• Didier Coton appointed to McLaren driver’s management team
• ‘I’m positive about the season ahead,’ says optimistic Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton arrived here smiling along with the news that he had moved a step closer to the “happy bubble” he craved for last season, his worst in Formula One. Hamilton is to work with Didier Coton as he attempts to recapture the form that won him the world title in 2008. Coton is experienced in F1, most notably managing the career of the double world champion Mika Hakkinen. Hamilton and Hakkinen are good friends.
Hamilton was managed by his father, Anthony until the pair became professionally estranged in 2010. Last March Hamilton signed with Simon Fuller’s show business management company, XIX Entertainment, whose clients include David and Victoria Beckham, Andy Murray, Jennifer Lopez and Will Young.
But Hamilton’s choice was questioned by some and even described as “a disaster” by the sport’s supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, who added: “He gets to meet people that probably he wouldn’t have met and [who] have probably the wrong sort of influence on him. I think he had some personal problems during the year which affected him quite a lot. I think he didn’t appreciate how much help his dad was.”
Fuller decided that the team around Hamilton needed to be reinforced and that the driver required someone with more F1 experience.
Hamilton said: “Simon is committed to creating a team that will help me achieve my ambitions for 2012 and beyond. Didier’s appointment builds on the existing strengths of XIX and I am delighted to have him as part of the team. I’m positive about the season ahead and can’t wait to start.”
Last season a distracted Hamilton often looked a distraught figure. There were problems with other drivers on the track and rows with stewards off it. There was also a harrowing break-up with his pop star girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger; the two have since been reunited.
Meanwhile, in the same McLaren motor home, his team-mate Jenson Button was making serene progress and produced the drive of his career to win the Canadian Grand Prix in June.
For the first time in his long career at McLaren Hamilton was beaten over the season by his team-mate. Hamilton saw that Button was always accompanied by his father and old mentor, John, as well as the trainer Mikey Collier, his girlfriend, Jessica Michibata, and his manager, Richard Goddard.
Towards the end of the season, in Abu Dhabi, a philosophical-sounding Hamilton spoke of the need for “a happy bubble” around him. on Wednesday that bubble started to form.
Coton, who runs his own Aces Management company, said: “Being appointed by Simon to join the team is a great honour. I am excited to work alongside two such prestigious personalities and talents.
“XIX’s visionary approach is unique and one I believe in. I look forward to helping Lewis achieve success and developing long-term projects with Simon and his team.”
For Fuller, Coton represents the right person for him to work with following a lengthy search. He is confident Coton will help not only Hamilton but also XIX Entertainment. Fuller said: “We have ambitious plans and this shows our commitment to remain in the sport for the long term. Didier will bring knowledge and expertise to our team and I look forward to working with him.”