Hamilton’s McLaren career in pictures

2012 F1 season review

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Lewis Hamilton made his Formula One debut for McLaren in 2007. During his six-year spell at the team it often seemed like he would never drive for anyone else.

But that changed when he revealed he will switch to Mercedes next year. Hamilton leaves a team who he was first associated with long before he arrived in F1.

After 110 races, 21 Grand Prix victories, 49 podium appearances and 26 pole positions, Hamilton’s time at McLaren is over – for now at least. Here’s a look back on his time with the team.


Hamilton’s debut season for McLaren was the stuff of dreams. In his first race he passed team mate Fernando Alonso at the first corner and went on to finish on the podium. He strung together nine consecutive podium finishes including a breakthrough victory in Canada.

But the season turned sour as the rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso intensified and McLaren were found to have used confidential information belonging to Ferrari. In Hungary Alonso, irritated that Hamilton had not given way to him earlier in the session, deliberately held up his team mate in the pits and was penalised along with the team. Soon after McLaren were excluded from the constructors’ championship.

A superb win at a drenched Fuji put Hamilton within touching distance of the title. But the final two races were catastrophic. Hamilton inexplicably stayed out too long on worn tyres in China, then skidded off into a gravel trap when he pitted. In Brazil a delay due to a gearbox problem set him back and Kimi Raikkonen snatched the championship.


Hamilton delivered the title in 2008, though he made heavy work of it at times. He crashed into Raikkonen in the pits in Canada and picked up another penalty in France. But he won in the rain at home and in Monaco as well, and won on the road at Spa before being controversially stripped of his victory.

The greatest drama awaited him in Brazil, where he snatched the title by passing Timo Glock at the last corner on the final lap to deprive Felipe Massa of the championship.


Hamilton’s title defence looked doubtful as McLaren produced a poor car after a major rules change in 2009. What should have been a fine recovery drive to third in the first race was ruined when he needlessly let Jarno Trulli pass him during a safety car period, then gave an untruthful account of events to the stewards for which he was eventually disqualified.

A mid-season upgrade gave Hamilton a car he could work with, and he delivered victories in Hungary and Singapore.


Reigning champion Jenson Button replaced Heikki Kovalainen alongside Hamilton for 2010 and the pair were often closely matched. Never more so than in Turkey, where the pair scrapped furiously for the lead mere moments after the Red Bull drivers had taken each other off doing the same thing.

Hamilton held the upper hand over Button and went into the final race with as remote chance of winning the title. It went to Sebastian Vettel, and Hamilton was left to rue costly collisions with Mark Webber in Singapore and Massa in Italy.


Hamilton’s second season alongside Button did not go well as he became involved in a string of incidents, several of which were his fault. However even in this season of adversity he claimed three wins, including a particularly impressive triumph at the Nurburgring.

He was also the only driver to unseat Red Bull from pole position all year long, though his unhappy demeanour after doing so in Korea indicated all was far from well behind the scenes.


If Hamilton let himself down in 2011, his car and occasionally his team did in 2012. There were four wins in Canada, Hungary, Italy and America but also two retirements while leading in Singapore and Abu Dhabi. A blunder by the team meant he started last in Spain instead of from pole position.

Those major losses plus several other less costly setbacks during the season ruled him out of the drivers’ title battle despite enjoying a very quick car. Following his Singapore disappointment Hamilton announced his move to Mercedes for 2013.

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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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25 comments on “Hamilton’s McLaren career in pictures”

  1. Looking at all these old pictures makes me feel sad that Lewis is leaving McLaren, at the same time frustrated as I think he really deserves more than just the one title that he had. Being a Lewis fan, I hope he is able to continue to perform as well as, if not better at Mercedes.

    1. My exact words man. I reeeely hope that he’ll have at least a decent future career as in my eyes he is one of the greatest racers already!

  2. Boy that MP4/24 was a horrible beast…

    1. @fer-no65 Are we talking about performance or looks? Almost every car from 2009 was hideous in my opinion… the cars did really grow into their look in the years after, 2010 (despite the sharkfin-covers) and 2011 were big improvements!

      He’s had a great run at McLaren but I still believe he was more suited for the bridgestone tyres than the pirelli-era. He’s about the fastest driver out there over the course of a lap but at times it’s like all he can be is fast, it that makes sense. I’ll be supporting him at Mercedes though!

      1. @roald I’m talking about looks. I agree that every 2009 looked hideous, specially back then when we were still used to the 2008 “wegotallthefins” cars.

        But the MP4/24 was the worst of all. That elephant’s nose was just something out of this world…

      2. @roald @fer-no65

        2008 – Passed Away (R.I.P)
        2009 – A new born
        2010 – A confined child
        2011 – Well into adolescence, predominantly immature
        2012 – Purely Middle aged
        2013 – ???

  3. Keithe, you conveniently forgot to say that in Hungary 2007, Hamilton actually broke an agreement which said Alonso and Hamilton would alternate their quali outing position every weekend. Hamilton was supposed to be behind Alonso in Hungary, and he went out first, breaking the deal and sending him out of sync with Alonso.

    Alonso went out on his last run in the time it was planned, even before Q3 started. Why should he compromise his own final run in Q3 because Hamilton intentionally broke an agreement in order to get himself a better chance for pole?

