There is an interesting story from Press Association today with quotes from Lewis Hamilton denying that he has got distracted by his celebrity lifestyle to the detriment of his career in F1.
Even his most ardent fans would admit that Hamilton’s performances this season have been uneven, with some very high peaks, such as the German Grand Prix, but also some troughs, where he has collided with other cars and wasted opportunities.
Hamilton’s high profile girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and his friendships with music industry figures like Pharrell Williams and P Diddy have drawn him away from his roots as a racer. This is no problem in itself as long as he manages it. In a recent interview I did with Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 supremo said that the reason he admires Sebastian Vettel so much is that he is focussed only on winning and has his feet on the ground and it seemed he had Hamilton in mind as a contrast.
“I’m not searching for it, but I still love doing that stuff,” Hamilton told Press Association. “It’s still awesome when you hang around with people like that. I still feel exactly the same way about them, the way I did before I met them, even though I know them now.
“I’m still a little starstruck, in admiration. I still see them on television, exactly as I did then. But it’s strange when you look at your phone and think ‘I can call that guy.’ There will be more things in the future, but at the moment there are more important things to do.
“That is somehow to get this Formula One career at its peak because I don’t feel it’s at it’s highest.
I don’t feel the performances are at their best, and that’s what I am really trying to focus on most of all.”
In Hungary I asked Hamilton about why he felt he had been on such terrific form in Germany the weekend before, surely one of his best drives of the last couple of years. He said that it was because he had been able to focus on his preparation with no distractions. He was thinking perhaps of team sponsor promotions, having done a huge amount of them around the Silverstone weekend. If you look at the amount of videos and other activities he and Jenson Button do for Vodafone, Santander and the rest, you can see what he means. Experienced older drivers say that it’s vital to recognise that you only have so much energy when you are a top F1 driver and you need to get the right balance between the various calls on your time.
But in the end it is always the results that count.
A senior Red Bull person told me recently that when Hamilton was linked with their team around the time he met with Christian Horner in Montreal, the amount of coverage, attention and general buzz the team encountered was staggering. And this is from a team which is all about hype and communication and moreover which is dominating at the moment.
Hamilton is a huge draw, but he’s in a crossroads moment in his career. It will be interesting to see how he decides to proceed from here.