Lewis Hamilton describes his relationship with Angela Cullen, the effervescent New Zealander now ever-present in his entourage, as “one of the greatest things that has happened to me”. Study this weekend’s Formula One finale in Abu Dhabi and you will notice how the pair have grown inseparable, with Cullen checking everything from the world champion’s arrival time at the track to the placement of his water bottle in the car.
When Hamilton suffered a neck injury at Monza in September, caused by Max Verstappen’s rear tyre falling on his Mercedes cockpit, he risked missing his appointment the next evening at the Met Gala. But Cullen rode to the rescue, travelling with him to New York to continue the physiotherapy work. This season, which promises to culminate at
Yas Marina in a record eighth world title for Hamilton, has required the two to spend more time in each other’s company than ever. The acutely health-conscious Hamilton has been carefully controlling his Covid bubble, lest he test positive and be compelled to miss at least one race. As such, Cullen, 47, is invariably the first person he glimpses when he wakes up and the last person he sees at night.
What began as a driver-physio dynamic has evolved into a far more precious connection for Hamilton, 36, with Cullen even staying in his motorhome on European race weekends to provide company and counsel. Cullen, who is married with two children and lives on the French-Swiss border near Hamilton’s Monaco base, never intended to develop such a high profile in F1. Indeed, she barely contemplated a career in the sport at all until 2014.
View this post on Instagram
At the time, she was still working at the English Institute of Sport, helping Britain’s 100 and 200-metre sprinters to maximise their speed, mobility and explosiveness. Only during a ski holiday in the French Alps did her colleague, Pete McKnight, now director of coaching and sports science at F1 consultants Hintsa Performance, raise the possibility of working with Hamilton.
“At the time, Angela was mainly working with corporate clients, but when the opportunity to work with Lewis came up we thought, ‘Why not give this a go?’” McKnight told Telegraph Sport. “It has worked out perfectly.” Hamilton, evidently, could hardly be happier with the arrangement. He is famously discerning about who accompanies him on the road, having found the presence of his father,
Anthony, too suffocating in the end. The departure earlier this year of Marc Hynes, his long-time manager, threatened to leave him a solitary figure in the paddock. But, in Cullen, he has discovered a kindred spirit who anticipates his every need.