A Guide to Lewis Hamilton
What You Need to Know
- Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in January 1985 and started racing at the age of just six.
- He honed his skills through the McLaren Mercedes Young Driver Support programme and went on to win a GP2 Championship.
- Lewis made the step up to F1 in 2007, joining the McLaren team.
- He finished second in his first season and then went on to take the 2008 World Championship.
- The driver is renowned for his aggressive style out on the track. While this has led him to many victories, it has also led to some criticisms, not least from some of his fellow professionals.
- Hamilton finished the 2011 season in fifth place, having managed just one win all season.
- The racer has established his own charity, the Lewis Hamilton Foundation, which works to improve the lives and opportunities of children and young people living in poverty.
Early Life and Career
Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was born in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in January 1985, and within just a few years his sporting potential was beginning to shine through.
However, rather than in the cockpit, his motoring skills first emerged after he was given a radio-controlled car by his father Anthony at the age of just six.
With early victories against adults in the national radio-controlled car racing championships hinting at enhanced hand-eye coordination, his father then bought young Lewis a go-kart and pledged to support his fledgling racing career so long as he worked hard at school, despite the financial sacrifices this entailed.
But his father's faith was soon paid off, with his son quickly establishing himself as something of a karting prodigy and even telling McLaren F1 boss Ron Dennis that he would one day race for his team when the two met for the first time at the 1995 Autosport Awards ceremony.
Just three years after Lewis made his famous prediction, he was indeed taken on by the McLaren Mercedes Young Driver Support programme, and under the team's tutelage, he won the British Formula Three Euroseries and then the GP2 Championship, before making the step up to F1 in 2007.
After Columbian driver Juan Pablo Montoya moved across to compete in the NASCAR championship, Hamilton was named as McLaren Mercedes' new driver and quickly cemented his reputation as one of the world's top driving prospects despite the step up in class.
Indeed, he achieved a podium finish in his first race - third at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix - while second place in the Spanish Grand Prix three races later was enough to send him top of the drivers' leaderboard.
Hamilton's first F1 victory followed soon after, with a win in Canada, while a victory in the United States helped him extend his championship lead.
However, despite another win in Hungary, a poor performance in the European Grand Prix, as well as the fact he was forced to retire in the Chinese Grand Prix, gave teammate Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen the chance to push the race for the title to the wire, and it was the Finn who claimed the 2007 championship, beating the Brit by just one point.
Undeterred, Hamilton returned stronger the following season, winning the first race of the campaign, the Australian Grand Prix, though then suffering from mixed fortunes in the next few events.
It was the British Grand Prix, which Hamilton says is his favourite race, that got his title charge back on track, with victory here, closely followed by first place in Germany and strong performances in Singapore and China.
Needing fifth spot in the final race of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, to clinch the title, Hamilton's did just this, becoming the youngest-ever F1 champ.
The following season saw Hamilton struggle to find his form, while car problems also contributed to his missing out on retaining his title, though he has stated that the challenge posed by fellow Brit Jenson Button becoming his teammate for the 2010 season will help to spur him on.
As well as his failure to hold onto his crown in the 2009 F1 season, Hamilton's experiences of being caught up in a number of controversies will go down as low points of his stellar career.
In the 2009 season he was disqualified from for one race after being found guilty of providing 'misleading evidence' during an inquiry into team communications, while he has also been at the centre of several high-profile fallings-out, including with Alonso, while his allegedly-fraught relationship with Dennis has been the centre of speculation.
In terms of his racing results, as of the end of the 2011 season, he has failed to recapture the form of 2008, having finished fourth, fifth and fifth again in the three seasons following on from his championship victory.
In addition to disappointment on the track, Hamilton has also been subjected to several instances of racial abuse from F1 crowds, though this has not affected his performances.
- Lewis Hamilton was named after the American sprinter Carl Lewis.
- The racer has established his own charity, the Lewis Hamilton Foundation, which works to improve the lives and opportunities of children and young people living in poverty in both the UK and around the world.
- Along with Jacques Villenueve, he holds the record for the most victories in a debut F1 season, with four wins.
- He also holds the record for the youngest driver to lead a World Championship
- Due to his mixed-race background, Lewis is often referred to as the first black driver to make a name for himself in Formula One.
- Get ready for the upcoming 2012 season and learn more about who will be racing, when and where with the official F1 website.
- Check out the UK Net Guide TV Guide and watch all the latest racing action live.
- Learn how to perform a pit stop of your own with our guide to changing a tyre.