Lewis Hamilton, The Seven-Time Formula 1 World Champion, Was Not Born Into Wealth
Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion, was not born into wealth. But take a look at the middle of that sentence again: “seven-time Formula 1 world champion.”
Michael Schumacher is the only other seven-time world champion in Formula One history. Hamilton recently broke Schumacher’s all-time wins record of 91, putting him just two wins shy of a triple-digit win total of 98.
The 36-year-old British driver has risen from humble beginnings to become arguably the most successful driver in motorsport history, as well as one of the world’s most successful and well-known athletes.
According to AS, he said the following about the situation last month.
“We live in a time when this has turned into a billionaire kids’ club for me personally. It would be impossible for me to be here today if I had started from scratch from a working-class family. Because the other boys would be in a much better financial position. We must work to change this and make this a sport that is accessible to both the wealthy and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.”
That claim has a lot of merit, even if it isn’t always true 100 percent of the time. There are a number of current examples.
But if there’s one driver who perfectly embodies Hamilton’s “billionaire kids’ club” description of modern-day Formula 1, it’s Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin. His billionaire father Dmitry is the majority shareholder of Uralkali and the primary reason for the 22-year-old Russian’s participation in the series.
Mazepin’s Disastrous On-Track Performance Has Spoken For Itself So Far This Season
Mazepin’s disastrous on-track performance has spoken for itself so far this season, even without mentioning his checkered past off the track. He’s been the grid’s most error-prone driver, and in some cases, he’s been dangerous to be around.
In equally poor equipment, he’s also a long way behind rookie teammate Mick Schumacher. He’s a rookie who’s still learning, but he has a lot more to learn and figure out than most Formula 1 rookies.
But what did you expect from a driver who finished 18th in the 2019 Formula 2 standings with an eighth-place finish while his teammate won four races and the championship, a driver whose father’s bank account was almost always enough to get him into Formula 1?
Mazepin’s response to Hamilton’s observation is exactly what you’d expect.
“Sponsorship has been provided to every new driver in Formula One. Some are energy drink manufacturers, and one is Mexico’s richest man – all of these people are on the grid today, and we could all talk about them.”
“Sponsors have supported every new driver in Formula One.”
Nikita Mazepin, The Next Contestant From Moscow, Has A Special Subject
Can we get you on Mastermind, Nikita, as Basil Fawlty would say? Nikita Mazepin, the next contestant from Moscow, has a special subject, the bleeding obvious?
Of course, Formula One is all about the money. Any major form of motorsport can be said to be the same. Many times, money takes precedence over talent. That’s the way things are.
But there’s a distinction to be made between being backed by a world-renowned energy drinks company (he’s not talking about Rich Energy) in Red Bull and being backed by a wealthy father who is willing to pour millions of dollars into sponsoring a Formula 1 team just to put his son in one of the cars when there are a slew of more talented and deserving drivers who end up on the sidelines.
And there’s a difference between having a rich father and having the financial backing of a business magnate like Carlos Slim from a young age to pursue a career at the highest level of open-wheel racing.
Sure, they wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the backing, but their talent validates those backers’ decisions to invest in them and put them in the cars they are.
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