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If ever a man burst into the Formula1 scene with a great deal of excitement and hoopla, then it is Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton received an enormous amount of media coverage. It almost seemed that he was destined to attain success on the Formula1 track and as things unfolded, it was just a question of how much.
British Sports Network Sky Sports, before the arrival of the 23-year old in F1, claimed, “Lewis Hamilton comes into Formula One with a lot to live up to and, whatever happens, like it or not, his name will go down in history, as he will be the first black Formula One driver.” This statement pretty much summed up the reasons behind the success that was expected due to the hype in his debut.
There were many early comparisons, even to the likes of the late great Ayrton Senna along with heavy promising words from Michael Schumacher and other legends of the sport. Lewis Hamilton had caught the attention of everyone in the FIA fraternity even before sitting in the car for his first race.
Although, more than half the racing fraternity felt that Hamilton was unfortunate not to create history at the dawn of 2007, the driver himself took the juncture of his career in a positive manner and felt that tragedies were part and parcel of the sport, but the show must go on. Today, Hamilton is contracted until 2012 with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. His controversial teammate from 2007, Fernando Alonso, has quit the team.
It’s almost as if Hamilton was always ordained to be part of the McLaren outfit. He was offered a contract with the British constructor’s future development program way back in the early 90s. In 1998 he was assured of a future seat in F1 after some impressive performances in the Junior Yamaha (1998) and the Junior Intercontinental A (1999).
After the junior level triumphs, Hamilton progressed nearer to F1 with successive runs in the British Formula Renault, the prestigious European Formula Three and GP2. He won all three championships and eventually classified as a test driver for McLaren in 2006. Although, his first testing with the British constructor was in late 2004 at Silverstone.
The Brit then spent a year in Intercontinental A before moving to Formula A where he was crowned the European Champion. After that he was off to the British Formula Renault, where he won the title in 2003 and then on to the F3 Euroseries, winning the Championship in 2005.
The Brit’s achievements in junior series earned him a test driver’s role with the McLaren F1 team and after hugely impressing team boss Ron Dennis, Lewis landed the coveted role of being the teammate to defending World Champion, Fernando Alonso, in the 2007 F1 season.
During the unforgettable 2007 season, Hamilton went on to record eight consecutive podium finishes, including race wins in Canada and the United States before finishing his first race off the podium and out of the points in the European GP, round 10 of the Championship. The record books underwent heavy revisions and a legend was in the making.
2007, though, wasn’t without its problems for Hamilton as McLaren were involved in a spy scandal that resulted in them being excluded from the Constructors’ Championship and almost saw Lewis and Alonso thrown out of the Drivers’.
Lewis also gained sufficient comprehension on politics in F1 due to unpleasant issues between him and team mate, Fernando Alonso. The teammates came to a head in Hungary where Alonso purposely held up Lewis in qualifying. Remarks also habitually fluttered between the two through the media as the affiliation depreciated to the point where they were hardly speaking to each other. The rift was mainly based on assumptions that Hamilton’s superior performance during the season had taken the limelight away from Alonso, both in the media and within the team, and that the defending World Champion didn’t like playing second fiddle to the rookie.
2008, however, will be a fresh start for the ‘boy wonder’, driving a alongside new teammate, the budding Finnish driver Heikki Kovalinen. The season should be a fascinating one as fans prepare to witness the marvel of Lewis Hamilton unfold in facade of the ’21st century chronicles in Formula One’.
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