Exclusive Interview With Sir Lewis Hamilton
The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster for seven-time Formula1 World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton. Near misses and frustrations mixed with promising steps forward, but through it all, his composure on and off track never waivers. And with speculation rife about his future in the sport, what is life really like right now for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One driver? Rebecca Cox caught up with the most successful F1 driver of all time from the set of his new campaign for INEOS Hygienics. And since Country & Town House aims to help readers strive for a life in balance, we asked Lewis how, amidst all the pressure, he maintains balance in his.
Lewis Hamilton: A Life In Balance
When I caught up with Lewis Hamilton, he was feeling (and looking) groovy, baby, having just ‘channelled Austin Powers’ on the set of a shoot for INEOS Hygienics, the UK’s fastest-growing hygiene solutions provider and principal partner of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. The shoot, to promote the brand’s new Protective Hand Wash, sees the F1 legend Lewis Hamilton holding the product in an endless spectrum of mirrors for their new ‘Limitless’ campaign. The images aim to show how the hygienics brand can promote ‘Limitless’ potential through keeping consumers stronger and more resilient with a smart hygiene routine; but just in case, we’ve confined the interview to Zoom. (Probably for the best since it’s the school holidays and it would take more than a strong hand wash to de-germ my six-year-old.)
How Lewis stays healthy, both physically and mentally, is high on the agenda for our discussion. ‘We’ve been working with INEOS because I can never afford to miss any races, so hygiene is critical for us as a team as we’re moving through so many countries,’ he tells me. ‘We really work very closely with them to make sure we take on these new routines every day. It’s about living healthier, and not limiting ourselves.’
A Balancing Act
And it’s not just his physical health Lewis needs to work to protect. Living a life in balance isn’t easy when you’re one of the most famous people on the planet. ‘Because I worked so much, I probably didn’t have the best balance in the past. I noticed that I was just running myself into the ground,’ he told me.
So, what’s changed? ‘I have to consciously make sure that I go about making and creating balance. If I was just to work every single day and not give time for things that I love, I would be out of balance. I love music, I love going for walks and my dog, I love really tapping into creativity. I love challenging myself and doing things like that. I can’t always do it, but when I can, I’m always doing activities. So, whether it’s hiking, whether it’s going surfing, or creating memories with friends and family.’
Speaking Of Challenges
From the outside, it might be easy to assume that this year has been more stressful than most for the 37-year-old Brit. Usually at the front of the pack and in contention for the title, at present Lewis is in sixth position in the driver standings with just eight races to go. But Lewis is taking the challenge in his stride and is sincere when he tells me: ‘This year has been a really great experience. You know, as a team, we’ve not been at the front fighting for wins. But we’ve really pulled together more than ever. And we appreciate even more, through these difficult times, the small steps that we do take.’
While it might seem unlikely for the driver with the most race wins of all time, Lewis’ new winning-isn’t-everything attitude is leading him to find inspiration in the little things, too. ‘I see a lot of stories out there of people doing amazing things that just remind me that there’s so many great people in the world, even though there’s a lot of negativity around us.’
‘There’re a lot more good people doing good things out there. And I’m inspired by a lot of people that are conscious about the planet, trying to do something to impact others in positive ways. I’m inspired by my marshals, the marshals that keep us safe on the race weekends, I get to meet them and sometimes they tell me that their story of how they got there. There’s literally inspiration all around us. And all we have to do is just open our eyes and let it in.’
A Limitless Life After F1
This positive attitude is not only vital in this challenging season, but it could also open up a world of post-F1 opportunities for the Brit. I asked Lewis, having just shot his INEOS Limitless campaign, what he would do, were he to hold that power. ‘If I was completely limitless? I’d be exploring the galaxy! I’ve been crazy about space since I was young. I’m still determined to be an astronaut.’ Let the record show, I would like to reserve one seat on the first space flight with Lewis behind the wheel, please.
Whether it leads to space, more race wins, a record-breaking eighth world title or just quiet weekend walks with his beloved bulldog Roscoe (a vegan, like his owner, and another key topic in our conversation), the road ahead for Lewis Hamilton might not always be smooth, but he’s open to its limitless potentials.
‘That is the best part of it,’ he tells me. ‘It’s the journey, not necessarily the end result.’
More About INEOS
Suitable for all skin types, the INEOS Hygienics Hand Wash range comes in 250ml bottles plus additional 500ml and 1000ml refill pouches that use 75 percent less plastic than the equivalent number of bottles and pumps. Available with fragrance notes known to enhance performance, consisting of three scents: Cucumber + Aloe, White Rose + Neroli and Sea Minerals. Available now at amazon.co.uk. The hand wash formulation contains four unique moisturisers known to actively improve the condition of your skin, with, 80% of people finding that skin felt extremely moisturised after using INEOS Hand Wash. INEOS Hygienics is the UK’s fastest-growing hygiene solutions provider and is the official supplier of hand sanitation products to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team.
Want more? Read our full conversation with Lewis, below.
