The modern world is unquestionably celebrity-obsessed. There is a catalogue of household names which are seemingly known the world over, from pop-stars to Hollywood royalty. Lewis Hamilton has somehow muscled his way into the top tier of celebrity names – quite a feat for a sportsman in what is a rather niche game – which is something that Damon Hill believes is a positive result for F1.‘Brand-Hamilton’ has certainly captured the imagination of fans across the world in recent years. His move from McLaren to Mercedes has seemingly given him added freedom to express himself and his regular Twitter and Instagram posts tell the story of an A-Lister, rubbing shoulders with the elite names associated with celebrity culture.
At this weekend’s Autosport International Show in Birmingham, 1996 World Champion Damon Hill has highlighted the importance of having a driver who can capture the imagination of people outside of the motorsport bubble.
“He’s using F1 as his own launchpad for himself, and some people might say we’re not so interested in what you’re wearing, what hat you’ve got on, or what club you went to. But other people are.”
Hamilton’s fame means that F1 can reach brand new audiences; the “other people” that Hill mentions. At a time where interest in the sport is often said to be waning, introducing new viewers to the spectacle is essential. As Hill acknowledged, “People who may know nothing about F1 say who the hell are you? He says, ‘I race F1, watch me.’ That’s got to be good for the show.”
Hamilton is unquestionably box-office and while his off-track activities are hardly of interest to the majority of racing fans, it is key to remember that the target audience is not so much those who will tune in to watch him work on a Sunday, but instead those who don’t.