Hamilton was born on 7 January 1985 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. His father, Anthony Hamilton, is black and is of Grenadian descent, while his mother, Carmen Larbalestier, is white, making him mixed-race; Hamilton has identified as black. Hamilton's parents separated when he was two, after which he lived with his mother and older half-sisters, Samantha and Nicola, until he was twelve. Hamilton then lived with his father, stepmother, Linda, and his half-brother Nicolas, who is also a professional racing driver. Hamilton was raised a Catholic.
Sir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton MBE HonFREng (born 7 January 1985) is a British racing driver. He currently competes in Formula One for Mercedes, having previously driven for McLaren from 2007 to 2012. In Formula One, Hamilton has won a joint-record seven World Drivers' Championship titles (tied with Michael Schumacher), while he holds the outright records for the most wins (96), pole positions (98) and podium finishes (166), amongst others.
Ahead of the 2015 season, Hamilton announced he would not be exercising his option of switching his car number to 1, as was his prerogative as reigning World Champion, and would instead continue to race with his career number 44. It was the first season since 1994, when Alain Prost retired from the sport following his fourth and final World Drivers' Championship title in 1993, that the field would not contain a car bearing the number 1. Hamilton dominated the 2015 season, winning ten races finishing on the podium a record seventeen times as he matched his hero Ayrton Senna's three World Championships titles. The rivalry between him and Rosberg intensified, climaxing in a heated battle at the US Grand Prix where Hamilton won in an action-packed, wheel-to-wheel battle with his teammate to clinch the title with three races to spare. That year, Hamilton extended his contract with Mercedes for three additional years in a deal reportedly worth more than £100 million, making him one of the best-paid drivers in Formula One, as well as allowing Hamilton to retain his own image rights, which is considered unusual in the sport, and keep his championship-winning cars and trophies.
Hamilton began karting in 1993 and quickly began winning races and cadet class championships. Two years later, he became the youngest driver to win the British cadet karting championship at the age of ten. That year, Hamilton approached McLaren Formula One team boss Ron Dennis at the Autosport Awards for an autograph and said, "Hi. I'm Lewis Hamilton. I won the British Championship and one day I want to be racing your cars." Dennis wrote in Hamilton's autograph book, "Phone me in nine years, we'll sort something out then." When Hamilton was 12, Ladbrokes took a bet, at 40/1 odds, that Hamilton would win a Formula One race before the age of 23; another predicted, at 150/1 odds, that he would win the World Drivers' Championship before he was 25. In 1998, Dennis called Hamilton following his second Super One series and British championship wins, to offer Hamilton a role in the McLaren driver development programme. The contract included an option of a future Formula One seat, which would make Hamilton the youngest driver to secure a contract which later resulted in a Formula One drive.
Hamilton's success continued in 2008. He amassed five victories and ten podium finishes but was also accused of arrogance and dangerous driving, though he argued that his self-belief was wrongly interpreted and that his driving was firm but fair. As the season reached its conclusion in Brazil, it became a clear two-way fight for the title between the home favourite Felipe Massa and the young Briton. Hamilton won his first title in dramatic fashion; on the last corner of the last lap in the last race of the season, becoming the then-youngest Formula One World Champion in history as he denied race-winner Massa the title by one point. This made Hamilton the first British driver to win the World Championship since Damon Hill in 1996.
Born and raised in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Hamilton was signed to the McLaren young driver programme in 1998. This later resulted in a Formula One drive with McLaren in 2007, making Hamilton the first black driver to race in the sport. That season, Hamilton set numerous records as he finished runner-up to Kimi Räikkönen by one point. The following season, he won his maiden title in dramatic fashion—making a crucial overtake on the last corner of the last lap in the last race of the season—to become the then-youngest Formula One World Champion in history. After four more years with McLaren, Hamilton signed with Mercedes in 2013.
