Featured Athlete: Sir Lewis Hamilton


Photo from commons.wikimedia.org

Luke Bourgeois, Staff Writer

Our first professional athlete of the issue is Sir Lewis Hamilton. Born in Stevenage in the United Kingdom, Sir Lewis is Formula One’s first and only black driver. At the age of six, Lewis’ father bought him his first go-kart to begin Hamilton’s racing career. In 1995 he won the British Cadet Karting Championship at the age of ten. After winning the British championship Lewis approached Mclaren team boss Ron Dennis in an effort to receive funding to continue racing. Dennis would deny Hamilton at the time but he told Lewis to return a few years later when he was older. Lewis took Dennis’s words as marching orders and proceeded to win most of the competitions he entered up until 2000. To fund his racing, Hamilton’s father worked multiple jobs while Lewis would work on his race kart. The Hamiltons arrangement would change when Lewis Hamilton signed up for Mclaren’s young driver program. Mclaren would push Lewis into cars in 2001. By 2006, Lewis won the GP2 series prompting a call up to Mclaren’s Formula One team for the 2007 season.

 Lewis’s first season in Formula One was infamous for his fast start and feud with his teammate Fernando Alonso. Lewis Hamilton won his first race in his rookie year at the Canadian GP, he also won races in the US, Hungary, and Japanese grand prixs. His sensational start was enough to net him second place in the championship in an iconic rookie season. Sir Lewis stayed on with Mclaren for the 2008 season in which he was partnered with future world champion, Jenson Button. Defying all odds, Lewis Hamilton won the drivers championship in 2008 making him the first black world champion, in Formula One history. However Sir Lewis didn’t hold the throne for long because the 2009 campaign saw former teammate Jensen Button take the championship in the first year Brawn car. Lewis struggled that season only finishing fifth in the standings, to add onto that Mclaren’s long term partner and engine supplier, Mercedes, decided to buy the Brawn team outright for the 2010 season. 

That following three season’s were Lewis’ worst to date with the Brit failing to make it into the top three on all occasions. However there were bright spots, Lewis won a race in every single season he took part in and finished either fourth or fifth between 2010 and 2012. Lewis’s accolades caught the attention of Mercedes Team principal, Toto Wolff, who was looking to replace the retiring Michael Schumacher. Lewis’s move to Mercedes was widely considered a shock move due to the team’s poor form after their split with Mclaren. But Lewis was keen to return the Silver Arrows to glory alongside his former karting teammate, Nico Roseberg. The 2013 season saw the pairing fail to make any real challenge in the constructors championship, but Lewis won in Hungary whilst Nico won in Monaco and Britain.

 Going into 2014 it was believed that Nico would be Mercades’ favored driver for the season, but Lewis had other plans. Lewis opened up the season with four wins in the first five races and then secured seven more wins throughout the course of the season making him world champion for the second time. 2015 saw Lewis dominate yet again with 17 podium finishes in an 19 race calendar. However the final three races in 2015 went to Lewis’ teammate Nico Rosberg. 

Those three race wins at the end of the season and resulting drama was the straw that broke the teammates’ relationship. Roseberg then entered 2016 with a new fire fueled by his childhood rivalry with Lewis. Roseberg opened up the season with a dominating four straight wins however, Hamilton rose up to meet the challenge of his teammate, responding with eight race wins that season. However, Nico was far more consistent that season and even though Hamilton and Roseberg were tied on race wins going into the final leg at Abu Dhabi, Nico led the championship by 12 points. In Abu Dhabi all Hamilton had to do was win the race and deny Nico a podium finish. Lewis won the race (and attempted to sabotage Nico’s), but Rosenbergs heroic defense in the final five laps led to Rosenbergs first world championship. This would be the only time Lewis has ever trailed his teammate in the championship.

 Nico retired following the 2016 championship, this paved the way for Lewis Hamilton’s dominance of Formula One for the next four years. In those four years Lewis only missed out on a top three spot a mere 17 times out of 75 races. The 2021 season saw Lewis miss out on the championship in the final race of the year, however Lewis finished an impressive second place only four points off of first place. Lewis Hamilton enters the 2022 f1 season as the most decorated driver in the sport’s history. Lewis Hamilton currently holds the record for most world championships (shared with Schumacher) and most race wins. On December 21, 2021 Lewis Hamiltion was knighted by the queen for his outstanding work both on and off track. Off the track Lewis is a prolific activist founding climate and social justice initiatives and funding the careers of black racing drivers.