Lewis Hamilton is surrounded by fresh questions over his commitment to new team Mercedes after he reportedly paid £20 million for a brand new Bombardier CL-600 private jet.
The plane, essentially a modified passenger airliner, boasts reclining leather seats, bedding, a bar and more than one plasma television screen. The 2008 World Champion is believed to have purchased the aircraft in order to continue seeing long-term girlfriend and X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger, a previous split in their relationship coming after an argument over separation during Lewis’ hectic race schedule.
However, the move has prompted both praise and criticism alike from fans. Some have welcomed his decision, seeing it as a positive effort from the Stevenage-born 28 year old to maintain as normal a social life as possible. Others have raised questions over the apparent distraction of his sometimes erratic partnership.
Chief amongst these worries is the effect of time away from the team on Lewis. Jetting around the world between races will take precious time away from working with the team and keeping at the peak of physical fitness; who can forget that woeful 2011 season when Lewis last allowed his private life to interfere with his work activities? Comments on the source of his wealth linked a supposed tax rebate to the ‘spare change’ used by Hamilton to buy the aircraft, but with a £60 million retainer via his Mercedes contract he appears to have the cash to hand.
On several forums fans stepped forward to defend the Brit, citing his bravery behind the wheel and continued success as evidence enough of his having earned the benefits now brought his way.
It is unknown whether Mercedes management will make a comment, but it is thought unlikely as the purchase and motive behind it has little to do with Lewis’ racing passion.
Mercedes unveil the F1W04 in the Jerez pitlane on Monday morning before Nico Rosberg becomes the first man to drive the new car when testing begins at the Spanish track on Tuesday.