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Hamilton: Parental involvement in F1 driver career is “thin line to walk”

Lewis Hamilton says that the close involvement of a parent in the management of a Formula 1 driver’s career is a “thin line to walk”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, with his father Jos Verstappen

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hamilton made the comments ahead of this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and in the context of Max Verstappen’s father, Jos, offering his views on the Christian Horner controversy.

In the wake of the Bahrain GP, Verstappen Sr made his first comment on the ongoing saga, cautioning that the Red Bull team would be “torn apart” if Horner remained in charge following an internal investigation after allegations were made from a female colleague.

PLUS: What's behind efforts to bring down Red Bull F1 team boss Horner

Told about Verstappen Sr's comments, Hamilton admitted that he hadn’t heard them, but he made it clear that he didn’t think they were appropriate.

"I don't know the details of it,” he said. “So I don't know what he's basing these foundations off.

“But at the end of the day, he's not a part of the team, he's a parent. And so that's just an opinion, but it's definitely not helpful.”

Hamilton’s earlier career was managed by his father Anthony, who was always present at races and in the pit garage.

However it put stress on their relationship, and the pair agreed to discontinue the arrangement as Hamilton subsequently sought the support of professional managers.

Asked how difficult it was to have a parent closely involved in a driver’s career, Hamilton made it clear that it wasn’t easy to make it work.

Anthony Hamilton

Anthony Hamilton

Photo by: Sutton Images

"I think it is a very thin line to walk,” he said. “I think it's also dependent on your relationship with your parent.

“You meet some people who have a great relationship with their parents, and they've been amazing parents, and then you've got people that have had bad relationships. And this is not necessarily parents that have been good to them.

“So I don't know about his [Verstappen’s] relationships. Obviously, you hear things here and there. But Max is a grown man, and he's a champion, and I'm sure he can make his own decisions.

“But I think in our world, as drivers, it's very, very easy to be misled by people whispering in your ear, and perhaps not guiding you always the right way.

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“I'm not saying it's the case there, because they're doing great. But I know in sports, other athletes that I've spoken to that I see, whether it's in tennis, and I've experienced it, when you sometimes don't have the right guidance around you, it leads to you either making the wrong decisions, or not being able to perhaps be the best at what you do.

“But that's obviously clearly not the case there, he's performing well. So it is very difficult, because you want your parent to be your parent, and have a good relationship. But when business is involved, it makes it really difficult.”

Kevin Magnussen, who like Verstappen is the son of a former F1 driver, also questioned the close involvement of parents.

The Haas driver said he asked father, Jan, not to play a role in managing him during his F1 career which began in 2014.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team and Jan Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team and Jan Magnussen

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz / Motorsport Images

“I think very early on my career I've made it very clear to my dad that I didn't want his influence,” he said.

“I think he had to adjust to that, but I was very, very clear that I wanted this to be my journey, my project. He had his own career, so he should focus on that.

“And he's been super good at that. I tried to learn from my dad as much as possible, and it's been a real privilege to have him to really feed off and then learn from and ask questions all the way through my life.

“But the when it comes to actually going racing and taking care of my own career, I didn't want his influence. I've had my own team of people, I haven't asked my dad, I've just done my own thing. So I think that's worked well.”

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