Hamilton's rookie season in Formula 1 was simply sensational. However, it provided a heartbreaking moment for him at the penultimate round in Shanghai.
After leading the race comfortably early on, he started to lose all grip from his inters and was overtaken by Räikkönen. Even then, that was no big problem in terms of the title race with a 12-point gap to Alonso and 17 to Räikkönen.
Unfortunately for the Brit, he beached his McLaren in the gravel coming into the pits and he was out. It was ultimately the defining moment that cost Hamilton the championship.
Hamilton did win a championship for McLaren in 2008, but car failures cost him wins and potentially a couple of championships.
A gearbox problem at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2007 allowed Räikkönen to steal the title at the final round in his rookie season.
2012 was hugely disappointing for the Brit in this area; his car broke down whilst leading in Singapore and Abu Dhabi. An insufficient amount of fuel also put him at the back of the grid in Spain when he had comfortably taken pole.
A disappointing 2011
Lewis Hamilton's worst season probably came in 2011. The Brit got involved in several clashes with Felipe Massa; they may have not been all his fault, but his driving was particularly clumsy that year as his head didn't seem to be fully focused on his job and there were external distractions. His incident with Kobayashi that year at Spa was further proof of that.
An astonishing rookie season
What we witnessed 12 years ago was something truly remarkable. In his first season in Formula 1, Hamilton showed that anything is possible if you have the talent.
- Nine consecutive podiums at the start of the season
- First pole and win just six races into his career
- Finishing ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso in the standings
- Amazing overtakes
Whilst he just came up short of winning the title because of what happened in China and Brazil, he achieved some magnificent feats.
To completely rattle and beat his two-time world champion teammate in his rookie season was simply extraordinary and very special.
Winning his first Championship
He said in an interview with Graham Bensinger a couple of years that he didn't enjoy his first title in 2008, but it was a huge moment in Hamilton's career.
After a stunning rookie season, 2008 was more difficult due to errors from the Brit; his crash with Räikkönen in the pits in Montreal being the standout moment.
Nonetheless, Hamilton managed to win the title in the most dramatic of circumstances at the Brazilian Grand Prix with that famous overtake on Timo Glock on the final lap to take the championship by a single point.
It would have been very difficult for Hamilton to absorb another narrow title defeat for a second straight season.
Moving to Mercedes
This has to go down as one of the greatest moves in the history of any sport. Six consecutive Constructors' Championships with the team and five Drivers' Titles in six seasons is quite simply a special achievement by Hamilton and everyone at Mercedes.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, however; the relationship between himself and Nico Rosberg deteriorated as the years went by and was damaged beyond repair by the end of 2016. Rosberg’s shock decision to retire after winning the championship was quite critical as the Brit may have been one to leave otherwise.
Nonetheless, Hamilton has proved his immense quality since he’s got an extremely reliable and fast car from 2014 onwards. The mind-blowing stats speak for themselves.
- 61 wins
- 56 poles
- 96 podiums
- 5 Drivers' Championships
Can he match and surpass Michael Schumacher?
After claiming title number six in the United States last Sunday, Hamilton is only one championship behind German legend Michael Schumacher.
With no big regulation changes next year, Hamilton looks set to have a golden opportunity to join Schumi on seven titles and equal the record for most Drivers’ Championships in the history of Formula 1. He's won at least one race during every season he's competed in and is only 9 wins away from surpassing Schumacher on the most wins tally.
Nonetheless, whatever happens in the future, the Brit has cemented his place amongst the best drivers in history already.
Hamilton has done what all the other greats have in the past
- Won races when he hasn’t had the fastest car (Monza 2018, for example)
- Scored points when his car has been well off the pace (2009)
- Relentless hunger and desire to keep winning championships and races
- Incredible in wet conditions
- Forcing rivals into errors and crashes thanks to his pressure
You may not like him or his dominance of the sport in the last few years, but his talent and skill deserve maximum respect.
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This was me when I was 10 after having won my first British Cadet championship. The dream was so big, fire burning so bright in my heart and spirit. I was determined to never let anything get in my way, so was my dad who made it all possible. I miss those days karting. I just want to say, dream big and never let anything stand in your way but also live in the present! Time is all we have. 🙏🏾 #nevergiveup #believe #youcan #wewinandwelosetogether
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Six World Championships!! I can’t begin to describe this feeling, but it’s one I’ll never forget. As a kid growing up in Stevenage, it was a wish to win an F1 race and a dream to win a Championship, so to be standing here today representing my country, is such an incredible honour and beyond what I could have ever imagined. If just one kid sees me standing here and decides to follow their dream, no matter what it may be, nothing would make me more proud. . . I wouldn’t be here without so many of you, my amazing family - especially my dad who taught me to never give up, my friends, my team at @mercedesamgf1 and my fans. You’ve been with me on this journey from the start and it’s because of you that I stay focused and determined. I’m forever grateful from the bottom of my heart for every single one of you for your constant support, encouragement and love. This season is for Niki Lauda, my incredible friend and mentor who we lost this year, who proved that courage and determination go hand in hand. This one's for you, Niki. I’ll continue to make you proud. . . #TeamLH #StillWeRise #Grateful 🙏🏾🌏🏆