Lewis Hamilton
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

The 2023 Formula 1 season is not off to a good start for seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. Apart from seeing that the Mercedes cars are miles away from the pace of several other teams, the British ace has also confirmed his split from long-time personal trainer and physiotherapist Angela Cullen.

The pair had been working together for the last seven seasons, and they chose to jointly make the announcement on the anniversary of the first day they started working together. On her Instagram account, Cullen shared that she is taking a new path in her career, but did not give any specific information about her plans.

"Exactly 7 yrs ago on this day I was standing in the F1 paddock for the first time at the Australian GP. Today I'm excited to share I'm off on my next adventure," said the platinum blonde woman who had been a constant fixture alongside Hamilton throughout the best years of his career.

Hailing from New Zealand, Cullen became Hamilton's personal performance coach through her involvement with Hintsa Performance, a Finnish personal training and fitness company. During their time together since 2016, Hamilton won four of his seven drivers' championships titles (2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020).

The Mercedes star took to his own Instagram account to announce Cullen's departure and made it clear that the split is amicable and that he fully supports her decision to take a different path. He shared a photo from one of their earlier seasons together and said: "For the last seven years [Angela] has been by my side, pushing me to be the best version of myself. I am a stronger athlete and a better person because of her.

"So today I hope you'll join me in wishing her the very best as she takes her next steps to pursue her dreams. Thank you for everything Ang, I can't wait to see what the future has in store for you."

It is unclear why Cullen is leaving team Hamilton and why the announcement was made at an odd time. The first race of the 2023 season has already been done and dusted in Bahrain two weeks ago, and the second race will be taking place in Saudi Arabia this weekend. One would have expected this kind of departure to have been announced before the season even began.

Nevertheless, the parties involved appear to all be calm about the situation. Cullen expressed her gratitude both to the team and to Hamilton in her own post wherein she shared a carousel of memories from her time at Mercedes.

"I am so grateful and blessed to have had this incredible journey in F1 and I know my story will continue. Thanks to the MB [Mercedes-Benz] team, who have been my family for the past 7 years. And @lewishamilton you GOAT !! It's been such an honour and pleasure to stand along side you I'm so proud of you and everything you have achieved," she said.

Cullen also showed just how close she and Hamilton had become over the years through her message: "Thank you for supporting me, believing in me and showing me the limitless potential we all have within us. I am so excited to watch the next chapter for you. There's nothing you can't do. Don't stop believing... Life's journey is one big wave. Keep riding. Dream big. As Dreams do come true. Forever by your side. STILL WE RISE."

Meanwhile, even though Hamilton appears to be taking the split in stride, his fans have become quite emotional. The diminutive figure of Cullen had been one of their constants while supporting the British racer in recent years, and many are devastated.

"I will never get over this breakup 😭😭😭 we wanted you until Lewis ended his career, how are we going to deal with him arriving in the paddock without you?," commented one fan under Cullen's post. Another said, "I am gutted for Lewis but I am really happy for you Angela, it's always good to shake things up and have the courage to change."

Other fans asked Cullen to continue to update her social media on what she's doing, as she has gathered a fan base of her own during her time with Hamilton. As for the Mercedes ace, the season continues this weekend in Saudi Arabia where he will be hoping to be competitive against the Red Bulls, Ferraris and even the Aston Martins.