“From my experience, the sport wasn’t necessarily open to the rest of the world”, says Lewis Hamilton when I catch up with him at the Dutch Grand Prix. We’re sat in Team Principal Toto Wolff’s office in the Mercedes motorhome (where all the good Drive to Survive stuff happens). It’s a smaller room than I’d imagined. There’s a mini globe on the desk, as well as a die-cast model of an old Mercedes race car, the only hint that we’re anywhere near the business of automobiles.
Hamilton is wearing half Mercedes team gear, half his own look. There are the impossibly large black commando-soled boots, which he’s teamed with matching black, wide-legged cargo pants. He’s got four or five bracelets stacked on one hand and white top replica IWC Big Pilot watches on the other. His hair is perfectly formed into his signature braids, and his tattoos are on show. Before Hamilton joined Formula One in 2007 there was little in the way of style on the grid, but he’s changed that. Now Lando Norris is adding some high/low flair to the paddock, Daniel Ricciardo has dropped his own clothes label, Enchanté and Valtteri Bottas is rocking a magnificent mullet with zero shits given – proof that the drivers are individuals who are encouraged to be themselves.
“Some of the crossovers I’ve been able to do have started to bring in new audiences,” says Hamilton. “Everyone in general has started to be more and more open-minded and now no one comments on what I wear. It’s just like, that’s what Lewis does. But at the beginning, jeez, people definitely criticised. [Formula One] was an environment where you couldn’t really be yourself. Now you’re starting to see people really blossom, which is really cool.”
Hamilton relaxes back into the low leather chair with his legs crossed. He discusses how he’s now at ease with himself – and it shows. This team is his domain. He has shaped it, and it has shaped him. It is a partnership which is among any sport’s most successful, with eight constructor’s championships in the past nine years, and six drivers titles with the team for Hamilton.
This idea of collaboration is something he feels strongly about away from the track too. He gets involved in each aspect of the partnerships he works on and doesn’t like endorsing something he hasn’t had creative control of. Take his new UK AAA IWC fake watches. The third he’s put his name to since 2014, it’s smarter and more opulent than previous designs. His own take on the brand’s perfct replica IWC Portugieser watches, it’s made from platinum and comes with a vibrant teal dial embossed with 12 diamonds for hour markers. There’s a tourbillon (a next-level movement that increases accuracy to the max) at 6 o’clock, a retrograde date function and the seven-time champion’s logo under luxury IWC super clone watches’ own. Only 44 will be made, in honour of his race number.
“I see every partnership and collab as an opportunity to learn. With this last one, I said I’d love to do a platinum watch, the top of the top. The tourbillon is an amazing piece of machinery, just fascinating and they’re so tiny. It reminds me a lot of my car. You know, people tune in and watch these things go round a track but when you’re at the factory and you see how they are being made, parts of the engine being drilled from a solid block to then being this functioning thing, it’s really awesome. Everything’s unique and that’s how it is with these high quality copy watches.”
On his wrist at the moment – and for much of the season so far – is the IWC Big Pilot Top Gun Lake Tahoe replica watches for sale, an all-white ceramic perpetual calendar watch that contrasts with the rest of his all-black look. “It’s the ultimate accessory,” he says. “I love jewels and jewellery and I’ve always loved timepieces. Time is something that I’m chasing every weekend on the track, to the thousandth of a second.”
The conversation moves on to purpose and wider goals. Hamilton begins to talk faster. He’s the most successful person to ever put on a race suit, but as speedy as he is, he’s just as passionate about making a difference outside of the car. “As a kid I wanted to be recognised as one of the best drivers, and I think that was really short-sighted. When I was younger, all I could think of was racing. It took all my focus to be good at that one thing. I had no time to think OK I’m going to do all these other things as well.”
I ask him about self-expression. How has speaking up and wearing what the hell he wants changed the goalposts for both himself and others? “It is one of the most important things in terms of aiding self-confidence. We live in such a judgemental society, right? And particularly with social media. It’s a place where people go to seek validation. I’ve really had to go through a process to pull myself away from it and realise that it’s actually a tool for communicating.”
He shifts into another gear. “In terms of what replica watches wholesale I wear and how I show up, that’s taken a long time. When I first turned up in an outfit, one of the bosses, I remember him looking me up and down and judging what I was wearing – and feeling really small. I felt like I had to conform to something that I was uncomfortable with, and I know a lot of people are experiencing that. So hopefully in what I do, its letting people know to just be bold and be brave and be you. And if being you doesn’t fit in that space, it’s not for you. It’s an easier thing to say, but I don’t think there’s any job I would do if I didn’t feel like I fit in, I would just know it’s not for me.”
Not content with what he’s already achieved, Lewis Hamilton seems as motivated as ever and isn’t done with fighting for what he stands for. Plus, there’s unfinished business on track, which a fresh two-year deal with Mercedes has confirmed. “Find a place where you’ve got people that [have] shared values. I’ve found that here, so I’m very, very lucky.”