Saturday, May 29, 2010
At the age of ten, Hamilton approached McLaren team principal Ron Dennis at the Autosport Awards ceremony in December 1995 and told him, "I want to race for you one day...I want to race for McLaren." Less than three years later, he was signed by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz to their Young Driver Support Programme. After winning the British Formula Renault, Formula Three Euroseries, and GP2 championships on his way up the racing career ladder, he became a McLaren F1 driver for 2007, making his Formula One debut 12 years after his initial encounter with Dennis. Coming from a mixed-race background, with a black father and white mother, Hamilton is often labelled "the first black driver in Formula One".
In his first season in Formula One, Hamilton set numerous records and finished second in the 2007 Formula One Championship, just one point behind Kimi Räikkönen. He won the World Championship the following season, ahead of Felipe Massa by the same margin of a single point. He has stated he wants to stay with the McLaren team for the rest of his F1 career.
Hamilton was named after American sprinter Carl Lewis. His mother, Carmen Larbalestier (now Carmen Lockhart) is white British, while his paternal grandparents emigrated from Grenada to the United Kingdom in the 1950s, his grandfather (Oliver Hamilton) working on the London Underground.Hamilton's parents separated when he was two and he lived with his mother and half-sisters Nicola and Samantha until the age of twelve, when he started living with his father Anthony, stepmother Linda and half-brother Nicholas, who has cerebral palsy. Hamilton was raised Roman Catholic.
Anthony Hamilton, Lewis' father, celebrating with Lewis after the 2008 Brazilian
Grand Prix. At the time, and until March 2010, Anthony Hamilton
was also the manager of his son.
Hamilton's first taste of racing competition came at the controls of radio-controlled cars. His father bought him one in 1991, and Hamilton finished second in the national BRCA championship the following year. Hamilton said of the time: "I was racing these remote-controlled cars and winning club championships against adults". That led to Hamilton sampling kart racing for the first time when, aged six, his father bought him his first go-kart as a Christmas present, telling him that he would support his racing career as long as he worked hard at school. When supporting his son became problematic, his father took redundancy from his position as an IT Manager and became a contractor, sometimes doing up to three jobs at a time to support his son's career and still managing to find enough time to attend all Hamilton's races. He later set up his own computer company as well as working as a manager for Hamilton on a full time basis.
In October 2007, Hamilton announced his intention to live in Switzerland, stating that he wished to get away from the media scrutiny experienced living in the United Kingdom. Hamilton mentioned on the television show Parkinson (broadcast on 10 November 2007) that taxation was partly responsible for his decision, in addition to wanting more privacy. Hamilton received public criticism from UK MPs including Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell for avoiding UK taxes. He settled in Luins in Vaud canton on Lake Geneva: other Formula One drivers, including world champions Michael Schumacher, Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso, also live in Switzerland. Hamilton was one of several super-rich figures whose tax arrangements were singled out for criticism in a report by the charity Christian Aid in 2008.
Lewis Hamilton with Pedro de la Rosa (left), Paul di Resta and Bruno Spengler at Stars and Cars 2007
On 18 December 2007, Hamilton was suspended from driving in France for a month after being caught speeding at 196 km/h (122 mph) on a French motorway. His Mercedes-Benz CLK was also impounded. Hamilton dated Nicole Scherzinger, the lead singer of the American girl band Pussycat Dolls from November 2007 to January 2010, when they split up to focus on their respective careers. However, they both stated that they want to remain close friends.. However on 23 February 2010 the Daily Mail reported that they are back together and plan to marry later that year.
Hamilton was awarded an MBE by the Queen in the 2009 New Year Honours.
In March 2009, Madame Tussauds unveiled a waxwork of Hamilton in his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes race suit. This wax replica cost around £150,000 and took over 6 months to complete.
Two days before the 2010 Australian Grand Prix, Victoria Police witnessed Hamilton "deliberately losing traction" in his silver Mercedes, and impounded the car for 48 hours. Hamilton immediately released a statement of apology for "driving in an over-exuberant manner". In May 2010, Hamilton was charged with intentionally losing control of a vehicle.
Hamilton began karting in 1993 at the age of eight, at the Rye House Kart Circuit and quickly began winning races and Cadet class championships. At the age of ten he approached McLaren F1 team boss Ron Dennis for an autograph, and told him, "Hi. I'm Lewis Hamilton. I won the British Championship and one day I want to be racing your cars." Dennis wrote in his autograph book, "Phone me in nine years, we'll sort something out then." From the Cadet ranks, he progressed through to Junior Yamaha (1997) and Ron Dennis actually called him in 1998 after Hamilton won an additional Super One series and his second British championship. Dennis delivered on his promise and signed Hamilton to the McLaren driver development program. This contract included an option of a future F1 seat, which would eventually make Hamilton the youngest ever driver to secure a contract which later resulted in an F1 drive.
