Written by Fatima Ahmed, Edited by Esmée Koppius
Everyone knows the name Lewis Hamilton. His tale has been uttered a thousand times: working class black boy, persistent father and the dream of being an F1 driver. Dream accomplished. Not only did Hamilton become an F1 driver, but he is now statistically the greatest driver in history.
With his recent domination many people have failed to comprehend the fact history is being made in front of our eyes. Many people fail to realise that the little boy from Stevenage, the boy who spoke openly about racial abuse from the age of ten, is sending a powerful message to all who doubted him.
“In the past I’ve had racist names being called to me. The first time it happened I got upset, told my Mum and Dad and I felt like I needed to get revenge on them. But lately if anyone said anything to me I’d just ignore them and get them back on track.” (Lewis Hamilton, age ten, talking to Blue Peter 1995)
At age ten Hamilton became the then-youngest British Cadet champion followed by two more consecutive karting championships. Interestingly, Hamilton was competing alongside boys who had more experience and better equipment than him. Nonetheless he prevailed and was signed on to the McLaren junior program at thirteen.
Anthony Hamilton, his father, had made a habit of working multiple jobs and remortgaging his house as a way of keeping his son racing. Instilled in the Hamilton boys was the sheer will and perseverance that many others lacked.
In 2007, Hamilton’s dream was accomplished. Entering Formula 1 as the first black driver he was met with both praise and criticism. Praise for his success in GP2 and GP3. Criticism for his colour. Appearing unnerved by either he was paired alongside reigning champion Fernando Alonso and made history as statistically the greatest rookie in F1 history, beating Alonso in the standings and losing the championship by one point.
Fast forward fifteen years later and statistically the greatest rookie in F1 history has now become statistically the greatest driver in F1 history; all while being the only black driver on the grid. Hamilton’s story can be written as if it were a fictitious Hollywood rag-to-riches story, the working class boy with a dream becomes a legend of his sport. Pure poetry. Even more poetic being that the way Hamilton idolised Aryton Senna as a child, donning a yellow helmet in tribute during his karting career, children are now idolising Hamilton the same way, donning a purple helmet during their karting career.
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