Lewis Hamilton – the latest in a long line of exciting British racing drivers
Great Britain has a proud history of championship quality Formula One drivers. In its formational years of the 1960’s and 70’s, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart won five titles between them. In future years, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Jenson Button all won a Drivers’ Championship in their lifetime. But perhaps the most exciting and flamboyant driver of them all is another former World Champion, Lewis Hamilton.
When he was just a 10-year-old boy, Hamilton walked straight up to the team principle of McLaren, Ron Dennis, and said, "I want to race for you one day ... I want to race for McLaren.” 12 years later in 2007 he did just that as the supposed reserve driver as backup to the two times World Champion, Fernando Alonso.
Lewis Hamilton clearly had not read the script. He finished on the podium in nine straight races in his rookie year and became the youngest driver ever to lead the Drivers’ Championship. Ultimately it proved too much for the young man in his first season as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen stole the title at the end of the season. But the marker had been laid down; Hamilton was going to be a title contender for a long time to come.
Lewis Hamilton’s emergence did not go down well with Alonso who was used to being top dog. Through a mixture of personal and professional difficulties, Alonso returned to Renault leaving Hamilton as the main driver at McLaren. The following season, Hamilton was once again in a thrilling fight for the title with Ferrari but this time against Brazilian Felipe Massa.
In arguably the most dramatic moment in F1 history, Hamilton overtook Timo Glock for fifth position two corners until the chequered flag in the final race of the season in Massa’s home country. That extra place handed Hamilton the title in only his second full season in F1. Hamilton was the then youngest driver to ever win the World Title and was a national hero after winning in such nerve-racking style.
As well as his World Title, Lewis Hamilton’s achievements include being the last British winner at Silverstone in 2008 and the only one in 13 years, being acknowledged as the best driver in the wet currently on the circuit and the fastest F1 driver to ever go round the Top Gear test track – beating Sebastian Vettel by over a second. What makes Hamilton special though is his ability to entertain the fans. His aggressive overtaking and driving style make him the most fan friendly on the circuit to watch which makes him one of, if not the, most popular driver across the globe.
The only thing standing in the way of Lewis Hamilton becoming a multiple World Champion is Vettel’s imperious performances at Red Bull. The Brit has tried to rectify this by moving to Mercedes after six years at his beloved McLaren. It ultimately proved a smart move as McLaren have struggled this year to keep pace with the title chasing teams whilst Mercedes look to be gearing up for a serious challenge on Vettel’s and Red Bull’s dominance.
Time will tell whether Lewis Hamilton can win more titles that his talent deserves but he’ll still go down as one of the most exciting drivers that Formula 1 has ever seen in the modern era. After all, comparisons with the magical Ayrton Senna must make you one of the all-time greats.