tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg September 4, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm EDT
announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: you are at your best when you are challenged? set the scene for me. what would make a very invigorating and challenging race for you? lewis: the challenging races are generally when we started. we did not have the best equipment. our card was fifth hand. we would start at the back of the grid and in the race, i would pick off people one by one. that is generally how i learned to overtake.
i became one of the best over takers by coming from the back every time. when i got to formula one, i would have races where i would start in the back and come through. there have been races where i have started 20th or 18th or whatever and i would come through and finish second. are the most exciting races because it is like playing chess with a different person each time you get to them and they have different temptress six. you find one driver is a bit crazy. charlie: who would that be? lewis: i'm not than going to say who it is, but they make their cars as wide as the road. knowing which one you are coming up to and going up against. you pick them off. charlie: some argue then -- that there is more technology center has ever been. take some of the skill out of the drivers' hands.
is that true? lewis: most of the comments that are made, i think people do not have the knowledge of what is going on. it is different. we do have a lot of technology and it but operating that technology is another task in itself. i would not say that it is less challenging for a driver. what you have to learn today with all of the switches and mechanics that we have, it is more challenging in the sense of -- you know, back then it was a little more physical, maybe, so they say, but today it is a lot faster. maybe it balances out. we have a lot more going on and a lot more control. a lot more aids in terms of balancing the car throughout the race. back then they do not have that. we do not have manual gears. i would not say that is the case, it is more mental today.
charlie: but you would prefer -- don't you sometimes want to go back? lewis: i am more old school. manual, yeah. if i have a car, i like a manual car. i drove that car in 1989. that had the manual gearbox. charlie: if you could make this happen and be in a race with him with those cars at that time? lewis: same car. charlie: same car? lewis: that would've been great. charlie: what would it be? lewis: for me, i can related to -- relate it to watching michael in those years. i was behind him at one point and i am driving behind him and i don't want to think this guy. -- i don't want to overtake this guy.
i'm going to sit back and enjoy it. i would imagine it would be the same. i would be happy to be behind him. the herowhy is senna rather than michael? michael won 7. senna is the guy you want to be. lewis: definitely. there have been a few championships but as a kid, senna was the first guy i noticed. he is the one who caught my eye when i was five years old watching the races on the weekends with my dad. i started to follow him and read books.
i watched his videos and like any kid would be a football player or athlete, they are magnetized to one of them. that is how i was with senna. i followed him and loved his skill and aggressive style. i believed he was right in many ways. it was a cool balance and cool approach. michael won seven championships. it was where ferrari dominated five years in a row. there were times also where his teammate gave him the win. charlie: they would lay back? lewis: no. he had done a better job that weekend and just before the finish line, he let michael pass. charley: that is what i say. he would lay back and let michael come to the forefront. lewis: i don't agree with that. they say we are a team and we are teammates.
but you have to do championships. you have to work towards helping the team win. -- he had the better of him in many scenarios. even if you didn't, the team disadvantaged him. charlie: so if he was in front of you, he would never give it up. lewis: no, i would never want that. i want to own it. if you beat me, i would want to be better and fight another day. for me, it would be a soul destroying. i know it would be a soul destroying for the other driver. but for me to know i had one by having it given to me -- charlie: you believe you are the best driver in formula one and you believe you have the best car. lewis: it is not just because of that it is the work ethic.
i don't want to have it easy. i want to be recognized as the best because the way i overtake, the way i drive the car, the way a do something different than any other driver. charlie: one year after you joined formula one, you became the world champion? one year. lewis: yes. charlie: two years. then you didn't win for a while. lewis: i didn't. most drivers to get to formula one, they usually come in in a lower team. the stressful pressure that was on us as a family having to perform every single weekend, we had to get those results. we had to win the championships. all the different strategized moves. the way we came across and presented ourselves and also representing them. we wanted to be a good report to mclaren.
