Diamond helmet puts Hamilton in mood to sparkle

MONACO (Reuters) - Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton had a taste of Monaco’s millionaire lifestyle on Wednesday when he was handed a diamond-studded helmet to wear in Sunday’s showcase grand prix.

Mclaren Mercedes Lewis Hamilton of Britain smiles as he holds his trophy on the victory podium after coming in second in the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, outside Barcelona, May 13, 2007. Hamilton had a taste of Monaco's millionaire lifestyle on Wednesday when he was handed a diamond-studded helmet to wear in Sunday's showcase grand prix. REUTERS/Albert Gea

“I’m blinged out. I got bling on my helmet, how cool is that,” enthused the 22-year-old rookie at a presentation organised by diamond company and McLaren team sponsor Steinmetz on one of the larger floating palaces moored in the Mediterranean principality’s exclusive harbour.

Hamilton and double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso will wear helmets with ‘Monaco 07’ written in white diamonds on the side.

The helmets will then be auctioned for charities chosen by the drivers.

Both drivers flanked a model wearing the ‘Ponahalo’, a necklace made up of at least $50 million (25 million pounds) worth of stones cut from one 316 carat rough diamond -- the largest to come out of the De Beers Venetia mine in South Africa.

The necklace, paraded under the watchful gaze of security guards, will be shown to some of the world’s wealthiest individuals over the grand prix weekend before being sold to the highest bidder -- assuming the unspecified reserve price is reached.

Both McLaren drivers were also given $10,000 rings, each one with a tyre tread motif in diamonds, to keep.

Hamilton, the youngest leader in the history of the championship with a two point advantage over Alonso after four races, could become the first rookie to win the most glamorous race of all.

However he said he felt at home in his extraordinary surroundings.

“I’m fit, probably fitter than I’ve been all season, and more relaxed than I’ve been all season,” he told reporters.

“This is the best race of the season, and already the atmosphere is building up. I can really feel it. I’m just so excited to be here, standing on the back of the biggest boat I think I’ve ever seen,” added Formula One’s first black driver.

“But then, driving the streets of Monaco is any driver’s dream.”

Hamilton has finished all four of his races so far on the podium, the first rookie to achieve that feat, and has been runner-up in his last three grands prix.

Brimming with confidence, he saw no reason why the run of success might not continue.

“We just need to remain consistent. We’ve only had four races, and it’s already been an amazing journey just to get here,” he said.

“I just need to keep on enjoying it, making sure I keep my feet on the ground. With this sort of weekend it’s easy to just start floating -- well we are floating at the moment -- because it’s an amazing experience.

“I am really, really enjoying it.”