by Frederick H. Lowe
Lewis Carl Hamilton will begin the defense of his Formula 1’s World Drivers’ Championship on March 20 at the Australian Grand Prix, the opening race of the 2016 F1 season.
Hamilton, a black Englishman, who drives for Mercedes AMG, has won Formula 1’s World Drivers’ Championship three times, including back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.
In 2008, at 23, he won his first Formula 1 championship, making him the youngest winner in the sport’s history.
The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne is held after eight days of F1 testing in Barcelona, Spain.
Even though Hamilton is the number one driver in the world’s most-expensive sport, he was asked if he considered it show business.
Hamilton, who has been photographed hanging out with celebrities like actor Samuel L. Jackson and world-class class skier Lindsey Vonn, said F1 racing appears to be partly show business.
“F1 is a show. Fans are fascinated by the energy of the fight. Sure, they would also like to do what we are doing, but that is of course an illusion — it is a bit like watching people in space; none of us will ever go to space, Hamilton said during a Q&A posted on F1’s website.
Being the world champion has made Hamilton a wealthy celebrity. Mercedes reportedly pays $80 million a year.
Not bad for a black kid who some whites early on demanded to know why he was at the track to race, he told CBS television’s “60 Minutes.”
In 2008 at the Spanish Grand Prix, some F1 fans smeared their faces with black grease paint and wore thick Afro wigs to humiliate Hamilton.
They sarcastically called themselves “Hamilton’s Family.”
Hamilton, who was born January 7, 1985, said he’s been racing 22 years. His father Anthony worked several jobs to get him into racing, starting with driving Go Karts. By the age of 10 — with a little less than two years’ experience — he was crowned the youngest-ever winner of the British Cadet Kart championship.
Lewis Hamilton moved from Go Karts to British Formula Renault 2001 Series Formula 3 and Formula 1, racing’s top contest, where the cars are very expensive, very fast and the women very beautiful.
He raced for McLaren, now McLaren-Honda, from 2007 to 2012, before quitting in 2013 to join Mercedes because he believed McLaren was holding him back.
There are 21 races in the 2016 F 1 racing season. The final race is November 27 in Abu Dhabi.