"He's a quality driver, very strong and only 16. If he keeps this up I'm sure he will reach F1. It's something special to see a kid of his age out on the circuit. He's clearly got the right racing mentality."
Michael Schumacher, speaking about Hamilton in 2001.
Hamilton continued his progress in the Intercontinental A (1999), Formula A (2000) and Formula Super A (2001) ranks, and became European Champion in 2000 with maximum points. In Formula A and Formula Super A, racing for TeamMBM.com, his team mate was Nico Rosberg who would later drive for the Williams and Mercedes GP teams in Formula One. Following his karting successes the British Racing Drivers' Club made him a ‘Rising Star’ Member in 2000.
In 2001, Michael Schumacher made a one-off return to karts and competed against Hamilton along with other future F1 drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Rosberg. Hamilton ended the final in seventh, four places behind Schumacher. Although the two saw little of each other on the track Schumacher praised the young Briton (see quote box).
Formula Renault and Formula Three
Hamilton began his car racing career in the 2001 British Formula Renault Winter Series. Despite crashing on his third lap in the car in testing, he finished fifth overall in the winter series. This led to a full 2002 Formula Renault UK campaign with Manor Motorsport. Hamilton finished third overall with three wins and three pole positions. He remained with Manor for another year and won the championship with ten wins and 419 points to the two wins and 377 points of his nearest rival, Alex Lloyd. Having clinched the championship, Hamilton missed the last two races of the season to make his debut in the season finale of the British Formula Three Championship. Here he was less successful: in the first race he was forced out with a puncture, and in the second he crashed out and was taken to hospital after a collision with his team-mate Tor Graves. He did show his speed at both the Macau Grand Prix and Korea Super Prix, in the latter he qualified on pole position in his first visit to the track and in only his fourth F3 race. Asked in 2002 about the prospect of becoming one of the youngest ever Formula One drivers, Hamilton replied that his goal was "not to be the youngest in F1 ...[but] to be experienced and then show what I can do in F1".
At the beginning of 2004 Hamilton and McLaren had an argument which resulted in McLaren temporarily dropping him. Later in 2004 Williams would announce that they had come close to signing him but were refused the opportunity due to BMW, their engine supplier at the time, refusing to fund Hamilton's career. Hamilton eventually re-signed with McLaren, and made his debut with Manor in the 2004 Formula Three Euroseries. They won one race and Hamilton ended the year fifth in the championship. He also won the Bahrain F3 Superprix and raced one of the Macau F3 Grand Prix. Hamilton first tested for McLaren in late 2004 at Silverstone.
Hamilton moved to the reigning Euroseries champions ASM for the 2005 season and dominated the championship, winning 15 of the 20 rounds. This would have been 16 but for being disqualified from one win at Spa-Francorchamps on a technical infringement that caught out several other drivers. He also won the Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort. After the season British magazine Autosport featured him in their “Top 50 Drivers of 2005” issue, ranking Hamilton 24th.
Due to his success in Formula Three, he moved to ASM's sister GP2 team ART Grand Prix for 2006. Just like their sister team in F3, ART were the leaders of the field and reigning champions having taken the 2005 GP2 crown with Nico Rosberg. Hamilton won the GP2 championship at his first attempt, beating Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Timo Glock.
His performances included a dominant win at the Nürburgring, despite serving a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. At his home race at Silverstone, supporting the British Grand Prix, Hamilton overtook two rivals at Becketts, a series of high-speed (up to 150 mph in a GP2 car) bends where overtaking is rare. In Istanbul he recovered from a spin that left him in eighteenth place to take second position in the final corners. He won the title in unusual circumstances, inheriting the final point he needed after Giorgio Pantano was stripped of fastest lap in the Monza feature race. In the sprint race, though he finished second with Piquet sixth, he finished twelve points clear of his rival.
His 2006 GP2 championship coincided with a vacancy at McLaren following the departure of Juan Pablo Montoya to NASCAR and Kimi Räikkönen to Ferrari. After months of speculation on whether Hamilton, Pedro de la Rosa or Gary Paffett would be paired with defending champion Fernando Alonso for 2007, Hamilton was confirmed as the team's second driver. He was told of McLaren's decision on September 30, but the news was not made public until November 24, for fear that it would be overshadowed by Michael Schumacher's retirement announcement.
Formula One career
Hamilton's first F1 victory came at the 2007
Canadian Grand Prix.
Hamilton after taking pole at the 2007 US Grand Prix
Hamilton at the start of the 2007 French Grand Prix behind Ferrari's Felipe Massa
Hamilton took fourth place in the 2007 Belgian Grand Prix.
