Lewis Hamilton has come out with the revelation that his father Anthony will no longer manage his career, in an interview with Autosport.
The pair have been inseparable since Hamilton’s early karting days, but the dual roles of father and manager are difficult to balance because it is so hard to divorce emotion from what should be pragmatic decisions and with some of the strained situations which have arisen in Hamilton’s brief but turbulent F1 career, the 25 year old and his father have decided that they would like to have a more normal father and son relationship.
“You see, because my dad has always been my manager, and because we’ve always been working and doing business stuff, I’ve not fully had that relationship with my dad since when I was maybe a kid and we went radio control car racing – and did it just for fun.”
The Hamiltons have been on the look out for someone to help with Lewis’ career since before he came into F1. I know that because in their GP2 days I introduced them to some very experienced sports management people. So too did many of my colleagues in F1. The Hamiltons went to see all the leading sports managers and F1 driver managers and the impression some gained from this experience was that they were looking to learn as much as possible about how things were done, but intended to carry on as they were.
Now that Hamilton has reached the level he has, managing his career is a full time job. Specialist driver managers like Daniel Morelli look after only one driver, in his case Robert Kubica. Steve and David Robertson, who manage Kimi Raikkonen are the same. Others have a small roster of talent, like Nicolas Todt, who manages Felipe Massa, Jules Bianchi and Sebastien Bourdais.
“All of this time we were discussing bringing someone else in, we never quite had the confidence to do it, ” says Hamilton. “I think we’re now at the point where we are looking to take that step – and I think it is a positive step.
“I’m 25. I am my own man now, I’ve been in F1 for quite a while now and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my dad. He’s done a fantastic job. But he’s done that job.”
Daniel Morelli told me last year that separating the emotional from the rational is critical in F1 management and is very hard to do as a parent and I’ve dug the quote up here because I think it highlights where the Hamiltons had got to in their thinking about their ongoing relationship,
“For me the key to not making mistakes is due to the emotional aspect, ” Morelli said. “I think if you are a father managing someone, and I am a father as well, I could never manage my daughter. Because I realise that my emotion would overwhelm my experience. With Robert we have almost the perfect balance between emotion and professional coolness. The day I become too involved emotionally is the day I will make mistakes.”
To many of Hamilton’s harshest critics among the public, Anthony’s “pushiness” and ambition for his son has long been perceived as a negative. The Hamiltons find it hard to understand why people dislike them so much for having a goal and working hard to achieve it, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this situation exists and it will be interesting to see how opinions change as Hamilton matures and he moves out of his father’s shadow.
Dads who push their sons to sporting success are many; Tiger Woods, Jenson Button, Andre Agassi and many more like them would not have reached the pinnacle without the support and drive of their parent. Hamilton was unusual in being managed even after hitting the big time by his father and clearly they have reached a point where they’ve decided that it is healthier for their long term relationship for the roles of father and manager to be separated.
Meanwhile it has been announced that Anthony Hamilton’s F1 driver academy, GP Prep, has been given approval by FOM and the FIA. It will help young drivers make the step up to F1 by giving them track time and coaching in recent F1 machinery. This is designed to fit in with the new testing restrictions which have made it very hard for drivers like Jaime Alguersuari, to stop straight into F1 at a Grand Prix.
Read the full Autosport article here