they are pleasant people. they are easy-going. they work hard. we wanted to have that image. charlie: the family did? lewis: yes. my dad -- absolutely. that is what we really work on. i won the championship that first year and i knew there was a seat moving. if i win, they won't make me stay a second year. i can go to formula one. if there is a seat available, i might get it. i won the championship and i knew i had the test coming up. i was training like crazy, studying the manual to understand the car. nothing can prepare you for when you sit in the garage and struck and they strap you up. -mechanics0 engineer
are entered. it's like an orchestra how they move before you leave the garage. when you leave it, you are driving a multimillion dollar car. if you crash it, it costs a lot of money and they may not give you another chance. it's scary. charlie: you mentioned how competitive it was for you. when did you know you weren't like the other kids? that you had something? as you went from 15th to first and passed them all, you didn't have the best car. lewis: i don't really know. i just did it. charlie: did you think you had the best skill then? lewis: no. charlie: was there a moment you knew i can do this? i belong here? lewis: whenever i'm behind the wheel, that is when i feel i belong. i was never the most confident person outside the car. i was not outspoken, i was timid and shy. when i get in the car with my helmet on, it is the one place
that i knew my dad was proud of me. i struggled at school. particularly when i was go karting, i was missing days of school and i was trying to catch up always. but i struggled. i struggled so much to catch up. extra lessons and all these different things. i couldn't keep up with the workload especially when i was missing a thursday and a friday. i missed half the curriculum every year. but i knew as long as i performed on the track, i would get good grades and reports as much as i can. , my dadif i perform will have a smile on his face. charlie: now that you have performed so well in the car, in the cockpit, has a given you confidence in other areas of your life? lewis: i think so. with age, i have gained the confidence on the outside. when i got to formula one, i was never prepared for the interviews.
they were throwing curve balls that you all the time and i had no way how to respond. -- of knowing how to bet it back. there were definitely a lot of rabbit holes along the way. it has been a learning process. through the hard way. charlie: isn't it true the first years you were there that you kept placing first, second, or third? finally when you didn't place, you didn't know where to go. you are always going to the podium to be recognized. lewis: that's not true. i have grown up being further behind and there have been years we had difficult years. that was not really the case. but the first year i met mclaren who was the two-time world champion. i remember sitting and standing
-- studying. i wanted to match the sky. i believed somewhere in may was the speed to catch up with this guy. before the first race in his office, he said don't be surprised if you are happy second behind. you don't know what that did to me inside. it just boiled me inside. not because he was undervaluing me but he was not expecting me to answer to his special new guy. charlie: you said you expect to be beaten? lewis: yeah, yeah. charlie: your life is not about expecting to be beaten? lewis: no. he didn't beat me in the first
race, but i finished and after that i think they beat him and think in next -- no, i the third race, i beat him and then the championship. i begin my rookie year. charlie: you won the championship, your rookie year or -- lewis: i lost it by one point. then i had a big disastrous off , which lost me 10 points. then my car broke down and lost it by one point. but i won in the second year by one point. charlie: that could crush you? lewis: it did, it destroyed me. mentally, that was the biggest not i had ever taken. in one sense you have to remember it is your first year.
the pressure was unbelievable. the pressure i put on myself was the biggest. i put too much pressure from my dad, from my team and my expectation. i have been delivering. i got the world championship, i have not been in this position. it has been my dream since i was a little kid and i fumbled and make mistakes. it started to get away, lost slipped through my fingers and i , didn't know how to handle it. you get out of the car and i take it so personally. the pain that i felt in my heart was unbearable. straightaway you get out of the , car and you are in front of the cameras. you forget that behind those cameras is a million people watching. at the time, i was not prepared to suck it up. put on a good show. sleeve.y heart on my so, it was really, really tough. and the next year in the last race, i had to finish fifth to win the championship. the guy was right ahead of me.
