Lewis Hamilton has opened up on the tumultuous period in his career that led him to dump his father Anthony as his manager.
Hamilton’s early F1 career was managed by his father Anthony, following on from their successful time working together during Lewis’ rise into the top level of motorsport.
With Hamilton racing for McLaren and winning his first title in 2008, it came as something of a surprise in 2010 when Hamilton confirmed that his father would no longer have any involvement in the management of his racing career.
The seven-time F1 World Champion has spoken about that tricky period in his life, revealing the reasoning behind their split and how it triggered a cooling-off in their personal relationship.
Appearing on the On Purpose podcast, Hamilton spoke about how close he and father Anthony had been during the early days.
“My dad had four jobs at one stage just to keep us go-karting because, when we started karting, the majority of the people were from working-class families,” Hamilton explained.
“Then there are, of course, a few wealthier kids that have slightly better access to equipment and mechanics and all those sorts of things.
“My dad was my mechanic. So it was just me and him on the road, and my stepmom, Linda. She would be there supporting, making sure that we’re fully clothed, making sure that we’ve eaten and we’ve hydrated – all those sorts of things for the weekend.
“So it was very much a family outing, a family weekend – we did that as a family. We traveled together, my little brother would be on the road with us as well, who’s a mega inspiration. He was born with cerebral palsy when I was seven, and is a speaker today, and racing.
“He’s defied all the odds. Even though he’s seven years younger than me, he’s still very much an inspiration.”
Lewis Hamilton: Sometimes you just want a hug from your dad
Having achieved the seemingly impossible by climbing all the way into F1 and to the heady heights of a World Championship victory, Hamilton explained that he felt he needed to change his relationship with his father from that of a manager.
“The thing with my dad was he was my manager all the way. We got to Formula 1, and he worked so hard,” Hamilton explained.
“His work ethic was inspiring for me, seeing how hard he worked, the time he gets up in the morning, the little sleep that he would have, ending the day in the garage, working on the go-kart, preparing for the weekend, packing up the truck and getting us to where we are. Mechanic-ing and learning to be a better mechanic and still weighing all these different things. It was quite phenomenal to see.
“But I think it was difficult for him to then show me love. Sometimes you just want a hug from your dad or, when you’re facing these things, you want to be able to be embraced. But I think when I was 22/23, it got really intense, when I got to F1.
“All of a sudden you’re thrown in. You go through karting and cars, you don’t go to school to learn to speak to the media, you’re literally thrown into the pit. And, at the time, I didn’t have management other than my dad, and my stepmom booked flights and trips.
“But I didn’t have PR, I didn’t have anybody to help protect me or prepare me for things. Driving, I was good, I will say. But, in these things, is where a lot of mistakes happened. You’ve got all the media attention, so you’re just learning on the go, which was very difficult for a youngster I think.
“Also you just want to try and live some sort of normal life, but nothing is normal for you at the time. The thing for me and my dad – we were just really bumping heads at one stage. It was like ‘I really just want you to be my dad, let’s go and have fun, let’s go and have a laugh’.
“We hadn’t had that for a long, long time. So, eventually, I decided to part ways from my dad and I was like, ‘I’m gonna start making some of the decisions for myself and the mistakes that I’m gonna need to make’.”
Lewis and Anthony Hamilton enjoy a ‘great relationship’
Unsurprisingly, Hamilton publicly splitting from his father led to a cooling of their personal relationship, with the Mercedes driver open about how it took some time for them to patch things up and re-connect.
“There was definitely a period of time where we spoke less,” Hamilton said.
“But we both have worked so hard to come back together and we have one of the greatest relationships [now] – he’s the first person I want to call when I finish a race. Because I know he knows what it’s like, he was there from day one.”
Following the heartbreak of his title defeat in Abu Dhabi in 2021, Hamilton was embraced by his father in the pitlane in one of the most famous images of that dramatic day. Despite being close to 40 years old, Hamilton revealed that his father’s reassurances are still of utmost importance to him.
“There are days where I do feel like I’m not enough, there are days where I don’t feel like I’m good enough,” he said.
“People can be like, ‘Yeah, but you’ve won seven world titles’ but still there are days where I question ‘have you still got it, can you still be the best?’
“I’m having that conversation with myself often. But my dad’s also there. Sometimes I’ll say something that’s maybe not the most positive. And he’ll be the one there just reaffirming ‘you’ve got this, believe in yourself’.
“It’s so important for people to have people like that around them. I support myself, I surround myself with other positive people as well. I think it’s all our job to lift everyone up. I want everyone around me to win, and to become the best versions of themselves.”