No matter what profession, there’s always a lot more behind the scenes than people outside the industry could possibly imagine. Whether it be modelling, writing or banking, normally we only get to see the end product; the tip of the iceberg, the glitz and the glamour, without having a true insight into what it takes to get there. Motorsport is no exception, and perhaps it’s even harder to get a good idea as to the behind-the-scenes activities of those involved, as the race events only take place on one or two weekends a month over an eight-month season.
Bernie Ecclestone, the man at the helm of Formula 1, recently said that Lewis Hamilton was the sport’s greatest ambassador. Hamilton is always one to generate a good headline to stir up publicity, and sometimes his comments can be discounted as smoke and mirrors, or as politically motivated.
Yet Ecclestone has a good point here. He stated that drivers such as Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel were “not good for business” – both married, the latter with a child and former with one on the way, they try to avoid the public eye and keep their lives as private as possible.
Hamilton, on the other hand, gets exposure on the fashion, music, and lifestyle scenes. Formula 1 is often criticised for its overly refined corporate nature, where all drivers trot out the same repetitive lines at each appearance, and generally err on the side of caution to keep their sponsors and teams happy. But now we have a British world champion who’s happy to hang out with models and music stars in his garage, doesn’t fear to wear some often quite outlandish apparel and, to top it off, is performing to arguably his highest level yet in Formula 1.
You can tell that Britain’s highest paid sporting star is happy in who he is and what he is about. But his life away from the track will differ greatly to 98 percent of the other drivers competing in international motorsport today.
To get to that point, it takes an awful lot of work, skill and determination. Since my last column in June, I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy in my efforts to work my way to the top. Immediately after my double race wins in Malaysia, I travelled to Monaco to watch the Grand Prix. If you haven’t made the trip, I’d heartily recommend it – the stunning weather, gorgeous scenery and the ability to get close to the car makes it a real spectacle. I spent much of the week with the people behind the soon-to-be-opened Louis XIII casino – and Stephen Hung organised a fantastic party on the Friday night of the Grand Prix weekend. It was a real mix of business and pleasure, as are most GPs, and I had some positive meetings with potential sponsors from both Europe and Asia.
Following this I flew to Shanghai to driver-coach one of my sponsors who races in the HKAA Autosport Challenge events, but then fortunately I had a couple of weeks to do the necessary leg work to follow up on my meetings, and to also attend some great events. These included a gala dinner for the Half the Sky Foundation, which raised nearly HK$8 million on the night at the JW Marriott, and my team, BlackArts Racing, was happy to donate a track day for four people with myself as driver coach to contribute to the efforts.
I also particularly enjoyed making an appearance alongside Jessica C and Phoemela Baranda at the Hong Kong launch party of Bomberg watches at Tazmania Ballroom, emceed by model Sarika Choy. And lastly, shooting with Prestige for last month’s “40 Under 40” feature in cooperation with Tiffany & Co.
With many meetings and events in the run-up to my following race, my schedule was pretty packed, even to the point that I delayed my departure for Zhuhai. Managing my time so I’m able to get the most out of myself on and off track is important, and one way that helps me is by switching my phone to airplane mode when I’m at the track so I can concentrate on the task in hand.
Fortunately, the race weekend went very well. I was fastest in practice, took double pole position, two race wins and two fastest laps, winning the final race of the weekend by eight seconds. I took the lead of the Asian Formula Renault Championship on that weekend in June and as I write this I’m looking forward to the next couple of races in Shanghai.
I’m also working on a few exciting projects over the next couple of months. These I’m looking forward to sharing with you soon.