The story of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is well known. In the final moments of the race, race director Michael Masi broke the rules and regulations which govern the use of the Safety Car, and basically gave Max Verstappen the 2021 title on a silver platter.
After being unjustly prevented from winning his eighth championship, Lewis was understandably devastated, but there were some close friends and supporters there, who tried to help him get through difficult moments.
One of those friends is the current chairwoman of Starbucks and soon-to-be part owner of the Denver Broncos, Mellody Hobson.
Hobson first met Lewis back in 2007, when her future husband – legendary filmmaker and Star Wars creator George Lucas – took her to the Monaco Grand Prix.
Lewis himself said he considers Hobson to be a mentor, big sister, and “one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met in my life”.
In a Vanity Fair piece on Lewis, Hobson revealed she bonded with Lewis over their experience of being “the first and only one” to achieve unprecedented success in their chosen fields.
“We’ve bonded over that,” she said.
“I remember he gave this interview with Gayle King on the CBS morning show a couple of years ago, and he said, ‘Being the first and only Black anything is a proud and lonely walk.’
“And I literally stopped. I had chills and sort of welled up. I knew exactly: proud and lonely…. It’s how it feels.”
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
She then revealed that she and her husband George Lucas arrived to Abu Dhabi ahead of the final race of the 2021 season, but they didn’t want to reveal their presence to Lewis.
“George kept saying to me: ‘There’s nothing worse than when you’re in the last days of your movie and you’re totally behind and your family shows up—it’s the worst’.”
However, after the shocking conclusion of the race, they both saw Lewis.
“He’s really stunned. Stunned. Like shock. He’s asking the same question over and over again: ‘What happened?’
“I grabbed him by both shoulders. I was like, ‘You did everything right.’ I kept saying that to him. I said, ‘It wasn’t you. You did everything right.’ And he just literally said, like four or five times: ‘What happened?’ ”
She then says Lewis apologized to her for going all the way to Abu Dhabi only to see him lose.
“That’s why we came, in case you lost,” she told him, “we didn’t come in case you won.”
Hobson then praised Lewis for his post-race reactions. The Briton was able to maintain his composure, and he immediately congratulated Verstappen, his father, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, and attended the podium ceremony.
“Like, no one would have been surprised if he had taken off his helmet and thrown it, or thrown the steering wheel,” she said.
She then revealed George Lucas’ words after seeing the controversy and its aftermath.
“Heroes are bigger than champions,” Lucas said, “Lewis just earned hero status.”
Lewis later learned about this comment, but wasn’t able to truly ‘hear it’.
“Look, I was going through whatever emotions I was going through, so no one could say anything to me,” the Briton told Vanity Fair.
“It doesn’t matter who. It doesn’t really matter what is said. When you’re feeling a certain way, sometimes it’s hard to break through.”
However, he later was able to fully comprehend it.
“It’s one of the greatest compliments you could receive,” he said, “it is very, very surreal to grow up watching Star Wars and have Yoda’s dad say positive things about you.”
Lewis later remained publicly silent for a long time, and now reveals he “for sure considered whether I wanted to continue”.
Hobson admits Lewis was “in a dark place” at the time, so she invited him to join her and Lucas for Christmas in the Caribbean. She reveals the Briton at first wasn’t sure if he wanted to come, but after she insisted and told him she would go to him, he agreed to join them.
“And that’s when we spent a lot of time sort of going in and debriefing,” Hobson said.
“And I just kept telling him things like: We make no decisions in times of great anguish or pain.
“You have to just sit with this, and it’s going to be hard and uncomfortable. But there’s nothing to be done at this moment. So do nothing.”
She also revealed she told him she would support him in whatever he decided, but also added “this is what you do, and you’re not done”.
Lewis ultimately broke his silence in February of 2022, and later confirmed he will continue competing in Formula 1.