ABU DHABI -- Lewis Hamilton credited an unconventional spot of preparation with "big brother" Will Smith for his victory in the final race of the Formula One season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton, crowned champion for the fifth time in October, invited his friend Smith to the race, as the Hollywood actor had put attending a Formula One grand prix with the British driver on his bucket list. The two men were front and centre for the prerace drivers' parade, and Smith continued to play a starring role in the broadcast, running across the track with a green flag before the start and trying his hand at working a trackside camera.
Hamilton went on to claim a comfortable victory -- capping off the most impressive championship win of his career -- but arguably his and Smith's finest display came shortly before they made their way to the grid. In a staged piece for the cameras, Hamilton appeared tied up while Smith told him he was taking his spot inside the cockpit for the race.
In the video, Smith says, "I'm sorry. Look, here's the deal. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, man! You already won, man! Just save something for other people. You black, I'm black, ain't nobody gonna know the difference."
Hamilton appears to almost lose his composure and laugh halfway through, threatening to "whup" Smith, and the video ends with Hamilton -- still tied up -- shouting, "You better win, man!"
Mercedes' official Twitter account followed with two more videos from inside the garage, one showing a man decked out in a race suit and Hamilton's race helmet approaching the car, followed by a video of a sheepish Smith being led out away.
Speaking at the postrace news conference, Hamilton said, "We had an unconventional weekend, as yesterday morning we were filming something with FIFA and Sony. Then this morning, we did various stuff with Will.
"Will is the original hype man, he is hyper, he brings a lot of energy. He is really like a big brother to me. We were doing some filming and stuff like 10 minutes before I got in the car, which I never do, as that is usually the period of time I get ready, so I was going into the race having completely changed my pattern."