Lewis Hamilton says he will focus on racing amid tax allegations
Paradise Papers implicate current Formula One world champion for tax avoidance
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG GP speaks before the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paolo. Photo: Sebastiao Moreira/EPA
Lewis Hamilton has responded to the allegations of tax avoidance revealed in the Paradise Papers by insisting he is comfortable with his “core values” and saying he would not allow the revelations to distract him from attempting to win this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
Hamilton became Formula One world champion for the fourth time at the last round in Mexico, making him Britain’s most successful driver but since then the documents that have been revealed have somewhat overshadowed his success.
The Paradise Papers data, obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with partners including the Guardian, the BBC and the New York Times, reveal Hamilton appears to have used shell companies in the British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man and Guernsey to avoid a £3.3m VAT bill triggered when he imported his £16.5m private jet into England from Canada in 2013. Hamilton, whose wealth is estimated at £130m, accepted that the allegations had created a considerable impact.
“Obviously right now there is a bit of a storm surrounding me,” he said. “There are many different stories around, but I don’t have anything to add to the whole scenario that has happened. It doesn’t distract me from my core values, and also what I am here to do which is to try and win the Brazilian Grand Prix for a second time in my life.”
On Monday a spokesman for the Mercedes driver insisted that the deal was “above board” adding that it was “now in the hands of his lawyers”.
Hamilton has not lived in the UK since 2007, since when he has made his homes in Switzerland and Monaco and now spends much of his time on his ranch in Colorado. He arrives in São Paulo for the penultimate race of the season before the finale in Abu Dhabi but after a close fought battle with his Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel he can no longer be caught in the championship.
He had said after taking the title in Mexico City that his intent was to go on and win the remaining rounds and that remains his goal despite the recent revelations. “I come here with this greatest feeling, amazing energy, and want to absorb that positive energy and try to shine my light as bright as I can here in Brazil,” Hamilton said.
“I have had this huge wave of positive energy and nothing can really dent that. I carry that here, and I am solely focused on trying to win the race this weekend.” – Guardian service