Hamilton continued his progress in the Intercontinental A (1999), Formula A (2000) and Formula Super A (2001) ranks, and became European Champion in 2000 with maximum points. In Formula A and Formula Super A, racing for TeamMBM.com, his teammate was Nico Rosberg, who would later drive for the Williams and Mercedes teams in Formula One; they would later team up again for Mercedes from 2013 to 2016. Following his karting successes, the British Racing Drivers' Club made him a "Rising Star" Member in 2000. In 2001, Michael Schumacher made a one-off return to karts and competed against Hamilton along with other future Formula One drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Rosberg. Hamilton ended the final in seventh, four places behind Schumacher. Although the two saw little of each other on the track, Schumacher praised the young Briton.
When Hamilton joined Mercedes in 2013, he was paired alongside old karting teammate and friend Nico Rosberg. Over their four seasons as teammates, a period of Mercedes dominance Formula One, the pair's relationship became strained and, at times, led to volatile confrontations on and off the track. Hamilton and Rosberg were first teammates in 2000, when they were in karting. They raced for Mercedes Benz McLaren in Formula A, where Hamilton became European champion, with Rosberg not far behind. Robert Kubica, who raced with them before Formula One, recalled how they were competitive both on and off the track, saying "they would even have races to eat pizza, always eating two at a time". Sports journalist Paul Weaver contrasts their upbringings: Rosberg, an only child, was born in Germany but brought up in Monaco and was the son of a wealthy former Formula One world champion, Keke Rosberg, whereas Hamilton was born on a council estate in Stevenage, and his father had to work multiple jobs to fund his son's junior racing.
—Michael Schumacher, speaking about Hamilton in 2001.
Hamilton was educated at The John Henry Newman School, a voluntary aided Catholic secondary school in Stevenage. At the age of five, Hamilton took up Karate to defend himself as a result of bullying at school. In addition to racing, he played association football for his school team with eventual England international, Ashley Young. Hamilton, an Arsenal fan, said that if Formula One had not worked for him he would have been a footballer or a cricketer, having played both for his school teams. In February 2001 he began studies at Cambridge Arts and Sciences (CATS), a private sixth-form college in Cambridge.
Asked in 2002 about the prospect of becoming one of the youngest ever Formula One drivers, Hamilton replied that his goal was "not to be the youngest in Formula One" but rather "to be experienced and then show what I can do in Formula One". In 2004, Williams would announce that they had come close to signing Hamilton but did not because BMW, their engine supplier at the time, would not fund him. Hamilton eventually re-signed with McLaren, and made his debut with Manor in the 2004 Formula 3 Euro Series, ending the year fifth in the championship. He also won the Bahrain F3 Superprix and twice raced in the Macau F3 Grand Prix. According to then McLaren executive and future CEO Martin Whitmarsh, who was responsible for guiding Hamilton through the team's young driver programme, he and Anthony Hamilton had a "huge row" at the end of the season, with Lewis' father pushing for him to move up to GP2 for 2005 whilst Whitmarsh felt that he should remain in F3 for a second season, culminating in Whitmarsh tearing up Lewis' contract. However, Lewis called Whitmarsh six weeks later and re-signed with the team.
Figures in the sport such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Christian Horner have voiced their support for Hamilton's ability to connect with fans, while Bernie Ecclestone frequently commented on his admiration of Hamilton's ability to promote the sport, noting how he is happy to engage with fans, unlike some of his peers. Since Hamilton's rookie season in 2007, Formula One's annual global revenue rose by 53%, to $1.83 billion as of 31 July 2016. Sports journalist for The Telegraph, Luke Slater, goes as far as to argue that "[t]here have been few better representatives of the sport than Hamilton ... [both] on and off the track". Following Hamilton's knighthood in 2020, newly appointed Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said that Hamilton "is a true giant of our sport" and that "his influence is huge both in and out of a car".
Hamilton moved to Luins, Vaud canton, Switzerland in 2007, citing privacy as his main reason for leaving the UK. He later said on the television show Parkinson that taxation was also a factor in his decision.