Lewis Hamilton X Country & Town House
Can you tell me a bit about why the INEOS Limitless campaign resonates with you?
The INEOS Limitless campaign is about the world getting back to the norm and slowly opening up. My interpretation is that people still hopefully can carry on some of the things they’ve learned from the pandemic, in terms of being hygienic and focused on being healthy. Naturally, everyone wants to be able to go about their days and their weeks not being sick and stressed or having anxiety. We’ve been working with INEOS because I can never afford to miss any races. So, hygiene is critical for us as a team as we’re moving through so many countries. We really work very closely with them to make sure we take on these new routines every day. It’s about living healthier, and not limiting ourselves.
As you say, health and wellbeing is incredibly important in F1, could you tell me how has life changed for you and the team since the onset of the pandemic?
I would definitely say that before, nobody was focused on surface areas, you would hope that people were being hygienic, but more often than not people were not necessarily conscious of it. Now we have talks about it, on all surface areas we have hand sanitiser everywhere. With my own personal team around me, we’re always checking to make sure that none of us are sick. We’re always hand sanitising. Obviously, I go to lots of fan meet and greets and sign lots of things, take people’s pens from all over and touch lots of doors and surfaces; so I’m consciously always making sure I’m cleaning my hands. When we’re in the office there’s about 30 or 40 engineers, and we’re just making sure our surfaces, laptops etc. are clean. I definitely think it’s been a positive for us, people are healthier nowadays. Also, we have a nutritionist, everyone’s getting into training, believing that they can live a healthy life. So, it’s all been part of our process. We’re a performance team. It’s all data-led but the human element is the most important part and we put emphasis on that.
Our ethos at C&TH is all about living a life in balance, with the highs and lows of your work, how do you ensure you maintain a balanced life both on and off track?
I have to consciously make sure that I go about making and creating balance. If I was just to work every single day and not give time for things that I love, I would be out of balance. I love music, I love going for walks and my dog, I love really tapping into creativity. I love challenging myself and doing things like that. I can’t always do it, but when I can I’m always doing activities. So, whether it’s hiking, whether it’s going surfing, or whether it’s creating memories with friends and family. I think that’s something that because I worked so much, I probably didn’t have the best balance with in the past. I noticed that I was just running myself into the ground. So, I’m very, very focused on my health. I’m making sure I’m hydrated, and I’ve been plant based for the last six years. So just really focus on my diet, what I put in my body. I don’t drink. Yeah, it’s not about being perfect, but it’s about very, very conscious living. And implementing things like recovery days. I do have a lot of physio for my job, I do a lot of yoga, cryotherapy, steam and all those sorts of things. A lot of personal care.
How do you know when that balance is off, and what do you do to correct it?
For me it’s focus. And also, my energy or my demeanour, you know? You can tell that I’m just exhausted, when I’m just not as happy. And I know that something’s been missing. So, then I think what have I done this past days? Oh, that’s why, I haven’t spoken to somebody, you know, my mum, or had a good conversation or taken time for myself to go away from my phone, away from emails, whatever it may be.
In my job, it’s all about focus. Consistently. And performing at the absolute best, every weekend is one of the hardest things. Through my career, naturally experience helps, but as I started to add these little things, whether it’s meditation, or whether it’s yoga, drinking a lot of water every day, staying hydrated, these little, little bits, just add to my consistency, and my work output. So, my work ethic has just improved. I’ve got more time and energy for my engineers. My personal relationships are better than they’ve ever been. Those are things I’m constantly working on.
You’re right, I must call my mum! What or who (canines included) brings you peace?
[Laughs] Well, Roscoe, my bulldog, definitely brings me a lot of peace. I mean he snores at night, so every now and then it’s not so peaceful but I would say he’s probably one of my biggest loves. But things that bring me peace…I love being in the ocean. If I can ever be in the in the sea swimming I love it. So, for my holiday, I want to be in the water. Or in the mountains in the winter somewhere, hiking in nature. Those are things that really bring me a lot of grounding, I would say. Those are the times that I would say that I’m happiest. Time and my niece and nephew just being able to be a kid, a big kid. I love going to the toy store, taking them to the toy store, but it’s really about me! (Just kidding.)
The main reason I had a child was so I could have someone to play football with at the park.
Genius. So, those kinds of things. And I love to laugh. I used to watch a lot of comedies. Me and my friends are always sending funny things to each other, every day. We have a group chat and we just always send things that are going to make you giggle. That’s key, every day, to try and stay positive.
Beyond incredible performance, you’ve brought balance to F1 in many ways, what advice would you give to people who seek balance in life no matter what?
I genuinely feel like in the past, I’ve really limited myself. And I really do think that there is nothing that we can’t do. But sometimes we put a lot of barriers in our own way. And then there’s obviously barriers in society that sometimes get in the way as well. So, I do a lot of things to put myself in uncomfortable position. I’m challenging myself every day so I’m always moving forward, not moving backwards. I’m always pushing my body. I’m always pushing, trying to push my mind.
