We’ve all seen Lewis Hamilton‘s father Anthony at Formula 1 races cheering his son on, and celebrating each of his many successes. But who is Anthony Hamilton?
The Early Days
Anthony Hamilton was born in the UK in 1956, but his lineage can be traced back to Grenada in the West Indies. He married Carmen Larbalestier, now Lockhart, and in January 1985 the couple had a son – Lewis. Anthony and Carmen separated when Lewis was two.
After his parents’ divorce, Lewis stayed with his mother, but when his mum and his stepfather decided to move to London, Lewis moved in with his dad and his new family. Since his divorce, Anthony had remarried to his second wife Linda and they had a son named Nicolas.
Anthony, who was working as an IT manager, decided to quit his job and become a contractor so he can more easily support Lewis in his racing career. He famously often worked several separate jobs to be able to cover all the expenses that come with a motorsport career.
It was Anthony who started Lewis on the path that would eventually lead to him becoming the most successful driver in the history of Formula 1. He bought Lewis his first remote-controlled car when he was six-years-old, and for his seventh birthday he bought him his first go-kart.
He would continue to mentor and manage Lewis throughout his junior career. In a later interview Anthony explained to CNN how at the time the thing that was sustaining the pair was an unwavering belief in themselves.
“We came from nothing, and I didn’t have anyone telling me to do this or do that, I had to learn myself,” Hamilton Snr. said.
“But one thing I knew was that you’ve just got to be positive and believe in yourself. Sometimes people use that term ‘believe in yourself’ flippantly, but the reality is you have got to believe.”
After Lewis equalled Michael Shumacher’s most career wins record in 2020, Anthony said he believes these formative experiences in motorsport are what made Lewis the racing force of nature he is today.
“I’ve been thinking back on it this morning,” the elder Hamilton said.
“It’s been 30 years that we’ve been on the road to motorsport success. Lewis’ early formative years were probably the most influential and the most important to his achievements today.
“If you look at the way Lewis is racing now, certainly in the last two or three years he has completely reinvented the way he has approached his racing and drives.”
Lewis’ successes in the junior categories led to him being signed to McLaren’s young drivers’ programme, by then team boss Ron Dennis. This eventually led to his Formula 1 debut in 2007, with the team, and his first world title win just a year later. Throughout all this time his father served as his manager and mentor.
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In 2010, after years of working together, Lewis decided to cut professional ties with his father. This has obviously put a certain amount of strain on their relationship.
“He’s got other things to focus on, and I don’t want my dad being my manager anymore,” Lewis said at the time.
Back in 2012 Anthony revealed to the Sunday Mirror that he was very shocked by Lewis’ decision, however he ultimately understood it.
“It was a nightmare,” he said.
“It was like something had died. I was shocked, devastated. When he said he no longer wanted me as manager it came completely out of the blue because we hadn’t fallen out.
“I didn’t get angry – but I didn’t deal with it very well. I’d been at his side from his first remote-control car race when he was five.
“Every week, week-in week-out, I’d put my life into it. That day was a life-changing experience.
“Lewis was right to go his own way. Was it right the way it happened? Probably not. If I’d had my way it would have been done differently.
“But it is what it is. And I can honestly say we have both become better people for it. It had to happen at some stage. One would have had to say to the other, ‘I’m leaving you’.
“And it wasn’t going to be me. I was so focused. I couldn’t think about anything except Lewis’s career.
“I wasn’t enjoying it, and maybe he wasn’t but we couldn’t find the way to say it to each other. I’d had sleepless nights thinking how I was going to tell him I’m not coming anymore.”
In later years Anthony came to peace with the decision and acknowledged it was the right thing to do for Lewis.
“He thought, ‘Do you know what dad? I am fed up listening to you’,” Anthony said.
“He decided he wanted to be his own man. I was comfortable with that.”
The Strenghtening of the Bond
With Anthony coming to terms with Lewis’ decision, in the years that followed the duo again started getting closer and closer, and Lewis’ dad could be seen celebrating every important milestone in his career.
In 2020, in a message on social media, Lewis described the bond he again shares with his dad.
“Our journey hasn’t been an easy one,” he wrote.
“Over time, we lost that father-son bond and it has been something we have both wanted back for so long.
“The past couple years we’ve been growing closer and this winter break I asked my dad to come to visit me so we could spend some time together, just us.
“We haven’t done this before, so to finally get to spend quality time with him has brought me so much happiness. Family is the most important thing in the world. “
“You can’t choose your family but you can make it work with them no matter what your differences. They are the ones that will be there when you have nothing.”
“I came across the line, and all the things about me and my dad — when we went away from our first championship singing ‘We Are the Champions,’ the struggles that we had — it just flashed through my mind, and all this emotion came up,” the Briton said.
“There were times where we didn’t think we were going to be there. We were not going to make it… They were worrying times, but he never doubted me once.
“I felt proud that hopefully he’s watching and is like, ‘It was worth it.’”
Throughout his Formula 1 run Lewis has been known as a late breaker. It’s a skill that some say is one of the most important to be successful in racing. As former F1 driver David Coulthard explained: “If you can brake 0.2 seconds later at 200mph, you’ve gone a lot further”.
Well, it’s a skill that Lewis’ father went out of his way to teach him.
“I was so frustrated at my dad,” Lewis told Graham Bensinger while talking about his early years in karting.
“My dad would go around and he would stand on the track and see where the best driver, the British champion, was braking.
“So, he was breaking here, the corner’s that over there, he would move further down the road, a couple of meters further.
“And he would be like, ‘you got to break here. Not where he’s breaking, break further’. He didn’t explain it. It was like my dad, when he said something, you did it!”
There’s no doubt that Anthony’s lessons helped Lewis become the driver and champion that he is today. It’s a fact that the seven-time champion has acknowledged numerous times.
“People see me winning these championships but I think the important story really is that father-son, or son of a parent, story which so many people across the world, in America and the U.K., can relate to, because we did it as a family,” Lewis told PEOPLE Magazine.
“I think probably every parent wants the best for their kids. My dad, he never went out. He never had new clothes. He wasn’t saving up to buy anything new.
“Everything — remortgaging the house multiple times — went into go-karting, which sounds crazy. It is crazy, but he believed so much in me.
“He’s the real hero, but obviously I’m the one that gets to stand on top of the podium at the end,” Hamilton Jr. concluded.