Hamilton won his seventh drivers' title in 2020, equalling the record set by Schumacher, in a season heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the shortened seventeen race season, Hamilton took 11 wins (equalling his previous personal best, but in fewer races) including one in Portugal to break Schumacher's record of 91 wins. He also took 14 podiums and 10 pole positions. Hamilton missed the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after contracting COVID-19, his first race absence since his debut in 2007. Hamilton clinched the title at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix with three rounds to spare and ended the season 124 points clear of his team-mate, Bottas, who finished second in the standings. Amidst Formula One's We Race as One campaign and growing global support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Hamilton took the knee ahead of every race he entered and wore t-shirts bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan. Hamilton and Bottas' W11 cars also sported a black livery as a statement of Mercedes' commitment to diversity.
Hamilton's debut season saw him partner two-time and defending World Champion, Fernando Alonso. In their time as teammates, tensions arose between the two drivers and McLaren as a result of several incidents. The first tensions surfaced after Hamilton finished second behind Alonso at Monaco in 2007. After post-race comments made by Hamilton which suggested he had been forced into a supporting role, the FIA investigated whether McLaren had broken rules by enforcing team orders. McLaren denied favouring double world champion Alonso, and the FIA subsequently vindicated the team, stating that "McLaren were able to pursue an optimum team strategy because they had a substantial advantage over all other cars ... nothing which could be described as interfering with the race result".
From November 2007 to February 2015, Hamilton was in an on-and-off relationship with Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer of the American girl group Pussycat Dolls.
On 18 December 2007, Hamilton was suspended from driving in France for a month after being caught speeding at 196 km/h (122 mph) on a French motorway. His Mercedes-Benz CLK was also impounded. Two days before the 2010 Australian Grand Prix, Victoria Police witnessed Hamilton "deliberately losing traction" in his silver Mercedes-AMG C63, and impounded the car for 48 hours. Hamilton immediately released a statement of apology for "driving in an over-exuberant manner". After being charged with intentionally losing control of a vehicle, Hamilton was eventually fined A$500 (£288), being described as a "hoon" by the magistrate.
Hamilton was one of several figures whose tax arrangements were singled out in a report by the charity Christian Aid in 2008. That year, Hamilton received criticism from UK members of parliament for avoiding UK taxes. Following the leak of the Paradise Papers in November 2017, it was reported that Hamilton had avoided paying £3.3 million of value added tax (VAT) on his private jet, worth £16.5 million. According to BBC Panorama, the leasing deal set up by his advisers appeared to be "artificial" and "did not comply with an EU and UK ban on VAT refunds for private use". The BBC also said that Hamilton's Instagram account provided evidence that the jet was used for personal trips. The jet was sold in September 2019. Despite not residing in the UK, HMRC data published in 2019, puts Hamilton among the top 5,000 highest UK tax payers. Hamilton told the Sunday Times in 2014: “What people don’t realise is that I pay tax here [in the UK], but I don’t earn all my money here. I race in 19 different countries, so I earn my money in 20 different places and I pay tax in several different places, and I pay a lot here [UK] as well. I am contributing to the country".
The first and, as of 2020, the only black driver to race in Formula One, Hamilton has been subject to racist abuse throughout his career. In 2008, Hamilton was heckled and otherwise abused during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya by several Spanish spectators who wore black face paint and black wigs, as well as shirts bearing the words "Hamilton's familly [sic]". The FIA warned Spanish authorities about the repetition of such behaviour, and launched a "Race Against Racism" campaign. Shortly before the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, a website owned by the Spanish branch of the New York-based advertising agency TBWA and named "pinchalaruedadeHamilton", which translates into English as 'burst Hamilton's tyre', was featured in the British media. The site contained an image of Interlagos that allowed users to leave nails and porcupines on the track for Hamilton's car to run over. Among thousands of comments left since 2007, some included racial insults.
