Lewis Hamilton has spoken of his excitement at joining a consortium in a bid to buy Chelsea, calling it “one of the greatest opportunities” as Formula 1’s most successful driver aims to help the club “move forwards”.
As revealed by Sky News on Thursday, Hamilton is one of the investors backing Sir Martin Broughton’s attempt to acquire the west London club and is understood to have committed £10m to the bid.
Tennis legend Serena Williams is also among the backers of the Broughton consortium, spearheaded by the former Liverpool chairman.
Speaking to the media for the first time since his involvement was made public, a passionate Hamilton confirmed his interest on Friday.
“Ultimately, I’m a sporting fan,” he told reporters at the Emilia Romagna GP.
“It’s the biggest sport in the world and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and one of the most successful. When I heard about this opportunity I was like, ‘Wow’, this is one of the greatest opportunities to be a part of something.”
Hamilton has said many times before he is an Arsenal fan – but explained his love for Chelsea on Thursday.
“I know when you watch sports there’s always a crazy rivalry between one team and another,” he told Sky Sports. “I don’t really hold that hostility within my personality.
“I love seeing people excel, I’ve been to quite a few Arsenal and Chelsea games because my uncle is a massive Blues fan, so there’s been that kind of rivalry in the family all my life.
“This is a business opportunity, an incredible opportunity to be a part of the biggest sport in the world and one of the biggest teams in the world.”
He added on his footballing roots: “I’ve been a football fan since I was a kid, I’ve played since I was a kid, from four to 17 in teams every year. I played every year through childhood, I’ve been to numerous games.
“When I was young, around the corner from where I lived, I used to play football with all the kids and a couple of my close friends at the time, and I really wanted to fit in. I was the only kid of colour there.
“All the kids supported someone different – one was Tottenham, one was Man United and I remember switching between these teams when I was younger and when I’d get home my sister punching me several times in the arm, and saying, ‘you have to support Arsenal.’
“So I remember at five, six years old I then became a supporter of Arsenal but my uncle Terry is a big Blues fan, so I’ve been to so many games with him to watch Arsenal and Chelsea play.”
Hamilton on Williams involvement and Chelsea hopes
Broughton is leading one of three remaining bids for Chelsea after Roman Abramovich put the club up for sale.
Hamilton said he and Williams were “constantly in touch” after being contacted by Broughton about the opportunity – which he insists is “very much aligned” with his values.
“We did speak about it – Serena and I are very, very close,” said the 37-year-old. “She’s a phenomenal athlete and woman. She asked me what my thoughts were on it and I told her that I’m going to be a part of it and she decided to join.
“Naturally I heard about it in the news, everyone was obviously aware of it. I got contacted and Sir Martin took time to speak to me on the phone and explain his and his team’s goals if they were able to win the bid that was incredibly exciting and it very much aligned with my values.
“As a kid, I remember collecting all the stickers and getting the books with trading cards – I remember filling all those up as a kid and trading them for pennies, for sweets, with other kids.
“When I was younger I was trying to actually play for a team, try out for Stevenage but I ended up following racing.
“I could have only ever dreamed being a part of the team, an integral part of the team, so that’s for me the most exciting thing.”
Questioned on Chelsea’s previous owners’ human rights, Hamilton said “we’re trying to acquire a team and move it forwards.”
“It’s all about the community,” he explained. “That’s what really makes a football team, the people in and around it.
“They’ve been quite leading in their work in D&I, becoming more diverse and progressive. It’s not that we’re associating ourselves with previous owners, our goal is to continue the work they’ve already done, having more of an impact and engaging more with the community.”
Hamilton continued to Sky Sports: “They’ve already done lots in anti-racial campaigns, antisemitism. There’s a lot of core values they have that are aligned with mine and I hope over time I can be more and more involved.”
Would Hamilton be ‘hands-on’ if Chelsea bid succeeds?
It is understood that Hamilton and Williams would have no say on football matters, although the seven-time F1 champion is keen to get increasingly more “hands-on” over time should the bid succeed – particularly once his racing career is over.
“At the moment my primary main focus is continuing in Formula 1 and this isn’t my first business venture or investment,” he said. “I’m for sure not going to be as hands-on as some of the other people that are a part of it.
“We haven’t won it yet but if we do, there’s lots of opportunities to get involved more and more over time, which is exciting, and particularly beyond racing, wanting to help with the success they’ve already had and help them become even more successful.”
Hamilton was also questioned about Chelsea’s recent financial losses.
“That’s never an idea of an investment,” he said. “Firstly the investment to be a part of something as big as this is the exciting thing. Of course then it’s a business venture.
“But through the discussions we’ve had, how the team plan to manage the team moving forward and improve that, making sure we slowly decrease those losses and turn it into a profit-making organisation, that’s going to take a lot of work as there’s so many moving parts.
“The consortium is made up of lifetime Chelsea fans and others who have come to it later in life. There’s not anyone that’s a part of that consortium that’s in the mindset of losing. I think Chelsea already have that mindset but we can do better.”