How Lewis Hamilton is taking high-octane racing style to the street

As far as targets on your back go, Lewis Hamilton's would have to be something approaching the cross section of Venus, quite possibly visible from the International Space Station. The 34-year-old entered the 2019 championship with the right to wear number one for the fifth time, although again he's chose his favourite 44 to grace the 10th iteration of the Mercedes-AMG F1 machine. He's a natural favourite in the team with more runs on the board than any in recent years.

Hamilton has started from pole position more than any other driver, trailing only Michael Schumacher in the outright championship tally (seven). While unlikely, statistically he could also use the 21 Grands Prix of the 2019 season – the opening round of which was in Melbourne – to overtake Schumacher as the most prolific race winner in the world's most glamorous and expensive sport. Not that it's high on his agenda, Hamilton instead admitting it's "humbling to be compared to legends I have admired my whole life".

The heavily tattooed Brit managed time off between F1 seasons, focusing on everything from golf to his passion of music, something he says is crucial to his race build-ups. "I really enjoy music and finding new artists to listen too," says Hamilton, who learnt to play the guitar as a child and says music helps him relax in one of the world's highest-pressure sports.

While four-wheeled success is celebrated, Hamilton's rich and diverse Instagram feed is likely to be bulging with fashion pictures, the F1 ace even managing time to farewell icon Karl Lagerfeld. Since 2018 the Mercedes F1 team has had a partnership with fashion giant Tommy Hilfiger, the relationship expanding to welcome Hamilton as a global ambassador, where he gets to show off his modelling side. Hamilton takes a keen interest in the clothes he's wearing, in turn helping shape the new TommyXLewis collection.

"It's really important for me to be involved with the development of the collection – from the fabrics to the colours, finishes, and details," he says. "I put my ideas and inspiration on the table, and when I see the initial sketches I work with the design team to take each style to the next level. It's a real collaboration."

While his F1 world consumes his time, he's always casting around for fashion ideas, adding his own twists to his collection. "I find inspiration from the places I have been lucky enough to visit, as well as my own wardrobe and personal style. I'm always taking pictures of things that catch my eye."

Bold is big in the Hamilton world. He nominates "pop colours" and strong patterns among his current favourites, but there's room for casual, with t-shirts and tracksuits always added to his suitcase. Coincidentally Hamilton was born in 1985, the same year the Tommy Hilfiger brand was created, making the "85" prints all the more relevant on his fashion collection.

But as the opening round of the F1 season approached in Australia, Hamilton's focus turned to fitness – not that it was ever ignored. "I can relax a bit when the season finished but you have to put the hours in in the gym and eat healthily to ensure you are fit and ready to compete, especially as it's not just getting ready for one race, it's looking after yourself for the whole season, so naturally, it becomes a way of life."

Hamilton mixes up his training, recently upping his time making waves, even spending time above the water foil surfing. "My workout schedule can be quite intense, but I don't like repetitive training so I'm always trying out new sports," he says. "Muay Thai boxing gives me a full-body workout, while yoga and pilates is great for core strength. Right now, I'm really enjoying surfing."

While Hamilton came into the 2019 season as favourite, he's only tasted success twice in Melbourne (in 2008 and 2015) and victory eluded once again when he came in second to Finish team mate Valtteri Bottas.