Throughout his career, Lewis Hamilton has received several awards and honors. He won the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award in 2008 and the Sportsman of the Year Award in 2020. Hamilton also won Pride of Britain Awards (2007), Best Driver ESPY Award (2017), BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award (2014; 2020), L'Équipe Champion of Champions (2020), Gazzetta Gazzetta World Sportsman of the Year (2018; 2020), among others prizes and awards. He was elected FIA Personality of the Year three times (2014; 2018; 2020) and was inducted to FIA Hall of Fame in 2017.
Hamilton is also involved in charitable work through the creation of the Lewis Hamilton Foundation. Registered in June 2008, the Foundation provides grants and donations to a number of charitable causes.
Ayrton Senna was a major influence on Hamilton's driving style. "I think it's partly because I watched [him] when I was young and I thought 'this is how I want to drive when I get the opportunity' and I went out there and tried it on the kart track. My whole approach to racing has developed from there". He has been compared to Senna in raw speed. In 2010, Hamilton drove Ayrton Senna's original title winning McLaren MP4/4 as part of a tribute documentary by the BBC motoring show, Top Gear. In the documentary, Hamilton, along with fellow racing drivers, name Senna as the number one driver ever.
In 2010, Hamilton, like many other Formula One drivers, moved to Monaco, purchasing a house worth a reported £10 million. Hamilton also owns an apartment in Manhattan, New York which he bought for US$40 million, and an estate in Colorado where he has said he would live after his retirement.
Lewis Hamilton debuted at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix becoming the first black driver in Formula One. He set several records throughout his career. Hamilton has the most career wins, most pole positions, most podium finishes, most career points, most laps led among other records. When Hamilton won the 2008 F1 world championship, after finishing fifth in the Brazilian Grand Prix, he had become the youngest ever driver to win the F1 world championship aged 23 years and 301 days, a mark that was beaten by Sebastian Vettel in 2010.
Hamilton is a prominent advocate against racism and for increased diversity in motorsport. He has questioned racial politics in Formula One on several occasions. In 2011, after being summoned to the stewards in five out of the first six races of the season, Hamilton quipped "Maybe it's because I'm black, that's what Ali G says". In 2018, Hamilton criticised the lack of diversity in Formula One, describing how nothing had changed in his eleven years in the sport before saying "Kids, people, there are so many jobs in this sport of which anybody, no matter your ethnicity or background, can make it and fit in".
In 2012, Hamilton began working with the United Nations Children's Fund.
In March 2012, Hamilton travelled to the Philippines where he made a short film about Manila's street children. The film was shown on ITV1 during Soccer Aid and helped raise over £4.9 million for UNICEF.
In October 2012, while in India for the Grand Prix, Hamilton visited a UNICEF funded newborn care unit and nutrition centre. Hamilton said "As a sportsman in the public eye, I know I have a role to play in helping to tell the stories of the world's most vulnerable children and I jumped at the chance to be able to do that again after a visit to Manila".
In 2013, Hamilton became the Global Education Ambassador for Save the Children, supporting and promoting its education campaigns.
Upon signing with Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton was reunited with his childhood karting teammate, Nico Rosberg. The move was met with surprise by pundits and the public, with some describing the move to Mercedes, a team with no recent history of success, as a gamble. In his first season with the Silver Arrows, Hamilton secured a sole race victory, winning the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he converted an unexpected pole position into a winning margin of over 11 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Kimi Räikkönen, alongside a number of podium finishes and pole positions, finishing fourth in the standings once again, the third time in five years.
