“Lewis Hamilton” (Andrew van de Burgt, 2007)

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The weekly reviews slot has temporarily turned into the Lewis Hamilton book corner as I make my way through the eight biographies of the British driver due out in time for Christmas.

This slender, wide format 150+ page book is penned by Andrew van de Burgt, the second Autosport writer to put out a book on Hamilton (following Mark Hughes whose book I reviewed last week).

So how does this one stack up against the rest?

One criticism that I’ve dragged up several times about other Lewis Hamilton books is the total lack of any worthwhile background. Reading some of them, you’d think he’d dropped from the sky Monty Python style, donned a yellow helmet and blagged his way into McLaren.

If anyone is well equipped to tell the back story of Lewis Hamilton’s career it’s Andrew van de Burgt. The Autosport journalist covered many of the junior categories that Hamilton passed through en route to F1, and is therefore uniquely qualified to tell this part of the tale.

With page of page of photographs of karts, junior single seats and, eventually, Grand Prix cars, this might as well be titled “how to become an F1 driver” instead of “A portrait of Britain’s new F1 hero”.

It would make a very good present for a young relative, perhaps one who’s recently taken up an interest in the sport thanks to Hamilton (or just one you’re trying to indoctrinate in the ways of Formula 1…).

That’s not to say the prose is on the juvenile side – not at all. It’s very clearly written and though there’s little in the way of new material from Hamilton himself, van de Burgt has at least drawn on several conversations with people who knew him before he became a megastar.

Unlike some of the other biographers, van de Burgt had the patience to wait until the end of the season and so you get the complete story of the season including all the races.

It’s my no means a complete biography, even notwithstanding the fact that its subject is still only 22 years old. But it’s a decent book, much better than Hamilton’s official “My Story”, and if you know someone who’s hankering after a Hamilton biography you could do an awful lot worse.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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