The Lewis and Anthony Hamilton show

Lewis Hamilton, Anthony Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Indianapolis, 2007 | DaimlerIs Lewis Hamilton driven by the desire to be the best – or the fear of disappointing his father?

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but there’s a tinge of tragedy in this quote from his autobiography “My Story”, released last week. Read what he had to say about scoring a podium on his Formula 1 d??but at Melbourne:

Seeing his expression after the races made it worth all the effort. ‘My dad’s smiling down there,’ I thought, ‘so I know he’s happy – and that’s all that matters to me. There’s one thing I can do that makes my dad smile and this is it.

Now, Lewis Hamilton’s attitude towards his dad would not be very interesting had Anthony Hamilton not become a minor celebrity in his own right during Hamilton’s ascent to fame this year. Barely a round has passed without ITV wheeling him out for the latest on Lewis.

This curious quote (to which I’ve added the emphasis) could be something or nothing.

Maybe Hamilton spoke it verbatim, or maybe it was hurriedly tapped out by a HarperCollins ghostwriter who had never even met the McLaren driver. Maybe they were aiming for heartwarming family affection and didn’t realise they’d struck a note of pure pathos.

Or perhaps this is a glimpse into the Lewis and Anthony show that doesn’t make it onto the cameras. A driven, dedicated son – and an equally focussed father.

The phenomenon of the pushy parent is well known in sports beyond motor racing, but particularly individual sports like tennis and golf.

Anthony Hamilton certainly wouldn’t be the first parent to become excited by their child’s talent and move every mountain to see it realise. Indeed, many do it regardless of how good their kid is – or how interested they are in their chosen sport, of academic field, or musical instrument…

Speculating about how the Lewis/Anthony father/son dynamic works is not intended to denigrate Lewis Hamilton’s achievements or his dad’s.

But Hamilton’s book left me with more questions than answers. I wonder if Anthony will remain a pit lane fixture next year? I wonder how Lewis discovered motor racing in the first place? Don’t expect to find answers to questions like those in “My Story”.

Photo: Daimler

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17 comments on The Lewis and Anthony Hamilton show

  1. Architrion said on 13th November 2007, 9:45

    Some words about Hamilton’s father and equality policy in McLaren’s world…. I can remember Ron Dennis complaining about having the Montoya’s Clan invading the paddock and how much it disturbed team concentration and Montoya’s focus. Ron said to F1 Magazine that he doesn’t like to have even the closest family’s driver around, he preferred a full concentrated driver, with maturity enough to spend the grand prix weekend on his own and make the job. Seeing what happened this year with mr Anthony Hamilton I would like to know what has changed in Ron’s mind….

  2. nellyweb said on 13th November 2007, 9:50

    I think there is a difference between Montoya’s 15 odd hangers on and buddies, and the one Man who has supported Lewis from a very early age. Montoya’s buddies were just getting in the way and eating and drinking for free.

    Remember that Ron has known Anthony Hamilton for 9 years now, so it’s not as if there is suddenly a stranger in the team, he is a known quantity.

  3. Architrion said on 13th November 2007, 10:37

    Yes, I agree, but he said he would prefer no parents at all…

  4. I think everyone’s different – if I was a team boss and I had a driver who drove much better with his dad around then I would accept it as part of the package, but if it didn’t make a huge difference then I would probably find it easier to deal with if there wasn’t anyone else jostling for the driver’s attention over the weekend.

    I always thought is strange that Button’s dad followed him around for so long – I could see the point in the first year or so, but after that it seemed strange.

    I can understand why a young guy would want a “piece of home” to travel around with him though, to offer support and encouragement – although I think Lewis gets enough of that from the team.

  5. carlos said on 13th November 2007, 11:16

    I think Anthony Hamilton has had his part in all this. I think it is very strange the conduct of Lewis in the last 2 races.
    It seemed to me, as if he was trying drive as emphasizing he was the number 1 to make happy somebody, wanting to win over the another drivers more than to win the race itself.
    He did risk much for nothing, and he did not need to do that, he had the championship almost in his pocket.
    A rookie in his first year has to watch and to learn, to put so much pressure over a young man is not too much a good thing.

  6. Isn’t Lewis managed by Anthony?

  7. What I always find interesting is the way Anthony Hamilton always says “we” when he’s talking about Lewis Hamilton. Do two people drive the car??

  8. They’ve mentioned quite a few times they are a team, and that’s what it probably is – I think Anthony has said something along the lines, in ITV coverage, “I tell Lewis, I’ll do my part and you do your part”? I personally wouldn’t have looked too much into it, but it raises a good point.

    From my perspective, that is to say if I were Lewis, then knowing my dad had to go through a lot in the early stages (although this is knowledge only from ITV coverage, someone can perhaps point out more?) to put me through what I wanted to do, I definately would feel in part obligated it’s not just for myself to achieve success, it’s also the person that helped me get to where I am.

    At most, just how I see it from the limited knowledge I have, Anthony has reminded Lewis, or not let it be forgot, that he has helped him get to where he is now. In stages where Lewis might have felt down, or showed any sign of packing it in, perhaps this is the kinda boot he needed?

    But would it be fair to say that if Anthony wasn’t around as much, or anymore (in terms of GPs) that we’d see an entirely different Lewis?

  9. Daniel said on 13th November 2007, 13:11

    First, I’d like to encore the question: Isn’t Lewis managed by Anthony?

    Besides that, I think the fact that Antonhy’s so close to Lewis is more closely watched because he wasn’t part of Formula 1 before his son arrived.

    I’ll explain myself: here in Brazil we’re watching how closely Nelson Piquet has been taking care of his son’s career since its beginning…

    I don’t know if Piquet will be at every Grand Prix next year, but it won’t surprise me if he does…

    On merit, I don’t think Lewis made all those well-known mistakes trying to impress his father (Anthony certainly would prefer him taking care and deciding the championship safely), but mostly to test his own limits…

  10. Architrion said on 13th November 2007, 21:24

    Oooops, seems he really found his limits….

  11. If youre dad has been backing you to get on in any sport/career – it’s obvious if you can you would try your best for him – but as nellyweb said Ron has known Lewis for a long time and having his father there probably comes now as just part of the package – and mistakes were made – but possibly due too the well discussed pressures from both inside the team and externally – maybe Ron wasn’t just as sharp as he needed to be during that time and well everyone is human.

  12. A.J. Foyt said on 14th November 2007, 0:22

    I have no way of confirming this, but a very good friend of mine who lives in the U.K. has mentioned to me on several occasions that Anthony has a close/personal relationship with Ron Dennis’ sister Jan -

  13. Just to clear up one slight thing. Although Anthony took on several jobs to fund Lewis through the early stages of Lewis’ career, while unusual in the general pubic is not that rare among the current crop of F1 drivers. Certainly Kimi’s dad did the same (working 3 jobs at the same time for many years) and I believe that Alonso’s dad did something similar. Alonso’s father is also at all of the races, even though the only time the British press talk about it is to let you know that Alonso’s father was seen in this or that rival team’s motorhome. Kimi’s father is off racing elsewhere during most races so usually doesn’t attend.

  14. Vertigo said on 14th November 2007, 23:04

    If the only thing Lewis can do to make his dad happy is win races then that’s a real shame and shows that his dad is a bit shallow and should be proud of his son no matter what.

  15. Ralph Duffy said on 19th February 2008, 21:50

    I think that both Lewis and Anthony are extraordinary people. From everything that I have seen, they both love each other very much and the Hamiltons are a wonderful family.

    For me, their story is very inspiring

    I wish them the best; both of them have done a tremendous job.

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