Lewis Hamilton is only 22 years old and is already making sports history as the first Black driver in Formula One racing, but in his rookie year he is also setting records that may take some time to beat. Tendai Maphosa reports for VOA from London.
Lewis Hamilton is only 22-years-old and is in his first year as a Formula One racing driver.
Only halfway through the season, he is the first Formula One driver to finish on the podium in all nine races he has driven, is the youngest driver to lead the World Championships, and is the first driver to win from the pole position in two consecutive races in his debut season. He is also the first Black driver to compete in Formula One.
Hamilton's story began at age eight when he started karting. His father Anthony held down three jobs to support his son. The story is told that at age nine he approached MacLaren Formula One team boss Ron Dennis and told him he would race for MacLaren one day.
In Formula One, Hamilton has become the great hope of a sports mad, but success-starved British public. The media is obsessed with him and some go as far as labeling him the new Tiger Woods.
Britain was in the grip of Hamilton mania when he raced in the British Grand Prix earlier this month. He started from pole position and finished third. It was a disappointment to fans, but he was upbeat about the future.
"I think it has been the best Grand Prix so far," Hamilton said. "The atmosphere has been multiplied by five in terms of intensity, in terms of support it has been multiplied by 100 and it has been great to see. When I did the parade lap and saw how many people and how many flags were out there it was awesome. Unfortunately we did not bring the win home for them this year, but I hope to come back next year and then do it for them."
The accolades have not only been from the public. Former racing champions are also expressing their admiration for Hamilton. Legendary driver Stirling Moss had this to say about the young competitor.
"He is probably the most exciting thing that has happened in my 60 years I have been connected with racing," Moss said. "He is a real racer and he is a very nice person, and there is no doubt that he is a future world champion. First of all he does not make many mistakes. He takes the car and drives it with great verve, rather like driving a big go-kart and there is no doubt he is exceptionally good. It is difficult to compare drivers of different eras, particularly to compare him with people like Nuvollari and Fangio because when Nuvollari and Fangio were racing it was a very dangerous sport. Now, of course, it is a very safe sport."
There is still a long way to go to the end of the season and Lewis Hamilton may not end up being the world champion, but he is certainly one to watch for the future.