It was announced prior to the start of the season that Hamilton would be partnering defending double World Champion Fernando Alonso who had joined McLaren after leaving Renault.
On his debut at the Australian Grand Prix, he qualified fourth and finished third in the race, becoming the thirteenth driver to finish on the podium in his first F1 career race (excluding those in the first ever World Championship round). In Bahrain, Hamilton got his first front-row start, qualifying and finishing second behind Felipe Massa. Hamilton again finished second behind Massa in the Spanish Grand Prix, to take the lead in the drivers championship. This meant that Hamilton took the record from Bruce McLaren as the youngest driver to ever lead the world championship.
Hamilton finished second behind Alonso at Monaco and afterwards suggested he was prevented from racing his team mate. The FIA cleared McLaren following an investigation.
Hamilton had both his first pole position and first victory of his F1 career in the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal. He led for most of the race even after the safety car was deployed four times increasing the chances of him being overtaken. A week later Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix, also from pole position, becoming the first Briton since John Watson in 1983 to win an F1 race in the US, and only the second person, after Jacques Villeneuve, to win more than one race in his rookie Formula One season since the first year of the Championship.
By finishing third at Magny-Cours behind Ferrari drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa, Hamilton extended his lead in the Driver's Championship to 14 points. This was the first time in his F1 career he finished a race in a lower position than he started, and the first time he had been passed on the race track in Formula One. He took pole at his home Grand Prix at Silverstone and led for the first 16 laps, but slipped to third, 40 seconds behind Räikkönen and Alonso.
During qualifying for the European Grand Prix, Hamilton crashed at the Schumacher chicane after a problem with the wheel nut caused by the air gun used on his car. He was taken to the circuit's medical centre on a stretcher with an oxygen mask and drip, but was conscious throughout. He was unable to complete qualifying and his existing laptime was surpassed by all other competitors during Q3, thus he qualified in tenth position. After a final medical check on Sunday morning, Hamilton was cleared to race. During a heavy rainstorm which caused the race to be red-flagged Hamilton slid off into a gravel trap, however as he kept his engine running he was lifted back on to the circuit and able to rejoin the race after the restart. His ninth place finish in this race was his first non-podium and non-points finish, enabling title contenders Alonso and Massa to reduce Hamilton's championship lead.
Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position following a controversial qualifying session. Alonso had set the fastest time, but was relegated five places down the grid to sixth for preventing Hamilton to leave the pit lane in time to complete his final qualifying lap. Kimi Räikkönen stayed within five seconds of Hamilton for the entire race (excluding pit stop periods). McLaren were docked any constructor's points earned during the race due to the incident in qualifying.
After declaring he had restored his relationship with Alonso, Hamilton qualified second in Turkey. After dropping to third at the first corner, Hamilton looked set for a podium finish with 15 laps remaining, but a right-front tyre puncture forced him to crawl back to the pits, leaving him to finish fifth meaning his championship lead was cut once more.
Alonso beat Hamilton in the Italian and Belgian Grands Prix, leaving the Briton with a two-point lead in the title race. However he extended his lead to 12 points after winning the Japanese Grand Prix in heavy rain after Alonso crashed. Following the race Hamilton was investigated by the race stewards over his involvement in an incident behind the safety car, which saw both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber crash out of the race while following the McLaren. The trio were cleared on the Friday of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
After securing pole position in China, which saw changeable weather conditions, Hamilton retired from the race. He experienced considerable tyre wear, notably his right rear, and he ran wide into the gravel trap in the pitlane where his car beached. This was Hamilton's first retirement of his Formula One career. It was later revealed that Bridgestone became unnerved at the glaringly worn tyres and advised McLaren to order him to make a pit stop which McLaren refused to do, believing it would be counterproductive. Hamilton himself couldn't tell the full extent of the tyre problem as raindrops were in his wing mirrors. Hamilton thus went into the final race of the season four and seven points ahead of Alonso and Räikkönen respectively.
In the Brazilian Grand Prix he failed to finish in a championship-winning position, finishing the race in seventh overall after being in eighteenth place at his worst point of the race. The drop to eighteenth occurred due to two incidents. In the first he was passed by Räikkönen away from the line before being boxed in by Massa and Räikkönen into the first corner, and 'wrong-footed' by Räikkönen mid-corner, Hamilton was passed by Alonso in Turn 3. Hamilton attempted to re-pass Alonso in turn four, but ran wide, dropping four places to eighth. The second problem started on lap 9 when Hamilton encountered a gearbox problem, which meant that he was stuck in neutral and could not select any gears. The gearbox became operational again after Hamilton switched settings on his steering wheel, but he lost 40 seconds while his car was coasting. For most of the race, Massa was leading with Räikkönen in second. If this had been the case come the chequered flag with Hamilton in seventh place, Hamilton would have become world champion. After the second round of pit stops, Räikkönen stayed out a couple of laps longer than Massa and took the lead. Once in front Räikkönen made no mistakes in the remaining laps and won the race to become the Formula One world champion.
