12. Lewis Hamilton

Age 36
Occupation Driver, Mercedes AMG Petronas
Nationality British
Position Last Year 21

Lewis Hamilton was born on 7 January 1985 in Stevenage, England. At the tender age of eight, Lewis sat in a kart for the first time and was immediately bitten by the racing bug. Mercedes-Benz soon recognised the British youngster’s enormous talent, becoming one of his sponsors at the very start of his career.

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Not only did Lewis show incredible pace on the track, but he also climbed the career ladder at an impressive rate. After he had blown the competition out of the water in every category of karting and won the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future series, McLaren Mercedes enrolled him on their Young Driver Programme in 1997. In 2001, he moved up into British Formula Renault, winning the title two years later.

Lewis’s winning streak continued unabated in the Formula 3 Euro Series. He was crowned junior champion whilst still in his second year and subsequently progressed to the GP2 Series with ART Grand Prix. Despite his rookie status, Lewis dominated the Championship – taking five victories on his way to the title. This success immediately led to his promotion to the very pinnacle of motor racing – Formula One.

Lewis Hamilton made his Grand Prix debut with McLaren Mercedes on 18 March 2007 as team-mate to reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso, whilst still only 22 years old. Despite his youth, he remained in contention for the title right up until the season finale in Brazil – challenging top drivers with considerably more experience. The numerous records set by Lewis in his rookie season highlighted his class – including the most race wins, pole positions and points scored in a debut season.

What had already been an extraordinary career reached new heights in 2008, with a first Formula One World Championship crown. At the time of his title victory, Lewis was 23 years, nine months and 26 days old – taking the accolade of youngest ever Formula One World Champion. It was undoubtedly one of the most dramatic title deciders in F1 history, with Lewis securing the Championship on the last lap of the final race in Brazil – after a late overtake for fifth place.

Four years later, after six successful seasons with McLaren Mercedes, Lewis sought a new challenge – joining the works Mercedes team for the 2013 season. Lewis secured his first podium in a Mercedes Formula One car in only his second race with the team, at the Malaysian Grand Prix. A maiden victory followed eight races later in Hungary, helping Lewis to finish the season fourth overall in the Drivers’ standings.

2014 heralded the dawn of a new era for Formula One – and a second World Drivers’ Championship crown for Lewis, after taking 11 victories and 16 podiums along the way. The season-long battle with teammate Nico Rosberg ended in dramatic fashion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The following season, Lewis put in a dominant title defence, which yielded 10 wins and 17 podiums in total – en route to his third Drivers’ crown, equalling the great Ayrton Senna and compatriot Sir Jackie Stewart.

Lewis achieved a similar level of success in the 2016 season, scoring the most race wins (10) and most pole positions (12) of any driver. The Brit kept his World Championship hopes alive until the final weekend of the season in Abu Dhabi – but ultimately had to settle for the runner-up spot behind his teammate Nico.

For 2017, Lewis came under pressure from Sebastian Vettel, trailing the Ferrari driver for the first part of the season before a stunning run of form catapulted him into the Championship lead at the Italian Grand Prix. Lewis secured his fourth World Title in Mexico with two rounds to spare and ended the year with the most race wins (10) and pole positions (11) of any driver.

The following season proved to be intense, with Lewis and Ferrari’s Vettel trading places at the top of the 2018 standings. But Lewis took command of the title battle in the second half of the year, securing his fifth Drivers’ Championship in Mexico and ending the year with 11 wins and 17 podiums.

Lewis’s career reached new heights in 2019. At the United States Grand Prix, with two rounds remaining, he scored his sixth F1 title. Lewis equalled the most wins (11) and podiums (17) he’s ever scored in a season, while also scoring the most points (413).

Lewis Hamilton won his seventh drivers’ title in 2020, equalling the record set by Schumacher, in a season heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the shortened seventeen race season, Hamilton took 11 wins (equalling his previous personal best but in fewer races) including one in Portugal to break Schumacher’s record of 91 wins. He also took 14 podiums and 10 pole positions. Hamilton missed the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix after contracting COVID-19, his first race absence since his debut in 2007.

Hamilton clinched the title at the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix with three rounds to spare and ended the season 124 points clear of his team-mate, Bottas, who finished second in the standings. Amidst Formula One’s We Race as One campaign and growing global support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Hamilton took the knee ahead of every race he entered and wore t-shirts bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan. Hamilton and Bottas’ W11 cars also sported a black livery as a statement of Mercedes’ commitment to diversity.

In February 2021, Lewis Hamilton signed a contract to continue racing for the team in 2021. In May, at the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton became the first driver in Formula One history to achieve the milestone of 100 pole positions. The next highest is Schumacher, with 68.

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