Formula One drivers get to meet exciting characters at almost every grand prix of the year with the motorsport scene typically associated with the glamorous lifestyle of celebrities.
Here in Abu Dhabi, we’ve witnessed a wide array of personalities show up in the Yas Marina Circuit paddock, from Prince Harry, to Pharrell Williams, to Ronaldo, to Sir Paul McCartney… the list goes on and on.
There is one guest Lewis Hamilton was thrilled to invite to a grand prix recently – tennis legend Serena Williams, who is a good friend of the British driver and was at his race in Mexico last month.
I asked Hamilton about what it’s like having an inspirational figure like Williams around and what kind of things he can learn from the 22-time grand slam champion.
“I was actually with Serena last week in LA,” Hamilton replied.
“She came out to Mexico which for me was a real honour to have someone of her power, someone who has achieved so much. We kind of come from similar backgrounds, similar relationships with our parents, having that father figure being the lead.
“Growing up watching her career, absolutely being inspired by her and still today by her drive and her sheer… just, she’s, if not, the greatest athlete we have of our generation today so very proud to have had her there and be friends with her.
“We generally don’t talk a lot about our sports… we generally have a lot of fun when we are around each other.
“We’re always laughing and joking and enjoying life away from sport, so it’s generally not something we talk about, although because she’s been to a grand prix she’s really interested in cars now and she has asked me a lot of questions.
“I’m absolutely mesmerised by what she has achieved and definitely inspired by her as an athlete and as a human being and so trying to learn from her. Every now and then she’ll give me a bit of that magic in her words. Venus (her sister) talks a lot about wisdom and about her growth and about the process of being a sportsman or sportswoman so generally from both of them, I take a lot of inspiration and admire them both hugely.”
It’s been fascinating seeing how different Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have been approaching this title-deciding grand prix.
Rosberg has been unwavering in his one-track minded approach. He’s been using the exact same answer for almost everything question he’s being asked – he is focused on the win, not thinking about anything else – and says he’s sticking to the same routine because it helps him treat this race like any other.
Hamilton on the other hand has been sounding way more relaxed and even said he was going out last night.
“It’s (a routine) not important at all for me. Sometimes you have commitments, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you have room service, sometimes you don’t. I’ve got my mum here and a bunch of really close friends of mine so I’m going to go out tonight and have a good time with them,” said the three-time world champion.
We’ll find out which one of them had the winning formula.