Congrats to Lewis Hamilton for winning his 4th World Formula One drivers championship. A superb achievement. Yet given Lewis’ unique talent what took him so long?
Fair to say Lewis should have been 6 times Formula One champion by now but for a few run-ins with former teammates such as Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.
The success of Lewis has been a truly major achievement for him, his family and supporting staff.
The first time I came across Lewis Hamilton’s name was in the mid 1990s when he was featured in the weekly British black newspaper The Voice. In that article the young Lewis and his father Anthony Hamilton shared their dreams of success and following in the footsteps of the late Ayrton Senna.
In those days seeing an article featuring a British black kid racing driver was different and unusual.
The Voice carried further articles on the young Lewis and that made me (and my late brother) develop a keen interest in his career. Lewis’ time in Formula Three racing was just astonishing.
I have been Formula One fan for a long time. My two favourite drivers were Ayrton Senna and Ronnie Peterson. When I worked at Heathrow Airport during the late 1990s I made a discreet point of seeing some of the drivers whenever they came through Terminal 4.
In 2007 Lewis got his big break with Formula One with the Mclaren team. I was as excited as if it was my own son who won the drive.
Pundits expected Lewis – in his first year of Formula One -to play 2nd fiddle to his more illustrious team mate and 2-time world champion Fernando Alonso. But knowing Lewis’ career up to then I suspected he was never going to be anyone’s number 2.
The head of the Mclaren team was Ron Dennis and he was also Lewis’ mentor from his junior days. Dennis gave Lewis the freedom to race Alonso fairly.
Hamilton had an incredible first season with Mclaren which infuriated Alonso. I was convinced Hamilton was good enough to win the world title as a rookie.
Irritatingly, Lewis missed out winning the title by just 1 point (same points as Alonso) to eventual champion Kimi Räikkönen. Alonso decided to leave Mclaren after just one season with the team.
Whenever Lewis won Formula One races I was ecstatic. If he crashed out off went the TV.
Lewis has had many controversial moments throughout his career. His aggressive racing style was not appreciated by some. There were times Lewis felt the world was conspiring against him after a few untimely engine failures, pit stop blunders and run-ins with the race stewards.
When Lewis and his dad had a major falling out I was disappointed knowing how hard and long both had worked to get to the top of motor racing.
Some British fans lost respect for Lewis when he moved to Switzerland for tax purposes. Last week’s news (via the Paradise Papers) on Lewis’ more recent tax avoidance maneuvers added fuel to their anger. Those fans have a point. Given the exorbitant ticket prices for the British Grand Prix.
But in Lewis’ defence most current and previous Formula One drivers play by the same tax avoidance rules. Such as British drivers Jenson Button (Jersey), David Coulthard (Monaco) and Nigel Mansell (Isle of Man) and they were hardly criticised.
Whatever we say about Lewis he brings excitement and thrills both on and off the track. Even the fashion police take a keen interest in Lewis’ off the track attire.
Formula One fans either hate or love Lewis. Spanish fans usually gave him a rough time due to their affinity with compatriot Alonso.
So to see Lewis crowned four time champion and the main attraction for the sport reminds me of those early Voice articles and the Hamilton family’s early dreams of Formula One success and stardom.
Well done all.