In professional sports, having a good manager is absolutely essential to a long and prosperous career. Pick the wrong one, and you can go from throwing heat in the majors to pitching exhibition games in countries you’ve never heard of. Pick the right manager and the sky’s the limit when it comes to income, both yours and his. McLaren Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has been without a manager since he parted ways with his father in 2010 (which probably makes for some interesting holiday dinners), but that’s now changed. Hamilton becomes the latest athlete (and the first F1 driver) to partner with Simon Fuller and XIX Entertainment, the company that represents such stars as soccer’s David Beckham (who earns good money not playing for Los Angeles).
Fuller is also the brains behind such TV shows as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, but has precious little experience in Formula One. In fact, his only prior F1 venue ended in failure, when Honda pulled the plug on their “Earthdreams” F1 effort after two forgettable seasons. By signing Hamilton, one of the sport’s most recognized stars, Fuller has his work cut out for him. The McLaren drivers contract restricts what Hamilton can and can’t do off the grid, and Bernie Ecclestone is ever-aware of anything that impacts the image of Formula One. If it seems odd to you that Hamilton signed with a virtual unknown in F1 circles, consider this: Simon Fuller is a close personal friend of McLaren Automotive boss (and former F1 team manager) Ron Dennis.