Lewis Hamilton: Among F1’s all-time great icons
With six driver’s titles under his belt, this Formula One champion has the highest tally among the world’s best racers and is a step behind Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven titles.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 12:56 IST
Born on January 7, 1985, to Anthony Hamilton and Carmen at Stevenage in Hertfordshire, England, Lewis Hamilton’s parents parted way when he just 2 years old. Raised by his mother’s sister for 10 more years, he was enrolled at the John Henry Newman School, Stevenage.
The boy’s curiosity in automobiles was sparked around the age 6 when his father brought him a remote-controlled car and followed it up by presenting the boy a go-kart. In 1993, Lewis began attending karting competitions and quickly made a mark.
In 1998, the McLaren Formula One team signed him up for its drivers’ development programme. From two years, Hamilton also took part the Intercontinental A (Kart Race), Formula A, and the Formula Super A and has also victoriously won the European Championship.
In 2001, Hamilton turned his focus to the British Formula Renault Winter Series, where he finished fifth despite a crash in third lap. During the next year, in the Formula Renault UK, he won the third rank as part of the Manor Racing team. In 2004, McLaren again chose Hamilton in its team for the Formula 3 Euro Series that witnessed Lewis Hamilton win the fifth position.
In 2006, he joined the GP2 -- a stepping stone to Formula One – as part of the ART Grand Prix team. He won the title on debut, beating Nelson Piquet Jr and Timo Glock.
His fine showing was well-timed as McLaren was then keen to fill up gaps that cropped up due to the departure of Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen. Finally, Lewis Hamilton became Fernando Alonso, the defending champion, for the 2007 season, as part of the Mercedes team.
Starting his F1 stint impressively in 2007, Hamilton was second in the world drivers’ championship, with just a point separating him from the winner, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen, the winner. He notched up four wins in races that year to equal the F1 record for the highest no. of wins in a rookie season by Jacques Villeneuve. Continuing his great form in 2008, Hamilton rode victories in five races to clinch the drivers’ championship. Aged 23 years and 301 days, he became the youngest man to win the title, which was a record that stayed intact till Sebastian Vettel added his name to the championship roll of honour in the year 2010.
In 2012, Hamilton decided to leave McLaren in order to join the Mercedes-Benz F1 team, to replace Michael Schumacher who was retiring. In the year that followed, Hamilton’s move to join the Mercedes F1 team brought him together with Nico Rosberg, his childhood teammate from their karting days. The British driver who had just won one race— the Hungarian GP.
In 2014, he bagged his second drivers’ championship title by dint of victories in 11 races. Another feature that came to the fore was the beginning of an intense rivalry between the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg. In the year that followed, Hamilton again topped the race for his third drivers’ title. He repeated the feat in 2017, 2018 and 2019 to garner a total of six drivers’ titles till date.
1. In a touching Instagram post, Hamilton once disclosed how, as a boy, he took up karate to defend himself against bullies at school. Elaborating on the difficulties he faced during his early years, the Formula One icon said that he was one of just three black kids in his school in Stevenage, England. Faced with bullying by students from the higher classes, he took up karate at the age of five, with his father’s permission. Shedding light on how the move helped, he said that the martial art taught him discipline, respect and humility. He said it also gave him the confidence to stand up to bullies, and to stand up for others who were being bullied.
2. Apart from having contributed handsomely towards the popularization of Formula One across the world, Lewis Hamilton has also actively advocated the need to protect the environment. Recently, he announced the decision to donate $500,000 to Australia as it burned in wildfire. The money will be used in rescuing and reviving flora and fauna of the region that have been adversely affected by the inferno.