After Hamilton clinched his second and third World Championship titles with Mercedes in 2014 and 2015, David Coulthard declared Hamilton the best driver of his generation, calling him "the Ayrton Senna of his era", an opinion which was more widely accepted amongst the public, experts, and fellow and former drivers. As Hamilton became more widely considered the best driver of his era, public and expert debate moved from his status in modern Formula One to his status amongst the greatest drivers in history. The next few seasons saw Hamilton eclipse a number of records, including achieving the most all-time pole positions ahead of Michael Schumacher, leading him to be regarded by some as the greatest qualifier in history. After winning his fourth and fifth world titles, Hamilton's place among the greats of the sport became firmly established in the opinions of experts, rivals and teammates alike, with some journalists and pundits considering the possibility of Hamilton being the greatest Formula One driver of all time.
Changes to the regulations for 2014 mandating the use of turbo-hybrid engines came at the start of a highly successful period for Hamilton, during which he has won six further drivers' titles. Hamilton won consecutive titles in 2014 and 2015 during an intense rivalry with teammate Nico Rosberg to match his hero Ayrton Senna's three World Championships. Following Rosberg's retirement, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel became Hamilton's closest rival in two intense championship battles, and Hamilton twice overturned mid-season points deficits to claim consecutive titles again in 2017 and 2018. Hamilton won his third and fourth titles in a row in 2019 and 2020, respectively, equalling Schumacher's record of seven drivers' titles.
From a young age, Hamilton's helmet throughout his karting years was predominantly yellow with blue, green and red ribbons. In later years a white ring was added and the ribbons were moved forward to make room for logos and advertisement space. Hamilton continued to run a predominantly yellow design for the early stage of his Formula One career, but in 2014 decided to change to a mostly white approach. In 2017, Hamilton selected his helmet design from fan submissions. The winning design used a white and yellow base colour with red and orange details, and the addition of three stars – one for each of Hamilton's three Formula One championships at that time – on either side. Over the following seasons, Hamilton continued to add more stars to his helmet upon winning further World Championship titles.
Hamilton's treatment by the media and critics has, at times, been criticised as being racist. In 2014, The Guardian journalist Joseph Harker highlighted double-standards in Hamilton's treatment compared to other British drivers by British newspapers, suggesting that his skin colour has played a factor in a perceived lack of acceptance amongst the British public. In 2019, footballer Rio Ferdinand described media scrutiny of Hamilton as having "racist undertones" and contrasted Hamilton's treatment to that of fellow British driver Jenson Button. At the start of his Formula One career, Hamilton said that he "tried to ignore the fact [he] was the first black guy ever to race in the sport" but later stated that he had since grown to "appreciate the implications", and changed his approach to promote equality within the sport. In 2019, Toto Wolff, Hamilton's team boss at Mercedes, described how Hamilton was "scarred for life" by racist abuse inflicted during his childhood.
Having signed a contract with Mercedes that lasts until 2020, it was confirmed Hamilton would defend his title in 2019. Hamilton led the drivers' standings for the majority of the season, fending off title challenges from team-mate Bottas, the Honda-powered Red Bull of Verstappen and Ferrari's recently promoted Leclerc, to clinch his sixth drivers' crown at the 2019 United States Grand Prix with two races remaining. After scoring his sixth career grand slam in the final race of the season, Hamilton ended the season with 11 wins (matching his previous best in 2014 and 2018) and 17 podiums (matching the all-time record for a fourth time) as well as achieving 5 pole positions. His total of 413 points for the season was a new all-time record, seeing the Briton finish 87 points clear of second-placed Bottas.
In 2014, Hamilton travelled to Haiti where he made a short film about child malnutrition. The film was shown on ITV1 during Soccer Aid and helped raise over £6 million for UNICEF.
In 2015, Hamilton became the first Ambassador for the Invictus Games Foundation, supporting wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.
In 2015, Hamilton took part in an exhibition to highlight UNICEF's work and to celebrate its twenty year partnership with Starwood Hotels.
In 2015, Hamilton was ranked as the richest British sportsperson, with an estimated personal fortune of £88 million. In 2018, it was reported that Hamilton had a net worth of £159 million. In 2020, Hamilton's fortune was an estimated £224 million, making him the richest British sports star in the history of the Sunday Times Rich List.
