Congratulations, Champ. As happy as YOU are, believe it or not, tons of us are almost as happy. Double world champion. Insane.
I’m not a sports blogger, and I’m not going to start writing about stuff I don’t master. But right now, I feel the need to put into words some of why people are just so happy you won the World Championship.
How about an anecdote first? Sid and I were both following your karting exploits with a lot of interest. We’d both decided that you were well on your way to being a World Champion even then. Anyway, we’re at the Nurburgring, and they’re racing (the race Johnny Herbert won), and it’s bucketing down with rain. Cars are skating off left and right. I can feel Sid is on edge, and I’m as sure as hell we’re gonna have to go out at some point, for something.
Herbie comes on the radio. He says Max is on the phone, and needs to talk to Sid. Could we please park below race control, and could Sid please come upstairs and take the call.
Talk about a WTF moment.
We get to the tower using the internal roads. I tell Sid (I’d only just started working with him) sorry, Dude, but if there’s an accident while you’re talking to Max, I’m going to it without you.
Sid comes back downstairs and gets in the car, shaking his head. You, Lewis, were racing somewhere in France (as I remember, this was 17 years ago I think), and were wearing a wrist brace. Some turd of a French Chief Medical Officer had (for obvious political reasons – this was an important race for the karting championship, and I think a French kid was in with a shot) decided you couldn’t drive. Max, also clearly concerned about French treachery, got in touch with Sid. Who promptly read the riot act to the CMO. This has NOTHING to do with my point, but I love the story.
Long story short, Champ – it’s your humanity that I love, and it’s precisely that humanity that makes me think that you’re unstoppable now.
Let’s forget about your driving. What has fascinated me, and what I think makes you so special to so many of us, has been watching you struggle. With the celebrity. And the wealth. But not just that of course. Watching how powerfully your inner struggles impacted your driving. Questions about who you were, how to live. Who are your friends. All the stuff that NORMAL young adults struggle with.
This is not voyeurism, Lewis. I guess because of the racing, because of WHY you’re in our lives, we’re INTERESTED. You should know that for me, it’s been a privilege.
And now, this season, it’s come to a head. We could SEE it – see you struggle with how to deal with things. Not on track. Off. Of course.
You’ve hashtagged a lot of your tweets this season with “#blessed”. I thought it interesting, and now I realise it was the first clue of what was going on.
Then, before the race Sunday, just a snippet of conversation with Gaëtan, the Belgian TV commentator. You said that it was a joy to be there, that it was “the coolest thing ever”. Right there, I knew that barring mechanical failures you’d already won.
Lewis, to be able to face that kind of challenge, and that kind of pressure, and still FEEL the joy of being there, is a staggering achievement. It’s not “maturity” in the usual sense of the word. For me, it’s an example of where your personal path has taken you. You have learned, despite the temptations and the work, a lesson that many men never learn.
With your talent, Lewis, and the strength of really feeling #blessed, you’ve harnessed something incredibly powerful. Lewis the driver has impressed me for almost 20 years. Now you’ve given me a curiously fatherly joy at watching you become the person you’ve become. Congratulations, Champ.