More details are emerging from a recent report on Lewis Hamilton’s superbike sojourn in Jerez, Spain. The six-time Formula 1 world champion was invited to Jerez by the Crescent team that oversees Yamaha’s World Superbikes riders, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. The latter has revealed to the press that Hamilton impressed hugely during his ride on the Yamaha YZF-R1 bike and in fact had to be told to “go a bit slower”, such was his enthusiasm for the sport.
Hamilton, who has previously been out on a Yamaha YZR-M1 due to his friendship with MotoGP icon, Valentino Rossi, was concerning members of his team as he was riding “very fast” but lacked a “riding style”, according to van der Mark. Subsequently, van der Mark encouraged Hamilton to slow down as he “tried to take corners as fast as with his car”. Van der Mark, who finished third in 2019’s World Superbike standings, was impressed with Hamilton’s dedication “to learn” and his desire to want to “do it right” on two wheels as well as four.
Van der Mark was subsequently quizzed on Hamilton’s prospective chances were he to consider switching four wheels for two wheels full-time. He was understandably coy but said that it was clear Hamilton was “not afraid at all” of taking to his Yamaha, citing his “special” and “natural” talent for racing. Van der Mark revealed that Hamilton was around “seven seconds slower” than the other professionals taking to the track in Jerez that day. This might sound like a lot, but van der Mark admitted Hamilton registered quicker than many other “track day riders”.
2019 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award enrages F1 fans
Despite another hugely successful season in F1 for Hamilton, the Stevenage-born star has once again been overlooked for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. England cricket all-rounder Ben Stokes secured the award for his performances in this summer’s Cricket World Cup and the Ashes series, although England did not go on to regain them. F1 fans were bemused to say the least about the decision, considering that Hamilton has won the award only once, despite ruling the F1 world for several years.
Lewis Hamilton was streets ahead of the rest for most of the 2019 F1 season and he’s still a clear contender with leading bookmakers to make it seven World Championship titles and emulate German great Michael Schumacher in 2020. Despite moving to within touching distance of Schumacher’s all-time record in terms of drivers’ championships and indeed overall Grand Prix victories, Hamilton could only manage a runners-up finish to Stokes. It’s somewhat surprising given that F1 has returned more winners of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award than all other sports, except athletics, throughout the history of the award.
Hamilton did not even attend this year’s ceremony, held in Aberdeen, Scotland. Last year, Hamilton made an appearance and caused controversy over some of the comments he made about his hometown of Stevenage. However, Hamilton has twice struggled to make the jump from second to first place in the past, finishing runner-up in both 2007 and 2008 when he burst onto the F1 scene with McLaren.
Despite the disappointment of not getting the recognition he deserved from Britain’s sporting fans, Hamilton has a laser-like focus on what’s to come in 2020. He’s admitted that next season represents a huge “fresh start for everyone”, as he attempts to “rise to the challenge” of the next generation of emerging drivers, notably Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen. Leclerc and Verstappen, both aged 22, finished the season fourth and third respectively and are expected to raise the bar again in 2020.
Hamilton is wholly aware that he is now the second oldest driver in F1. Ferrari is also hoping to be in a more competitive position in 2020, with aerodynamic changes to the Ferrari car aiming to provide more downforce and drag. It won’t be long until Hamilton returns to the racing circuit, with pre-season testing pencilled in for early February.