I think everyone is struggling with something. And everyone’s trying their best, right? I think there’re lots of little things we can do to create a better balance. And this is different for everyone. So, what will work for me will not necessarily work for you. Try new things. Taking time out for yourself. One of my best friends for example, he called me just recently, like, ‘I’m so stressed about taking on so much work. And I’m just generally not happy’. So I said, ‘Well, I’ve just started doing this meditation course, it’s only seven minutes in the morning, let me know if you want to do it together’. So, we do it together on the phone. We just take seven minutes out in the morning. Just for some peace and quiet.
Find things that you love, like I love music. Whatever it is that makes you happy, find out what that is and make sure you take at least 20 minutes a day for it. Something that I think makes a big difference is just to speak positivity into your day. In the morning, I like to do a bit of stretching, but then I like to be really positive, like: ‘OK today I’m going to be doing this!’, even if I’m not always feeling the best. I’m like: ‘I’m going to have a great day today, nothing’s gonna get in the way of that’. Speaking those things, I feel that makes a big difference.
Tricking your brain?
100 per cent. If you think you’re not going to be able to do something, you’re not going to be able to do it. You say: ‘There’s no way I’m going to be able to do this run for 20 minutes or an hour’ then you’re not going to be able to do it. If you say you can, then you most likely will.
What does the perfect day off look like to you?
The perfect day off work for me will be lots of activities! I love to go for a run. Actually, waking up to my dog is one of the happiest things for me. In the morning he is usually on his back with his legs spread snoring. But the happiness he has when I make his food and then take him out for a walk, and how excited he gets when he’s done his number two like, ‘I did it dad!’.
And spending time with my family, doing something with my niece and nephew, they’re always the best days. Taking them to the movies, they’re a good excuse to go and watch animation movies! Those are the happiest days, taking my niece and nephew to go see Frozen Two and the fact that my niece, she just sings it and she can’t sing the right words. It is so funny to see on the way home. Those are the things that make a perfect day for me.
How has your image of success changed since you started in F1, 15 years ago? And who inspires you now, having achieved so much?
Yeah, that’s actually a really good question, it’s shifted a lot. I think as a kid, I really put a lot of pressure on myself and really felt that you know…have you ever seen Talladega Nights and he’s like ‘If you ain’t first, you’re last’? Yeah. My life was really like that. I was not happy unless I was first.
And in actual fact, this year has been a really great experience. You know, as a team, we’ve not been at the front fighting for wins. But we’ve really pulled together more than ever. And we appreciate even more, through these difficult times the small steps that we do take. Me and Ange, my physio, we qualified forth as our highest qualifying one time this year, and it was so emotional for us. She’s high-fiving everyone. You know, it’s not first but it’s just really acknowledging the steps that you are taking in progress. I think that’s something that we’ve appreciated more than ever this year.
And eventually, when we finally do get a win, it is going to be that much more enjoyable. So, the focus this year has more been about being better teammates, how you keep the morale up, how you stay focused, are you all driven and rowing towards the same common goal? And that is the best part of it. It’s the journey, not necessarily the end result.
That’s something I will say that I enjoy a lot more now than I ever did before. There’s 2000 people on my team so I’m just a link in this chain. And at the end of the day, I’m the one who has to get in and finish off the result. And I feel so much pride when I when I’m able to do my part like they have done theirs.
In terms of my inspiration, my number one has always been Nelson Mandela. I still take a lot of learnings from him. But I see a lot of people, I meet a lot of people. I see a lot of stories out there of people doing amazing things that just remind me that there’s so many great people in the world, even though there’s a lot of negativity around us. There’s a lot more good people doing good things out there. And I’m inspired by a lot of people that are conscious about the planet, trying to do something to impact others in positive ways. I’m inspired by my marshals, the marshals that keep us safe on the right race weekends, I get to meet them and sometimes they tell me that their story of how they got there. There’s literally inspiration all around us. And all we have to do is just open our eyes and let it in.
I’m constantly inspired by my dad, what he did when I was growing up and I still rely on him every day, actually. You know, he’s the first person I will call after my race to see, ‘Where you watching dad? What did you think?’.
To wrap up, if you were completely LIMITLESS, per the INEOS campaign, what would you do?
If I was completely limitless? I’d be exploring the galaxy! I’ve literally been crazy about space since I was young. I’ve visited NASA, so I have a tiny relationship with them. And they got the new images recently and sent them to us and said we’d love you to be able to post them. And I was losing my mind! Yeah, I can’t stop looking at the images of what is potentially out there and it just makes me really appreciate even more as human beings what we are as a race. I think if I could be 100 per cent limitless I would try absolutely everything!
Sounds like you’d be an astronaut. So that’s going to take up a lot of time…
I’m still determined to be an astronaut. It was actually one of the things I wanted to do as a kid.
Maybe that’s next?
Yeah, I’m focused on staying young. You know, health is everything. So hopefully when I retire, I still can do that.
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