2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Sunday - Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Sunday – Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

Lewis Hamilton was born on 7 January 1985 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in the UK, and is currently a FORMULA 1 driver with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team. Hamilton holds the record for the most wins in F1, and is a seven-time World Champion. He made his F1 debut in 2007 with McLaren, and won his first championship with them in 2008. In 2013 he left McLaren to join Mercedes, where he won his next six championships.

Lewis Hamilton currently holds the record for the most race wins, most pole positions, most podium finishes, most points finishes, most carer points, and most points in a season. If 2020 he equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles.

After a strong start to his karting career, Hamilton joined the McLaren Young Driver Programme in 1998, where he continued to make strong progress. This resulted in his move to the McLaren F1 team in 2007, where he became the first (and still only) black driver to race in Formula 1. In his debut season, Hamilton finished second in the Driver’s Championship, just one point behind champion Kimi Raikkonen.

In 2008 Hamilton won his maiden F1 championship in dramatic fashion, overtaking Timo Glock on the last corner of the final lap of the final race of the season to snatch the championship from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa to become the youngest ever champion in Formula 1 (a record since beaten by Sebastian Vettel in 2010).

In the four largely disappointing years following his championship win Hamilton finished no higher than fourth in the Driver’s Championship, which paved the way for his exit from his boyhood-team and a reunion with his childhood friend and karting teammate Nico Rosberg at Mercedes in 2013.

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The change to turbo-hybrid engines ushered in a successful spell for both Mercedes and Hamilton, with the Brit winning the title in 2014 and 2015, before being pipped by teammate and rival Rosberg in a bitter battle in 2016.

With Rosberg retiring after the 2016 season Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel became the main challenger to Mercedes, but he was unable to stop Hamilton from winning a four-peat of titles in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Lewis Hamilton’s Career Before Formula 1

Karting (1993-2000)

Lewis Hamilton began karting at the Rye House Kart Circuit at eight years of age, where he quickly started picking up podiums, race wins, and championships driving for the Martin Hines’s Zip Young Guns Karting Team.

After winning his first karting championship he asked Ron Dennis for an autograph at the end of year presentation, where he famously said to the McLaren supremo ‘Hi. I’m Lewis Hamilton. I won the British Championship and one day I want to be racing your cars.’

Dennis told him to come and see him in nine years, which he did, and the rest is history…

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Hamilton progressed through to Junior Yamaha in 1997, and in 1998 he won his second British Championship as well as the Super One series. At this point Ron Dennis reached out to Hamilton to sign him to the McLaren driver development programme with a contract that included an option for a F1 drive, making him the youngest driver to secure a contract that would offer a spot in F1.

He continued his rise, progressing through the Intercontinental A (1999), Formula A (2000) and Formula Super A (2001) categories, where he picked up the European Championship in 2000.

Formula Renault and Formula Three (2001–2005)

After a successful career in karting, Hamilton stepped up to Formula Renault in 2002, making his debut in the 2001 British Formula Renault Winter Series, finishing fifth overall in the series.

He then made the step up to a full 2002 Formula Renault UK season with Manor Motorsport, scoring three pole positions and three race wins to finish third overall. Hamilton stayed with Manor for the 2003 championship, which he won by virtue of taking 10 race wins and 419 points, eclipsing second place finisher Alex Lloyd who managed two wins and 377 points.

Hamilton then tested for McLaren for the first time in the winter of 2004, and in a case of ‘hat might have been’ Williams confirmed they came close to signing the youngster, however, their engine supplier BMW would not fund the move.

This meant Hamilton re-signed with McLaren, and made his debut in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2004 with Manor, winning one race and finishing fifth in the championship.

For 2005 Hamilton moved to reigning Formula 3 Euro Series champions ASM, where he dominated the season, winning 15 out of 20 races to be crowned champion.

GP2 (2006)

Following his Formula 3 success in 2005, Hamilton stepped up a level again, racing GP2 with ASM’s sister team ART Grand Prix in 2006.

Hamilton won the GP2 championship at his first attempt, beating out more fancied rivals such as Timo Glock and Nelson Piquet Jr.

The timing of this success was perfect, as at the conclusion of the 2006 FORMULA 1 season McLaren had Juan Pablo Montoya leave to race NASCAR while Kimi Raikkonen left to join Ferrari.