On 21 October 2007 it was announced that the FIA were investigating BMW Sauber and Williams for fuel irregularities, the BMW drivers had finished in fifth and sixth place, and if they were to be excluded Hamilton would be promoted to fifth and would win the 2007 Drivers World Championship by one point over Räikkönen. Ultimately no penalty whatsoever was given to any team as there was "sufficient doubt as to render it inappropriate to impose a penalty", though McLaren officially appealed this decision. Hamilton subsequently told the BBC he does not want to win an F1 title through the disqualifications of other drivers. A precedent had been set in 1995 when Michael Schumacher, then of Benetton-Renault, and David Coulthard, then of Williams-Renault, were both found guilty of possessing illegal fuel in their cars and in that situation both drivers were initially docked drivers points, but for unspecified reasons it would transpire over a week later that constructor points would be docked instead.
Ahead of the world championship finale, Hamilton answered a question about what it would mean to him to become the first black champion, saying: "It will show that not only white people can do it, but also black people, Indians, Japanese and Chinese. It will be good to mean something." Having made few public remarks about his ethnicity since becoming an F1 driver, Hamilton added: "Outside of Formula One my heroes are foremost my father, then Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. Being black is not a negative. It’s a positive, if anything, because I’m different. In the future it can open doors to different cultures and that is what motor sport is trying to do anyway".
Hamilton on the top step of the podium after winning the 2007 United States
Grand Prix. He is flanked by team-mate Fernando Alonso
(left) and Felipe Massa (right).
Hamilton's relationship with McLaren team boss Ron Dennis dates back to 1995, with the first indication that Hamilton was unhappy with his team appearing after he finished second at Monaco in 2007. After post-race comments made by Hamilton which suggested he had been forced into a supporting role, the FIA initiated an inquiry to determine whether McLaren had broken rules by enforcing team orders. McLaren denied favouring double world champion Fernando Alonso, and the FIA subsequently vindicated the team, stating that: "McLaren were able to pursue an optimum team strategy because they had a substantial advantage over all other cars. They did nothing which could be described as interfering with the race result".
The tensions within the team surfaced again at the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix. During the final qualifying session for the race Hamilton was delayed in the pits by Alonso and thus unable to set a final lap time before the end of the session. McLaren pointed out that Hamilton had disobeyed an earlier instruction to let Alonso pass in qualifying. Alonso was relegated to sixth place on the starting grid, thus elevating Hamilton (who had originally qualified second) to first, while McLaren were docked constructors championship points. Hamilton said he thought Alonso's penalty was "quite light if anything" and only regretted the loss of constructors' points. Hamilton was reported to have sworn at Dennis on the team radio following the incident. British motorsport journal Autosport claimed that this "[led] Dennis to throw his headphones on the pit wall in disgust (a gesture that was misinterpreted by many to be in reaction to Alonso's pole)". However McLaren later issued a statement on behalf of Hamilton which denied the use of any profanity.As a result of these events, the relationship between Hamilton and Alonso temporarily collapsed, with the pair not on speaking terms for a short period. In the aftermath it was reported that Hamilton had been targeted by Luca di Montezemolo regarding a Ferrari drive for 2008.
Following the stewards' investigation into the incident at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, Alonso insinuated that the verdict had settled the championship in Hamilton's favour, saying: "I'm not thinking of this championship anymore, it's been decided off the track. The drivers' briefing has no purpose. You go there to hear what Charlie Whiting and the other officials say. Twenty one drivers have an opinion, Charlie and the officials another, and so it's like talking to a wall".
The rivalry between Hamilton and teammate Alonso led to speculation that one of the pair would leave McLaren at the end of the 2007 season and Alonso and McLaren subsequently terminated their contract by mutual consent on November 2, 2007.
Hamilton won the first race of 2008 in Melbourne.
Hamilton on the podium of the first race of 2008 in Melbourne
On December 14, 2007, it was confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen who drove for Renault in 2007 would drive the second car for McLaren-Mercedes for the 2008 Formula One season alongside Hamilton. In January 2008, Hamilton signed a new five-year multi-million pound contract to stay with McLaren-Mercedes until the end of the 2012 season.
Hamilton won the first race of the 2008 season, the Australian Grand Prix, having qualified on pole position. In the second race of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix, he finished fifth after long duels with both Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli. He had been demoted to ninth on the grid, from fourth, for impeding Heidfeld's flying lap. At the third race of the year, the Bahrain Grand Prix, things did not start well for Hamilton when he had a crash in practice which destroyed his car. He continued with a spare chassis and took third place in qualifying. In the race, after a bad start, he crashed into the back of Alonso's Renault finishing 13th. This led to him being overtaken in the drivers Championship by Kimi Räikkönen and Nick Heidfeld.
