When 21 year old rookie Lewis Hamilton rose up the ranks in Ron Dennis’s McLaren and began racing for them in 2007, he was hailed as the next Schumacher, the guy that’d break Alonso’s stranglehold- the messiah that F1 needed. Basically, he was hailed to be what Sebastian Vettel is in 2013.
And why not? Hamilton began the 2007 season after replacing Kimi Raikkonen– who had moved to rivals Ferrari. The young British driver finished on the podium consistently, finally winning at the Australian Grand Prix– and even leading the championship right till the final race when Raikkonen pulled off an upset victory that clinched the world championship. It was heartbreak for England, who were waiting for their first Champion since Damon Hill in 1996. Everybody thought this would break the young rookie, and he wouldn’t stand another chance until he matured as a driver.
But in 2008, Hamilton did the same thing, and won more races- until a stroke of luck (that he thoroughly deserved after dominating 2 years) gave him the Championship at Brazil in front of a delirious crowd that were convinced Massa had won it. The choke had almost happened for young Hamilton again, but this time, he managed to win the World Championship- thereby completing a fairytale debut two seasons that made him an instant superstar. He was the next big thing.
Then, life happened.
Greatness was stalled, just like it was with double World champ Alonso- who, incidentally became Hamilton’s partner in a ‘dream team’ 2007 combination. It soon became a nightmare match by 2009, as this team quickly deteriorated into a petty battle of one-upmanship, with both drivers desperate to reclaim past glories. It resulted in Alonso going back to a weaker Renault team, and Hamilton shaken enough to let Vettel take his spot at the top of the young heap. His turbulent relationship with a Pussycat doll apart, Lewis began a segment of his career that had him play catchup for most parts of every season. He was not in the running with an inconsistent McLaren team throughout 2010 and 2011. He discovered the torridness and difficulty of maintaining world championship form through 2-3 seasons, things that Schumacher and Vettel managed to do with utter ruthlessness. He kept winning the odd race mid-season, but his whining and complaining began to take a roll on his own team. At the end of another ordinary season in 2012, Hamilton joined Mercedes- a giant leap, considering he was replacing an old and battered Michael Schumacher, with the team struggling to regain the old Brawn GP Days of 2009. Niki Lauda got Hamilton to Mercedes, and now, they remain the only team capable of challenging Red Bull after years of domination. Hamilton and Rosberg have 3 wins between them, and a record 8 qualifying pole positions in 2013.
Here is some interesting trivia about the MBE Lewis Hamilton:
-At the age of 5, Hamilton took up Karate classes to defend himself against bullies.
-Hamilton’s father worked upto 3 jobs to support his child’s racing dream.
-Hamilton finished 2nd in the national BRCA Championship as a 7 year old in 1992 with a radio-controlled car purchased by his father.
-Hamilton was an avid footballer and cricketer. He is an Arsenal fan.
-Hamilton lives in Monaco, after spending 5 years in Switzerland.
-Hamilton was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2009.
-He is often called the ‘first Black driver’ in F1, though he is technically of mixed origin.
-In 2007, Hamilton drove at 122 mph on a French motorway and was consequently suspended from driving in the country for a month.
-In 2007, at Bahrain, Hamilton broke Bruce McLaren’s record of being the youngest driver ever to lead a World Championship.
-Hamilton has had 22 wins in his career, and 32 pole positions along with a record 4-in-a-row in the current 2013 season.
-From 2009 to 2012, Hamilton’s record with McLaren in the championship standings reads 5th, 4th, 5th, 4th. He is currently 3rd in
-He currently holds the record for most consecutive podium finishes from debut (9) in 2007.
-He also holds the record for most wins in a debut season (4), most pole positions (6) and most points in a debut season (109).