—Bernie Ecclestone, speaking of Hamilton in 2015.
Hamilton owns two unrestored 1967 AC Cobras, one black and one red, and in February 2015, it was reported that he had purchased a Ferrari LaFerrari from "his rivals in Maranello."
Despite recording more pole positions and race wins than any other driver in 2016, Hamilton lost the drivers' title by five points to his teammate, Rosberg. The team's policy of letting the pair fight freely led to a number of acrimonious exchanges both on and off the track, culminating in Hamilton defying team-orders at the season finale in Abu Dhabi and deliberately slowing to back Rosberg into the chasing pack at the end of the race in an unsuccessful bid to encourage other drivers to overtake his teammate, which would have allowed him to win the title. Ultimately, a lack of reliability and a handful of driving errors from Hamilton helped Rosberg get closer than in previous years, and a crucial engine blowout in Malaysia allowed the title to fall into Rosberg's hands, which he successfully secured before announcing his shock retirement from the sport immediately after beating his rival.
Hamilton's contribution and influence has been recognised regularly in the Powerlist, an annual list of the most influential Black Britons, in which he has ranked in the top 10 in 2016 and 2017. In 2021, Hamilton was named the most influential Black Briton in the 14th Powerlist, for his sporting success and his advocacy in the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2020, he was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people globally, and was knighted in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to motorsports.
As a result of the events over the 2007 season, the relationship between Hamilton and Alonso reportedly collapsed, with the pair not on speaking terms for a short period. In the aftermath it was reported that Hamilton had been targeted by Luca di Montezemolo regarding a Ferrari drive for 2008. The rivalry between the pair led to speculation that either Hamilton or Alonso would leave McLaren at the end of the season; Alonso and McLaren subsequently terminated their contract by mutual consent in November that year, ending his and Hamilton's time as teammates. In subsequent years, tensions between the pair dissipated, and the mutual respect has grown, with Alonso praising Hamilton in 2017 saying "[Hamilton] was able to win with a dominant car, with a good car like 2010 or 2012, or with bad cars like 2009 and 2011. Not all the champions can say that". Alonso would later describe Hamilton as one of the top five greatest drivers of all time. On the cool-down lap after Alonso's final race before his two-year hiatus in 2018, Hamilton joined Sebastian Vettel in paying tribute to Alonso by driving, each on one side, in a formation to the start-finish straight where all three executed donuts.
Hamilton has worn specially designed one-off helmets for several weekends throughout his career. At the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton sported an altered helmet design with the addition of a roulette wheel image on the top. At the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton brought with him a striking blue-and-green design – in honour of team sponsor, Petronas – but was prevented from using the helmet by the FIA. Hamilton has sported gold coloured helmets three times in his career. After winning his fourth title in 2017, Hamilton entered 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a gold helmet with four stars adorning the top of the helmet with the words "World Champion". Hamilton wore a gold helmet at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after sealing his fifth world title, toward which he made reference with five stars on either side of the design, and did so again at the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, this time with six stars following his sixth World Championship title.
In 2017, Hamilton told the BBC that he had become vegan because, "[a]s the human race, what we are doing to the world... the pollution [in terms of emissions of global-warming gases] coming from the amount of cows that are being produced is incredible. The cruelty is horrible and I don't necessarily want to support that and I want to live a healthier life." In 2018 he was named the PETA 'Person of the Year' for his vegan activism. In 2018, Hamilton said in an interview that he gave up drinking "a while ago".
—Fernando Alonso, speaking of Hamilton in 2017.
—Hamilton in 2017 commenting on his influence on minority representation in Formula One.
In June 2017, Hamilton joined the 'Super Dads' initiative, a special UNICEF campaign that highlighted the critical role played by fathers in early childhood development.
In August 2017, Hamilton visited Havana with UNICEF, to learn more about its first development programmes in Cuba.
