Lewis Hamilton: Life In The Fast Lane Review

Never let it be said that film, television and DVD publishing companies will let an opportunity pass them by. In fact, if you were ever to say such a thing, a Grimly Serious figure in a long coat and a way with a straight-jacket would have you interred in a padded cell before you can trip over the Lewis Hamilton books, discs and invitations to tribute shows. A Night With Lewis Hamilton can't be far off, in which ITV host Hamilton driving around a stage telling anecdotes about his rookie season while Kate Garraway, Vernon Kay and Matthew Wright look on and Shayne Ward guests by performing an acapella version of the old BBC theme for Grand Prix, Fleetwood Mac's The Chain.

Released today (15 October), this, to use an F1 analogy, arrives in pole position a week before the final race of the season, one in which Lewis Hamilton, a mere four points clear of Fernando Alonso, stands a chance of winning the F1 championship in his rookie year. Hoping to take advantage of the goodwill that was grown up around Hamilton this year, Warner Music Entertainment have bundled together a seventy-minute series of home movies, archive clips and interviews that will be sitting proud on supermarket shelves this week and, should he win in Brazil, even more proud in the week after.

100% Unoffical it says on the cover, which will mean that we hear only a little more of Lewis Hamilton than we do the Queen. However, that's not to say that this is a rather ramshackle affair. On the contrary, it's reasonably well-made with ready access to home movies of Lewis Hamilton watching karting races on television with his dad and stepmother, ready access to videos of Lewis Hamilton doing his sums in school and on Blue Peter demonstrating his control of a remote control car to John Leslie. Knowing what one knows now about John Leslie - an intensely sexual being, according to Star Stories, who featured him carrying a suitcase of dildos, whips and gimp masks - there's the urge to shout, "Run away from the pervert!" at little Lewis Hamilton but it's a mercifully brief clip as, one hopes, so too was Lewis' involvement with Leslie.

Of course, the real interest in Lewis Hamilton begins with him on the karting circuit and Life In The Fast Lane features interviews with many of those who, outside of his family, who made him a success on the track, including Martin Hines of Zip Kart Young Guns Team and his best friend of the time, or so it says here, Alex Lloyd. We see little Lewis at a black tie event saying how he would like to race for McLaren one day - fortune clearly shines on some more than others - and kneeling behind the trophies that he picked up during each season. After karting, it's on to British Formula Renault, European Formula Three and the GP2 championship but rather than claiming that Lewis had a golden touch in whatever car he was driving, Life In The Fast Lane explains how Hamilton struggled to find form before his competitors stumbled, the weather turned and he found success. What stands out in this is that these same competitors only have good words about Hamilton both on and off the track.

Only last year, Hamilton joined McLaren when a vacancy arose alongside defending champion Fernando Alonso. This, and events thereafter, are honoured by interviews with motorsport journalists Bob Constanduros, Bob Jones and Sam Collins who don't take each race in turn but the highlights of Hamilton's remarkable first season, from his being announced as a member of the McLaren team to his successes on the track. Unfortunately, not only do we hear nothing of Hamilton in this but we also fail to hear anything from McLaren or its owner Ron Dennis. The little we hear from Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill don't quite make up for these obvious omissions. Thanks to their rush to get this in the shops, Life In The Fast Lane misses the drama of the Chinese Grand Prix. One wouldn't be surprised if a post-championship update follows next weekend's race in Brazil. If not, titles will surely follow, one official and very many that are not.

Lewis Hamilton has caught the interest of the public due to many reasons, not least that he's a rookie, has the kind of innate talent that is evident to those who would struggle to know what a steering wheel is and is British, but I suspect that foremost amongst these is that he seems like a thoroughly decent sportsman whose family is still closely involved in his career and who clearly revels in the sport of F1 than the circus that surrounds it. As such, he has gained the kind of popularity that eluded Jensen Button and David Coulthard and if he should win this weekend, he will not only have deserved the success but will be a popular champion. Hamilton's family, if not actually interviewed for Life In The Fast Lane, are praised throughout for the sacrifices made for Lewis' career but, at the same time, avoiding alienating other families. Whether or not that continues with, one hopes, his success this weekend remains to be seen but I doubt this will be the last word on its subject.


Produced on video and, by being destined for DVD, falling some way short of the quality demanded by the main broadcast television companies, this is far from being an impressive release with the interviews, archive footage and home movies only looking as good as how they were first filmed. In the case of the snippet of Blue Peter we see, that looks to have been sourced from an old videotape discovered by the BBC on request while the trackside footage is credited to Sky News, ITN and Pit Lane Productions. Otherwise, Life In The Fast Lane looks exactly like a direct-to-DVD production ought to look - clean, certainly, but soft and lacking in detail. The PCM Stereo soundtrack is fine but nothing to get worked up about. There's a very small amount of separation between the left and right channels and it's clean enough but is nothing terribly exciting. However, the dialogue is perfectly clear, as is the sound that accompanies the archive footage, meaning that one never has a problem understanding what it is that's being said.


There are no extras on this DVD.

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 01:10:22

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