Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
Lewis Hamilton - British, 29, Motorsport (7)
Not for the first time this year, Lewis Hamilton finds himself leading a dramatically reordered field. The industry will go into kaleidoscopic flux after the Fifa World Cup in Brazil this summer and as the pieces float dreamily down, it is hard to judge where they will fall. But there are always global stars in global sports. Whatever the ethics and the methods by which it gets there, Formula One will reach a host of new markets in the next few years: Russia, maybe Mexico, perhaps even Azerbaijan. It will remain in all of the territories where it has established its glamorous reputation; still relevant, despite the machinations of its chief executive and a high-pitched whine over the sound of its new engines.
And about those engines: Hamilton took the gamble of his life two years ago when he left McLaren, the team that had reared him from kart-racing adolescence, to join the still-lumbering project at German giant Mercedes. The rewards could now prove substantial. The Brackley-based team appear to have adapted far more comfortably than their rivals to the sweeping changes to Formula One’s technical regulations. He will have to see off team-mate Nico Rosberg, but the new number 44 has his best chance at a world title since winning his first seven years ago.
It seems remarkable that the Englishman, at 29, has waited this long to realise that ambition but it is in Formula One’s interests that he does. There is no more exhilarating sight in the sport than Hamilton in a fast car. For sponsors, the package is already in place – the maturing star, the celebrity girlfriend, the seven-figure social media following and the expert management of XIX Entertainment. After a decade endorsing brands this resurgent champion is worth another look. He might just be the best bet in all of sport. EC