He was back on the podium at the Spanish Grand Prix finishing third from fifth on the grid. Hamilton finished second in the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday May 11, 2008. He said that this was his best race he had ever competed in. Two weeks later, he won the Monaco Grand Prix putting him in the lead of the championship.
He achieved his eighth career pole position at the Canadian Grand Prix. During the race, he crashed into the back of Räikkönen after failing to see that the Finn was waiting at a red light at the end of the pit lane. Both cars were forced to retire and Hamilton was given a 10 position grid penalty for the next race, the French Grand Prix, as a result of this incident. At that race, Hamilton overtook Sebastian Vettel at the chicane on lap 1 but missed the apex and was given a drive through penalty which he served on lap 13, finishing the race in 13th. Despite an error in qualifying that saw him start fourth on the grid, Hamilton went on to win the British Grand Prix in difficult, wet conditions. His performance was stated as being one of his best drives to date. Hamilton himself said in the post race press conference that it was his most difficult and most meaningful win.
In the next race at Hockenheim, Hamilton started from pole position, building up an 11 second lead over second-placed Felipe Massa early in the race. After stopping and re-emerging in the lead, McLaren then decided to keep Hamilton out on-track when the safety car was deployed mid-way through the race. When Hamilton finally pitted, he came out in fifth place, jumping to third after his team-mate let him by and Nick Heidfeld pitted. He then overtook Massa and Nelson Piquet, Jr. for the lead, eventually winning by 9 seconds.
Hamilton was penalised at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix for passing Kimi Räikkönen after cutting the previous corner. The stewards judged that he gained an illegal advantage, and the penalty dropped him from first to third position.
Hamilton won the Belgian Grand Prix on the road, however he was later judged to have gained an unfair advantage by cutting a chicane when he used a tarmac run off area to avoid hitting Kimi Räikkönen.McLaren said that their telemetry showed Hamilton backed off to let Räikkönen past but Hamilton was given a 25 second penalty, thereby dropping him to third. As a result his main title rival Massa inherited the win. Hamilton's lead in the drivers' championship was cut to two points, and a subsequent appeal by McLaren to the FIA World Council was rejected on the grounds that the case was inadmissible. The Italian Grand Prix was won by Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso. Both Massa and Hamilton failed to capitalise on the weather and each other's poor grid positions finishing sixth and seventh respectively. This result cut Hamilton's lead in the Championship to one point. Hamilton finished third at the next race the Singapore Grand Prix. Massa failed to score any points, allowing Hamilton to increase his championship lead to seven points.
At the Japanese Grand Prix Hamilton took pole in qualifying. His closest rival for the Championship title, Felipe Massa, could only manage to qualify fifth. As the race began Kimi Räikkönen made a good start from second position, getting ahead of pole-sitter Hamilton. Hamilton moved down the inside before the first corner, out-braking himself and running wide. This forced some of the drivers behind him to go off the track, including the cars of Räikkönen and Heikki Kovalainen, for which Hamilton was given a drive-through penalty. A second incident followed soon afterwards, on the second lap, when Hamilton attempted to pass Massa into the chicane at turn 10. Hamilton pulled alongside the Ferrari and as Massa ran wide into the corner, Hamilton made a move to pass him. Massa then ran up inside Hamilton and the cars collided at the second bend of the chicane, pushing the McLaren into a spin. Massa was later given a drive-through penalty for this move. Hamilton, who had been in sixth place behind Massa, dropped down to last place but managed to regain some places and managed to finish the race in 12th position. However his title rival Felipe Massa finished seventh after being given an extra point after a penalty was given to Sébastien Bourdais of Scuderia Toro Rosso. This meant that with just two races to go Hamilton led the World Championship by five points from Massa.
At the penultimate race of the season, the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix, Hamilton was much faster than all the other cars in the practice sessions, and in qualifying he did well again, qualifying on pole position. He went on to win the race from Felipe Massa and Kimi Räikkönen, taking a 7 point lead in the World Championship into the last race of the season. Speaking afterwards, Hamilton said "All weekend we have had God on our side as always, and the team did a phenomenal job in preparing the car, which has been a dream to drive."
Hamilton needed to finish at least fifth in the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix to secure the World Championship. After a hard fought race Lewis was in fifth but, after rain, and in the closing laps of the race, Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Toro Rosso took the fifth position away from Hamilton. Had the race ended then, this would have given the driver's title to Massa.
