Sports

How Did Lewis Hamilton Get Into Racing?

The New York Yankees of the ’50s. The Boston Celtics of the ’60s. The New England Patriots of today. As much as sports fans love to hate dynasties, you have to respect their greatness. They make the sport much more interesting to watch – both due to their continual excellence as well as opposing fans wanting to see them brought down. 

While it’s not a team sport like baseball, the NBA, or the NFL, Formula One racing has their dynastic counterpart: driver Lewis Hamilton. His dominance over the sport since entering it has been legendary. But just how did Lewis Hamilton get into racing? 

Lewis Hamilton’s career overview

To put Hamilton’s success into context, it helps to look at the statistics he’s accumulated. Hamilton is one of the best drivers in the world. He’s been active since 2007. Below are his accomplishments since joining Formula One

  • 243 races
  • 87 pole positions
  • 81 victories 
  • Five championships 
  • 146 podiums 
  • Achieved the fastest lap 44 times
  • 3,302 career points 

He’s currently first in 2019 with 284 points. He finished first in 2018, ending the season with 408 points. 

How much has Lewis Hamilton dominated the sport of racing? 

According to TalkSport, Hamilton’s run in F1 since 2014 has been unparalleled: 

“One stat that illustrates just how much better he has been than everyone else is his win percentage over those six years. Hamilton has won 52.8 percent of all the F1 races since 2014 while Mercedes have won more than 75 percent of races during that time.”

A good microcosm of how Hamilton looms over the sport is what happened at this year’s French Grand Prix in June. Within 53 seconds of the race starting, Hamilton took control of the lead. He never relinquished it. Hamilton even later said he empathized with fans who wished for more competitive races:

“If you say it’s boring, I totally understand it,” Hamilton said after his win. “Don’t blame the drivers. We don’t write the rules. Put the pressure on the people at the top, who should be doing their jobs. They have made mistakes for many, many years.”

Boring or not, it’s not Hamilton’s fault. All he can do is drive to the best of his ability. All fans can do is hope the other drivers catch up. But where did this legend start? 

Racing beginnings

Hamilton started his racing career operating motor controlled cars at a young age. After winning national championships, he moved on to karting. He would win multiple championships at that as well. 

It gave Hamilton the confidence to approach one of racing’s most influential figures when he had yet to reach his tenth birthday: 

“Lewis Hamilton set himself on a path to Formula One when he introduced himself to McLaren team boss Ron Dennis at an award ceremony in 1995. The nine year-old walked up to Dennis, asked for his autograph and said: ‘Hi. I’m Lewis Hamilton. I won the British championship and one day I want to be racing your cars.'”

After karting, Hamilton’s next test was the Formula Renault series. When McLaren asked his team to give Hamilton a tryout, he crashed his first car after three laps – obviously not a sign of things to come. He finished third in his first season. The following season he won the title with 10 series wins. 

From there it was on to Formula 3 Euroseries, where in 2004 he finished fifth. He switched teams in 2005 and dominated yet again, winning 15 of his 20 races he participated in. Next up was GP2, where Hamilton was also successful. He then joined McLaren’s team at F1 in 2007 and the rest was history.