Earlier this week we received a phone call asking “would you fancy having a chat with Lewis Hamilton on Friday?”. Naturally, it’s safe to say we were pretty open to the idea, especially when it involved flying over to Barcelona, meeting up with Lewis at his hotel and watching the race too – all courtesy of Johnnie Walker, those purveyors of fine whisky and sponsors of the McLaren team.
Adam Mills: As fans of Formula 1, we’ve really lucked in so far in 2012. With four great grands prix, with different drivers and cars winning each race, it’s created a brilliantly tight championship battle.
Some may call the season awesome, but how is it from Lewis’ point of view?
Lewis Hamilton: It could always be better and if I’d won all the races, then I’d be calling it awesome too! It has been an exciting season and it is good to have drivers and teams close, it must be a treat for the fans.
AM: We see plenty of love between you and Jenson as team mates at McLaren – what do you like best about working with him?
LH: He’s just so easy going and laid back. He has a great persona where he’s pretty much always in a good mood.
AM: Do you hang out away from the track?
LH: Not really, we’re together so much at the track that we like to keep our personal lives separate.
AM: So when you’re away from the track and not hanging our with Jenson, what do you get up to?
LH: “I just enjoy chilling out, going out for meals, when I’m not training of course.”
After a barrage of interviews following Friday practice, I thought it’d be appropriate to throw the standard quick-fire fun questions to Lewis, as we always do with any F1 drivers we’re lucky enough to interview:
- What’s your favourite cheese? - Parmesan.
- Tea or coffee? – Neither.
- Ever fancy trying oval racing? – Yes, but only after F1.
- What’s playing on your iPod right now? – Tupac.
- If you were to head off to desert island, what 3 items would you take with you? - My missus, some flip flops and my iPod.
AM: Heading back to F1, we all know that Senna is your hero within motorsport, but who outside of F1 do you admire?
LH: Mainly a lot of other sports people, for instance Muhammed Ali. I’m a big admirer of Tiger [Woods] – regardless of the stuff he’s gone through I still see him as the best. Also Paula Radcliffe, and I was a big fan of Ian Wright back in the day. He wasn’t very supportive of me when I was younger, I’m sure he regrets that now. I met [Jorge] Lorenzo from MotoGP the other day, he’s a cool rider and I’ve invited him along for the [Spanish GP] weekend – so yes, loads of other sports people.
AM: So I guess it’s safe to say that you’re a fan of the Olympics – are planning on going?
LH: Yes, definitely – if I have time I’ll be there.
AM: Let’s imagine you could enter the Olympics – would that be of interest to you, and which event would you go for?
LH: If we are assuming I could have the abilities to compete too, then it would have to be the 100m sprint – I could do it in 12.2s when I was younger, not sure I’d be too good right now.
AM: A while ago you did a GQ photo shoot (LH: “oh… yeah don’t remind me”) - it was pretty popular, but was I intrigued to know whether there are any other PR opportunities that you’d like to get involved in?
LH: Movies! My girlfriend [Nicole Scherzinger] is in Men in Black III, I was on there on set for that and I was like ‘please give me a job!’.
The movies thing is wicked – I’ll be off the premiere to see MIB III and it will be crazy to see her in it. I love the MIB series. So yeah, being in a cool movie like that, or say Iron Man. Not sure what I would do in it, but it would be neat!”
AM: Going back to F1 – many fans that I meet through Badger GP and our events often talk about Formula 1 and how it can be quite inaccessible for fans, that it’s a bit closed off and should be more open. Do you have any thoughts on that?
LH: I’ve never really thought about it if I am honest, it is difficult. But, when I was coming up through ranks, it’s clear that other forms of motorsport are more open and you can get closer – that’s just the way Formula 1 has been for so many years and Bernie has it that way. It’s exclusive and that’s how he runs his business – it’s successful the way it is.
One idea is where you go to some races and not many people turn up because the tickets are so expensive – surely they could charge less and have double the people!? So yeah, my idea would be to lower the prices, I’m sure that would go down well!
Our time with Lewis Hamilton was rapid, but it was a great opportunity to talk to him one-to-one (something usually reserved for the likes of Lee McKenzie or Jake Humphrey). Before we said goodbye, being as it was due to the kindness of Johnnie Walker that this even happened, I had to know if Lewis drinks the amber nectar, and if so, how?
LH: It really does depend on what I’m doing. I enjoy it with cola, but also neat on the rocks – obviously it’s not part of the my training routine, but if I finish on top on a Sunday then I can allow myself to enjoy a glass.”
Earlier on in the interview I asked Lewis if there are any questions that he wishes journalists or fans would ask him, whether there was anything he’d like to talk about in interviews. His reply was charming and brilliantly honest:
No, not really. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t be asked any questions.
That said, Lewis was happy to chat today and thanked me for a fun interview. Phew.
After chatting with the Johnnie Walker folk who were in town this weekend, we’re pleased to say that the popular “Step Inside the Circuit” campaign will be making a return in 2012 – if you haven’t heard of it before, it’s where Johnnie Walker do their bit to open up F1 from behind the scenes, via some pretty awesome videos and various competitions – keep an eye out on BadgerGP.com for future updates on this, in the meantime you can watch their Monaco video from last year here.