there was nothing i could do to get close to him. five laps left, four laps left, three laps left. and i couldn't do anything for the life of me. to save my life. i could not overtake him. but it had been raining. he put tires on. which was a mistake. i took him at the last corner and i came across a line thinking that i had lost. my heart was the same. it came on the radio saying i was the world champion. then i burst into tears. charlie: that was what you have been dreaming since you were five years old. lewis: yes. charley: that was it. and you knew early you wanted to do that, you wanted to be a world champion. lewis: that was in brazil. i have the biggest climax really. ♪
lewis: everyone has dreams. charlie: but you pursue this? lewis: i did, but i was very, very fortunate. i have my family. all these friends i grew up with. their dads left and started new families. my dad stuck around. charlie: he gave you everything he could possibly give you? lewis: absolutely. some fathers do that but what my father did, i could never pay him back. healy thing i can do is make sure every time i'm in the car today with the opportunity he has helped create and give me i'm going to grab it with my both hands and never take it for granted. charlie: was it your family that give you the religious faith
that you have? lewis: my dad was persistent that i be catholic and go to church. other than that, my dad did not really push it on us. after that, i found it myself. it became my compass and guiding tool and to help me be and do what i am today. charlie: you are a very candid and honest guy who understands yourself. himself. there came a point where you had to make a break from your father. lewis: yes, that was one of the hardest moments ever. my father had been managing me throughout my whole life. i could never have a better manager than my dad. the reason being is he knows what i have been through and my values. values mean more to me than anything else. when it comes to presenting your
client, it is always heart. there is an incentive to make money but this was all about powertrain and what we have been working for. there was a point,, i was 23 -- there's a point, a string three, i think 23, 24 years old and had moved to a country. i was living in switzerland which my dad had advised me to do. i was lonely and in a period of time when i wanted to make my own money and my own mistakes. if my dad would continue to manage me still today, i would not be able to do that growing. i really had to do it. it started getting difficult because it went from a
father-son relationship to a different relationship. -- a business relationship. there is no hugging. there is no let's chill and watch tv. it was just work. work, work, work. i missed that and i told him i just wanted him to be my dad. just come to the races and i will make you proud. that was incredibly hard for him to take and it was hard for me to do it, to break away. it had to be a hard break at the time. it took years for us to recover. the following years were just difficult as a family and a kind of destroyed the family a little bit. that is all my dad lived and breezed so many years. it was almost like what do i do , now? you don't need me. it's like it is not that i don't , need you.
you have brought me up to be -- charlie: you wanted some sense of being in control of your life? lewis: and making my own mistakes. i know what it's like, i've been there. i would say that to my cousins. don't do that. trust me, i've done it. in some ways it is good to make the decisions and learn yourself. charlie: how hard was it for him to take it? lewis: i cannot put into words how difficult it was for him or must have been for him. he did not take it well and he did not know how to take it. as i said, that bridged the gap between us like the grand canyon. it was hard for us -- he is a very proud man. charlie: this was his dream? lewis: he was very stubborn. super, super stubborn. i'm not going to come to you and you are not going to come to me.
it took a while. but i'm much more of a giving in person, so i spent the next year's trying to go around and spend a lot of time together. christmas -- but it was just -- it was like rebuilding a house from the first brick. : rebuilding a relationship? lewis: yes. charlie: did it affect your racing? lewis: absolutely. the worst year was 2011. i lost a lot of weight to stress. you know, emotional -- and in this sport, you have to have a level head and have to be focused at all times. it's a long off-season from testing in february all the way to the last race in november. staying on point the whole way without losing focus, i lost my way big time. i had no idea how to -- charlie: he must've looked at this and said, i'm not there. look what is happening to him. lewis: absolutely.
absolutely. if i'm: see what happens not there? you need me. lewis: on many, many occasions he would say let me help and i , would say no. as difficult as it is, i have to go through this. if i don't find my way, i have you there for me. but i have got to go through this as horrible as it is. and i did. i finally got my head here. -- i got my head in gear. and i had the best year. i should have won the championship. and then in 2013, i moved. two mercedes. charlie: how did you get back with them -- where is it today? lewis: today, it is always lingering around us. i don't know if my dad has ever got over the whole thing. he still wants to be kind of --
manage. year, he came to six races. he was incredibly supportive. the first one was silverstone. which i had a difficult day. i qualified and made a mistake. he came and gave me advice and helped me get through it. then he came to a few races after that. hughes at the last race of the year where we won the championship together. point was really at the where i could go around and relax and feel good. we have been spending christmas together. it's much, much better. charlie: not perfect? he said to me that it was so painful you telling him not to come to the race. you really needed to be your own man. you had to live the life that you wanted to lead. he was playing this dual role.
not only father, but manager, partner. not only was he living his dream, but he was living your dream because your dream was his dream. lewis: absolutely. charlie i can't imagine. : lewis: i won't know what that feels like until i have kids but it was hard to tell him that. whether it is right or wrong, i did it and the whole point of standing on your own two feet. we were a solid unit. nothing could break us. no one could break us. we were good, a big strong family. charlie: tell me about being the only black family there. lewis: obviously, my stepmom is white.