On the final lap of the race first Vettel and then Hamilton managed to pass Timo Glock of Toyota, after Glock (unlike Hamilton) had risked staying on the track with dry-weather tyres, despite the rain. This moved Hamilton back up to fifth, ensuring that he finished one point ahead of Massa overall and winning the 2008 title. Hamilton's overtaking move happened after Massa had crossed the line to win. This meant that Hamilton had clinched the 2008 Formula One World Championship, becoming the youngest driver to win the title, as well as the first black driver. He is also the first British driver to win the World Championship since Damon Hill triumphed in 1996.
Hamilton had many taunts during pre-season testing in 2008 and they continue in 2010 on a small scale (Image 2010)
On February 4, 2008, Lewis Hamilton was verbally heckled and otherwise abused during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Catalonia by several Spanish spectators who wore black face paint and black wigs, as well as shirts bearing the words "Hamilton's familly [sic]". Hamilton became widely unpopular in Spain because of his rivalry with Spanish former team-mate Fernando Alonso. The FIA have warned Spanish authorities about the repetition of such behaviour. In reaction to this behaviour, the FIA announced on 13 February 2008 that it will launch a "Race Against Racism" campaign.
Shortly before the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, a website owned by the Spanish branch of the New York-based advertising agency TBWA and named "pinchalaruedadeHamilton" (burst Hamilton's tyre) was featured in the British media. The website contained an animated image of Interlagos that allowed users to leave nails and porcupines on the track for Hamilton's car to run over. Among thousands of anti-Hamilton comments left since 2007, some included racial insults. His rival Fernando Alonso condemned the racist supporters.
Hamilton driving for McLaren at the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix.
After winning the championship in the previous Formula One season, Hamilton set out to defend his title in 2009.
A year after winning the 2008 Australian Grand Prix from pole position, Hamilton opened his 2009 season from the second to last row of the grid. After a gearbox problem in first stage of qualifying for the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, McLaren decided to replace the gearbox resulting in a penalty that moved Hamilton to the back of the grid. Hamilton was then moved up into 18th place after Toyota's Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli were both penalised for over flexible rear wings. After starting the race in 18th place, Hamilton moved up the pack throughout the race. After the midway point, Hamilton looked to have a decent chance to finish in the points. After making a few key passes late, Hamilton benefited from a late crash between Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and was vaulted up into 4th place where he originally finished the race. He was then promoted to third after Jarno Trulli was penalised for overtaking Hamilton under safety-car conditions. During a post-race stewards' hearing, Hamilton and McLaren officials told stewards they had not purposely let Trulli pass, but it was revealed by release of the McLaren race radio communication that this was not true. Hamilton was then disqualified for providing "misleading evidence" during the stewards' hearing.
Hamilton later privately apologised to FIA race director Charlie Whiting for having lied to the stewards.
Hamilton driving for McLaren at the 2009 Turkish Grand Prix.
In the second race of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix, he finished seventh after heavy rain ended the race after just 33 laps at Sepang. Hamilton received half of the normal two points normally awarded to the seventh place finisher because the race ran for less than 75 percent of its scheduled distance, and was therefore not considered a full race.
Hamilton qualified ninth for the wet Chinese Grand Prix, during which he was able to pass several cars throughout the race, only to lose places with spins that he put down to aquaplaning on worn tyres. One such spin let his team-mate Kovalainen past, but Hamilton did benefit late in the race from Adrian Sutil crashing out while sixth, the position Hamilton filled at the finish.
The fourth race of the 2009 Formula One season was the Bahrain Grand Prix. After starting from fifth on the grid, Hamilton progressed backwards and forwards throughout the race before finally finishing in fourth position, thereby earning five points. In Spain he came ninth and in Monaco after some setting the fastest first sector, crashed in Q1 and finished 12th in the race. In Turkey he was again out in Q1 when his team mate went into Q2. In the race Lewis didn't make much progress and finished a lowly 13th, ahead of team mate Kovalainen but was the slower of the two McLarens all weekend. A chance for points, and even hopes for a podium finish came at 2009 German Grand Prix when he qualified fifth, but a puncture on the first lap caused by a collision with Mark Webber's race winning Red Bull RB5 car sent him down to 19th as the -McLaren limped back to the pits damaging the floor and undertray. With the car damaged and aero benefits lost he finished 18th, last and the only driver in the race lapped.
Hamilton's fortunes were reversed at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. After a KERS-assisted start from 4th that saw him second by turn 1, Mark Webber briefly leapfrogged him and he was down to third by turn 2. On lap 5 he retook the position, and following Alonso's retirement on lap 13, Hamilton led for the remainder of the race to finish 11.529s in front of Kimi Raikkonen, and take his 10th career win – the first for a KERS-equipped car.
