Two million pounds. That’s how much HarperCollins are believed to have paid for the rights to the Lewis Hamilton autobiography.
It should give them enormous clout when it comes to shifting copies and put “My Story” well ahead of the seven other Hamilton books going on sale before Christmas.
But is it actually any good?
Let’s start with the obvious point – many people who read F1 Fanatic had probably heard of Hamilton before he made his Formula 1 debut.
If HarperCollins really did pay that much for his story, and need to sell over 105,000 copies before they start making any money on it, then they need to sell the book to casual fans.
They enlisted Timothy Collings to do the ghostwriting – a man with several fine F1 titles to his name including “Team Schumacher”, “Eddie Jordan: The Biography” and “The Piranha Club”. But it’s clear Collings’ brief was to write a book with mass-market appeal, and not just for F1Fanatic-readers.
It’s less clear exactly how much time Collings spent interviewing Hamilton because much of the material has a very familiar ring. This is the third book on Hamilton I’ve read (the others being “A Dream Comes True” and “The Story So Far”) and this adds little new detail.
An interesting revelation which has already garnered some press attention is that the junior Hamilton was briefly expelled from school, apparently mistakenly, and his parents waged a campaign to have him reinstated which, eventually he was.
I thought the author might have made more of this because it suggested an obvious comparison with the investigation into McLaren over the Ferrari spy scandal this year – a crime which Hamilton apparently paid no part in and yet one his team suffered for.
This example illustrates a wider problem with the book – it doesn’t hang together at all, there are no themes, no ideas and there’s no passion. It’s just a sober, box-ticking re-telling of everything that’s happened to him from which the reader gleans virtually no deeper understanding of Hamilton.
This is an enormous let-down. Of all the interviews, opinion pieces and studies that created the saturation coverage of Lewis Hamilton, this book was the sole piece that might actually have told us something about him.
From outside the cockpit he looks dedicated, ruthless, fast, uncompromising. Where have these traits come from? Himself? McLaren? His idolisation of Ayrton Senna? His father?
The latter is a strange character within these pages – permanently on-hand in the opening chapters to buy Hamilton his next remote controlled car and, later, kart. But although Hamilton says of his podium finish at Melbourne, “There’s one thing I can do that makes my dad smile and this is it,” (on the face of it a deeply poignant line) it’s impossible to judge how far Hamilton’s phenomenal drive comes from within and how far Anthony has pushed him.
Hamilton does at least grasp the Fernando Alonso nettle and state what he claims he tried to do to thaw the frosty relations between the pair. Along with noting how repeatedly Ron Dennis urged him to make Alonso feel welcome, he gives some insight into the conversations between the pair – and how fruitless they were.
There is the inescapable air of the cynical cash-in about this book, as there inevitably will be about all the books about Hamilton that appear the shelves of book stores before. That the introduction warns “it is an account of my career to date rather than an autobiography of my life,” is the first warning, and the official F1-logo aping graphics, wide margins and large text ram the message home.
It’s not a complete waste of time. But it is a gigantic missed opportunity. And I can’t help but wonder that some of the other unofficial books on him yet to come might not actually give a greater insight into the phenom named Lewis Hamilton.
Lewis Hamilton with Timothy Collings
27 comments on ““My Story” (Hamilton, 2007)”
11th November 2007, 10:18
The Hamilton Story. Is there one, for it to be sufficient for about a dozen odd books to be launched? Not trying to discredit Hamilton. He worked hard to get where he did. I think Ron helped him a lot(financial support for over a decade), and there are more than a few of the guys on the grid who made it without any assistance. I guess, that still does not take away much from him. He is a fast driver.
However, i think, Mosley was right to say, that much has been made over Hamilton(mania). The boy compares himself and thinks of himself no less than a Senna, Schumacher or Prost. Think he needs to get his head straight. Win a championship or two and then, why ever not. Books, for that matter, whatever he wishes to do. But the kid need to get his head out in sunshine and smell the roses. He is a racer and the day he is not winning, it’s all over. For all those who think that this is not objective, just think! How do you lose, perhaps the biggest ever lead, going to the last 2 remaining races in the year?
He needs to stop talking, about how he has become a superstar? How, he is going to win next year the championship? How, he has learned so much this year? I think it’s about time, he gets his head down, and just race. About time!
11th November 2007, 10:44
Isn’t it a bit too early for 20 something guy to write an autobiography ? He must have been somewhere half way through his 1st season in F1 when the work on the book have started… I would not even consider buying a book like that…
9th March 2011, 17:38
Dude, Justin Bieber has an autobiography! It’s the thing all the cool kids (literally) do these days :)
11th November 2007, 12:46
I want to read a book written by Hamilton, but not now. When he is mutltiple world champion, like Rossi, then I will consider it, when he is where Coultard or Brundle are now, experienced old hands. That is when I will buy a book on him.
11th November 2007, 13:11
Who is going to buy this book? What does he have to tell?
I am an Alonso supporter but I am not going to buy the autobiography of somebody with many things still to do, and he is 2 times world champion.
What Hamilton has done to deserve a book, and 2 million pounds? Does he have won something?
If, at least, he would tell about his life as a young driver, with all his troubles, but he can not do that, cause he has not suffered that problems. His problems are of superstar, the Paris Hilton of F1.
Somebody should advise him better.
11th November 2007, 14:17
“Two million pounds. That’s how much HarperCollins are believed to have paid for the rights to the Lewis Hamilton autobiography. It should give them enormous clout when it comes to shifting copies and put “My Story” well ahead of the seven other Hamilton books going on sale before Christmas.”
