Lewis Hamilton’s passion for bikes
Lewis Hamilton is arguably at the pinnacle of his career. Having secured a win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 23rd, the 29-year-old succeeded in becoming World Champion for the second time, making him the most successful British driver – in terms of race victories – in the history of Formula One.
Speaking in an interview after the event, he described it as “the greatest day of [his] life”.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his recent success, he also won Sunday's (December 14th) BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2014.
When he collected his award he said he really wasn't expecting to win and believed instead that the eventual runner-up – golfer Rory Mcllroy – would be the victor.
“I was sitting there saying Rory's going to have it,” he admitted afterwards.
He went on to thank his team and his family, and made special note of his father, who held down four jobs at one point in order to support his son's career.
It's clear that his dad has had a big impact on his life and it was his influence that pulled Hamilton away from his original passion – motorbikes.
When interviewed by BBC Sport on the subject, he said: “I am a motorbike fanatic – always have been. It's actually what I wanted to do before I got into motor racing.
“When I was a kid and Christmas was coming up, my dad would ask me what I wanted and I always said a motorbike. I kept asking for one and he said it was too dangerous.”
As a result, Hamilton was bought a go-kart instead, and so began a career that would result in two Formula One world titles.
Despite this, he explained that motorbikes “have remained [his] passion”, while cars are his career.
He is clearly keen to be able to do those things he wasn't allowed to when he was younger and explained that he owns a couple of bikes in Colorado and likes to take them out dirt biking when he has some free time.
Meeting your heroes
It's obvious that Hamilton is a hero to many Formula One fans, but the Mercedes driver has someone he admires equally, and that is legendary rider Valentino Rossi.
Hamilton only got to enjoy a MotoGP race for the first time last year, although he admitted he had been “dying to go” for some time. He described it as an “incredible experience”, not least because he finally got to meet Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
Although it may be hard to believe from someone who is very much in the spotlight, the Formula One star said he was “overwhelmed” by coming face to face with Rossi who he said had the same charisma as he does on TV.
Being a VIP, Hamilton was shown the track by former rider Randy Mamola who took him around the circuit on a scooter and showed him all the corners and how the professionals handle them.
More recently, the Formula One champion said that Marc Marquez winning seven races in a row had inspired him and left him wanting to emulate that feat.
From Formula One to MotoGP
Being a self-confessed competitive person, it is hardly surprising that Hamilton is not content to simply watch his biking heroes; he wants to try and emulate them as well.
He is keen to try his hand at MotoGP and made reference to John Surtees who entered the history books when he became the only man to have won World Championships in a car and on a motorbike.
There's clearly some way to go before Hamilton can come anywhere near his hero, as Surtees was motorcycle World Champion in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 and the Formula One World Champion in 1964, but he can certainly have fun trying.