we are a mixed family. dude ins the darkest the hole palette. have you seen "cool runnings?" charlie: yes. lewis: "cool runnings" is my favorite movie. when they arrive on the scene to do the practice, everyone is like what are these people doing here? that is how it was for me and my dad. we would arrive. we didn't have a trailer. we didn't have all of the equipment people had. we just have this bent car in the back of the boot. hanging out. people would turn up and just exactly like that movie. if you have not seen it, when they pull out the rugged old bobsled, things falling off of it, rusty -- charlie: that is how it was for you? lewis that's how it was for us. : it was funny. people do not want us there at the beginning.
and then you know, with the kids on the track, you get pushed off, hunted off for no reason. charlie your dad told me stories : in go karts saying you're not supposed to win. lewis: mm-hmm. i had parents come to me. other drivers' parents would say, you don't belong here. go back wherever you came from. they would say, you just don't have it. that stung so much. [laughter] as a kid, i was eight years old. i didn't know what to say to that. say thatwhat does it you survive all of that and become the world champion? lewis: as human beings, we
harness energy without even noticing it, whether it is good or bad. i think i harnessed all those experiences. at school when the teachers were negative. those parents. i the teachers were negative. i just kept it bottled inside. my dad would always say this. i would have aggression and want to push this guy over. he would say, do your talking on the track. that applied to everything. he said i could drive a four poster bed. the first go kart was like that. he went to a store and repaint of the whole thing and made it look brand-new. with remote control cars, he would sit there after work. he would take such pride in his work. putting my go kart together.
he would spend hours in the shed. i don't know what came across him. he would spend the whole night. charlie: you needed him to be there at that time? it would have been even a rougher road for you. lewis: definitely, i needed him in the beginning when i got to formula one. i fell hard. especially after 2007, my family was there and even still today, they are still there. it is different now. you have the kind of life you missed. lewis: every weekend i was racing. charlie: you had relationships
with women later in your life. lewis: i didn't have my first girlfriend until i was 18 and then i went into a long relationship. charlie: how would you describe it? you went right into a long relationship. lewis: i was in that one for four years and then fell head over heels for a another girl. he knows the pressure in the distraction. he knows everything there is to
know. he is very wary of distraction. he said that to me. i worry about him distracted. you heard that? lewis: yes, definitely. you have to imagine, for nicky it is a strange relationship we had had. we have not really met other than shaking each other's hand in 2010. he didn't have a great opinion of me. he didn't understand me, he didn't have a good -- he didn't believe what i was doing was right. charlie: this was during those years you weren't at your best? you had won the world champion. he came into 2012.
he came and sat in the kitchen and had a cup of tea. he showed me a proposal of where the team is and where they are going in the steps they are going to take to get there. i could've stayed at mcclaren, it was good money and good environment. there was no worlds i really wanted to go. they really wanted to test myself as a driver, i had to try different cara. mclaren has had world champion top drivers for years. also, i am not just another driver. i want to go somewhere else to prove myself. our can go somewhere else and be a part of it. michael was at ferrari. i wanted to have that. i wanted to get that experience so every single person said that was the worst thing you can do. mclaren went down, we went up.
charlie: then all those people said i told you so. lewis: exactly. [laughter] charlie: can you imagine -- when i say the word ferrari,what does that mean to you? lewis: very elegant car, isn't it? red. such an iconic brand. there is a bit of emotion for anyone. i would definitely mercedes is now in my dna. charlie: is there anything that is part of you that says, in some part of my life i would like to be racing the red? lewis: i was just looking. we will see if there's anything
we can learn from it. i look at the on board lapse. how does it feel to have that red carpet around you? i think of how different it felt and there is a huge difference in the way you have to drive the car. the rules are the same. we have a different characteristic. being able to harness that and to extract its potential, that is one of the most challenging things. i wondered if it was worse. nothing is as good as i have now. if i were to finish my career, would i feel that i missed
something? i don't think i would. you had the thought? it is a beautiful team. charlie: every car has a personality. mclaren has a personality. how would you define the difference? that is a really hard question. says you are at one with the car. lewis: it is like you are strapped to a rocket -- rocket. how do you control this rocket? it is like a raging role. it is wild and sexy and fast. there is so many-one. when they are strapping you in, you go out. the speed you do is amazing. from car to car, it is different. you create a bond with the card and you have to trust it.
