Lewis Hamilton’s blonde hair brings back memories of when Villeneuve, Vettel also did so


It’s come to this in the 2015 Formula 1 season: A driver’s hair color is now a story.

The summer of Lewis Hamilton centered on his vacation in Barbados, and his frequent updates with dog Roscoe he posted on Instagram.

Back at his day job after the summer break, he’s now returned to form with a dominant victory in the Belgian Grand Prix back aboard the Mercedes W06.

Meanwhile, his arrival at Monza this weekend for the Italian Grand Prix has featured a surprise – a different hair color.

Hamilton’s gone with the dyed, bleach blonde look, which surprisingly isn’t the first time a driver’s called an audible on their hair color midseason.

Usually though, it’s come when the championship is in doubt.

source: Getty Images
Villeneuve (center) flanked by Arrows’ Damon Hill and Sauber’s Johnny Herbert in 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix. Photo: Getty Images

In 1997, Jacques Villeneuve was engaged in a yearlong scrap with Michael Schumacher. An unforced error at his home race in Montreal, the Canadian Grand Prix, saw him lose control of his Williams-Renault over the final chicane and crash out into the Wall of Champions.

Schumacher took the win that day, and took the points lead in the process, 37-30, over Villeneuve.

Two weeks later at Magny-Cours, Villeneuve had gone blonde. When the Williams had to put question marks on the sidepods and wings of the car to replace the Rothmans logo per French tobacco restrictions, they may as well have been the subtext of asking their lead driver what on earth he was doing.

But, despite a fourth place finish in the French Grand Prix where Schumacher won again, Villeneuve then got on a roll from that point. He won four of the next seven Grands Prix to regain the championship lead heading into the final three races, and won his first and ultimately only World Championship following Schumacher’s desperate lunge on him at the Dry Sac corner at the season finale at Jerez.

Flash forward to 2013, just two years ago. Hamilton – incidentally – had just won his first race with Mercedes at the last race before the summer break and while Vettel was leading the championship by 38 points over Kimi Raikkonen, he hadn’t had it all his way in the first half of the season with four wins in the first 10 races.

source: Getty Images
Vettel went blonde at Belgium, and never looked back. Photo: Getty Images

The hair color changed, and so too did the results for the German. From the Belgian Grand Prix where Vettel first appeared in his new golden locks, he went on a tear for the final nine races of the season, winning all nine en route to his fourth straight World Championship.

Sure, the fact Pirelli had reverted back to a previous tire that better suited the Red Bull chassis played a major part, but in hindsight, it’s funny to see how Vettel went nine-for-nine after the hair color change.

We flash forward to this weekend, with Hamilton boasting a 28-point lead over teammate Nico Rosberg and with that gap not immediately in doubt.

Via Sky Sports, Hamilton said the change was made “Because I can!” and adding that he is in an “experimental phase” in his life.

If his form follows the past two drivers to go blonde, Hamilton should be well on his way to his third World Championship.

Or at the very least, the champion has provided us a good opportunity to go back down memory lane.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.