Tennis legend Maria Sharapova has expressed her amazement that F1 drivers are able to function and perform at such a high level in the face of their considerable sponsor and media duties. The 36-year-old experienced the pressures facing the grid after following close friend Lewis Hamilton during the Miami Grand Prix weekend.
The seven-time world champion has been working hard on both a personal and team level as he continues his search for a first Grand Prix victory in the span of two years. Mercedes have endured an extremely difficult couple of seasons since winning their most recent Constructors’ Championship title in 2021.
Alongside his work at the race track every race weekend, Hamilton has sponsorship deals with brands such as Puma, Tommy Hilfiger, IWC and Monster Energy that add to his responsibilities with photo shoots and personal appearances. These are stacked on top of Mercedes’ sponsor demands, as well as his compulsory F1 media duties.
The tennis icon was discussing the trials and tribulations of a career in tennis on the Armchair Expert podcast with Dax Shepard when she was asked whether or not her sport was the most mentally demanding for athletes
After giving an overview of the mental stresses placed on tennis players, Sharapova turned her attention to motorsport, explaining: “At Formula One, I mean, what Lewis is doing ahead of a race. I actually was in Miami and I saw some of his sponsor responsibilities and I just couldn’t believe the amount of events and interviews.
“And then how do you wake up and want to do your job? Beat someone when so much of your energy is drained? I think it just shows you when there is that individual and that star that wins over and over, how special it is because of everything else that they’ve also had to be responsible for.”
The schedule itself has also come under some criticism this season. The drivers and team personnel were visibly exhausted in Abu Dhabi after a record-equalling 22-race calendar, and this number is set to increase to 24 next year as the grid is pushed to breaking point.
Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell spoke out publicly against the race weekend congestion, stating: “People [are] in the engineers’ office just really struggling with the constant timezone shifts, the body not knowing where you are, eating at different times, staying in different hotels, different environments, different climates. The body’s getting confused.”