Saturday, March 7, 2009

2008 Champion - Part 3

2008 Formula 1 Champion - Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton of Britain poses with the FIA Formula One World Championship trophy during the 2008 FIA Prize Giving gala in Monaco December 12, 2008.
British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (R) holding the FIA Formula One World Championship trophy and 2008 Rally World Champion Sebastien Loeb (L) of France flank Prince Albert II of Monaco during a group picture with other prize winners at the 2008 FIA Prize Giving gala in Monaco December 12, 2008.

The 30th Formula One World Champion was the youngest ever, taking the title in the most dramatic fashion - approaching the last corner of the last lap of the last race of one of the most scintillating seasons in history. The sensational triumph of the sport's first black driver, in only his second year at the pinnacle of motorsport, was a welcome human interest story that focused unprecedented international attention on Formula One racing. His prodigious talent and pleasing personality made Lewis Hamilton an inspirational role model and ideal ambassador for his profession.

Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton was born into a mixed race family on 7 January 1985, in stevenage, a quiet English town north of London. His father Anthony, whose parents immigrated from Grenada in the West Indies in the 1950's, and his mother Carmen divorced when Lewis was about two years old. He lived with Carmen until he was 10 then moved in with Anthony, his wife Linda and their three-year-old son Nicolas. Remaining close to his mother, Lewis also formed a strong bond with his stepmother and credits them both with contributing to the caring, considerate side of his nature. He finds the cheerful bravery of his stepbrother, who suffers from cerebral palsy, inspirational. "I only have to think of Nic to feel motivated and put a smile on my face." His steely ambition and iron resolve come from the head of the family. "Even though he always told me to be courteous and polite, my focus and determination comes from, and has always been driven by, my dad."

Anthony Hamilton, his mentor and manager, worked day and night for years (at one time he held three different jobs) to further his son's racing career, which effectively began when eight-year-old Lewis was given a well-used go-kart that cost nearly as much as the family's modest monthly income. Soon the Hamiltons - Anthony, Linda, Nic and Lewis - were a fixture at karting events and the boy racer, wearing the familiar yellow helmet chosen by an anxious Anthony to better keep track of his speedy progress in crowded kart fields, began winning races and championships.

Lewis Hamilton raced for Manor Motorsport in British Formula Three Championship, Brands Hatch, Kent England, 27-28 September 2003.

In 1995, a 10-year-old kart champion, wearing a borrowed suit and shoes, picked up two trophies at a motorsport awards ceremony in London. Brandishing an autograph book prepared by his father, he approached Ron Dennis, boss of the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team. "I said 'Hello Mr. Dennis, I'm Lewis Hamilton and one day I'd like to race for your team.' I asked him for his autograph and his phone number. He put them in my book and also wrote 'Call me in nine years.'"

The call was made just three years later and it was the Hamilton household's telephone that rang. It was Ron Dennis who presented Anthony with an offer to financially support his son's career for the foreseeable future, with the proviso that Lewis should keep working hard at school. Lewis: "I just went upstairs to my room and got on with my homework. It was so unbelievable. I struggled to take it in."

While the family's financial struggle was over it put extra pressure on McLaren's teenage protege to meet ever higher expectations. As well as having to respond to envious critics who claimed he should be winning all the time, given his funding, it was imperative that Lewis continually prove himself worthy of his benefactor's investment. The need to achieve undoubtedly accelerated his progress through motorsport's ranks. After winning eight championships in six years of kart racing, he went on to win three major single-seater titles, the most prestigious of which was the GP2 championship, where in 2006 he took five victories from 21 starts. But it was the young British charger's several spirited comeback performances, from the back of the pack to the podium, that particularly prompted McLaren to promote him to the Formula One team.

Certainly he was well prepared, though no one was prepared for the astonishing ease with which the precocious youngster stormed through the 2007 season. Consistently out-performing his celebrated team mate Fernando Alonso (who had won the first of his two driving titles, with Renault, when he was just 24), Lewis Hamilton barged onto the podium a dozen times, won four races, led the championship for five months and lost it by merely a single point in the final race to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Their new recruit's dazzling debut was the only bright spot in a turbulent year for McLaren, whose two drivers became bitter adversaries. Their feud, exacerbated by Alonso's resentment of the British-based team's apparent focus on an English upstart he had presumed would be his understudy, culminated in the slighted Spaniard's angry departure from a team already troubled by a notorious 'spy scandal'. Found guilty of possessing Ferrari technical secrets, McLaren was fined $100 million and stripped of all its constructors' points.

On assuming the role of team leader in 2008 (when Alonso returned to Renault) the boy wonder became even more of a marked man. En route to carving out five victories and scything his way to the podium on six other occasions, he incurred the wrath of several overtaken rivals who accused him of arrogance and dangerous driving. Hamilton insisted his hard-earned self-belief was wrongly interpreted and that his driving was firm but fair. But it wasn't without flaw and a combination of miscues and mishaps meant the championship was far from a foregone conclusion prior to the final Grand Prix, in Brazil. There, if Hamilton failed to finish at least fifth, Ferrari's Felipe Massa could take the title by winning his home race.

The grand finale, on a serpentine Interlagos circuit made more treacherous by rain, produced arguably the most thrilling climax in the annals of any sport. Local hero Massa mastered the chaotic conditions perfectly, crossing the finish line first and scoring the points necessary to become champion - which he was for the
38.907 seconds that passed before his title rival took the chequered flag in the fifth place he needed to finish on top of the world. With this final flourish, having overtaken another car with about 300 meters to go, Lewis Hamilton, aged 23 years and 300 days, became the youngest World Champion.

"Shoot!" he exclaimed while celebrating tearfully with his nearest and dearest, among them his glamorous girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, a singer with the Pussycat Dolls. "I'm ecstatic, very emotional, very thankful for my family, my team and everyone who has supported me in this fairy-tale story."

If Lewis Hamilton wins two more world championships , he’ll get his hands on a $8 million supercar. Hamilton’s boss and McLaren CEO Ron Dennis made a deal with F1’s youngest champ that will give Hamilton a ultra-rare McLaren F1 LM supercar. Hamilton told reporters in Sao Paulo on Monday morning that he will be handed the keys with his third drivers’ championship. "We made a deal, three world championships. I will definitely work as hard as I can to get to number three," he said.

The F1 LM is one of the rarest cars in the world. There were only 5 copies made, and the one in question is currently parked in the McLaren racing team’s garage.

Well, this is one of the hot items out there. I just got lucky to snatch one with a reasonably low price with a help from somebody from UK. Thank you Dave.....

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