In his final video retrospective of the season, F1 Fanatic guest writer Journeyer looks at the career of outgoing world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Although Jenson Button has clinched the title in Brazil, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will technically be Lewis Hamilton’s last race as the reigning world champion. It must feel slightly odd for Lewis not to be the most noticed Briton on the grid this year, but after all the events this year, perhaps he doesn’t mind too much.
In contrast to Button’s climb to F1, Hamilton has seen success at almost all levels of motorsport. He has clinched multiple titles, and we’ll take a look at each of them in this look back at Hamilton’s career.
1996: Here’s the first TV coverage of Lewis Hamilton. Indeed, here he is racing in the Karting Cadet class as part of the Champions of the Future series. Even this early on, ITV showed a lot of love for Hamilton – note the helmet graphic they use as they show the final results.
1997: Hamilton’s meteoric rise (in conjunction with his race) meant he was easily noticed. Already, the BBC featured him as part of its Black Britain series that year. Note that Ron Dennis is already mentioned and interviewed this early on in his career in this video (not embeddable).
1998: Hamilton moved up yet another kart class, this time to Formula Junior Intercontinental. He wins his first ever final (race) in the class, but narrowly misses out on the title.
I love the bit at 0:28 – “Hero: Ayrton Senna”
2005: Lewis then spent a couple of years in Formula Renault UK, winning that title in 2003. Then it was onwards and upwards to the F3 Euroseries. After finishing 5th overall in his debut season with Manor Motorsport, he moved to ASM to team up with Adrian Sutil. He duly dominated the season, and with Sutil, ASM dominated the championship.
Here’s some video from the first race of that season in Hockenheim.
2006: It was time to move up another step, and Hamilton moved to GP2 with Nicolas Todt’s ART squad. He was locked in a title battle with Nelson Piquet Jnr, and he made sure he’d come through as the champ. Here was a gutsy pass Lewis pulled off on Piquet and Clivio Piccione at Maggotts in Silverstone.
But his most memorable race in the junior formulae was at the Istanbul sprint race, where he made an early mistake. He fell to the back, but overtook almost the entire field to finish second. This and other remarkable performances allowed him to clinch the title at his first and only attempt.
With the sudden departure of Juan Pablo Montoya, it meant there was a free seat for Lewis at McLaren in 2007. We’ll take a look at his F1 career to date tomorrow.