Look, the reason for a twenty year old writing a biography is right there. Why should he sit back and let seven other books (a) tell his story (wrongly, potentially) and (b) make money off his back? I’m sure he doesn’t need the cash, but that’s no reason to sit back and let other people make money from your name by telling your story.
11th November 2007, 16:27
I do like hamilton – but a biography at 20 – no way will I buy it – wonder which paper is going to do the serialisation?
inevitable nowadays – but the thing is that the great public’s interest in all things seems to be short time – hence boy band bio’s etc – party politicians with sound bites – keep it short and simple – used to be that was the european view on the american public – but it’s here as well – just get jackie stewarts biog instead for xmas and enjoy a mans story
11th November 2007, 18:17
To be honest, I’m not interested in what Hamilton could have to tell us in his book. Probably he thought to win the Championship giving his fans a good reason to buy the book. But even if he won the Championship, it would not have be so interesting to read his feelings after just a year in Formula 1.
Alianora La Canta
11th November 2007, 22:14
I don’t think this money-chasing is going to do the publishers much good. I’ve already encountered one unofficial Hamilton book in the shops (not reviewed here, so probably worse than the one that got 0 out of 5 a short time ago!). I can’t remember the subtitle or the authors (other than there were two on the cover, neither of whom I recognised). The book was £4 and the poor bookshop still couldn’t get rid of them!
11th November 2007, 22:34
It was a gamble and HarperCollins didn’t win it. If Lewis Hamilton had won they would have made back the 2mil easy, but he didn’t win the championship and so they will have a hard time shifting it.
12th November 2007, 8:59
The idea of a guy 6 years younger than me writing an autobiography makes me feel kind of old.
12th November 2007, 9:00
i no what i want for xmas!
i think the point of the book is to show how he got into formula 1.
12th November 2007, 11:06
I can understand the desire to get a book out while his popularity is high and therefore it’s most likely he would sell a load of books at the moment – but morally it’s just wrong.
If he has any kind of self belief in his abilities then he should have put this aside and concentrated on becoming a multiple world champion and then release a book – one with a story that’s worth reading.
On the other hand it must be hard to take that all these other books are out which are cashing in on your name and your life, so I can understand why he would want a share of that.
12th November 2007, 18:01
He is proving a greedy boy! Where will he stop?
12th November 2007, 20:47
the guy has already been champion in every thing leading up to f1 so why shouldn’t he bring out a book? if you were in his shoes what would you do?
hamilton will be world champion one day and i have no doubt in my mind and if im honest i’d be very very proud of myself if i was a formula 1 driver and had done so well in my rookie season i’d want people to no my background and see how i got there.
maybe it is about money but who cares? if i had the chance i’d do it to!
13th November 2007, 11:51
“That the introduction warns ‘it is an account of my career to date rather than an autobiography of my life'”
Wonder how many Autobiographies he’ll be writing in the years to come :D
13th November 2007, 19:30
I am currently in Iraq. I am very fond of Mr. Lewis. I enjoyed watching all his races and I am very thrilled at his first season finish with Mercedez Benz. What about the Soldiers serving in Iraq? I could not get any tickets for next years race, the tickets are sold out……Mr. Lewis is the best and the next TIGER WOODS of car racing………….
13th November 2007, 20:44
Scary thing happened had an e’m from Mclaren asking if I was interested in a signed copy of Lewis’s bio(cv?) – well I still coudn’t see the worth in it apart from in the years too come?? – it may be collectable?? – maybe for my 3yr old grandson maybe – I hope that I am proved through time that he is one of the greats – but that will take a long time – especially after Schummi’s practise today
28th November 2007, 14:19
I am a huge Lewis-fan from Holland. I have read this book and I know there are lots of books about Lewis available now.
I am looking for a complete list of “Hamilton-books” available.
Can anyone help me ?
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
28th November 2007, 14:20
Hi Marco – you’ll find it here:
Best gifts for F1 fans: Books (2/5)
1st October 2008, 12:19
Daniel Prentice and family we are in the book lewis s fans i am wearing the pink hat
the book is great i am in it
9th March 2011, 17:26
Wow..there always seems to be an air of resentment when you keith talk about Lewis.
-Its always been obvious that you are not one who likes the lad very much. Your assessments of him always inc a few personal snipes.
IF that is the case, its a shame that you cant remain professionally impartial.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
9th March 2011, 17:28
This book’s rubbish.
I’ve got nothing against Lewis Hamilton.
10th March 2011, 1:29
I can’t see any ‘personal snipes’ in this article at all. The only thing I’ve gathered from this article is that I won’t be buying this book. :)
Miss Chief (@miss-chief)
10th March 2011, 3:14
I wouldn’t worry about it Keith, your articles always come across as fair, balanced and without bias, the whole reason I come here and follow you on Twitter. There’s always fanbois, some, usually Teflonso’s and Schueys are more vociferos than others, others quietly state they prefer this driver to that one. Keep it up Keith, long may your site continue.
26th February 2012, 17:16
Keith Collantine, you wouldn’t know a good book even if it was thrown in your face. This book is a good read, I found out loads about Hamilton I didn’t know before.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
27th February 2012, 8:22
It’s obviously now five years since I read the book and I don’t think I’ve picked it up once in the intervening period. Actually, no, I have, but that was when I moved house.
Whereas I’ve referred to another Hamilton biography released around the same time – Mark Hughes’ “Lewis Hamilton: The Full Story” – several times since then. I think that’s a pretty good indication of which is better.
But, as I wrote in the review, it’s not simply a case of which book has the most new information in. This one should have stood head and shoulders among the others that were released at the time because it was the only one that had access to its subject. Instead it adds only a fairly superficial level of insight into Lewis Hamilton. Which is why I regularly tell people to read “The Full Story” instead of this.
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