F1 icon Lewis Hamilton has shared how the sport ‘saved his life’ as he gears up for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix this weekend. The Florida city is set to make its debut on the F1 calendar which is hotly anticipated by fans and drivers, many of whom have been soaking in the build-up this week.
Hamilton has come far in a glittering F1 career, racking up a staggering seven world titles which leaves him alongside Michael Schumacher at the top of the all-time charts. His fortunes have slid backwards this season, but his legacy is already signed and sealed having spent 15 fruitful seasons with McLaren and Mercedes.
The 37-year-old came from humble beginnings in a sport which has money running through practically every artery. His father, Anthony, had to work multiple jobs to fund his son’s rise through the ranks, and Hamilton was at Miami Beach Golf Club on Wednesday with NFL legend Tom Brady at a fundraising event for underprivileged children.
“The youth is everything and something I am passionate about is getting children into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects,” said Hamilton. “Sport brings people together and it saved my life. I am glad we are doing something for good.
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“I am so happy to be in Miami. This is the sport’s first time here and the anticipation of this event has just sky-rocketed. Everyone is so excited but there will be a little bit of nerves because there will be so many people here and it is a new circuit.”
Hamilton, who now has a sprawling residence in New York where he spends much of his time, is a familiar face to an American audience who are still getting to grips with F1’s entry into their sporting market. The likes of LeBron James, David Beckham and Ryan Reynolds are all expected to turn up this weekend as Miami gears up to make its debut.
Netflix series Drive to Survive has seen the sport boom in popularity and reach a wide range of new audiences, not least in the States. There has been a Grand Prix in Austin, Texas since 2012 and the venture into the glitz and glamour of Miami is seen as an exciting move, with another venture into Las Vegas pencilled in for next year.
With Hamilton and his Mercedes team trailing off the pace, it may be left to Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc to provide the fireworks this weekend. The duo have split the first four races with two wins apiece, while Hamilton came home a dismal P13 last time out in Emilia-Romagna before painting a grim picture of the Silver Arrows’ troubled start to the season.
“[You] come here with optimism and you know everyone is working really hard at the factory, and things just don’t come together,” he said, “We’ll just keep working hard. Each weekend is a rescue.”
He was also seen having a heated conversation with team boss Toto Wolff, which he refused to share extra details on when pressed by the media, describing the altercation as ‘internal stuff’.