Monday, July 18, 2011


'Lewis is a really good guy,' says the softly spoken Alfonso. 'When they came to visit we hired them a Jeep because he said he'd never driven one before.
'He only has two speeds that boy: flat out and coming to a screeching halt.'
It's a view that has been recently expressed in a less jocular fashion by Hamilton's F1 rivals, who have questioned his judgement on the track.
'You know about the proposal? Yes, they are engaged,' says Alfonso. 'My future son-in-law is a really nice guy, really down-to-earth. My family all like him.
'The good spirit is there. When he walked into the house for the first time, he picked up one of the babies. That went down very well.
'He is sincere and he and my daughter seem genuinely happy together.

Strolling along the white sandy beach a stone's throw from his modest home in the sleepy Hawaiian beach town of Nanakuli, an hour's drive from the big hotels and tourist hotspot of Waikiki, Nicole's father is in no doubt as to where his daughter's true interests lie. He gestures towards the ocean and says: 'This is where Nicole was raised and where she first stood on a surfboard.
'It is such a beautiful and peaceful spot and so far away from the life she leads now.
'I am so very proud of her but I know that she and Lewis have to work hard to make it work.
'I spoke to her this past weekend and she was doing a photoshoot for Glamour magazine.
'She sounded in good spirits but her only complaint was that she hadn't seen enough of Lewis recently.
Nicole said, "It's so hard to get the balance right. At the moment it's just work, work, work for both of us."
'She sounded content but I know she would love to settle down.
'My daughter is very ambitious, but she is also an old-fashioned girl at heart and she would love to have a family.'

We met in church here in the islands and I still have a lot of respect for her mother even if we don't speak,' says Alfonso. ' Rosemary was only 18 when she had Nicole. We were never married and split up when Nicole was six. That's when her mother moved her away from the islands. 'Nicole was a happy, beautiful baby.
She always loved to perform. She was shy but when she got on stage she came alive. She was special. 
After Rosemary moved to Louisville, Kentucky, and married German-American Gary Scherzinger, church-going took on increased importance. As Nicole put it: 'I grew up in a very strict, conservative family. I suppose I grew up with a lot of guilt.'
It is an upbringing that does not seem to sit easily with the image of the Pussycat Dolls, a group famous for their minimal clothing and uninhibited stage routine.
It is not an aspect of Nicole that her father seems anxious to explore.
'I think she is very God-fearing and modest,' he says simply.
'We are religious people and Nicole was raised a good Christian. It was something of a surprise to see her in those outfits.
'But she is a beautiful, talented girl and I've become very proud of her. I understand that she is in the entertainment business and promoting a sexy image is part of that. She has always done it tastefully.'
Nicole has admitted that, at school, she was always rather 'nerdy', a long way from the raunchy creature now familiar to television viewers. Her father is equally blunt. 'She always used to have glasses. She only stopped using them when she joined the Pussycat Dolls. Without them she is as blind as a bat.'

'I was a very vulnerable child. I don't know where the desire to perform first started because I was so easily hurt. But I wanted to sing, to act, to get on stage. 'I was very aware we didn't have money. My mother would get clothes from a consignment store where you would exchange old for new.
'My stepdad would drive me to auditions in beaten-up cars. I came from a very working-class family and money was always tight. For me to have acting or singing lessons was a big sacrifice. That's why I work so hard.
'I paid my way through performing arts school by waitressing. I spent most of those years eating packet-mix pancakes made with water because I didn't have the money for milk.'
A former teacher at the Youth Performing Arts School says: 'Nicole was one of the rare ones. She was very driven, very motivated, very serious. She was always the first one in and the last one out.'

The questions regarding Nicole and Hamilton, according to her father, are inevitable. 'People find it hard to understand how their relationship works. But all I can say is that it does work for them,' he says.
'At the moment it tends to be Nicole who goes to Lewis because her schedule is a bit more flexible than his. And she is at that level now where people fly her first-class or even privately. How nice is that?
'Lewis has a schedule with his work, but he goes to LA to see her more times than people know. They are only photographed at high-profile events like awards shows and when she goes to watch him race. But they do get together in Los Angeles and she will go to Europe.
'He likes the lifestyle in LA because not too many people recognise him. And Nicole and Lewis speak on the phone every day.' Skype, air travel and enormous phone bills are part of the fabric of the relationship.
'I think they would like to spend more time together,' says Alfonso. 'She tells me that all the time. But they are both very ambitious and being apart is the price they have to pay for having successful careers.'

The couple started dating shortly after meeting each other at the European Music Awards held in Munich in November 2007.
Of the seven-year age gap between his daughter and the 26-year-old F1 star, her father laughs nervously and says: 'You have to ask her about that.
'I have always seen them as a match. I don't think age matters when you have energy and a connection like they do.'
She lives in a £2.4 million French Polynesian house on two acres of land in the Hollywood Hills, two continents and an ocean away from Hamilton's home in Switzerland.
Her father says his only sadness is that he does not get to see as much of his daughter as he would wish.
'I went to LA for the weekend and was hoping to see her but she was in rehearsals and doing photoshoots and she was trying to make time for me.' he says.
'But in the end she called up and said, "Daddy, it's just impossible."
'It's OK because I know she is busy and I know she will come home to Hawaii when she has time.
'Nicole is a good daughter. She bought her mother a house here in Hawaii. It is something she always said she would do and she has. I want nothing from her but to see more of her.'
This is not the first time that there has been talk of marriage. Earlier this month Hamilton casually referred to Nicole as his 'fiancee', adding: 'We are very busy at the moment but she'll be planning the wedding.
'She'll definitely find the time for that, no doubt about it.'
It was a view that was promptly dismissed by Nicole, who said that, for the moment at least, they are concentrating on their jobs.
So, is there a wedding date for Hamilton and his daughter? If there is, Alfonso will not be the one to disclose it. In fact, just a couple of weeks on from our first conversation, I find him rather more cautious about his earlier pronouncement that the two of them are engaged.
'Listen, I don't want to be the one to say that,' he says. 'I think you need to hear it from them. I don't want to be seen to say anything that might be wrong. I don't want to get in trouble.'
Are these just the words of a protective father who fears he has let the cat out of the bag?
Or is it yet another change of direction in the turbocharged lives of Nicole Scherzinger and Lewis Hamilton  -  who could do no better than fourth at last weekend's British Grand Prix, a race that he won in 2008?
'I think both of them are having fun and just enjoying the ride,' says Alfonso. That, at least, appears to be true.
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