Precision driving of roaring million dollar engines reaching speeds of over 200 mph, thousands of racing fans cheering ecstatically, anxious and enthusiastic team members in the pit, all breathlessly await that moment when the winner flashes across the finish line to lift a Formula One Championship.
With their families, sponsors, team and fans, they relish the victory by popping a magnum bottle of champagne and famously spraying the masses. Lewis Hamilton, 33, has done just that four times in his illustrious career. Fascinated with the sport at an early age, he began successfully racing remote controlled cars at six, moving on to karting at eight. By the age of 10 - with a little less than two years’ experience - he was crowned the youngest-ever winner of the British Cadet Kart championship.
Formula One, the second most expensive sport to play in the world after polo, shares similar attributes to the Sport of Kings: rare competitive edge, excitement, glamour and beauty – just a few of the overlapping qualities that make these two sports so admired within their exclusive followings.
Whereas wealth is a necessity for these two elite sports, it’s no wonder Hamilton constantly reminds us how he is forever indebted to his father for sacrificing years of working four jobs to keep Hamilton racing from a young age.
Born in Stevenage, a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England roughly 28 miles north of central London, his family sacrificed to still-unknown lengths to give Hamilton every opportunity to shine in the sport he devoted himself to since his youth.
Today, Hamilton is the only black race car driver in the world, in addition to being one of the highest paid athletes according to the Forbes 2017 Highest Paid Athletes in the World. He is often considered the best driver of his generation and widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport.
Off the track, he rarely drives himself, as his chauffeur carts him around most of the time. He received an MBE (Most Excellent Order Of the British Empire) an Order of Chivalry from Queen Elizabeth II in 2009. A year later, following the Brazilian Grand Prix, he was invited back to Buckingham Palace for a luncheon where he was seated next to the queen.
Excited, he began speaking with her out of turn upon being seated. To which the queen politely instructed him, “No, no, you speak to the person next to you first; I’ll speak to the person next to me, and then you come back to me.” His Royal Highness Prince Harry is also a big fan. After winning in Abu Dhabi in 2014, the Duke of Sussex famously congratulated and permitted the excited champion to execute donuts on the track – considered a bit of a “bad boy” move.
Hamilton certainly deserves the occasional indulgence following a race, which typically lasts an 1:45 minutes. He describes driving F1 as “holding on for dear life most of the time” at the high speeds he achieves. Hamilton continues to set records. In 2017, driving in front of a hometown crowd at Silverstone, fans hoped he would match the records for the most British Grand Prix wins in Formula One racing history; he not only satisfied his fans and matched the expectations, but took and held the lead from the start, maintaining his lead for 52 laps to win his fifth British Grand Prix.
Today, Hamilton holds four world championship titles and 64 total wins in Grand Prix. He is hoping to receive his fifth championship win at the Grand Prix in Monaco Sunday, May 28. His latest win earlier this month was at the Spanish Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya.
He was once asked by a reporter if he was “As good as his car,” to which he replied “I’m better than my car.” Hamilton nabbed a total of 21 victories over six seasons with McLaren. His move to Mercedes at the start of the 2013 season was a controversial one, but since then, Hamilton has demonstrated his decision to be the appropriate one, continuing his remarkable run making him the only driver in history to win at least one race each season. Moreover, his 64 Grand Prix victories is the second highest of all-time, having surpassed Alain Prost’s total of 51, behind only Michael Schumacher at 91.
He proudly wears jersey number 44, which he was wearing when he won the Champions of the Future serios in his junior career (the number 13 is almost never assigned to an F1 driver. Only a few times in history has a driver worn number 13 – one of them was Divina Galica, one of only five women to ever compete in the sport).
Formula One teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull spend an average of $320 million US per year. This involves car cost, team management, driver cost and other extra big-ticket expenses. Similarly, teams like Mercedes spend up to $70 million US per month: tires, engines and fuel purchases are the highest monthly expenses. Tires, understandably, are one of the major components of an F1 car as these racing pilots are entirely dependent on their car’s tires. Each team’s cars consume an average of 53,000 gallons of fuel per year, for which the cost is close to $450,000 US. Engine maintenance, rebuilding, rehabbing, and replacing are essential to the F1 teams. As the combined performance of the driver, the car components and the team are key to be competitive on the track, it’s not unheard of for the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari to spend close to $15 million on customized engines. Each set of tires, which barely lasts an entire race most weekends depending on the conditions, sets the team back another $3,000. Chump change at this point.
