Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, expressed his delight at being part of a team attempting to buy Premier League club Chelsea.
Hamilton and American tennis player Serena Williams could each contribute up to £10 million as part of a partnership run by former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton, an offer Hamilton felt was too good to pass up.
The British driver, a longtime supporter of rival London club Arsenal, spoke of his love for the sport since he was a child ahead of this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
“Ultimately, I’m a sporting fan. It is the biggest sport in the world and Chelsea is one of the biggest clubs in the world and most successful,” Hamilton said on Friday.
“And when I heard about this opportunity, I was like, ‘Wow, this is this is one of the greatest opportunities to be a part of something so, so great.'”
“When I was younger, I was trying to be the best player I could be and actually play for a team, but then I ended up following racing,” he added.
“As a kid, I could have only ever dreamed of being part of a team and an actual integral part of a team, so that’s for me one of the most exciting things.”
Former Liverpool and British Airways chairman Martin Broughton and World Athletics president Sebastian Coe are leading the proposal, which is one of three remaining in the running to buy the club.
And it was Broughton who encouraged Hamilton to join the consortium, according to Hamilton.
“Well, naturally I heard about it in the news, everyone’s obviously aware of it.”
“…and yeah, we were contacted and Sir Martin spoke to me on the phone and explained his and his team’s goals for if they were to win the bid, which was incredibly exciting and it was very much aligned with my values,” the seven-time world champion said.
In turn, Hamilton was able to persuade Williams, who owns a minority investment in the Miami Dolphins NFL team.
“We spoke multiple times. Serena and I are very close, so we’re constantly in touch,” he said.
“You know, she’s a phenomenal athlete and woman.”
“We spoke about it, 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 was excited to join.”
One group, led by American billionaire Todd Boehly, a part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is bidding for Chelsea, while the other is led by Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca and Canadian businessman Larry Tanenbaum.
The Raine Group, a New York-based merchant bank, has been handling the selling process, which Abramovich began last month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the oligarch has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom and the European Union for his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his assets, including Chelsea, have been blocked.
Hamilton stated that the consortium in which he is a member is unsure of its chances of winning. He did say, though, that if they do win, they already have plans in place for how to move the football club forward.
Promoting diversity is one of them. Hamilton, the only African-American driver in Formula One, has long utilised his prominence to become an anti-racist crusader.
“The part that we’re all very aligned in is DNI (diversity and inclusion), for example, and what they (the club) have already done there,” Hamilton said.
“You’re seeing that in the sport, there is still a lot of work to be done to being more diverse and more inclusive.”
“It’s an amazing platform to bring in and educate a lot of the amazing fans that are out there,” the Mercedes F1 driver added. “and there’s some amazing talent within the team already that have really stood up against discrimination and worked very closely with the organization to move forward. And I know that’s really important for, I think, the fans of Chelsea.”
However, Hamilton is presently focused on his F1 career, where he is attempting to reclaim the title he lost to Max Verstappen last season.
“Well at the moment my primary focus is as continuing in Formula One and this isn’t my first business venture or investment,” the Mercedes driver said.
“But yeah it’s something that I’m excited about.”
“I would say early on, I’m for sure not going to be able to be hands on as the other people that are a part of it,” he added.
“But if we do win it there’s lots of opportunity to get involved more and more over time, which is super exciting and particularly beyond racing, wanting to help with the success they’ve already had and help it be even more successful.”