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Two-time champion Fernando Alonso joined the team, and the last remaining seat was down to a battle between Hamilton, Pedro de la Rosa, and Gary Paffett.

Hamilton was named the driver to win the coveted seat, and from 2007, he set about re-writing the record books.

Lewis Hamilton’s Career In Formula 1

McLaren (2007 – 2012)

Lewis Hamilton finished on the podium in his FORMULA 1 debut, finishing third, making him the 13th driver in history to score a podium on debut.

During his rookie year Hamilton set several F1 records, such as joint most wins in a debut season (four), most consecutive podiums from debut (nine), and most points in a debut season (109).

During the season Hamilton and his teammate Fernando Alonso were involved in a number of high-profile disputes, which ultimately cost them both the championship, as Kimi Raikkonen snatched the Driver’s Championship in the final race of the season by a single point.

At the conclusion of the season Alonso had his McLaren contract terminated by mutual consent, while Hamilton signed a bumper extension to keep hm with McLaren through to the end of the 2012 season.

In 2008 Hamilton enjoyed an even more successful season, securing five race wins and 10 podium finishes.

The battle for the championship went right down to the wire, where Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton were both in contention at the final round in Brazil.

Hamilton won the title in dramatic circumstances, when he overtook Toyota’s Timo Glock on the final corner of the final lap of the season, sending his camp into tears of jubilation, while Massa and his family were left despondent at their home circuit. This win made Hamilton the first British driver to secure the F1 title since Damon Hill in 2006.

Following the great success of 2008, Hamilton spent a disappointing four years failing to recapture the form that saw him win a championship. This was in part due to the Brits loss of focus, as well as the declining fortunes of the McLaren team.

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However, he was still able to secure podiums and race wins in every season, often outperforming the car at his disposal.

2012 saw a return to form for both Hamilton and McLaren, who took four wins and finished fourth in the driver’s standings.

At the conclusion of the season Hamilton made the shock announcement that he would be replacing the retiring Michael Schumacher at Mercedes.

Mercedes (2013 – Present)

Hamilton’s move to Mercedes surprised many who saw it as a backwards step given the German manufacturers struggles since returning to F1. In his first season with the Silver Arrows Hamilton was only able to take one race win, the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix, and a smattering of podiums.

2014 saw a change in regulations that meant a move to turbo-hybrid engines, which has coincided with a period of unparalleled dominance for Mercedes and Hamilton. In the first season of the new regulations Mercedes took out 16 of the 19 races, with 11 of those victories going to Hamilton as he took home his second World Championship.

The following year Hamilton dominated the 2015 Formula 1 season, winning ten races and finishing on the podium a record 17 times as he equalled his hero Ayrton Senna’s total of three World Championships.

At the conclusion of the 2015 season Hamilton signed a contract extension for three years for a reported £100 million in a del that included causes to allow the three-time champion to retain his image rights as well as his trophies and championship-winning cars.

2016 was a thrilling season that went right down to the wire, with teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg fighting for the championship in acrimonious circumstances.

Despite having more pole positions and more race wins in the season, Hamilton would finish second to Rosberg, losing the championship by five points.

Rosberg shocked the world when he retired from Formula 1 after his 2016 championship, which left Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as the only challenger to Mercedes and Hamilton in 2017.

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The pair traded blows throughout the 2017 season, one in which Hamilton set a new record for most career pole positions, but a strong second half of the season saw Hamilton pull away from Vettel to clinch his fourth Driver’s Championship.

The 2018 season was dubbed the Fight for Five as both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel entered the season tied on four championships a piece. In a carbon-copy of 2017 Vettel lead the standings at the halfway point, but a combination of driver error, mechanical issues, and Hamilton wining six of seven races saw the Brit win his fifth championship on his way to setting the record for most points scored in a season (408).

2019 was something of a procession for Mercedes, who were only challenged by Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing. While his teammate Bottas put up a brave resistance he was never in the running, as Hamilton secured his sixth World Championship by taking 11 wins, 17 podiums (matching the all-time record for the fourth time). His total of 413 points also set a new record, eclipsing the record he had set in 2018.

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