On an average, an F1 driver changes the gears 3,000 to 3,500 times during a race.
F1 drivers lose an average of 6lbs each race due to G-Forces and heat.
The drivers can lose approximately 1 gallon of body water per race.
The G-Force experienced by an F1 driver when braking is equivalent to driving a car through a brick wall.
A modern F1 engine consumes about 120 gallons of air every second with race fuel consumption around 20 gallons per 62 miles.
The 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 62nd season of 1 motor racing, recognized by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) – the governing body of motorsport – as the highest class of competition for open-wheel racing cars. It featured the 2008 Formula One World Championship – a season that was contested over 18 rounds, which started in Australia in March and ended in Brazil in November. The 2008 season saw the debut of the Singapore Grand Prix, which was held at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and was the first Formula One race held at night. The European Grand Prix moved to a new venue at the Valencia Street Circuit.
Lewis Hamilton won the Driver’s Title by a point – overtaking Toyota’s Timo Glock on the final corner of the final lap of the final Grand Prix of the season to claim the required fifth-place finish and won his first Championship title.
The 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 68th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 65th Formula One World Championship. The season started in Australia in March and concluded in Abu Dhabi in November. In the 19 Grands Prix of the season, a total of 11 teams and 24 drivers competed for the World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ Championships. Hamilton won his second World Drivers’ Championship with 384 points and 11 victories, ahead of his teammate, Nico Rosberg with 317 points and 5 victories.
The 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 69th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. Twenty-two drivers representing 10 teams contested 19 Grands Prix, starting in Australia in March and ending in Abu Dhabi in November as they competed for the World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ Championships. Hamilton was the defending Drivers’ Champion after securing his second title at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His team, Mercedes, began the season as the defending Constructors’ Champion, having clinched its first championship title at the 2014 Russian Grand Prix. Hamilton secured his third Drivers’ Championship with three races left in the season. The runner-up was his teammate Nico Rosberg, 59 points behind, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third, another 44 points adrift. Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team clinched the 2015 Constructors’ Championship at the Russian Grand Prix, ahead of Ferrari and Williams, and ended the season with a record 703 points. Hamilton also won the FIA Pole Trophy with a total of 11 pole positions in the season and the DHL Fastest Lap Award.
The 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship was the 71st season of Formula One motor racing. It featured the 68th Formula One World Championship. Teams and drivers competed in 20 Grands Prix—starting in Australia on 26 March and ending in Abu Dhabi on 26 November—for the World Drivers’ and World Constructors’ championships. As the reigning Drivers’ Champion, Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from the sport in December 2016, the 2017 season was the first since 1994 in which the reigning champion did not compete. Mercedes started the season as the defending Constructors’ Champion, having secured their third consecutive title at the 2016 Japanese Grand Prix. At the conclusion of the championship, Hamilton won his fourth World Drivers’ Championship title. Hamilton finished with 363 points, 46 points ahead of Vettel in second with 317 points and Valtteri Bottas in third with 305 points. In the World Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes won their fourth consecutive title at the 2017 United States Grand Prix and finished with 668 points.
Comparatively, the most expensive sport in the world – polo. The cost of a single polo tournament varies. With hundreds of tournaments in the year-round polo season that follows summer around the world, a single polo match utilizes up to six polo ponies per chukker (quarter). Each match is a minimum of four chukkers and can go up to eight. For matches, ponies are shipped or leased. In some countries, the leasing of ponies is the only way to play the tournaments in that region, while for other destinations, ponies fly in their own jets. The highest quality ponies, also varying in cost, along with their riders, grooms, trainers, stable costs and many more expenditures associated with the sport shows why polo maintains its position as the most expensive sport in the world.
But the world’s top two most-expensive sports share one overwhelming attribute we can’t help but point out: horsepower.