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Lewis Hamilton: The Formula 1 Icon and Barrier Breaker

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There have been few more important stars in motorsport history than Lewis Hamilton. The British driver is one of the most successful competitors in the sport’s history after winning a joint-record seven world titles alongside Michael Schumacher.

The 39-year-old also holds the records for most race wins, podium finishes, and pole positions. However, his importance to the sport far outweighs what he has accomplished on the track throughout his career, as he is also regarded as one of the most influential figures in the world.

Hamilton has helped inspire and break barriers for drivers of color to make their breakthroughs in the sport. His accomplishments were even honored with a knighthood in 2021.

Early Life

The F1 legend was born in January 1985 in Stevenage with his father, Anthony, who was of Grenadian descent. His mother was from Birmingham, but the couple separated when he was 12. After living with his mother for much of his life, Hamilton moved in with his father and half-brother Nicolas to further his pursuit of achieving a career in motorsports.

His first steps into the sport came early, with a radio-controlled car when he was five. His on-track career in the early years would also see him finish second in the national BRCA Championship against older drivers.

However, it was during this period that Hamilton would be subject to racial abuse, being the only driver of color to compete in the event. Hamilton’s father worked two jobs to fund his karting career, and he served as his manager until 2010.

F1 Breakthrough

It was only a matter of time before the driver would make his way into Formula 1, and he was fast-tracked by McLaren following success in the GP2 championship. Hamilton was tasked with taking the seat of Kimi Raikkonen, who swapped McLaren for Ferrari. His first season would see him race alongside former champion Fernando Alonso, making history in the process by becoming the first, and to date only, black driver to compete in F1.

His first season in F1 would be a major success, finishing on the podium on debut before finishing second to Raikkonen in the Drivers’ Championships. However, clashes with Alonso throughout the season saw the team part company with the Spaniard, and Hamilton signed a new multi-year deal with the team.

First Title

Hamilton’s big breakthrough came in the 2008 season, as he secured a famous victory in a final-race showdown with Felipe Massa. The success at the Brazilian Grand Prix saw him become the then-youngest world champion, and it was the first time a British driver had won the world title since Damon Hill in 1996.
The Brit enjoyed great success for the remainder of his four-year stay at McLaren, winning races and scoring podium finishes. However, he shocked the world of F1 in 2012 when it was announced that he would be joining Mercedes to replace the legendary Michael Schumacher.

Mercedes Dominance

Hamilton’s decision to move to Mercedes shocked many, with experts claiming he was gambling on a team with limited success in F1. However, changes to regulations in 2014 signaled the dawn of a dominant era for the team, with Hamilton landing a second world title in Abu Dhabi in 204.

Mercedes’s dominance would continue, with Hamilton winning the world championship in 2015 and finishing second to teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016. However, Germany’s decision to retire allowed the Brit to win four world titles between 2017 and 2020. The last of those would tie the all-time record with Schumacher in Turkey.

However, the period of dominance would end in 2021 after a hard-fought and controversial title battle with Max Verstappen. To this day, many believe that Hamilton was robbed of the record-setting eight championships in Abu Dhabi. Michael Masi appeared to alter rules on the final lap to ensure Verstappen had a clear run on the Brit with fresh tires.

Mercedes made headlines when they banned Hamilton from visiting casinos during the 2023 Grand Prix in Las Vegas.  Hamilton is known to like to gamble, and with such a successful career like his, he probably does not claim any casino bonuses when he plays. While Mercedes may want to keep Hamilton away from the casinos, his racing career has been anything but a gamble, marked by remarkable achievements and a place in the history of Formula 1.  

Conclusion

Hamilton continues to be one of the pioneering figures in the world of F1, and he has been a key factor in the sport’s success in recent years. Results on track haven’t been at the standard expected, enduring winless seasons in 2022 and 2023. Still, there is a widespread belief that the legendary champion will have a better car to compete in the 2024 season as Hamilton pursues a record-setting eighth championship.

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