In the past, Lewis Hamilton has spoken at times about tennis ace Roger Federer, who is still breaking records in the autumn of his career and yet is still hungry for more having recently achieved number 1 ranking yet again.
“I always come back to talking to Federer, but he’s a great example. He has managed to become the number one again. He is a happy family man, he is very wealthy, but still he has this tremendous inner drive to reach new heights. Maybe that’s really a sign of greatness.” confesses the Brit.
Lewis nods to such things, and a fair reflection too, but could he be enviously looking at Federer as someone who “has it all”? Multiple Grandslams, global No. 1 status, wealth, huge recognition beyond the sport and yet a relatively normal family life with a wife and children?
In the past, Lewis has pointed out Jenson Button’s entourage or ‘bubble’ at the races, family and friends who regularly attend their man to support him – at the time, something Lewis felt he didn’t have and a facet he blamed poor performances on. On many previous occasions he’s cited his upbringing as a disadvantage; parents split up and a broken home, lack of money compared to the privilege of ex Mercedes team mate and fellow World Champion Nico Rosberg. Despite obvious talent and drive, it would be fair to say Lewis is a fragile person underneath the mask he wears, hinted by alleged freakish changes in mood and behaviour off the track.
And yet more recently, the British driver has kept himself out of the public criticism with a remarkable 2017 campaign, probably his best to date.
During testing last week, Hamilton continues to name those who inspire him; Alex Zanardi and Billy Monger, both of whom lost their legs in the race car but never let it get them down.
“For me, Billy is a shining star. Everyone knows that he has been through difficult times. But how he copes with that is very inspiring for me. He is very mature for his age, I can only marvel at his attitude, absolutely exemplary. His family can be very proud of him. ”
Billy Monger lost his legs in a horrific shunt at Donington Park in last year during a British Touring Car Championship F4 support race. Monger’s car had hit full force into Patrik Pasma’s stopped car and it took almost two hours for the rescuers to get Monger out of the car. Doctors were unable to save the youngsters legs and were forced to amputate.
“This year he [Billy] starts Formula 3 and has given me some details on his race car. Billy reminds me a lot of Alex Zanardi, whom I also look up to. Zanardi is a fabulous athlete, a very strong personality. Despite his setback, he has returned to the competition stage and now has, how many were? Half a dozen Olympic medals won”
“Billy knows exactly what Alex has achieved in his career. He has a great future ahead of him and knows that he receives a lot of support. I am very happy that he races again. I find it unbelievable that he can go on his way despite the terrible accident. We can all learn a lot from people like Zanardi or Billy. ”