In December 2017, Hamilton courted controversy after sharing a video on Instagram of his nephew wearing a princess dress in which he commented "Why did you ask for a princess dress for Christmas, boys don't wear princess dresses". He was condemned on social media and by LGBT charities for his comments. He subsequently deleted the video before later deleting all content from his social media channels, though he returned to actively using his social media accounts on 17 January 2018. Hamilton apologised for his comments, and later appeared at Disneyland Paris with his nephew, who wore a princess dress for the trip, as well as featuring on the front cover of GQ wearing a rainbow tartan kilt he designed with Tommy Hilfiger, saying "I've done something and then realised the effect I've had ... I want to make amends. I accept it, realise it and I'm glad that I'm accountable for it".
Hamilton's jet-set lifestyle and interests outside Formula One have been scrutinised. He has been praised for disregarding convention and public opinion and has been described as one of the last 'superstar' drivers. Between race weekends Hamilton has on several occasions travelled around the world to explore a variety of interests, such as in 2018 where, after winning the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton flew to Shanghai and New York where he released his own designer clothing line with Tommy Hilfiger, before flying immediately back to, and winning, the next race in Singapore. Toto Wolff has been vocal in his support for Hamilton's off-track pursuits, explaining how freedom allows Hamilton to function at his best.
In 2018 Hamilton launched a clothing line, TOMMYXLEWIS, during New York Fashion Week with American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger alongside models Winnie Harlow and Hailey Baldwin. Hamilton stated "[g]rowing up, I remember seeing the iconic Tommy Hilfiger flag" and Hilfiger commented on Hamilton, saying "Lewis is bold in everything he does ... He's not afraid to take risks. And he has a cool and sophisticated style that really speaks to the new generation of Tommy fans".
Over the past decade, Hamilton has continuously made time for a variety of good causes, such as making hospital visits to sick children. He regularly invites fans, young people and their families to join him at Grand Prix races and social events. Hamilton often donates personal and professional paraphernalia for numerous charity auctions. He raised £6411 for the Small Steps Project in 2018, and £6000 in 2019 through auction donations. In 2020, he raised another £4000 for the Small Steps Project, while a donated race suit reportedly raised €20,000 for vulnerable children. Hamilton frequently attends charitable functions and has supported projects and charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Comic Relief, Rays of Sunshine, Children in Need and Stevenage’s Keech Hospice Care Children's Service, amongst others.
In December 2018, Stevenage-born Hamilton caused controversy at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards where he said on live television, "It really was a dream for us all as a family to do something different. For us to get out of the slums" before immediately correcting himself, saying, "Well, not the slums, but to get out of somewhere and do something. We all set our goals very, very high but we did it as a team." While Hamilton immediately sought to correct his remarks, the leader of Stevenage Borough Council described the comments as "disappointing" and noted that people felt "very offended". Hamilton posted a video on Instagram in which he apologised for his comments, saying "I'm super proud of where I come from and I hope you know that I represent in the best way I can always. [...] Particularly when you are up in front of a crowd, trying to find the right words to express the long journey you've had in life, I chose the wrong words." The town mayor subsequently accepted his "gracious apology".
Following Hamilton clinching a sixth World Drivers' Championship title in 2019, ex-Formula One driver and pundit Johnny Herbert acclaimed Hamilton as the greatest driver ever, a sentiment echoed by his Mercedes team-boss Toto Wolff, who described him as "maybe the best driver that has ever existed", while Formula One staff writer, Greg Stuart, described Hamilton as "arguably the most complete Formula [One] driver ever". After Hamilton won his seventh title in 2020, John Watson stated that Hamilton "is, by a million miles, the greatest driver of his generation and you can argue he will go on to be the greatest Formula One driver of all time", and highlighted his fearlessness as being key to his success, as evidenced by his performance against double world champion team-mate Alonso in his rookie season and his decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes. Herbert compared Hamilton to tennis player Roger Federer and golfer Tiger Woods.
