x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Lewis Hamilton's drive to make a difference

British driver keen to start 'chain reaction' in helping the poor and under-privileged.

Lewis Hamilton is shaken after his India visit.
Lewis Hamilton is shaken after his India visit.

ABU DHABI // For Lewis Hamilton a return to Abu Dhabi represents a "billion miles apart" from experiences last week in India, yet the defending champion will draw on one of his favourite victories in the sport to hopefully provide some family with a little cheer this weekend.

The McLaren driver spent time in impoverished villages after Sunday's Indian Grand Prix, as part of his charity work as a Unicef ambassador.

The exposure to some of the worst living conditions he has witnessed evidently left an indelible mark on the 27 year old, as Hamilton still seemed quite affected addressing the press yesterday at Yas Marina Circuit.

"It's a billion miles apart," said the 2008 world champion when asked to compare his past few days to this week's race in the UAE capital.

"Literally opposite ends of the scope. We're in one of the wealthiest places I ever get to go and I've been to probably the poorest place I've ever seen.

"It was very, very sad to see; an issue that not many people are conscious of. Everyone just goes on with their day-to-day lives, including me, and ladies were having babies on the streets and there's malnourished kids that are just allowed to die.

"No one comes to their rescue. These babies don't even have a chance and that's insane, because there's so much wealth in the world that there's enough to go around. And if there's not, give some more because we're who can make a difference."

Hamilton has highlighted plans to intensify his humanitarian work and last week attended an event for the Samuel L Jackson Foundation, and then a gathering for a cancer charity. The determination to make a difference is evident.

"[The impact of] my visit would be minuscule," Hamilton said. "It all starts with one step. You know if you put a pebble in a pond and it creates ripples. Growing up I've always wanted to be one of those pebbles, to start that chain reaction then others would follow."

Hamilton plans to offer a little relief this week to those a lot closer to home. The Briton is joined from today in Abu Dhabi by four cousins, who will take in their first grand prix having earlier this year lost their mother.

He hopes for a similar outcome to last season, when he took full advantage of Sebastian Vettel's first-lap blowout to register a 17th Formula One victory.

"Last year was a fantastic win for me, one of my favourites," Hamilton said. "It was my mum's birthday and it's always a dream that when you get a win for it to be on some kind of special day.

"“So to do that while she was here and to be able to celebrate with her, make her feel special after all the love and support she’s given me – she was at the front of the garage celebrating with us – was just really, really great.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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