“I’m Last of a Dying Breed”: Lewis Hamilton Disappointedly Speaks Out Against F1’s Popularity Paradox

Published 11/19/2023, 1:26 PM EST

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via Reuters

Not too long ago in the F1 grid, there were very few pay drivers. Of course, there was Nicholas Latifi, Nikita Mazepin, and Marcus Ericsson were a part of the grid. For every single one of the pay drivers you had, you also had some sheer talent rising from middle-class families. However, that model is slowly changing. Despite team bosses claiming that the pay driver model is becoming archaic, we haven’t seen many from the underserved community recently. The likes of Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen would have never made it big if they started their junior journey now.

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Or at least that’s what Lewis Hamilton feels. Talking to CNBC, on the Business of Being an F1 Driver documentary, Lewis Hamilton pointed out these very issues. He went into detail on how much more expensive the sport has become, creating a barrier of entry for poor families without much means to express their talent.

Hamilton Urges For Changes

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Lewis’ insights on what it takes to be an F1 driver, and the economics behind it all provided a nice commentary on what it feels like to be the seven-time world champion.

Formula One requires a lot of money. From building an amazing car, paying salaries for the star-studded talent, both in and outside the factory, and the necessary facilities require millions in investment. The way the F1 teams manage their finances is mainly through sponsors. Speaking on this, the Mercedes driver says, “A large part of it (weekends) is being able to do sponsored work, photoshoots and contractual stuff you need to service the sponsors. There is a huge level of commitment all year long.”

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Now with Formula One growing in popularity, and expanding to the United States of America, more money is flowing into the sport. More businesses, especially from the tech world on the West Coast are showing active interest, bringing in more business opportunities, according to Lewis Hamilton. However, he opines, there are also other areas to improve as well. He states that the underserved communities from different parts of the world are finding it difficult to break into the sport. “I’m probably one of the last of the dying breed of kids coming from working-class families. It is now three-four times more expensive than it was when I first started Formula One.”

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Lewis Hamilton’s journey through the ranks was quite impressive. His father had to work four jobs just to be able to afford his passion in Karting.

Hamilton’s Journey to F1

Hamilton’s success in F1 wouldn’t have happened if not for his family. They used to live in a one-bedroom flat, and his dad had to work in four different jobs to enable him to go Karting. Every kart, tire, race suit, and other necessities was a luxury for him when he was younger.

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Anthony Hamilton, Lewis’ father, played an extremely crucial role in the latter’s success. Eventually, Hamilton did manage to impress the then-McLaren boss Ron Dennis, earning him a spot as their junior driver. The rest, as they say, is history.

This aspect of the sport, however, is dwindling. “If I was to start again, from where I started, we still wouldn’t get anywhere close to the budget to be able to afford Go-Karting, and that’s just Go-Kart.” 

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WATCH THIS STORY: Lewis Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes Has Been Ruled Out Despite A Heated Confrontation With Toto Wolff

Statements like these make us wonder, how many Lewis Hamiltons of the world have we missed so far, just because they didn’t have access to the sport?

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Written by:

Anirudh Kidambi

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Hey there! I am Anirudh, your seasoned wordsmith. With over three years in the game, I am not just a writer, I am a passionate scribe with an insatiable curiosity that fuels my every word. My passion for American sports centers around Indycar, a love I discovered in 2018.
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Edited by:

Anuj Jacob

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