Hamilton has repeatedly discussed environmental issues on social media, at conferences, in interviews and documentaries. In 2019, Hamilton asked Mercedes-Benz to swap animal-derived leather in the company's models worldwide: "I am trying to push for sustainability with my team. I am trying to get more involved in Formula 1 and be more conscious. Mercedes-Benz is a huge organisation. I have got a phone call with the CEO later today to discuss how we can work on getting rid of all the leather supplied to the cars. That is something I want to be involved in". In 2020, Hamilton announced that he was aiming to be carbon neutral by the end of the year, saying "I don't allow anyone in my office, but also within my household, to buy any plastics. I want everything recyclable, down to deodorant, down to toothbrush, all these kinds of things ... I'm trying to make as much change as I can in my personal space. I sold my plane over a year ago. I fly a lot less now. I'm trying to fly less through the year".
—David Richards, chairman of Motorsport UK, speaking of Hamilton in 2019.
In September 2019 Hamilton launched a vegan restaurant named Neat Burger. It claims to be the first international plant-based burger chain. In 2020, Neat Burger was crowned 'Best Vegan Restaurant Of The Year' at the Deliveroo Restaurant Awards.
In June 2020, it was announced that Hamilton had established The Hamilton Commission with the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Commission had been in development since December 2019 but publicly launched to coincide with the heightened media and public interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, and greater scrutiny of race inequality in society. The partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering was established to find ways in which motorsport can engage more young people from black backgrounds with science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects and, ultimately, employ them in motorsport or in other engineering sectors.
In 2020, Hamilton partnered with charity campaign #TOGETHERBAND to help promote the United Nations' 17 Global Goals. As part of his campaign work, Hamilton visited Alperton Community School in North West London to speak to the students about the importance of education. Hamilton is a GOAL 4 Ambassador, focusing on the fight to provide quality education to all children.
In 2020, Hamilton's Neat Burger restaurant donated free meals to frontline NHS workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Neat Burger also launched the "Kids Eat Free" scheme, serving free meals to school children during the half-term break.
In January 2020, Hamilton donated US$500,000 (approximately £383,000) to a variety of causes relating to the bushfire crisis in Australia. The money went towards the fire services and animal welfare charities.
Hamilton took the knee before every race he entered in the 2020 Formula One season in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and wore t-shirts bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan. Following the death of George Floyd while being arrested in May 2020, which sparked national and global protests, Hamilton criticised prominent figures in Formula One for their silence on the issue, writing on Instagram:
Hamilton also has interests in music, saying "music has been a huge passion of mine since I was really young. I started playing guitar when I was 13. In here, I can be me, I can be vulnerable. I can show a side of me that people don't get to see". He features on Christina Aguilera's 2018 song "Pipe" under the pseudonym 'XNDA', though he did not confirm this until July 2020, when he revealed he had been writing and recording music for ten years.
In August 2020, Daily Front Row listed Hamilton as one of a group of high-profile investors who purchased W magazine, a troubled fashion magazine.
In September 2020, Hamilton launched X44 to compete in the all-electric SUV off-road racing series Extreme E from the 2021 season on.
In December 2020, Hamilton confronted the Bahrain's human rights abuses and spoke out on the allegations of "sportswashing". Hamilton said he "won't let it go unnoticed" after an 11-year-old boy, Ahmed Ramadhan, wrote a letter to Hamilton, asking him to save his father, who was facing the death penalty, after a confession was allegedly extracted through torture for the death of a policeman.
In February 2021, Hamilton signed a contract to continue racing for the team in 2021.
Hamilton first tested for McLaren in late 2004 at Silverstone. Hamilton moved to the reigning Euro Series champions ASM for the 2005 season and dominated the championship, winning 15 of the 20 rounds. He also won the Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort. After the season British magazine Autosport featured him in their "Top 50 Drivers of 2005" issue, ranking Hamilton 24th.