Hamilton's newly-found return to form continued at the 2009 European Grand Prix, where he qualified on pole position for the first time in the season, heading a McLaren one-two with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, because of a poor pit stop by the mechanics Lewis lost first position but finished a steady second to finish the weekend in style.
He was unable to repeat his 2008 Belgian win the next race however, as his race ended prematurely, when he, along with Jenson Button, Jaime Alguersuari, and Romain Grosjean crashed out on the opening lap.
At the 2009 Italian Grand Prix Hamilton started from pole but crashed out of third place on the last lap when chasing Jenson Button for second, giving Kimi Räikkönen a podium spot at Ferrari's home circuit and also mathematically eliminating his chances of defending the title.
In September, Hamilton won at the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix for his second win of the 2009 season. In Japan, he started third behind Sebastian Vettel and Jarno Trulli, where after passing Trulli at the start, he maintained his second place, but lost out to the Toyota driver after his final pit-stop and had to settle for third.
In the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix, Hamilton started from 17th on the grid, and managed to finish on the podium in third place. This is the race where Jenson Button inherited the world championship drivers crown from Lewis by finishing fifth, the same position that won Hamilton the 2008 World Championship at the same race the previous year. The finale to the 2009 F1 calendar was at the newly built Abu Dhabi Circuit. Hamilton was quick throughout the practice sessions and qualified on pole, 6 tenths of a second quicker than Sebastian Vettel who sat in 2nd on the grid. Hamilton was looking strong to win the race, but retired on lap 20 due to a rear brake problem.
For 2010, Hamilton has been joined by fellow Brit and newly crowned world champion Jenson Button. Hamilton said that he is happy to welcome Button into the team and is looking forward to his challenge.
Hamilton driving for McLaren at the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix, where he finished in sixth position, having started 20th.
After having a difficult 2009 season Hamilton was set out to challenge for the title hoping that this year could be a much better season for him and McLaren. Hamilton finished third in Bahrain, having qualified fourth on the grid.
In Australia, Hamilton failed to make it to the final qualifying session and had to start the race from eleventh place on the grid. He ran as high as third, before ending the race in sixth, after a late-race collision with Mark Webber.
Malaysia saw him in the top three positions in all practice sessions, but a misjudgement on the weather by his team in qualifying, left him on tyres that were unfavourable for the wet conditions. This restricted him to 20th on the grid for the race, before he came through to finish sixth. He was given a warning during the race, after he weaved four times over a straight trying to break the tow that Vitaly Petrov was receiving and was not intending to block him. After the race the rules were clarified by stewards to only allow a driver to weave once even if they are only trying to break a tow.
Hamilton qualified in sixth position in Shanghai, making up four places in the race and achieving a second place finish, behind teammate Jenson Button. This completed the team's first 1-2 finish for two and a half years, the first since the 2007 Italian Grand Prix. The race saw multiple brief periods of rain, and two safety car periods, which upset the order and resulted in many overtaking manoeuvres. Hamilton was involved in a pit lane incident with Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, for which both later received a reprimand from race stewards, Hamilton for his second consecutive race after the Petrov incident in Malaysia.
Hamilton qualified third for the Spanish Grand Prix and started well. By the end of the race he was running in second behind Mark Webber and set the fastest lap of the race on the third last lap. Three corners later on the second last lap of the race, he speared off into the gravel trap and came in contact with the wall, destroying the left front suspension and putting him out of the race. It appeared that his front left tyre received a puncture and blew out but it was later confirmed by McLaren that the wheel rim had failed and destroyed the tyre, sending Hamilton into the barrier. Despite running in the top three for most of the race he was classified 2 laps down and did not receive any points.
The next weekend at Monaco Hamilton and teammate Jenson Button raced with a diamond encrusted steering wheel. Hamilton's steering wheel had the year "08" placed on it in diamonds and Button had the year "09" on his wheel. Hamilton qualified 5th for the race and finished 5th.
Hamilton has matched or set the following records in Formula One:
Most consecutive podiums from debut race: 9 – Australian GP 2007 – British GP 2007 (previous record was 2 by Peter Arundell – Monaco GP 1964 – Dutch GP 1964)
Most consecutive podiums for a British driver: 9 – Australian GP 2007 – British GP 2007 (tied with Jim Clark – Belgian GP 1963 – South African GP 1963)
Youngest driver to lead the World Championship: 22 years, 4 months, 8 days – at the Bahrain GP 2007 (Previous record was 23 years, 7 months, 22 days by Fernando Alonso at the Malaysian GP 2005)
Most wins in a debut season: 4, Canadian, USA, Hungarian and Japanese GPs 2007 (equalling Jacques Villeneuve, European, British, Hungarian and Portuguese GPs 1996)
Most pole positions in a debut season: 6, Canadian, USA, British, Hungarian, Japanese and Chinese GPs 2007 (Previous record was 3 held jointly by Jacques Villeneuve (1996) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2001))
Most points in a debut season: 109
Youngest F1 World Champion (2008 season) 23 years and 300 days, previously held by Fernando Alonso with 24 years and 58 days.
