Meeting Nelson Mandela was an "overwhelming experience" for Lewis Hamilton. At 23, he had only heard and read about the plight of the man who fought against apartheid and came out of prison to rule South Africa. But Hamilton knows just how much Mandela made a difference and how revered he is by people of all ages, of all races, and meeting him earlier this month was clearly a profound moment for him.
While perhaps not in the same way, the British driver is hoping to make his own impact through his exploits in Formula One, using his skills in a car as his driving force in the world. Hamilton is honest enough to admit he has had a difficult time in the build-up to his stunning success at the British Grand Prix on Sunday. Criticised for his celebrity lifestyle and not being focused enough on the track with a world championship at stake, it obviously hurt him emotionally.
His persona has switched from schoolboy fun - during the triathlon challenge to Jenson Button that was later scuppered by his dad - to moody, judging by short, sharp answers during a meet the media session at McLaren. He is best when he is in the car and with kids - seeing how animated and genuine he was chatting to one lucky youngster at his team's motorhome before his biggest race of the season.
His father, Anthony, believes Lewis is a role model. He said: "We need some good people in this world, and I think we have one in Lewis. He puts more pressure on himself than anybody else, but he does his talking on the circuit. "That win was just great for the British public, great for Silverstone and great for Formula One, but also I think it was great for all those little kids looking up to Lewis thinking, 'I want to be like you one day'.
"I hope we've launched a lot of careers. I hope Lewis has inspired young kids to keep on the straight and narrow. "And for all those families going through stress, grief and all that kind of stuff, it shows there are some good things that happen in life. Here we have a good guy who is living that kind of life. "We have learned life is tough. We have learned you just have to stick together as a family and try to come together. I must admit after speaking to a few people, for next year it puts everything into perspective because we are only human aren't we?"
Sir Jackie Stewart, a three-time winner of the British Grand Prix, watched in admiration as the latest local hero triumphed in horrible wet conditions. "Just amazing," he said of the performance." Lewis used the words of another inspirational leader to sum up his positive attitude. "There's a quote that Martin Luther King made, and I can't remember it word by word, but he was saying something like 'it is not the times where we triumph and are successful that make us who we are, but it is the times where we are at our lows and we are going through our troubles that really build you and make you who you are'.
"That's a long way off the actual quote he gave, but I remember reading it and thinking that it is a very important thing. This whole week has been tough but, when you take all that in, you learn more and I think, even when you're racing, when you lose, you learn a lot more because you learn how to improve yourself. "I think my mind's always been right, but I have had a lot on my plate really. I want to win, so I'm working very, very hard, making sure there were never any doubts of my abilities. It was just biding my time and keep working hard, keep chopping away and you eventually get there.
"Just before the race, I spoke to my brother [Nicholas]. He came to my room and sat there and I said 'I just hope I keep it on the track'. He said 'don't you even worry about that, you're the master in the wet'. I thanked him for that. He's always there, my whole family is. "I think the biggest emotional build-up was not letting down the fans. "I know the country deserves it and the crowd deserves it, and the team does as well."
He admits driving well in wet weather can make the difference, something he learned by following his hero Ayrton Senna. "He was spectacular in the wet," he said. "He [Ayrton] once said if you can drive in the wet then you can do anything, and the top drivers do come to the fore. "Growing up I knew I wanted to master the wet. I am very sensitive and I know when to push, when not to push, and this win was a result of that."