At yesterday’s launch of the McLaren supercar I got the chance to sit and have a chat with Lewis Hamilton.

Predictably he thought that the new MP4-12C supercar was terrific, but admitted that his experience has been limited to half a day at the Goodwood circuit for a promotional video that was shown yesterday. Unlike Schuey’s much heralded input into Ferrari’s road cars, McLaren drivers it seems are just instructed to get on with winning world championships.

Lewis has, though, specced one up with the on-line configurator: red, with black wheels and a black and red interior. He will, he says, be harassing Ron Dennis to sort him out with a real one in identical trim. 

More illuminating was the other things Lewis had to say. 24-year old Lewis’s road car experience is pretty limited to say the least. He tends to get driven when he’s in the UK to maximise his rest and when he’s not travelling his driving is the 15 minute schlep from the airport to his apartment in the Merc company car – a white GL420 with chrome wheels. Lewis did tell me that he also owns an SL Black - ‘his baby’ - but has spent little time driving it.

Not surprisingly, he’s never driven a Ferrari, though would like to own one, one day – even if they’ve got a ‘bit common’ now. Also on the wish list is an original Cobra and a Mustang GT500. Most impressive still was the relaxed way that LH was chatting to me about cars, and life in general. You always worry that F1 stars, especially McLaren drivers, are going to be be super on-message but he wasn’t at all.

Just a normal, polite and intelligent young man – he even offered to make me a cup of tea.

Earlier in the day I got the opportunity to witness the body language of him and Jenson together. It seemed pretty clear to me who was the most relaxed and comfortable talking about McLaren in general. Then again he has been wandering round the place since he was a small boy.

McLaren MP4-12C  - details and pics

Chas Hallett