ESQ: Welcome back to Singapore, Lewis. So, what do you anticipate whenever you’re back to compete in this particular F1 night race circuit?
LEWIS HAMILTON: This is the hardest race of the year as it’s one of the longest tracks we have with corners. It’s also the most physically gruelling with the punishing climate too. Both mental and physical stress is at its highest. We lose about two to three kilos of weight from this race.
ESQ: How did your relationship with IWC come about?
LEWIS HAMILTON: I’ve been an ambassador with IWC for about seven years now. When I first joined the [Mercedes] team, they were already in a partnership with IWC. I naturally inherited this position of working with them, but we sat down and discussed working on a more personal level. That happened in the first year and we’ve been working together closely since then. It is a very easy and successful partnership because we both exist to chase time. Similarly, we’re all about innovation and precision. As a driver who is chasing the millisecond, time is of the essence.
ESQ: What would you do if you were asked to design or customise your own IWC watch?
LEWIS HAMILTON: I love the tourbillon and its intricate movement. Also, I like a bulky watch. That’s why I always wear the Big Pilot.
ESQ: How do you decide what watch to wear on a particular day? Is it mood-dependent?
LEWIS HAMILTON: Well, a watch is the ultimate accessory to style with your outfit. If you’re wearing a business suit or a pair of black shoes, a rose gold Pilot or a watch with a rose gold face and a black strap is what I would go for. But sometimes I’d swap out the strap too. Or I’ll coordinate it with what I’m wearing.
Today I’m wearing black with red socks, so I’m wearing a black watch with a reddish-hued dial to blend them together. It’s the finishing touch to your style.
ESQ: What does the slogan ‘I can stop time, but nothing stops me’ on IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire campaign that you’ve starred in mean to you, as a racer and as an individual?
LEWIS HAMILTON: I wish I could stop time, but I view this as a metaphor. I’m generally fascinated about how we’re constantly moving in time or even moving into another dimension. It is often assumed that we can almost stop time as racing drivers. You feel like you’re almost slowed down even though you’re moving at a high speed. So that slogan relates to what I do.
ESQ: As a result of your partnership with IWC and the Tommy Hilfiger collaboration, you’re one of the few F1 drivers that have developed an appeal beyond racing. What have you enjoyed most from these ambassador stints and what would you like to do next?
LEWIS HAMILTON: Every ambassador role and partnership is different. For example, with Tommy [Hilfiger], it is an opportunity for me to design. I’ve always been creative and it’s something that I want to get involved in. I’ve asked IWC if I could do my own watch but it’s an extremely long process.
We’re working on something that could materialise in the future. So, it definitely takes a longer time to design a watch compared to designing a clothing collection. These partnerships are outlets for me to explore my creativeness and I think it is important for an individual to discover individuality. I feel like I’m in a position in my life where I know who I am and what I want to project.
I get to work with different teams of people, which is easy for me because I’m accustomed to working with the team here [at Mercedes]. It’s about bringing people together, hopefully encouraging them to put both their minds and DNA in the mix.
ESQ: Tell us more about your creativity process. How do you provide input on the projects that you’re involved in?
LEWIS HAMILTON: The clothing I’ve designed had no brief. I have the freedom to execute what I want to do. I convey my thoughts to the team, who’ll then help facilitate and mould it into my vision. I just did my own show and was involved in the styling, music and model selections. I’ve also chosen the fabrics and silhouettes for the pieces I’ve designed.
This latest collection is quite sartorial and I researched thoroughly for it. I raided my own wardrobe and went through the clothing that caught my eye. I looked at the pieces I’d bought and questioned how I would do this. I then brought it to the table with a bunch of examples and showed the team that I’d love to do something with similar aesthetics—with a twist but towards this direction.
ESQ: What mentality do you adopt before competing in every race?
LEWIS HAMILTON: I don’t adopt a mentality as I am me. I undertake a forward-thinking and calm approach by studying intensively before arriving here. Once you’ve studied and obtained the knowledge, the rest is about doing your diligence during the race weekend. We have a long briefing and subsequently, when getting into the car, I know the necessary steps to challenge the usurper. It’s not easy to get there as you can go either right or wrong with the set-up and it’s not an easy process. I’ve been doing this for a long time so it’s nothing new to me. But you can always improve. There’s no way of knowing what’s going to happen until you’ve finished with the race.
ESQ: Racing and timekeeping are inseparable. How do you make the most of time and stay consistent to achieve an ideal result?
LEWIS HAMILTON: Racing is about scheduling and timing. For example, the time that I spend with the engineers. I've got a bandwidth of the duration I’m able to focus before I lose focus. Usually, I’m focused for about 30 minutes, then I’ll take a break and continue. I’m efficient in this sense. As I’ve said, we work on-time scheduling and using lap data from last year, I know how long it will take to get through sector one, two and three.
Timing is everything when you’re on the track—breaking points, turning points and anticipating bumps. From time to temperature, there are a million factors you have to take into account for the race.
As for my life, scheduling unfolds by itself. I like to stay on the European time zone so I’ll be synced to European time. Meals also play a crucial role to how I feel before the race in terms of achieving peak energy. Everything revolves around time.
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