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Today, however, Nicole's father Alfonso Valiente puts such doubts to rest saying, in his first-ever interview, that not only have the two of them found happiness in each other, but that they are engaged to be married.
And the survival of their partnership in such turbulent waters, he suggests, owes much to the plain good sense and sheer determination of his daughter.
Alfonso, 52, met the man whom he refers to as 'my future son-in-law' for the first time last summer, when the couple spent a week holidaying on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the place where Nicole was born and spent the first six years of her life.
Frustrated in an under-performing Mc Laren team, the former world champion has found his gung-ho driving style subject to unprecedented criticism from racing greats including Sir Jackie Stewart, who spoke of his ' questionable moves', and Niki Lauda, who claimed: 'He's a danger to his peers.' Hamilton is based in Geneva, hundreds of miles from his parents in the Home Counties, and it has been suggested that a life lived largely on his own can only exacerbate the huge mental strains of racing at 180mph-plus.
He gestures towards the ocean and says: 'This is where Nicole was raised and where she first stood on a surfboard.
Love in the fast lane: Nicole's busy lifestyle has pushed her into the spotlight and means she has to jet around the world to see Lewis, while racking up huge phone bills so they can talk to each other every day Perhaps one of the reasons the Hamilton-Scherzinger union works so well is that both come from multiracial and working-class families.
It is those mixed origins that help explain her striking appearance - and that colourful list of names.'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. We were never married and split up when Nicole was six.That's when her mother moved her away from the islands.Is there truly a relationship at all, beyond what is visible to the photographer's lens?She makes her living in the television and recording studios of Los Angeles.