    Alonso was unjustly penalized in that race. McLaren shouldn’t have been penalized either.

    Regarding, Spygate, I don’t get it how McLaren got punished so harshly if they never actually stole those documents. They could have only been accused of multiplying them (as documented, Coughlan’s wife went to make a photocopy) and perhaps for not destroying them and reporting to Ferrari that they got hold of them, if they had some sort of “strictly confidential – property of Ferrari spa” or something like that in the footer.
    Those documents were handed to Coughlan by Ferrary employee. McLaren never infiltrated or stole does.

    For example there was so much noise about Hamilton posting telemetry on Twitter, but going by the principles from Spygate, no rival team had any right to look at those, and should have been penalized, had FIA searched their computers and found in their browsing history that they looked at the telemetry photo.

    1. @brace

      you conveniently forgot

      No I didn’t, you’re mistaking brevity for bias. I made a passing reference to it (“irritated that Hamilton had not given way to him earlier in the session”) and chose not to go into it any in further detail because I did not wish to turn a brief summary of his 2007 season into a dissertation. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of articles about it on here already (see here for a starting point).

    2. McLaren was in posession of data that belonged to other=> the team should be thrown out of the championship, along with its drivers. They weren’t because it would have been a terrible shock for them and they were more powerful than Tyrrell who were thrown out once. You can’t argue on the spygate penalty that it was to harsh from the sporting point of view, it just isn’t decent to defend cheaters (Financially, it was a heavy blow, the fine a bit too big in my opinion).
      And if I remember correctly, it was Alonso who gave the FIA evidence in exchange for his pardon.
      The fact that Kimi Raikkonen won the title that year is the BEST thing that happened to F1 in its history, because if any of the McLaren drivers would have won it, it would have been stolen in plain sight.

      1. You seem to be avoiding the actual point of my comment, which happens to disagree with what you’d like to believe in.

        How exactly did McLaren cheat that season? Please just tell me that.
        Saying that this was the first time something like this (transfer of the data) happened is ridiculous.

        1. It was the first time evidence was found against it and one of their drivers contributed to that. Case closed.
          Andrea Moda was thrown out of F1 because was affecting the image of the sport. McLaren did more than them in that aspect.

    3. @brace – I don’t see why other teams should be punished for Hamilton’s stupidity – if he posted telemetry that is his fault and not the teams if they happened to see it. Am I not right in saying also that telemetry is of no use for performance gains for other teams other than they can see how the (McLaren in this case) is performing?

      1. I don’t see why other teams should be punished for Hamilton’s stupidity – if he posted telemetry that is his fault and not the teams if they happened to see it.

        I completely agree and that is why I think McLaren was unjustly punished that hard. It was Stepney (Ferrari employee) who took the papers out of the Ferrari’s factory. Nobody from McLaren obtain them in some illegal way. You can’t blame McLaren for Stepney’s decision.
        It was exactly the same as Hamilton’s blunder.

        1. It was planned by Mclaren…

          1. “It was planned by Mclaren…”
            What utter ** !

    4. had FIA searched their computers and found in their browsing history that they looked at the telemetry photo.

      I’m expecting a visit from the FIA any moment about this. What kind of penalty I receive is open for debate.

  4. I believe Hamilton leaving Mclaren is a good thing for all. For him it is a much needed change the relation with Mclaren is not very effective and every single season we get accustomed to new reason for it. They fix one problem another one arises, if it wasn’t for Massa’s cruel luck in 2008 (though Hamilton was indeed brilliant that year) he would still be winless.
    Also it is good for us the spectators as we will probably have another competitive combination from a different team besides the “big” 4.
    For Mclaren on paper it is a major loss but let me remind you that even when Ferrari lost Schumacher they claimed the doubled they missed the previous year.
    All in all I think it is positive development what we need now is close field in terms of pace, Webber to find his mojo, Massa to retain it, less opening lap incidents and we in for another vintage year.

    1. Massa’s cruel luck in 2008? Like spinning off in the first two races? Or spinning off a brazillion times in Silverstone? If anything he was lucky for all the help the FIA gave him to stay in the fight.

  5. Elliot Horwood .
    18th December 2012, 23:15

    Lewis’s 2008 race at silverstone was the best and on my brithday and i was there! ;)

    1. I think he has given a few classics and in the wet, Fuji and Silverstone were something to remember!

    2. I was at Silverstone in 2008 and it was a great race and one of his best. If i remember correct he had a lead of 68 sec’s and lapped everyone a part from second place. I will be supporting Hamilton at Mercedes next year and i hope he can put on a good show and win a couple of races because we all know what he can do with a bad car as we just have to look back to 2009. I think 2014 we will see Hamilton back in a winning car and have a crack at the title as well. Go Hamilton GO :)

  6. What ever anybody says (bad things) about Lewis at least he didn’t won any race because of his teammate made a deliberate crash!!! I don’t won’t to say that he didn’t have his low moments and that he is an angel, but I think that he is an honest man and he has a racing talent and passion as I’ve haven’t seen for a long time.

  7. Good luck for next season. you need good car and little luck.

  8. It’s a pity that he and Kovalainen never managed to finish on the podium together.

    1. @girts They did, actually – just not as team-mates.

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