Lewis Hamilton has decided to leave Britain in light of the excessive public and media attention he has received in the UK over the past year.
Hamilton will be moving to Switzerland and joins a whole host of other Formula 1 drivers including current team-mate Fernando Alonso and current world champion Kimi Raikkonen, along with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.
“Over there people do not come up to you they leave you alone and give you space,â€ Hamilton explained. “I am going to a country that I don t know but it s very exciting!â€
Aside from the intense attention, Switzerland has financial advantages for big earners with wealthy Switzerland citizens paying significantly less tax than their equivalents in the UK. Despite not being one of the big earners in Formula 1 in 2007, Hamilton s impressive debut season will no doubt have sponsors flocking to his door and 2008 is set to be a big earner for the young McLaren driver.
Despite the advantages that Switzerland holds, Hamilton explained that it was a tough decision to make. “It was a tough decision,â€ he explained. “My dream for years was to move to London – I stayed at a friend’s house this weekend in London and I woke up in the morning and just knew it was where I wanted to be.
“But I’ll meet new people, new faces and I do have a few friends there and my family and friends from home will be able to come and visit me.”
Hamilton then went on to explain about the problems of the media scrutiny and attention. “When I was coming up I knew there were sacrifices you have to make,” he said. “You lose your ability to go places – you don’t understand what that means until you get there and you really struggle to lead a normal life.
“I haven’t been able to spend much time with my friends or my family – it’s not like a normal job, you’re travelling all the time, you live out of your suitcase and it’s tough to manage that and still live a normal life. When you come home and everybody knows you, it makes it so much harder to do normal things. I can’t go to the cinema. I go to the bathroom in a petrol station and people come in there for autographs.”
Hamilton s announcement comes a day after the news that his home town, Stevenage, will be naming a street in honour of the McLaren driver.