The one question I am asked more than any other, when it comes to F1, is what are the drivers really like? Naturally fans want a better understanding of what makes their heroes tick. This is true of any sport, but arguably more so in F1 given that so little is seen of the drivers when they are immersed in the cockpit of a car. A clenched fist and a shriek of delight over team radio as they take the chequered flag, doesn't reveal much of the victor's personality.
My answer to this question is fairly consistent; there isn't an F1 driver who I don't find approachable and engaging. Some are of course better than others (you'll always get a fuller chat with Jenson Button than Kimi Raikkonen) but in the main they are all interesting and interested. I believe this is because F1 is the ultimate team sport. This may surprise some, who think it is all about the individual driver. Not so. There are 600 people behind each racer, all of whom play a vital role in making the car and driver competitive. So given that huge collaborative effort, there isn't room for out of control egos. (Not impossible! Just less likely)
The one driver I am asked about more than any other is Lewis Hamilton. Probably because he is British, fast, wears his heart on his sleeve and lives something of a showbiz lifestyle. Given the interest in his personality I thought I would share one small story with you. A good friend of mine in the paddock who works at McLaren recently lost his mother after a long and incredibly painful battle with cancer. He was very close to his mum and the strain her demise put on him was clear to see. When she did finally succumb to her illness, who was the first person to pick up the phone to him? - Lewis Hamilton. Despite not even working with him anymore, Lewis had no hesitation in calling to offer his heartfelt condolences.
You may think well a phone call isn't much; what's the big deal? Remember though that at the time he was under immense pressure having not yet secured a win for his new team Mercedes, despite his team mate taking two GP victories, plus there was the disappointment and drama of his tyre failure at Silverstone, in front of his home crowd, that he could have been forgiven for wallowing in. He was also going through his own personal struggle, given his relationship woes with Nicole Scherzinger; and all under the global spotlight. Rather than think of himself however he reached out to someone who was grieving. That someone will never forget that small show of kindness when he needed it most.