Lewis Hamilton is a great example for the other F1 drivers, says Emerson Fittipaldi

Instead of being criticised, the engaging British driver should be applauded for his ability to reach out to Formula One fans, maintains the Brazilian legend

“If I’d known what the reaction was going to be, I would have drunk the milk first,” says Emerson Fittipaldi, unable to prevent himself from chuckling as he recounts the incident that, even 23 years later, is recalled by many fans in the United States more clearly than his two Formula One world championships. By reaching for orange juice after winning the Indy 500 in 1993 the Brazilian might have provoked rancour but he was always a singular driver and a singular character and he has no time, nor patience, for regrets after a remarkable career. Being himself was always more important to Fittipaldi and it is something he shares with and admires in Lewis Hamilton.

The winner drinking milk after the race at Indianapolis is one of motor sport’s oldest traditions, begun in 1933 after Louis Meyer celebrated his second victory with a glass. But Fittipaldi wanted to do his own thing (and doubtless help the business of the orange grove farm he owned) after taking the flag for the second of his two wins at the Brickyard. He duly swigged orange juice and was still being booed years later when driving the pace car before the opening of the 2008 race. Mentioning it now provokes gentle amusement.

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