HILTON CHECKS IN AGAIN WITH VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES
Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain: The Spanish Grand Prix this weekend marks the beginning of the intensive 20 week European leg of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship, which reaches a climax in Italy on Sunday 14th September.
What do the next 140 days hold for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen? Well there will be 128 working days across 11 countries, of which 84 the drivers will be on the road with the team (it might however end up being 83 or 85). The remaining 12 days are holiday during the August break.
Yes, it really is that frenetic for everyone involved in Formula 1, be they a driver, team member, journalist or supporter.
With this in mind, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is delighted to announce an extension to its Partnership with Hilton Hotels, the world's best known hotel brand. This sees a continuation of the successful Corporate Partnership that began at the Belgian Grand Prix in 2005.
Shortly after the extension was finalised, we caught up with Lewis to discuss how he handles the travelling demands of his job.
Lewis, as we have explained above, your schedule creates the need to a lot of travelling. How do you cope with this?
"I'm very fortunate in that I have what I regard to be the best job in the world, I get to race the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car for a living! To do that takes me round the world, yes there are a lot of journeys, a lot of different Hilton hotels to stay in, I'm rarely in one place for more than a week at a time, but I'm doing my dream job and all this is an integral part of that. It is important to be somewhere comfortable and familiar so you just relax into it and it becomes a home away from home. There is so much going on when you are at the track, it is crucial when you go back to your hotel in the evening to have the space and a good atmosphere to allow you to prepare both mentally and physically for the race.".
What do you do to relax when you are away from home?
"To relax I always have my music, it is an important part of my life and really helps me to switch off. I couldn't name you any tune in particular, it depends on my mood, I might put some Bob Marley on, some Jay-Z, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, 2Pac. When I get into my Hilton hotel room, the first thing I do is switch my tunes on. We're fortunate to have Hilton as a Partner, and they are integral to the team. They understand and support what works for us and make that part of my live very easy We always make sure I am staying somewhere that works, that is comfortable, has good proximity to the circuit and so on.
Where are you staying this weekend?
"This weekend I am staying in the Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona. It's great for getting into the track, it's close to the sea, which is always very relaxing and helps focus your mind. It has a very modern feel to it, it's my kind of style. When I checked in on Wednesday, a tiny Spanish kid in our mini overalls came up to me and asked me for my autograph, he was a pretty cool dude."
Do you ever have the opportunity to sightsee when you are away with the team?
"Not really, we are in these countries for a very concise amount of time around the race. Some places like Montreal when you are based in the city you get more of a feel for it. The flyaways at the start of the season also give you an opportunity. For example after the Australian race last year we had some time before the next event at Malaysia and I spent this in the area beforehand. Primarily it gives you time to acclimatise and train in the area, so we are always still working, but also you can have a bit of an explore. We started the break in Bangkok and I stayed at the Millennium Hilton. It's a beautiful hotel, very stylish and welcoming. You have a great view of the city. I really enjoyed my time there and would go back."
The 20 weeks of the European season will see Lewis;
Race in Barcelona (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Montreal (Canada), the Loire Valley (France), Silverstone (UK), Heidelberg (Germany), Budapest (Hungary), Valencia (Spain), Spa (Belgium) and Monza (Italy). "If I had to pick a favourite, I would say Monaco. I really enjoy street circuits."
That's 11 circuits over three continents. "In addition to Monaco, this middle stretch of the season also sees some of the best corners on the calendar such as turn 8 at Turkey and Eau Rouge at Spa."
Three continents? Yes, Canada in North America and Istanbul sits on the Europe-Asia border. The circuit is in Asia but Lewis will be staying at the Conrad Istanbul which is in Europe. "Fantastic race track, terrible journey across the Bosphorous."
Go testing at six circuits across Europe. Paul Ricard (France), Barcelona and Jerez (Spain), Silverstone (UK), Hockenheim (Germany) and Monza (Italy). "Grands Prix are the only part of the sport most people see, the testing is intensive and tough, one of many vital parts of the team."
Attend promotions in various locations around the world -- including the United Kingdom. "I am looking forward to getting the chance to spend some time meeting my home fans over the next few months."
Stay in at least 24 hotels - there are more than 3000 Hilton Hotels in the world - across the above locations. "After all these years of travelling, I have perfected the art of travelling light."