Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children
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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton says childhood bullying enabled him to establish the tools to fight “on track” to become the most successful Formula One driver in history, as he chases down Red Bull’s Max Verstappen this season for glory.
Hamilton holds the record for the most race wins in F1 history, with 102 victories to date after storming to victory at the Qatar Grand Prix.
He also holds the record for the most pole positions and podiums, as well as equalling Michael Schumacher for championship titles with seven to his name.
Now in pursuit of an eighth, Hamilton is on the brink of history, if he can overcome Verstappen over the final two races to the season.
And the 36-year-old admits his past, especially his father Anthony, helped him become the unstoppable racer he is today.
“It’s just how my dad raised me,” he told the BBC. “He said to always do your talking on the track.
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“I was bullied as a kid, both at school but also on track, and we wanted to beat them the right way, not by a car falling off or colliding with a car.
“Then there is no denying that you’re better. If you have collisions, they can say, ‘Oh, yeah, but this happened, this is one tactic that that driver has’.
“I want to be the purest of drivers, through speed, through sheer hard work and determination, so there’s no denying at the end what I’ve accomplished.”
Away from the track, Hamilton has now become a pioneer in the sport in his quest for equality and diversity in the paddock, constantly putting a hand in his own pocket.
Among some of his contributions, Hamilton launched a new charitable foundation, Mission 44 with a personal pledge of £20M to support, champion, and empower young people from underrepresented groups in the UK.
Hamilton also set up a commission to find the root causes for the lack of diversity in motorsport.
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When asked by the BBC why he believed he could make it, however, he responded: “That’s a really good question.
“I guess I was very, very lucky to have that in my DNA. I am a real fighter, not only on the track but in real life.
“I got bullied by multiple kids; I’d still fight back, you know? I don’t run away. I think you never arrive in a class and think: ‘I’m different so I should be treated differently,’ regardless of whether that is the case.
“It’s a difficult one to really pinpoint. I watched Ayrton Senna, and I don’t see him any different to me, while he is obviously different.
“Like all the kids out there, I see Superman, I don’t see that he’s white and doesn’t look like me. I just see him as an awesome character that goes around and saves people, right?
“But of course things are highlighted as you do grow and start to become more consciously aware of your surroundings and how you fit in or don’t fit in. But my dad believed that I belonged, so we just focused on racing.”
The battle continues between Verstappen and Hamilton on December 5 in Saudi Arabia as the title is set to go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi with just eight points separating the pair.
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