Bernd Maylander on Lewis Hamilton’s habit of ‘hiding behind the Safety Car’

Sam Cooper
Lewis Hamilton trailing the Safety Car. Nürburg, Germany. October 2020

Lewis Hamilton trailing the Safety Car. Nürburg, Germany. October 2020

After decades in the job, Bernd Maylander has been looking back at some of his memories including Lewis Hamilton’s tendency to “hide” behind the Safety Car.

As driver of the Safety Car for 23 years, Maylander will have had his fair share of historic drivers in his rear view mirror.

Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel are just some of the names that will have been waiting to get going again behind Maylander over the years.

As they do with their driving style, the drivers also have a particular way of following the Safety Car and Maylander has revealed an odd quirk that Hamilton does when he is leading.

“Lewis always hides a bit behind the car,” Maylander said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport. “You always have to look into the blind spot – where is he?”

Maylander was also one of the major, albeit oblivious, players in one of the biggest moments of Hamilton’s career, the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The 51-year-old German watched on as just a portion of the lapped cars unlapped themselves and then as he pulled into the pit lane, he would have seen Hamilton and Max Verstappen starting their final lap battles.

“I walked through the hospitality area with my helmet on and sat down at the back of the paddock first,” Maylander recalls. “I had to be on my own first to think ‘what just happened?'” recommends

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Maylander was appointed to the role in 1999 by the late Charlie Whiting who called the German when he was 27 – and Maylander revealed he thought “there was trouble.”

“After five minutes I was out of the office again and had an extra job.” The German said. “I didn’t know that you could get paid for the job!”.

“The Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji in 2007 was memorable,” he told F1 in 2018 of his craziest memories . “Also, the Canadian Grand Prix in 2011, where I led for almost 50% of the race! I didn’t get any trophy, but I did almost miss my flight home because the race ran so late.

“But that’s my job, to keep everyone calm and safe. To lead the field and control the race.

“The 2019 German Grand Prix is another example. It was a great race, I was on the limit. I went wide in a few corners, for safety reasons. In a race car, you have to stay on the track, but in the Safety Car, it’s paramount that you don’t crash.”