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A new challenge for Formula One champion Hamilton

British driver agrees to race against Brazilian footballer in wheelchair using only the mind

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
Lewis Hamilton
Gulf News

Dubai: Four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has accepted a new challenge in his life as a racer. Down in Dubai to attend the ‘Global Skills and Education Forum 2018’ en route to starting the defence of his world title in Melbourne, Hamilton accepted a challenge from former Al Ain footballer Rodrigo Mendes.

Mendes, now the CEO of his Brazilian non-profit body Rodrigo Mendes Institute, became the first person to drive a Formula 1 racing car using only the power of one’s mind last year. Mendes, who was a professional footballer with famous Brazilian clubs such as Flamengo, Gremio, Atletico Paranaense before shifting for one season in 2003-’04 with UAE champions Al Ain, used the brain interface technology developed by fellow Young Global Leader Tan Le, founder of EMOTIV Inc, to pilot the vehicle by thought alone.

On Saturday, Mendes made the offer during the question and answer session, and Hamilton readily agreed to race against the Brazilian footballer, who is now confined to a wheelchair after successive muscular problems forced him out of football in 2009.

Mendes’ car didn’t have pedals or a steering wheel. It was just him and his mind driving the car forward. “I have watched you do it and honestly I was amazed how you could just race a car at 80kph using just the mind,” Hamilton shrugged.

“As a young child I was always a fan of one of the greatest racers of our sport Ayrton Senna, who is also Brazilian. Please choose the track and I will be there,” the British driver accepted.