In 1995, a 10-year-old boy named Lewis Hamilton approached McLaren team boss Ron Dennis at an awards ceremony and told him he wanted to race for him one day. Three years later, Mercedes-Benz and McLaren signed him to their Young Driver Support Programme.
Today, Lewis Hamilton is a Formula One three-time world champion. His first win made him the youngest F1 winner ever at 23 years old.
He’s an outspoken personality and lives a rockstar life, flying the world in his private jet: a Bombardier Challenger 605, in his favorite color, candy apple red. He’s dated tall, dark beauties like Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls and has been seen at events with Kendall Jenner and on vacation in Barbados with Rihanna.
He is one of the best Formula One drivers ever, but what’s behind all the flash? Here are ten little-known facts about Lewis Hamilton.
1. He loves his dogs
His bulldogs, Roscoe and Coco, travel everywhere with him on his private jet. Hamilton recently threw Roscoe a birthday party complete with sombreros, party hats, and birthday cake in Mexico.
2. He wants bling for his wins
Hamilton, in typically outspoken fashion, isn’t happy with the quality of the trophies he receives for his wins. Ahead of last year’s British Grand Prix, he was quoted as saying: “We just need to make better trophies — it’s shocking how bad the trophies are.” He continues: “The trophies are as good as … at go-kart level. It was really bad. Formula Renault was just little boxes with a car in the middle. Formula 3 was good and at the beginning of my Formula One career the trophies were really good, but now they are just terrible man. They are so bad.”
3. He works out in a race helmet
Hamilton has discussed his training routine with several magazines, and it’s unconventional. F1 drivers face G-forces as high as 4.5 Gs, causing considerable strain to a driver’s neck. Hamilton shares he’ll work out in his helmet and even adds a 22-pound weight to the top of it for an extra challenge.
4. He’s been making music
Lewis spends time in a music studio recording tracks. He said that he finds songwriting “a really good way of clearing your thoughts.” During a night out during Fashion Week in New York in September, he performed an R&B song for a packed house at the prestigious 1 Oak Club.
5. The Queen of England schooled him on dining etiquette
Hamilton is known for his excellent table manners, but he is no match for the Queen of England. Hamilton shared his experience of meeting the Queen on the Graham Norton Show: He was seated next to Her Majesty at a private lunch. “I was excited and started to talk to her, but she said, pointing to my left, ‘No, you speak that way first and I’ll speak this way and then I’ll come back to you,’” he explained.
6. He customizes his helmets to have special meaning
In a blog post he wrote for F1 Reader, Hamilton discusses how he comes up with his helmet’s themes, like his “streets of Monaco” design. “A guy called Jason at JLF Designs has been doing my designs since I was in karts. We come up with lots of different concepts. So from that idea I thought: ‘Let’s do the streets of Monaco.’ It is also my five-year anniversary with Nicole this weekend. She’s here for the race and I wanted to do something special for her.”
Other designs have included an ice-cream truck and an airbrushed image of him, girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, and dog Roscoe in an old convertible, or the tribute for fellow racer Jules Bianchi, seen above.
7. He has a (strong) spiritual side
In an interview with Mirror, Hamilton describes the difficult Monaco where a pit error ruined his chance of a win. Prayer helped him center himself.
“I’m very strong in my faith and I stopped and prayed about it, ‘Just give me strength, give me a second to collect myself. Give me strength to get through this because I know there are going to be more positives moving forwards. Help me be the man I know I am and know I can be,’” he shared. “It was a powerful moment to be able to send a strong message to people, that no matter what’s thrown at you, you can get by. That was really the ultimate test for me.”
8. His first love is motorbikes
Before he got into kart racing, Hamilton’s first love was motorbikes. He calls it his “Secret Love.” He just designed a motorbike, expected to be released in December, called The Lewis Hamilton Dragster RR for Mercedes-owned MV Augusta.
9. Tea with Ross Brawn at Hamilton’s mom’s house signaled the switch from McLaren to Mercedes
Hamilton revealed in an interview that “It was a conversation we had with Ross Brawn when Ross came to my mum’s house. I was thinking, ‘jeez, it’s Ross Brawn coming to my mum’s house and drinking tea with us!’” Ross Brawn taking the time for tea with Hamilton and his mom to share the team’s vision was effective. “He [Brawn] explained to me in depth what the team had planned — its long-term plan, what steps the team was taking and that was when I was sold,” Hamilton said.
10. His tattoos speak volumes
“I love my ink,” Hamilton said in an interview where he exposed his tattoos. “They all have a meaning.”
His latest tattoo of an eagle in September best expresses what we have become used to expecting from Hamilton. In an Instagram post he mentions: “My Eagle represents a visionary. I’m a seeker and I’m willing to push the limits of self-discovery and personal freedom. The eagle is a born leader and may become impatient with those who cannot fly as high or as fast.” Nothing describes Hamilton better.