Hamilton planning for life after Formula 1

© AP

Lewis Hamilton is beginning to plan for life after his Formula 1 career comes to an end, taking inspiration from Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and David Beckham.

Hamilton looks poised to clinch his third F1 drivers’ championship in 2015 after opening up a 53-point lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

The Briton also maintains a life outside of racing, enjoying a celebrity status that has helped to give F1 more exposure in less conventional media and to new audiences.

In an interview with the official F1 website, Hamilton admitted that at the age of 30, he is beginning to plan for life after racing by laying the foundations for future business ventures.

“I am at a point in my life where I know that I have a certain amount of years left in F1 and I am conscious of what will be beyond that,” Hamilton said.

“I look at people like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and David Beckham – sports stars who have continued to rise beyond their active careers and created businesses and futures for themselves beyond sport.

“Now I am in a phase where I am trying to build foundations to be able to do the same.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Hamilton used recording artist Kanye West as an example of someone who inspired him to look beyond his racing career and explore other avenues.

“Who said that you only should do one thing in life? That you are in one box and that is the only box for you?” Hamilton said.

“People tend to put people in that position – you are a Formula One driver only and that there is nothing else left and right.

“Like with Kanye West: you are a rapper and nothing else. But then people camp in front of the shop that sells his trainers! These shoes were gone in seconds.

“I love that concept – and I am inspired by that. It helps me being open to more opportunities – to be in more than one box. I want to be at least in two boxes!”

However, Hamilton remains focused on the job at hand as he goes in search of a third world championship that would see him emulate his hero, Ayrton Senna.

“In terms of winning this championship, I don’t know what effect it would have on my future life,” Hamilton said.

“What I do know is that it’s been my desire since I was a kid to emulate Ayrton Senna – to get these three world championships. That was always my target.

“If I get these three titles, that would be fantastic. If I think it over, it actually has to be at least three! That is what I am working on.”

When asked if he would let anyone or anything stand in the way of him and the championship, Hamilton was defiant: “I don’t let anybody stand in my way, ever. The only person who could get in my way is myself, and I won’t allow that.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.