Driver Profile: Lewis Hamilton

NameSir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton
Date of Birth7 January 1985
Place of BirthStevenage, Hertfordshire, England
Car Number44
First Entry2007 Australian Grand Prix
First Win2007 Canadian Grand Prix

Biography of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton’s karting career began in 1993, and it didn’t take long for his talent to show. Two years later became the youngest driver to win the British cadet karting championship at the age of 10 in 1995, and in 1998, he became the youngest driver to be contracted by a team when he joined the McLaren Driver Development Support programme.

Hamilton progressed through the Intercontinental A, Formula A and Formula Super A ranks and became the European Champion in 2000 on maximum points.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning 2021 Russian Grand Prix Pool via REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Hamilton graduates to open-wheel racing

Hamilton took part in the 2001 British Formula Renault Winter Series and finished fifth, before taking part in the 2002 Formula Renault UK campaign with Manor Motorsport.

After stops in the British Formula 3 Championship and Formula 3 Euro Series, Hamilton joined ART Grand Prix for the 2006 GP2 season.

Hamilton had to wait until the fifth race of the season for his first victory, taking top spot despite earning a penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

A season-long battle with Nelson Piquet Jr was finally decided at the penultimate race of the season at Monza, when Hamilton was handed a bonus point for fastest lap after Giorgio Pantano was handed a penalty for a yellow flag infringement.

McLaren promote Hamilton to F1

With Juan Pablo Montoya leaving for NASCAR and Kimi Raikkonen moving to Ferrari, Hamilton was chosen to partner two-time and defending World Champion Fernando Alonso in 2007 after the Spaniard joined from Renault.

Hamilton finished on the podium in his debut and took his first Formula 1 victory at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix – only his sixth Grand Prix.

He would end the season with four wins, as well as the most podiums in a row to start a rookie season with nine.

At one point Hamilton found himself 12 points ahead in the World Championship, however Alonso and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen kept the title fight close.

Unfortunately for McLaren, the relationship between Hamilton and Alonso deteriorated as the season progressed, including a qualifying incident at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Alonso prevented Hamilton from completing his final flying lap, resulting in the Spaniard being demoted to sixth, while McLaren were told they would not score any Constructor’s Championship points and would not be presented a constructor’s trophy if one their drivers were to win.

Hamilton retired at the penultimate race of the season in China after sliding into the gravel at the pit entry, while a gearbox issue in Brazil hampered his title hopes. In the end, Raikkonen beat both McLaren drivers to the World Championship by one point.

“Is that Glock going slowly?”

Alonso and McLaren terminated their contract by mutual consent following the difficulties of 2007, with Hamilton now partnered by Heikki Kovalainen in 2008.

Hamilton impressed after signing a new contract with McLaren until 2012, winning five times to go along with 10 podium finishes.

Just like his rookie campaign, Hamilton entered the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix with a chance to win the World Championship. This time his rival was Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who trailed the Brit by seven points in the standings.

Changing weather conditions at Interlagos made for a tricky race, which Massa started from pole with Hamilton fourth.

Massa took the chequered flag in front of his home fans, meaning Hamilton needed a fifth-place finish to claim his first F1 World Championship, which he claimed in rather incredible circumstances.

Hamilton passed Timo Glock for fifth in the final corners of the last lap as the Toyota driver failed to find any grip with his dry tyres on the wet track. The result made Hamilton the youngest World Champion until Sebastian Vettel claimed that honour in 2010.

Struggles with McLaren

The title would be Hamilton’s sole triumph with McLaren. Brawn GP dominated the 2009 campaign, with Hamilton’s season beginning with a DQ in Australia when race stewards deemed he had provided deceptive information regarding a Safety Car incident with Jarno Trulli to end the race.

In the end Hamilton took home one victory, the Singapore Grand Prix, en route to a fifth place finish in the standings.

Jenson Button partnered Hamilton in 2010, a position he would hold until 2012, however McLaren struggled to keep pace with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

Although Hamilton entered the final race with a mathematical chance to win the World Championship, he finished the year fourth in the standings after registering four wins.

Hamilton won three races in 2011, however he failed to mount a serious title challenge. He ended the season with 227 points – a full 43 behind Button, who was runner-up to champion Vettel.

