Picture the scene. It’s late evening. Having just finished a heavy session in the gym on top of an all-day office stint, a guy in his mid-twenties sits in the lounge of his apartment in the UK. It’s raining outside, and the TV flickers in the background; illuminating the room. His focus is entirely on his laptop, and the endlessly growing list of emails and invoices awaiting replies and payments. It’s a far cry from the glamour and drama of a motorsport paddock, but it’s the warts-and-all reality for most jobbing racing drivers. This is the reality too for Nicolas Hamilton.
Logging laptop hours instead of lap times on track is an inescapable evil for all drivers chasing that illusive all-expenses-paid drive. The hours spent working with sponsors, chasing suppliers, and squeezing the value from every last penny, pail into insignificance compared to the mere minutes spent hitting apexes on track.
It’s not without reason that the 26 year old’s name might sound familiar. The surname-led shadow of his brother, Lewis, looms large. Having recently inked a three year, £40million-a-season deal with Mercedes, the quadruple F1 champion became Britain's biggest sporting earner, as well as the best-paid driver in Formula One history. For Lewis the streets of Singapore, Monaco and Shanghai are now as familiar as his old hometown of Stevenage. Not so for Nic.
While Lewis’ singular and meteoric rise through to motorsports pinnacle is well documented, Nic’s story is very different, but no less spellbinding. Born with Cerebral Palsy – a movement disorder which affects muscle tone and motor skills – Nic was told from an early age that he would be confined to a wheel chair for life and would never walk.
Against all odds in 2011, aged 19, Nic climbed un-aided into the cockpit of a Renault Clio Cup car to make his debut in the UK-based single make championship. Four years later, in 2015, Nic then became the first ever disabled driver to compete in the British Touring Car Championship, at the wheel of a 350bhp Audi S3.
Yet a further two years down the road, in 2017, it was nearly all over. Now, armed solely with his laptop and an undeniably winning smile, it’s back to the start line. Again.
“Motorsport has been everything to me, but at then end of 2017 I was ready to give up. I had all of my content written up to deliver to everyone to say that I was out; I was done; I’m finished; thank you for all your support,” explained Nic. “I couldn’t bring myself to send it out though – despite the way I felt. I didn’t want to give in. I never have, and I wasn’t about to do it then.