The 2007 season of Formula 1 was full of excitement and scandal. Despite McLaren's apparent spying Lewis Hamilton has propelled himself to the fore of a sport where being a rookie is both a difficult and dangerous business. Unsurprisingly he has gained accolade and criticism. To call him a rookie however is a misnomer, no Formula 1 debutants are rookies to motor racing, all who enter the top echelon of motor sport have had experience from a young age, including Lewis Hamilton.
As a boy, Lewis Hamilton always dreamed of driving in F1. His father, an avid racing fan himself drove Lewis to this, always being there to nurture his talent and support him during the tougher times. For many years Hamilton enjoyed success in kart racing, being an expensive pastime; Lewis' father had to take several jobs, including washing dishes at a local restaurant to keep 'Team Hamilton' afloat. Acting as manager, mentor as well as mechanic, Anthony Hamilton's devotion to his son's career cannot be doubted.
At the age of 11 Lewis attended the Autosport Awards and approached Ron Dennis (McLaren manager) and proclaimed 'Hi my name is Lewis Hamilton, and one day I'd like to drive for you.' The young Lewis was not overlooked; McLaren started to sponsor his karting career and did so throughout his progression in Formula 3000, Formula Renault and GP2.
Many believe it is McLaren that have created Hamilton; I prefer to think that it was his father's determination that has formed the most exciting driver Britain has produced for a generation.
This excitement has come through a hail of compliments from past champions and Formula 1 legends; Jackie Stewart has stated that 'He is probably the brightest star that has entered Formula 1, ever!' There is little doubt of his popularity but some have criticised this popularity and have cited the predominance of the McLaren car's exceptional performance rather than Hamilton's driving skill.
One critic is former champion, Nigel Mansell, arguing that rookies today are given it all on a plate before they earn it. He has been recorded saying that the timing of Lewis Hamilton entering the McLaren team was significant, 'When a driver can arrive with a team and an engine coming right, it makes a difference.' Mansell may be forgetting however that when he entered the Williams-Honda team in 1985 he was in exactly the same position.
It is not just a car that makes a champion though. Throughout the season Alonso, the team mate of Lewis Hamilton put in some amateurish performances while Hamilton drove exceptionally well. An example of this can be seen at last year's Canadian Grand Prix where Lewis recorded his debut victory and Alonso finished in a paltry seventh place. Seemingly it cannot be purely down to a well engineered car.
After winning the GP2 series in his rookie year his place is Formula 1 was affirmed. He had impressed throughout the 2006 season; at Silverstone after victory at the British Grand Prix, the racing legend Stirling Moss delayed an appointment to meet the young superstar. He told his wife who was hastily trying to drag him away from the track 'Just a moment darling, I must go and congratulate Lewis.'
Commentators have asserted that he is the first British driver for an age that is capable of winning multiple championships during his career. He may be young but as Damon Hill has stated, 'If you're good enough in this sport, then you're old enough; and boy is Lewis good enough.' We could be looking at a new age for British racing success, with McLaren the rightful constructor's champions and Lewis Hamilton at the front of the pack, surely next year will be a time of superiority and pride for Britain in Formula 1.