8 April 2020
8 April 2020
Lewis Hamilton is used to being the centre of attention. But he was more than happy to share the spotlight with F1 teammate Valtteri Bottas, and the Mercedes-Benz VISION EQS luxury concept vehicle, at a special Mercedes me Store Melbourne evet
While the Formula 1-loving audience had undoubtedly turned out on Grand Prix eve to hear directly from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport teammates, and especially six-time world champion Hamilton, the arrival of the VISION EQS drew gasps of surprise, not only because it was driven onto the adjacent Rialto forecourt by the very stars they had come to see.
A jaw-dropping concept car
The VISION EQS concept is a showstopper in virtually every respect, from its lusciously curved surfaces that are said to hint at future Mercedes-Benz design, to the futuristic lighting and cool, blue-lit interior with sumptuous white leather seats that is reminiscent of a luxury yacht.
With its futuristic appearance, fully electrified drivetrain and plush opulence for four passengers, it is believed to be the best look yet at the direction expected for an electrified version of the range-topping S-Class model.
After parking and stepping out of the priceless concept car – the only one of its type in the world – and posing for photos, Hamilton and Bottas joined event host and F1 journalist/commentator Tom Clarkson on the stage, who wasted no time asking the duo about their flashy ride to the venue from the team hotel.
"It’s a prototype, but it goes and it brakes. I think it looks beautiful,” said Hamilton with a grin.
After recently announcing his intention to reduce his own carbon footprint as much as possible, Hamilton has taken delivery of a Mercedes-Benz EQC, the company’s first all-electric series production vehicle, and declared himself a huge fan.
“Every race I go to, I have an EQC, which I love. It’s exciting to see what comes next, and (the EQS) is coming up in the next year or so,” he said.
Bottas was also enthused to see the production version of the EQS. “The first time I saw it, I thought it was really amazing,” he said. “It’s not actually that far away, but it’s a look into the future and it’s so impressive.”
Life off the track for the F1 teammates
The drivers also detailed some of their off-season activities, with Bottas splitting his time between doing some rally driving in his native Finland and road cycling in both Europe and Australia, while Hamilton was the recipient of a very special invitation – to ride Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP bike.
“It gives you a respect and an appreciation for what the riders do,” Hamilton said. “I mean, it was already very high, but once you experience it, the bike is incredible.
“Seeing the shifts going up, the bike continues to pull, you’re ducking down as soon as you lift up, you get the wind on your chest and you’re nearly blown off the bike at 200-plus miles per hour (320km/h). It’s amazing.”
Another off-season highlight for Hamilton was the Laureus awards, at which Hamilton shared the marquee Sportsperson of the Year award with soccer star Lionel Messi.
“I’ve always avoided award ceremonies. It’s OK when you have to do a Q&A, but when you have to go out and give a speech it’s the worst feeling ever,” he joked.
“But honestly, just being in the room, and seeing up on the big screen who else was there, the greats who had won it before, it was a real honour to receive it.
“The best part of it was just watching afterwards, all these great athletes getting up and sharing their stories of where they come from, I was so inspired by it and I think that’s a great thing – sport really can help change people’s lives.”
By Steve Colquhoun