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Lewis Hamilton

By Suleiman Ocheni

“I don’t aspire to be like other drivers – I aspire to be unique in my own way.” “You just need to be accepted for who you are and be proud of who you are and that is what I’m trying to do.” “If you don’t have the balls to brake late, that’s your problem.” “I was born to race and to win.” Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One (1) Mercedes Driver

Sports people are some of the most impressive on planet earth. Not only because of their physical fortitude, because of the time and mental energy they put into honing their craft. The world of sport is populated with these kinds of people, so it takes a lot to rise to the top of a sport and remain there. One person who has managed to do this is Lewis Hamilton.

He was born on the 7th of January, 2020 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England, and was also raised there. At the age of five, Hamilton’s father bought him a remote-controlled car, and this was his introduction to racing leading to him placing second in the national BRCA championship a year later. In his younger days, it was also his goal to match one of his racing heroes, Ayrton Senna, who Hamilton credits as having influenced his driving style. He said, “I think it’s partly because I watched [him] when I was young and I thought ‘this is how I want to drive when I get the opportunity’ and I went out there and tried it on the kart track. My whole approach to racing has developed from there.” He was successful in emulating his hero as he is often compared to Senna in raw speed.

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Back to Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton with Mclaren
Lewis Hamilton with McLaren

He signed with the McLaren young driver programme in 1998, and in 2007 he drove for McLaren, which made him the first black driver in the sport, and until today, he remains the only black driver in the sport. As a result of this reality, Hamilton has been subject to racist abuse.

Spanish spectators who wore black face during the 2008 Circuit de Catalunya
BARCELONA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 2: (EDITORS NOTE: ALTERNATE CROP) Spanish Formula One fans, wearing wigs and with blacked up faces, racially abuse Lewis Hamilton, during testing at the Curcuit de Catalunya, February 2, 2008 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Joanne Burnett/Getty Images)

For example, he was taunted and heckled by Spanish spectators who wore black face during the 2008 Circuit de Catalunya. It has been said that the media continues to also play a part in this racial abuse; Rio Ferdinand, in 2019, spoke out about this and accused the media coverage of Lewis Hamilton as having “racist undertones” and pointed out the media coverage of another British driver, Jenson Button, in contrast.

Although Hamilton has had to deal with all this throughout his career, he has said that he tried to pay it little mind. However, he has come to appreciate what it means to be the only black racer competing at his level.

Mixed Stories of Lewis Hamilton

influential black person in Britain by Powerlist
(L to R): Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 on the podium with team mate and race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
13.09.2020. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Tuscan Grand Prix, Mugello, Italy, Race Day.
– www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

After all his racial struggles he has been named the most influential black person in Britain by Powerlist. This is a title he takes seriously as he has promised to use his platform to fight racial injustice, especially racism in sport. This is nothing new to him as he is known to speak out and take action against racism, even to his detriment, for instance, in September 2020 when he came under fire wearing an anti-racism shirt in reference to the police killing of Breonna Taylor in the United States of America. The shirt said, “ARREST THE COPS WHO KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR” on the front and, “SAY HER NAME” on the back. This put him under “consideration” by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). In the end, the body decided to not pursue it further.

Black Lives Matters…

Hamilton is one of the fastest qualifiers in the sport and this can be attributed to the fact that he knows how to produce fast laps when he needs them most. He is also one of the best wet weather drivers as a great number of his best performances occurred under these conditions. For example, his almost five-year streak when he remained undefeated in every single race affected by bad weather from the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix to the 2019 German Grand Prix.

Like most people, his career has had some ups and down. Granted, many more ups than downs. In his rookie season he came second in the world drivers’ championship, behind Kimi Räikkönen from Finland. The next year, he won five races and secured the driver’s championship, and at the time was the youngest person the claim the title. Lewis Hamilton beat Nick Heidfeld by over a minute in the 2008 British Grand Prix, which at the time was the largest margin of victory recorded since the 1995 Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton Wins Portugese GP, overtakes Schumacher in record 9
Hamilton Wins Portugese GP, overtakes Schumacher in record 9

While with McLaren, Hamilton continued to dominate; winning twice in 2009, three times in 2010, three in 2011 and four in 2012. However, he went through some difficulties in 2013 when he chose to leave McLaren and go to the Mercedes-Benz Formula one team. He had some challenges adjusting during his first season with Mercedes-Benz only winning one race, but even with these setbacks, he was able to finish in the top five of the drivers’ championship.

ALWAYS SUCCESS FOR LEWIS HAMILTON

However, because of how fast he was able to adapt, he quickly got back up on his feet and dominated the Formula One 2014 season when he won a career high of 11 races, and he continued his streak in 2015 when he won his third drivers’ championship. In addition to his own wins, he has also contributed to Mercedes-Benz winning several constructors championships. His performance in 2014 and 2015, combined with teammate Nico Rosberg’s, enabled Mercedes-Benz to win the Formula One constructor’s championship.

Lewis Hamilton Record Breaking, mercedes car, black driver
Lewis Hamilton Record Breaking

As it stands today, he holds the Formula One record for career race victories and is tied with Michael Schumacher for the most drivers’ championships and has surpassed Schumacher in number of total race wins.

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