if you give it back to me, we will do just fine. charlie: what is it like to hit the wall? the journey towards it is kind of exciting. charlie: what makes it exciting? lewis: you lose control. it is like a roller coaster ride. i've had big crashes. in a split second you can go from 170 to 0. sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. there have been races where i lost it. the g force you pull is just crazy. there has been once or twice or i have gone towards it.
i have hit the wall and they knew it would hurt. charlie: do you ever think, i may not make it? lewis: no. i don't let that into my head. i don't know what it is. charlie: they tell me you were the kid in go karts who had no fear? lewis: still, today i do that. charlie: they tell me you are the most fearless driver on the track.
you think, i want to have the fastest lap. that is what you are thinking. i want to outsmart everyone. you want to show them who is the boss. lewis: we talk about the confidence being the best. you want them to know. every driver feels they are the best. they'll believe they are the best best race driver in the world. you know you are the best. that is what powers you through. you want them to know. maybe it is a bit better. ♪
♪ charlie: why do you think you are as good as you are? are as good as you are? lewis: i think it was a gift. i think it was a gift from a higher power. it is not just a gift. it was a gifting opportunity that if we worked hard enough to build their was no limit to how high is. my dad pushed and pushed as a kid. it is not matter if it is driving or whatever it is i'm no caps on, i have this focus that i don't know where it comes from. >> think he appreciates everyone
>> i thought i was a normal parent but i was as driven as lewis. i think your son has got something special. charlie: you assume that a long time ago that he had something special? lewis: -->> there was a determination in his eyes. he was forever wanting to do certain things. he was extremely good at driving this little car up and down the highway. the next best thing would be taken take him to a remote controlled car club. that happened every weekend. we would prepare every weekend for those who went remote control car racing. charlie: is there something you can point to when he operated that remote? in this club, there were about 50 people. lewis was the youngest. used to stand up on the gantry like everyone else.
this idea of having the coordination and the x factor. the competitive desire to win it all? -- >> i wouldn't say he has great natural talent. i think it depends how you develop that talent. i use the analogy that we could all be brain surgeons, it is all about how much you want to be the best. from the time he said he wanted to be a formula one racing driver. that is all he ever said until he got there. some kids they want to be a doctor or policeman. what when we got the opportunity, lewis said he would do everything in the power to race to the best of your abilities. i said i would work several jobs. charlie: if you accept the trade-off? >> he did. his skills were more mechanical.
have someone as precocious as lewis, you have to look after that one individual. it was clear that he had something special and i used to work on british rail. i started off at the bottom. for me, the way where religion where we came from it was like having someone in the box and working their way out. at that time i was in this very good job but it wasn't good enough. and we couldn't afford it at that time. i did various jobs. charlie: what did it cost for him to race? -- >> it is not so much the initial outlay. it used to earn $30,000 worth and there was probably $60,000. i had to work extra jobs. most people have an average income. it is one of those things. charlie: take me to the go cart track. was he better than any other kid? he showed a huge amount of
ability. that was all based around his determination. charlie: that is why he was different, he had both the talent and will to win. >> that was quite interesting. i said to him, we need to be as best educated as we can. i wouldn't be where i am now. it has been quite interesting because it has been a success for the family. it is like you have the golden ticket so what do you do for 10 years. we did not want to blow his opportunity. the opportunity fortunately came. have to try and manage the process. ♪ i would have aggression and want to go and push that guy over, or flick him in the air, or kick
him or something. and he would say, do it on the track. do your talking on the track. that applied to everything. do your talking on the track. i would get on the track and drive the wheels off a car. charlie: that is why he was different, he had both the talent and will to win. >> that was quite interesting. i said to him, we need to be as best educated as we can.
[seagulls cawing] ashlee: this is my happy place. and it has been for a long, long time. it is the ferry that goes from my parents house near manly beach to downtown sydney. there is nothing magical about the boat itself. tourists and locals ride this thing every day, but really that is what makes this this ferry so special. no commute or ride on the planet offers up more amazing city views. it's routine made spectacular. now, you won't know it from my accent, but i spent a lot of time here as a kid.