Newly-crowned 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has revealed that equalling or even surpassing the seven titles achieved by the record-breaking Michael Schumacher does 'not appeal' to him – as experts predict he could overtake the German legend in overall career earnings.
The McLaren-Mercedes star – at just 23 years and 301 days – became the youngest driver ever to lift the laurels in the 58-year history of the top flight at the end of a nail-biting climax to the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos on Sunday. That made him two years younger than Schumacher when he first claimed the trophy for Benetton in 1994, but the Briton is adamant chasing records is not his style.
“I don't plan to try to reach any of his records,” Hamilton is quoted as having insisted by Sky Sports
. “They don't mean a huge amount to me. They are not something that appeals to me.
“I just love racing, getting in the car and winning championships, with the feeling you get after all that work from the people around you, and you extracting the most out of yourself. That's the most fulfilling achievement, so records are not so important.”
The nine-time grand prix-winner – who grew up on a humble Stevenage council estate – also seems to have little taste for all the trappings of success that seem likely to come the way of a man who, with a Pussycat Doll girlfriend already on his arm in the shape of Nicole Scherzinger, now appears set to replace David Beckham as Britain's highest-earning sportsman. The LA Galaxy star earned £20 million a year through lucrative sponsorship deals alone at the height of his England, Manchester United and Real Madrid playing career.
Experts are suggesting should his success prove to be sustained, Hamilton could even go on to overtake golfer Tiger Woods to become the highest-earning sportsperson in the world and its first billionaire competitor, claims UK newspaper The Times
. According to Forbes Magazine
, Woods is due to become the first sportsperson to accumulate $1 billion by next year.
Hamilton's five-year McLaren contract is understood to be worth £75 million, with a Reebok sponsorship deal and other endorsements set to add a further £20 million to that figure – and suggestions that his financial agreement with the Woking-based outfit could double to as much as £30 million per year from 2012 if his career momentum continues.
Those close to the first British title-winner since Damon Hill believe his total career earnings could even hit a staggering £500 million – more even than Schumacher, who, Sky Sports
recalls, 'at his peak was a one-man business empire, complete with branded dolls, sunglasses and a vacuum cleaner'. Be that as it may, financial rewards, Hamilton stresses, have never been a driving factor.
“I'm comfortable in life,” he underlined. “It's an amazing feeling to know you have some money considering I never had £100 to go and buy a pair of trainers when I was younger, so to think I can do that now is great, but money doesn't really appeal to me.