Up close and personal with Nicolas Hamilton
Most people, whether they are into their motorsport or not will know the name “Hamilton”. First and foremost there’s Lewis who is a 3 time Formula One world champion, and following in his footsteps is his younger brother Nicolas - who is certainly no stranger to the circuit himself!
Competing in the 2015 British Touring Car Championships and Renault Clio Cup back in 2011 and 2012 – Nic has had his fair share of experiences on the track and knows full well the ups and downs of being a young driver like the rest of us! We managed to collar him at the Silverstone Classic Preview day, for a few words on what it was like for him when he took his driving test, and how his behaviour differs when he is putting his foot down on the raceway.
Hi Nic! Could you tell us what age you were when you first got into motorsport?
I started when I was 19 so I was quite late! My first season was in 2011, so only 6 years ago. I was quite a latecomer but it’s been a fantastic journey so far and I’m just trying to carry on the story and keep moving forward.
How old were you when you passed your driving test and how long did it take for you to pass?
My driving test was in 2009 so I would have been 17! It was probably about a month after my birthday when I passed. I was a pretty quick learner and passed first time so I was lucky!
Wow a month? Go you J and what was the hardest part about passing for you? Was there anything in particular you struggled with?
Well I wasn’t very good at parallel parking so that was a part of the test I was dreading, but instead I got reverse around a corner so I got really lucky with that one! I wouldn’t say I struggled with anything specific – probably starting was roundabouts, which I found a nightmare because they are so busy and I wasn’t sure when to go and I hesitated a lot etc. Once you’re driving on your own that’s when you really start learning to drive. You make mistakes even when you’ve passed and sometimes it’s just better to get in the car and learn as you go along.
Yep we couldn’t agree more, and driving on public roads is an extremely different style of driving compared to on the track wouldn’t you say?
Yes definitely! The road is a dangerous place, so many changes to conditions and surface changes, plus the cars are generally built for the road they’re not built to go fast - some supercars are obviously, but the road is still very dangerous. On the race circuit, cars are built for that because you have a full harness, helmet, race suit, roll cage, and slick tyres, so if you’re going to go fast - the safest place to be is on a circuit.
Have you got any advice for young drivers in general?
My advice is definitely do not race on the roads… so many people die every day. Literally just have fun but behave basically! Enjoying your independence is the biggest thing when you pass, the freedom to be able to drive whenever you want, but you just have to be safe whilst doing it.
Very true indeed, we’re all about the safety aspect of driving! To be honest I’m quite surprised you passed your normal driving test before you got into racing! Have you got any words for someone young who may be looking to get into motorsport?
Motorsport is a very tough industry to get into, the sad thing is it costs a lot and is expensive! It’s not like getting some swimming trunks and going swimming with a pair of goggles! But there is no harm in going down to your local car circuit – there’s a lot of companies that now have great circuits for karting so you can just go in and start learning the basics of motorsport. If you do get into it, just enjoy it and try not to think of it too much as a career, just go there and have some fun because you never know what’s going to happen! You might get picked up and someone might be willing to help you, or you might be mega talented and create your own career, but firstly it comes from passion. You’ve got to be passionate about it and just go there for fun – that’s how I started and you never know where it’s going to take you.