I sat on the edge of the seat, having forgotten to even look at the popcorn in front of me, my heart beating fast and my cold hands folded, wishing that he just makes it through one more lap and crosses the finish line even though the tires of his race car were almost done. “It would be a historical moment if he crossed the finishing line” I thought to myself. And one moment, then the next, and there it was! Lewis Hamilton had just won his 5th World Championship in Formula 1. I still remember it so vividly but what strikes me even more, is that he has won 2 more World Championships since then and is a British Formula 1 racing driver with 7 world championships under his hat and is competing for an 8th Championship in 2021.
Wondering what his story is? Well, he was born in Stevenage, a town in England. Hamilton was competitive even at the young age of 4 or 5 when he used to participate in races of remote-control cars. His family didn’t have enough money, so his father bought his first go-kart ‘tenth-hand’. Go-karting started as a hobby, something which he and his father did to spend time together. It was expensive but seeing his passion and gift for racing, they were able to continue with it only when his father did multiple jobs and was his mechanic, strategist and manager all in one. Being the only black kid amongst the majority of fair-skinned children, he was often made fun of and wasn’t helped. He says that his father, Anthony, observed where the other participants were braking on the track and learnt from them as almost no one would help or guide them. But as he says, he ‘did his talking on the track‘ when he beat all of them and won titles one after the other.
He’s brilliant at all that he does, having the record for the most wins in the history of Formula 1, pole positions (being the fastest in the qualifying sessions therefore starting first on the grid on the day of the grand prix) amongst many more record-breaking achievements. He gives it his all and he doesn’t just race, he has had a collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger for his own clothing line that he launched, he plays the piano, has even rapped in one of Christina Aguilera’s song ‘Pipe’ under the pseudonym ‘XNDA’, is a regular at the Met Gala in the USA, attends fashion weeks, actively voices the concerns related to environment and racism, has millions of fans around the world and was recently knighted by the Queen of England. In 2019 he launched a vegan restaurant, then in 2020 he launched X44, his team that would compete in all-electric SUV off roading series Extreme E. In 2021 he launched the Hamilton Commission to voice the racial inequalities that are present, and the list goes on and on and on.
Lewis Hamilton won the British Cadet Karting Championship at the age of ten, making him the youngest to do so at the time. That year he approached McLaren F1 team boss at an awards ceremony and introduced himself. His passion and confidence impressed the team boss and some years later Hamilton was signed to the McLaren young driver program in 1998 after he won his second Super One series and British Championship win. He also became the champion in Formula A. He became the GP2 champion in his first attempt. He then debuted in Formula 1 with McLaren in 2007, making him the first and so far, the only black driver in the series. In 2008 won his first World Drivers’ Championship to become the then youngest champion in history. He then signed with the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team and has been with them since then, winning many more titles. Lewis Hamilton is an inspiration for millions of people across the globe because whenever he is faced with criticism, he handles it by just focusing on giving it his all to win his next race.
What’s so special about his mindset is that whether he wins or loses a race, he always finds aspects to improve upon by discussing it with his team. His motto of ‘Still I Rise’, which he has taken from Maya Angelou’s famous poem of the same name is an inspiration for everyone to keep getting up even if one falls and never give up. He races with the number 44 on his race car and frequently motivates his fans that are called as “TeamLH” by sending them good vibes. Something he said in an interview really inspired me, he said, “It’s not about what you can do, it’s about what you do. It’s not about who you are, it’s about who you become.”
Written by Archisha Kalra for MTTN
Edited by Asma Abidin for MTTN
Featured Image by pxIG