Correction: The previous headline on this story was misleading and did not provide the context around what Lewis Hamilton said in his interview with CNN.
Lewis Hamilton insists he owes Formula One nothing
Hamilton feels nobody has done more to promote F1 than him
World champion confident he can overcome his poor start to season
Formula One has given Lewis Hamilton plenty over the years – fame, fortune, not to mention three world championships.
Yet the 31-year-old global superstar insists he doesn’t owe the sport anything.
Since making his bow at the Australian Grand Prix nine years ago, nobody, Hamilton argues, has done more to promote F1 across the globe than him.
“I’ve been here for 10 years – given my blood, sweat and tears for the sport. So, I don’t feel like I owe it anything,” Hamilton told CNN.
“I actually probably promote the sport more than any other driver ever has. I’m at more events talking about Formula One more than any driver ever has – probably all the other drivers put together and more.
“I don’t feel like I have any more of a responsibility. I’ve got some incredible fans and I give as much time as I can to motivate them and energize those who do follow me. So I don’t know what else I have to give.”
Hamilton’s remarkable start to F1 life, which saw him miss out on the world championship by a single point in his debut campaign before winning it at the second attempt, has ensured that he’s been in the spotlight from the off.
Celebrity girlfriends, showbiz parties and fashion shows have followed, yet hard work and commitment have seen him remain among the sport’s elite.
But while the Mercedes driver has been out and about promoting F1 since his arrival on the scene, he admits he has no say on how it is run – not that he has any desire to take on a more influential role.
“Ultimately sport, business… it’s money and power. We [the drivers] will say stuff but ultimately it’s those people who are sitting in their chair, striking a pen, paying checks, making money, that will be the ones that [have the final say],” Hamilton said.
“I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s just like a corporate business – money is the power, money is the ruler. The people who own the sport make the decisions. [Would I like to have more of a say?] Not really. It doesn’t make any difference.”
Out on the track is where Hamilton feels most at home – though that hasn’t always appeared the case for the reigning world champion this season.
Three races into the 2016 campaign and he already finds himself 36 points behind teammate and early frontrunner Nico Rosberg.
Poor starts, collisions and five-place grid penalties have contributed to Hamilton’s sluggish opening, but he has no plans to throw in the towel any time soon.
“It’s easy at any point in time in life to look at the negatives at one particular moment and think that all is gone but there’s a long, long way to go,” he said.
“As long as I know I’ve given absolutely everything that’s in my physical power and mental ability, as long as I’ve given everything, I can never be upset.”
“Hopefully I’ve still showed that fighting spirit that I’ve always had since I was a kid,” he added. “So another 18 races to go. Still got a great car. Still got a great team. It’s important that none of us change anything.”
Rosberg, who’s relationship with Hamilton is always under the spotlight, has won the season’s first three races.
No driver in the history of the sport has failed to win the championship from such a position.
“He’s done a great job. I’ve not been there to really be in the fight with him,” Hamilton said. “He’s had pretty much a breeze for the last three races. Good for him.
“But he should enjoy it whilst it lasts, because you never know how long it’s going to last…”