Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2015

“Who do you think you are – Hamilton?”

2015 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton appeared on popular American talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live this week and told a story about being pulled over by a police officer early in his Formula One career:

“I got pulled over when I was younger, probably my early twenties. I’d finally got to Formula One, I had a really good car, an AMG Mercedes that made a lot of noise and I got pulled over because of the noise I was making with it.”

“And the guy came to the window and said ‘Who do you think you are, Lewis… Oh. Hey. Have a good night, Lewis!'”

Hamilton has had run-ins with the police in the past. During his first F1 season he was caught speeding in France. Three years later he was fined AUS$500 for driving dangerously in a road car near the Albert Park circuit during the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

He probably won’t be the last racing driver to have his knuckles rapped by the traffic police. And he is far from the first driver to tell the ‘Who do you think you are’ story:

Who do you think you are, Juan Manuel Fangio?

An early examples of the ‘Who do you think you are’ tale involves one of the few Formula One drivers to have won more championships than Hamilton: five-times champion Juan Manuel Fangio.

Already a hero in his native Argentina for his successes in gruelling road races such as the Carrera Panamericana, Fangio was involved in am accident with a truck while at the wheel of his road car.

Fangio was thrown clear, and the truck-driver initially mistook his passenger for the driver. “Who do you think you are, Fangio?” he apparently demanded.

“No but he is,” came the reply, as the passenger pointed towards the champion.

Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?

Stirling Moss, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2015
Moss tells a similar story about being pulled over
For Formula One fans of a certain age “Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?” is the correct form of this saying.

The man himself says it has been said to him at least once by a police officer, although he added “I couldn’t work out if he was taking the mick”.

Who do you think you are, Nigel Mansell?

“That one’s just too good to be true” was ESPN commentator Bob Varsha’s verdict after relating the Mansell twist on the ‘Who do you think you are’ tale.

In this version, reigning champion Ayrton Senna was allegedly pulled over during the 1992 British Grand Prix weekend after being caught doing 125mph – breaking the speed limit by 55mph. “Who do you think you are, Nigel Mansell?” was how the police officer allegedly addressed Senna.

However in his recent autobiography Mansell still insists the anecdote “is true”, so perhaps we shouldn’t be so cynical.

Maybe some of the other tales are true as well? But it’s surely asking too much to believe they all are…

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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Posted on Categories 2015 F1 season, F1 Video, Lewis Hamilton

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  • 33 comments on ““Who do you think you are – Hamilton?””

    1. Formula One is just a popular sport among policemen across the globe, I guess.

      1. I think it’s more that some names transcend the sport and become, if not household names, then certainly well known in popular culture. After all, plenty of non-F1 fans know about the likes of Senna and Schumacher, at least in my experience.

        Whether those people are deserving of that fame is another question entirely, and that’s a question whose answering I’ll leave to others more interested in such minutiae.

        1. I can support your theory with a true story. When I was growing up (Czechoslovakia, 1970’s), people would say “he is driving like shiron” when somebody was driving really fast (and recklessly). I took it at face value (every language has idioms whose origins are lost in time), only many year later I found that it actually refers to Louis Chiron. This means that his name was still in circulation some 20 years after he drove, although I do not think many people were aware of him any more, it just became a new word.

      2. that must be it! And they are all just waiting to get the opportunity to say the line @xtwl!

    2. Probably better than being asked: “Who do you think you are, Pastor Maldonado?”

      (just had to write it)

      1. Thumbs up for that one!

      2. one slight change to that one, surely that would be a Paramedic/Fireman pulling you out of a wrecked car??

    3. I think he padded that top speed a touch. Wasn’t the fastest speed in Monza this yearb just over 220mph?

        1. Which is 226mph

    4. No one else seeing the caption on the video itself saying “Lewis Hamilton started Formula One racing at 13” 4yrs earlier than Max Verstappen!


      1. The caption is “Lewis Hamilton got signed at 13” to be precise, which is in fact true, he got signed by McLaren by their young driver program/academy

    5. I don’t believe him.

      1. @datt Oh no, he’ll be devastated!

    6. You can’t deny that Hamilton is doing a great job turning himself into a brand. Here in North America, Jimmy Kimmel is a huge show where typically, only A-List celebrities are invited to.

      1. Nah you’re giving Kimmel too much credit.

        1. Agreed. I didn’t even know Kimmel was still on TV.

      2. Re: Kimmel show, not really. 2nd guests of these shows are rarely A-list and last night it scored one of the worst ever ratings for the show. Not necessarily because of Lewis. The first guest wasn’t a big draw either.

    7. I always remember Montoya when I’m in France
      …”it’s so boring -even at 200 clicks”
      Those higheays are really long and straight.

    8. Who do you think you are?

      They are all good, but Senna seems best… 55mph over the limit. Driving what?

      1. @jureo Allegedly a Porsche, though he would have been a Honda works driver at the time (not that that makes it impossible, of course).

        1. Thank yoi, very intresting Allegation. Kinda like Lewis arriving in LaFerrari to some event.

    9. Bit of clarification on Fangio’s early career, if this was the aimed reference in the article. He raced in the Buenos Aires – Caracas race, a race which was part of the 1948 Turismo Carretera season (oficially called “Turismo Carretera’s Grand Prix of South America”). That race was won by Domingo Marimon, the father of Onofrio Marimon, who died at the Nordschleiffe during the F1 race in 1954.

      Turismo Carretera is a stock car series (reminecent of the early days of NASCAR) that’s still alive here in Argentina and it started back in 1930. The Carrera Panamericana was another thing, and Fangio was already known worldwide when he took part in it (and won it).

    10. stirling moss lol

    11. There’s a similar story that floats around in the United States, from the late 60s or 70s (iirc), that involves Mario Andretti. “Who do you think you are?”

      What makes that story believable for those of us in the US is that I’ve actually heard that phrased used on several occasions.

    12. In Greece the synonym for a driver that goes too fast is “Schumacher”. So yes, it looks pretty believable that if he was stopped in Greece for driving too fast, the policeman could say “who do you think you are, Schumacher?”.

      It is also used in a sentence to make fun for someone for going too fast, like “look at that idiot, he thinks he’s Schumacher”.

    13. Many years I heard a story about a policeman with humor. He stopped a driver who was driving way too fast. When the policeman finally get him stopped, he strides up to the car and asks for Pilot license and registration and asked if he wasn’t flying too low.
      The driver, without missing a beat, presents his pilot license and continue to explain that the visibility vas not great higher up so it made more sense to be closer to the ground.
      The policeman think it is fun enough and let him off with a warning.

    14. Jaques Villeneuve – who drove for Ferrari and lived first in Italy and later in Monaco – was apparently a terror on the public roads of Italy and was stopped frequently. But since he drove for Ferrari he didn’t get into any trouble. Compare that to Hamilton having his Benz towed away in Australia for the miniscule infraction of doing burnouts on a public street. The whole scene is on Youtube, and you can’t help but think that the Aussie police are a bit dorky.

      1. I think you mean Gilles Villeneuve.

        1. Giles was supposedly driving everywhere flatout. But that was Italy in 70s. Not long ago in 90s cops there turned a blind eye on you, for speeding in a Ferrari. Being almost considered a crime not to properly drive it fast.

          Most Police were above average likeley to be petrolheads dreaming about driving a Ferrari or being a MSC…

      2. I think it was the same year, but they ran a promotion by having Webber drive his RB-whatever over one of Melbourne’s highway bridge… at the speed limit; under closed conditions.

        Victoria is known in Australia as being a “nanny state” when it comes to road laws and driving offences. But much of Australia is just as bad, sadly.

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