Last year’s race had all the drama expected of a high-stakes event, and Hamilton risked disciplinary action for defying team orders to speed up after he slowed the pace in an effort to give other drivers the opportunity to pass teammate Nico Rosberg and thus secure the championship for himself. His strategy failed: Hamilton won his third Abu Dhabi race but Rosberg’s second place finish was enough to secure his first Drivers’ Championship win.
“What am I supposed to do, let the dude come and win the championship?” Hamilton said after the race.
The 32-year-old Brit burst onto the scene a decade ago, becoming the first and only black driver to race in Formula One. His rookie year was the stuff of dreams as he set records all over the place. Following his first entry at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, he climbed onto the top spot on the podium for the first time at the Canadian Grand Prix. Three more first place finishes gave him the record for the most wins in a debut season, and he reached the podium a record nine consecutive times.
The following year he built on that and won his first World Championship, becoming the then-youngest F1 champ in history. Nowadays, Hamilton is a regular fixture on the leader board and is widely regarded as one of the finest drivers to ever get behind the wheel. He’s become a star around the world, often seen at glitzy events from red carpets to front rows at the biggest fashion shows and mingling at soirées.
His panache for keeping himself in the public eye coupled with his driving prowess has made him one of the most bankable athletes of our time; last year alone saw him take home a whopping $46 million in salary and endorsement deals. Forbes lists Hamilton as the 10th-highest paid athlete in the world, and 46th on the Celebrity 100. But money isn’t everything to him.
“Sure, every driver has his value and you want to be respected, but again, money is not something that drives me,” he puns.
“In my world, success is down to focus and efficiency,” he says of one of his most recent sponsorship deals. “L’Oréal Men Expert has the same philosophy — and its high-tech products are made for men
It also doesn’t hurt, though, that this partnership offers a solution to one of his biggest problems: “When you’re driving, the helmet squashes your hair, so you don’t really have a hairstyle,” he says. “When you get out, you’re sweating and your hair is a mess.
“I think grooming is definitely undervalued by men,” Hamilton adds. “We all expect women to be fully groomed, which they are. But I also think it’s just as important for a man to look fresh and clean.”
So don’t be surprised to see Hamilton pop in at The Galleria’s Urban Male Lounge, which uses L’Oréal haircare products exclusively.
With Abu Dhabi closing the F1 season, keeping his weight down won’t be an objective so you might want to keep an eye out at The Galleria’s restaurants and cafés — Hamilton enjoys good food. Asked what he’d have if he could choose his final meal, he said: “Can it be a big meal? Then I would start with pancakes — at least six. Then some really good fried chicken, some fried rice. And at least one pack of Haribo, and some cheesecake!”
Hamilton is rarely seen without an eye-catching timepiece. His partnership with IWC Schaffhausen also led to the exclusive Ingenieur Chronograph Lewis Hamilton edition, which he helped develop.
“I wanted to have a watch that featured a lot of technology,” he says. “With its carbon dial, push-buttons, crown protection and zirconium oxide screw heads, this watch directly reflects the high-tech materials used in Formula One.”
Pop in at the IWC Schaffhausen boutique at The Galleria to check it out. Back on the track, Hamilton is determined to prove he deserves a fourth World Championship.
“I feel like people are expecting me to fail; therefore, I expect myself to win.”