a different way of life. We accumulate too many things, we eat too much food, things that we take for granted, people don’t have that luxury and I think it’s really great to have that experience to put things into perspective. »

« There I was at peace. The motherland has a special energy there, it’s like the center of the earth. I could feel those vibrations there. It was also the music, the smiles of the people, the way people share their energy. I’ve seen so much that I never imagined I was going to experience. »

After that trip it was back to the track, invigorated, but Hamilton still remains winless and looks likely to lose his record of having won at least one race in every season of his F1 career.

« It’s okay if it doesn’t happen. It’s been a good period, of transition. I really feel like I’m happier than I’ve ever been, which is really strange because I don’t don’t win in racing, and that’s really my favorite thing. To be successful would bring me so much happiness, but I find more happiness in my personal life now, I’m just more comfortable with who I am, my environment and my intentions. »

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