In his debut season, Hamilton took the record of Youngest World Drivers' Championship runner-up, at 22 years and 288 days, previously held by Kimi Räikkönen at 23 years and 360 days. In 2009, this record was taken by Sebastian Vettel, who was 22 years and 122 days when he secured runner-up position in the championship.
Hamilton is the first driver of black heritage to compete in Formula One (although Willy T. Ribbs tested an F1 car in 1986) and the first driver of black heritage to win a major race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in any discipline. In addition, he is the third youngest driver to achieve an F1 pole position, and the fourteenth F1 driver to achieve a podium finish on his debut.
During the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, Hamilton became the first driver to have his car recovered by a crane and put back on the track during an F1 race, although several drivers have been pushed back onto the circuit by the marshals without mechanical aids when judged to be in a dangerous position, such as Michael Schumacher during the 2003 European Grand Prix. Since then, the FIA have now banned the use of mechanical assistance to help move a car back onto the track, meaning that Hamilton became the first and the last driver to have his car recovered by crane back onto the track.
Lewis Hamilton's contract for the McLaren driver development program made him the youngest ever driver to secure a contract which later resulted in an F1 drive.
Due to the fact that Hamilton has said in the past that Ayrton Senna was his hero, some people assumed that his helmet is yellow in honour of him.In actuality it was made yellow so that his father could tell which kart his son was driving back in his karting days. Hamilton chose the colours blue, green and red and they were originally in a ribbon design however Hamilton later felt that the design was "a bit old hat" so it was changed. In later years a white ring was added and the ribbons moved forward to make room for adverts and logos.
During the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton had an altered helmet design with the addition of a roulette wheel image on the top. Hamilton has said, "...I’ll also be wearing a specially-painted helmet for the occasion. When you see it, you’ll know why I’ll be hoping for it to swing the odds in my favour."
Season Series Team Races Wins Poles F/Laps Podiums Points Position
2000 World Formula A Championship TeamMBM.com (CRG/Parilla) 1 0 0 0 0 N/A NC
European Formula A Championship 9 5 ? ? ? 75 1st
Formula A World Cup 1 1 ? ? 1 N/A 1st
2001 Formula Super A World Championship TeamMBM.com (Parolin/Parilla) 10 0 0 0 0 28 15th
Formula Renault 2000 UK Winter Series Manor Motorsport 4 0 0 0 0 ? 5th
2002 Formula Renault 2000 UK Manor Motorsport 13 3 3 5 7 274 3rd
Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup 4 1 1 2 3 92 5th
2003 Formula Renault 2.0 UK Manor Motorsport 15 10 11 9 13 419 1st
British Formula Three 2 0 0 0 0 0 NC
Formula Renault 2000 Masters 2 0 0 0 1 24 12th
Formula Renault 2000 Germany 2 0 0 0 0 25 27th
Korea Super Prix 1 0 1 0 0 N/A NC
Macau Grand Prix 1 0 0 0 0 N/A NC
2004 Formula Three Euroseries Manor Motorsport 20 1 1 2 5 69 5th
Bahrain Superprix 1 1 0 0 1 N/A 1st
Macau Grand Prix 1 0 0 0 0 N/A 14th
Masters of Formula 3 1 0 0 0 0 N/A 14th
2005 Formula Three Euroseries ASM Formule 3 20 15 13 10 17 172 1st
Masters of Formula 3 1 1 1 1 1 N/A 1st
2006 GP2 Series ART Grand Prix 21 5 1 7 14 114 1st
2007 Formula One Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 17 4 6 2 12 109 2nd
2008 Formula One Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 18 5 7 1 10 98 1st
2009 Formula One Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 17 2 4 0 5 49 5th
2010 Formula One Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 6 0 0 2 2 59* 7th*
* Season in progress.
Complete GP2 Series results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Year Entrant 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 DC Points
2006 ART Grand Prix VAL
2 1st 114
Complete Formula One results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 WDC Points
2007 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-22 Mercedes FO 108T 2.4 V8 AUS
7 2nd 109
2008 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-23 Mercedes FO 108V 2.4 V8 AUS
5 1st 98
2009 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-24 Mercedes FO 108W 2.4 V8 AUS
Ret 5th 49
2010 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes McLaren MP4-25 Mercedes FO 108X 2.4 V8 BHR
* Season in progress.
† Did not finish, but was classified as he had completed more than 90% of the race distance.
‡ Half points awarded as less than 75% of race distance was completed.