What started as a Formula 1 race ended in a lovefest. At the British Grand Prix on the famous Silverstone circuit, Lewis Hamilton, England’s best driver, led flag-to-flag over a rain-splotched course that turned the surface into a skating rink. Within 10 laps of the soggy start, though, Hamilton had gained a five-second advantage — an eternity in F1 — leaving rivals in the rearview of his rooster-tailing Mercedes W07 Hybrid Silver Arrow.
The 31-year-old champion from the south of England demonstrated once again why he is the top racecar driver in the world. “It was a pretty unreal weekend,” he tells me on his ride back to London from a meeting at Mercedes team headquarters in the Northamptonshire countryside. “Very tricky conditions, and it was the biggest race of the year for me. Pressure was as high as it can be: huge. I needed to perform at my best.”
Hamilton is a three-time Formula 1 world champion who, for the past three seasons, has driven for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team. The FI circuit consists of 21 races worldwide, from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Austin, Texas, including such legendary courses as Monte Carlo, Monza, Italy, and Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium but also races in Russia, Canada, China, Singapore, Australia and Brazil. F1 is auto racing’s most popular circuit, featuring the most sophisticated cars, technology and fan appeal — the cultured European cousin to NASCAR’s fender-banging, paint-trading Americans. F1’s cars, not to mention its drivers, are exquisite, expensive and glamorous.
And there are few more glamourous F1 stars than Hamilton. Sponsored by Hugo Boss and Puma, and the new global spokesperson for L’Oréal Men, he’s already a familiar figure at runway shows. “I’m doing a lot of fashion events. I like designing, creating things,” he says, hinting at what could someday become a post-racing career. Hamilton has always been multitalented, equally at home behind his Bösendorfer grand piano as he is a 900-horsepower F1 Mercedes. He plays guitar, too, and has written songs, and he hangs out with Kanye, Justin Bieber and Drake. “Music is what I love most after racing,” he says. If Hamilton played his Bösendorfer as fast as he drives his Silver Arrow, he’d run through Chopin’s Minute Waltz in about a second flat.
For the crowd of more than 100,000 at Silverstone, the British Grand Prix became a coronation for the local kid from Stevenage as Britain’s reigning sporting champion — and on the same day Andy Murray won Wimbledon. They had shown him love and support during the race, and now he was going to give it back. Usually, he would head for the podium and spray the crowd with Champagne. This time, he raced down the grandstand steps, walked to the waiting throng and shouted, “I’m going to come jump on top of you guys, so let’s go!” They lifted him up and he crowd-surfed among his faithful, drenched in the noise and adulation.
“I grew up in a small town in the U.K. and always wanted to be a racing driver,” he says. “I hadn’t even thought about what would come along, that fans would support you. I wanted to say, ‘I love you’ and I appreciate that they are all from where I came from. The energy was electrifying.”
For the full article grab the November 2016 issue of MAXIM, in stores from October 20 to November 17.
To grab a digital copy CLICK HERE. All past issues available for download.
To subscribe CLICK HERE. Australian residents only.
iPad Application also available. CLICK HERE. All past issues available for download.