Reliability issues in 2012 once again prevented Hamilton from challenging Vettel, as he finished the season fourth in the standings with four wins. To the surprise of many, Hamilton announced that he would be leaving McLaren for Mercedes prior to the end of the season, with the Brit replacing the retiring Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton leaves McLaren for Mercedes

Reunited with childhood karting teammate Nico Rosberg, success was slow to come Hamilton.

His first season saw him claim one victory, the Hungarian Grand Prix, and although Hamilton registered five poles and five podiums, he finished the season fourth for the third time in five years. However with Rosberg recording two victories, Mercedes managed to finish the campaign second behind Red Bull – albeit 266 points back of the Constructor’s champions.

Mercedes and Hamilton dominate

The introduction of the turbo-hybrid power units in 2014 resulted in Mercedes becoming the class of the field. The Silver Arrows won 16 of the 19 races that season, with Hamilton claiming 11 of those on route to his second World Drivers’ Championship.

That dominance continued in 2015. Hamilton won 10 times, finished on the podium a record 17 times as he took home his third World Championship. However, the campaign also saw his relationship with Rosberg begin to sour. The two were engaged in a heated battle at the US Grand Prix, a race that saw Hamilton win and clinch the title with three races to spare.

Rivalry with Rosberg spills over

The rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg came to a head in 2016. The two came together at the Spanish Grand Prix after Hamilton lost the lead to Rosberg at the start. When the German defended his position, Hamilton went onto the grass and lost control of his car, which resulted in a spectacular collision at Turn 4.

The two clashed at the Austrian Grand Prix as well. With Hamilton closing in on Rosberg, who led, at the end of the race, the two made contact. In the end Hamilton took the chequered flag, while Rosberg limped home in fourth after suffering damage.

In the end Rosberg won the title by five points after taking the chequered flag the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, despite Hamilton ending the year with more wins and poles. The result brought an end to the rivalry, as Rosberg announced his shock retirement from the support after getting the better of his rival.

Hamilton in a class of his own

Now partnered by Valtteri Bottas, who joined from Williams, Hamilton won his fourth Drivers’ Championship despite a strong challenge from the resurgent Ferrari driven by Vettel.

Although the pair exchanged the championship lead for much of the campaign, wins in Belgium, Italy and Singapore proved the different for the Mercedes star.

The 2018 season was dubbed the “Fight for Five” by journalists and fans as Vettel and Hamilton once again battled it out for top spot. Vettel even led by eight points after taking the chequered flag at the British Grand Prix.

Momentum swung in Hamilton’s favour when he won the German Grand Prix in wet conditions despite starting from 14th, while Vettel crashed while leading the race. In the end it was Hamilton who became a five-time champion, clinching the title in style with a win in Mexico.

With Ferrari taking a step back in 2019, Hamilton’s only rival for the title was teammate Bottas. Although the Finn ended the season with four wins, Hamilton led the standings for the majority of the season to clinch his sixth crown at the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton ended the season with 11 wins, 17 podiums and five poles, along with an all-time record tally of 413 points.

Hamilton equals Schumacher

The 2020 F1 season was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, however Hamilton still dominated the shortened 17-race season.

Thanks to 11 wins, including one in Portugal that saw Hamilton break Schumacher’s record of 91 wins, 14 podiums and 10 pole positions, there was no stopping the Brit.

Although Hamilton missed the Sakhir Grand Prix after contracting COVID-19, he clinched the title with three races to spare, and ended the season 124 points ahead of Bottas.

Title fight for the ages with Verstappen

Hamilton’s push for an eighth World Championship saw him engage in a heart-stopping battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in 2021.

The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix set the tone for the campaign, with Verstappen taking pole ahead of the Brit. Hamilton went on to win the race after Verstappen was deemed to have exceeded track limits while trying to take the lead on Lap 53.

The two drivers exchanged victories as Mercedes and Red Bull separated themselves from the rest of the grid, however the intense rivalry came to a head at the British Grand Prix.

Hamilton made contact with Verstappen’s right rear wheel, sending the Dutchman crashing into the barrier at Copse at close to 290km/h. Hamilton would take the chequered flag, with the animosity between the two increasing after another coming together at the Italian Grand Prix.

The two headed into the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points, with Verstappen claiming pole position. Although Hamilton looked on course to claim a record eighth World Championship, a late Safety Car derailed those hopes.

Verstappen pitted for Soft tyres, and Hamilton, on older Hard tyres, was unable to fend off the flying Dutchman on the last lap. Verstappen’s win gave him his first F1 title, though the circumstances resulted in much controversy.