Lewis Hamilton: Driving the dream

PUBLISHED: 16:09 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 20 February 2013

Lewis says his success has 'all been a bit of a dream'

Lewis says his success has 'all been a bit of a dream'

Adrian Foster catches up with local Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton who reveals that despite life in the fast lane he's still a country boy at heart

Adrian Foster catches up with local Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton who reveals that despite life in the fast lane he's still a country boy at heart

Obviously Stevenage is your home town, you grew up here, but did you imagine you'd be back here signing your book after such a tumultuous first year in Formula 1?
Definitely not. I never even imagined I would have a book or have done as well as I did this year - or even be in the Formula 1 Championship. It's all been a bit of a dream not just for me but for everyone, not only here in Stevenage but all around the world, you know. Everyone who dreams of being a racing driver dreams about being in Formula 1 and I'm doing that. I hope I've done them proud.

You travel around the world a lot nowadays. What are your recollections of living in Hertfordshire?
I remember doing sports days here in Stevenage when I was growing up. I didn't move to Tewin until I was a lot older. Tewin is very, very quiet and I get a lot of peace there. I find when I go there I can absorb the beautiful scenery and countryside. We get a lot of animals coming back into our garden for feeding and I really just love being in the countryside. But then it's close to a
city, which is cool.

How important is it to you after the season you've had to be able to go home to Tewin and relax? You say it's very quiet and peaceful. With all that's going on in your life at the moment is it quite difficult to come to terms with sometimes?
The whole experience is very difficult to come to terms with: meeting new people, people wanting to meet me, interviews, appearances, getting to travel to all these great places and meeting people from different cultures. Then there's the pressure of being out on the Grand Prix track and beating people I've been watching for years. I play [F1 racing games] on the PlayStation and I'm always Kimi. And then here I am, sometimes, sitting in the middle [of a post-race press conference] with him on my left after he's finished second to me. It's just crazy!

Stevenage Borough Council is planning to name a road after you. How do you feel about that?
Yes, I heard about that. Initially I thought it was a bit strange. I grew up in Pear Tree Lane and to think a road like that could be named after me. I'm not sure whether it should be put it in my name or not. I've got one or two suggestions, though. Even though I'm the racing driver, it's my family's name and it's my family that got me where I am.

What do you do when you're not racing or in the gym?
Working flat out. I haven't had the time to be in the gym recently, so luckily I'm not putting any weight on. Since last month it's been flat out but generally as soon as I'm done, whether it's late or it's early, I try to just meet with my friends. Go and do normal things, like I drive myself into London and meet my friends in a bar or go bowling or try to go to a cinema. In fact, I've tried doing those things but found it's impossible to do without coming out and being attacked by photographers. So I haven't been to a cinema for a long time, which I'm very sorry about. It's very difficult so now I just go to my friend's house.

Are you still in touch with friends you had at the John Henry Newman School?
My best mates came to the John Henry School with me and there are about three people I'm in touch with and they are still my closest friends.

Are you still in touch with Ashley Young, who you used to play football with?
I'm not. We lost touch years and years ago. But I know someone that's in touch with him so we send messages to each other. He's been extremely successful, it's just great to see another friend doing so well.

Quite a lot's been said over the last year about your background of racing at Rye House in Hoddesdon and the work you've been doing with Martin Hines. Got any plans to go back there again?
I'd love to. I haven't been karting for years. Going back to your roots is a great thing - even if it's an event I've done for Vodafone - getting back in a kart is great. Martin Hines never seems to age, he's a great guy. I remember years ago when he was supporting us his karts were the coolest and the best, so I really appreciate his support and his friendship.

How helpful was the support you got from Mercedes-Benz of Hertford in your karting days?
It was great, the support from Lancaster Hertford as it was in those days. I gained a great friendship with the people who were managing the place and still go on holiday with some of them. But being able to drive around in one of their cars helped to build up the relationship with Mercedes-Benz, so that was good.

For more information visit www.lewishamilton.com and www.mclaren.com

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