What is Hammer time? Lewis Hamilton explains origin of iconic F1 radio message

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton with Peter Bonnington.

Lewis Hamilton and long-time race engineer Peter 'Bono' Bonnington have developed a strong relationship over the course of a decade.

We knew deep down what it probably meant, but Lewis Hamilton has explained the meaning behind his iconic ‘Hammer time’ radio messages.

The sound of long-time race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington coming onto the radio prior to a scheduled pit stop and saying: “Okay, Lewis, it’s Hammer time” has been a soundtrack to Formula 1 races for over a decade now – and, yes, it is an MC Hammer reference.

But alongside that, the Mercedes driver added it was simply a piece of shorthand he and Bonnington developed between each other to know when to push hard before his stop.

Lewis Hamilton explains origin of ‘Hammer time’ radio messages

During the legendary MC Hammer hit ‘U Can’t Touch This’, there comes the lyric: “Stop, Hammer time”, and Hamilton has adopted that phrase as a by-term for him to quite simply put the hammer down until he is brought into the pit lane.

Humming the riff to ‘U Can’t Touch This’ with a smile when asked about the origin of the ‘Hammer time’ messages during F1’s Grill the Grid series, the Mercedes driver explained that he needed a shorter way of knowing when he needed to push as hard as he could, rather than a monologue from ‘Bono’ over team radio.

“Hammer time is… say my pit stop is lap 20 or lap 25, in that moment, usually they say ‘time to push’,” Hamilton explained.

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“And I’m like, sometimes you’re pushing anyway. Bono would come out with these long sentences: ‘Hi Lewis, just to let you know that it’s time to start pushing’ and it’s a really long bit of [speech].

“I said ‘Bono, just tell me it’s Hammer time’ and it means push like a mofo and get going.”

Hamilton has won six of his seven World Championships with Mercedes, and has signed a contract keeping him with the Silver Arrows until the 2025 season.

Bonnington has been in Hamilton’s ear throughout his time with Mercedes too, with the duo having worked hand-in-hand throughout all their success together on track.

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