Lewis Hamilton

The many facets of the record World Champion

On the track, he chases one record after the other. Off the track, he leverages his sporting success to fight for diversity and justice. A look at the fast-paced career of Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton's talent shone at a young age, but no one could have predicted his journey to the top of Formula 1. After claiming his seventh World Championship last December, the 36-year-old has assumed the throne of motorsport. He now is the joint-record holder alongside Michael Schumacher – and yet a long way from reaching his peak. Meanwhile, the Briton is increasingly committed to campaigning for diversity and sustainability. "Winning championships is great, but I want to be remembered for my work creating a more equal society through education. That's what drives me”, he says. Hamilton’s dedication as a role model and exceptional athletic achievements earned him knighthood in early 2021. The honor is by no means the final chapter in a unique story and is merely more fuel for his goals on and off the racetrack. 


Facts & Records

  • Born: 07.01.1985 
  • Place of birth: Stevenage, England
  • First start: Australian GP 2007
  • Starts: 266
  • Victories: 95 
  • Poles: 98
  • World Championship Titles: 7 

Hamilton saw the lines between childhood excitement and harsh reality merge at a young age. "I remember coming home from school excited to go karting and my dad telling me we didn't have enough money to go that week”, he says. But the family gave everything to create opportunities for the young talent. Lewis’ father, Anthony, worked several jobs at the same time. "I was very fortunate that my father encouraged me to pursue my dreams and never give up”, Lewis says. Persistence paid off. At the age of eight, a budding karting career started to take shape. Just two years later, Hamilton was winning British racing series championships. It was not long before the pros got wind of Hamilton’s potential: At the age of 13, the young racing driver was accepted into McLaren's junior development program and thus became part of the Mercedes family. Hamilton found a mentor early on in Ron Dennis, the former McLaren team boss who personally accepted Lewis into the program. They met by chance three years earlier at an event where Hamilton, then 10 years old, asked Ron for an autograph and shared his ambition to one day compete under him in Formula 1. He was to turn his dream into reality. 

On his way there, the up-and-comer claimed titles in both the Formula Renault and Formula 3 racing series. In 2006, he progressed to the higher GP2 series and excelled here as well. With another championship under his belt, there was only one goal left: Formula 1. There was not much time for the ambitious rookie to settle in. At the end of 2006, Ron Dennis introduced Hamilton as the second driver in the McLaren cockpit, alongside World Champion Fernando Alonso. For Lewis, this meant constant media attention during his debut season. If there was any pressure, it did not show. Instead, Hamilton was eager to attack in his very first race. His third-place finish was the best debut since Jacques Villeneuve took runner-up in 1996. It was the start of an incredible debut season that culminated in his first victory in Canada after four consecutive second-place finishes. It was not to be the last. 

"I see Toto as a friend, but on the other hand, he's also my boss."

Hamilton continued his run with a level of composure that frightened his rivals, and further victories followed in the USA, Hungary, and Japan. The unimaginable achievement of winning the World Championship in his debut season was within reach. With a big lead and only two races to go, Lewis had the title in his sights – but things took a turn. Two unfortunate mistakes meant Hamilton had to settle for runner-up. There was no doubt, however, that he could compete at the top level. "I'm looking ahead and can't wait to get back in the car”, he said after the season. “I came home with my head held high because, as World Championship runner-up, I achieved much more than I and everyone else had expected.” 

Hamilton started the 2008 season in a correspondingly euphoric mood and, after a successful campaign, was once again heading for a dramatic finale. This time, it came with a happy ending. A spectacular recovery in the final race in Brazil saw Hamilton crowned as the sports’ youngest ever World Champion (Sebastian Vettel overtook that honour two years later). In the final turn, Hamilton passed Timo Glock on a wet track to go fifth and take a one-point lead in the title fight with Felipe Massa. The Brazilian had already won his home race and for a few seconds looked like the certain World Champion. But Hamilton held on to his position and so it was: a new champion. It remains the most dramatic finish ever to an F1 season. "I've never experienced anything like it, neither as a driver nor as a spectator. All you can really say is that it was probably fate”, said an emotional Hamilton after his first title.

Historic moment in Montreal

The first victory

At the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton secures his first Formula 1 victory after consistently finishing on the podium in previous races but narrowly missing out on triumph. 

Change of scenery

Start of an era

In 2013, Lewis Hamilton moved into the cockpit of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and from then on formed a dominant and successful duo with team-mate Nico Rosberg. 

All good things come in threes


In the USA, Hamilton completes the triple in 2015 and secures his third world championship title after 2008 and 2014. 

Preliminary highlight


By winning his seventh world championship, Lewis Hamilton ties with Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher in 2020. In 2021 he has only one goal: the sole title as record World Champion.

The switch to Mercedes in 2013 was also fateful. The star brand returned to the premier class of motorsport in 2010 with its own team. Under the leadership of Toto Wolff, the Silver Arrows quickly emerged as a legitimate title contender. From 2014 to 2020, Hamilton alone won six more World Championships, suffering defeat only once, in 2016, to teammate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton's trusting relationship with Toto Wolff was an important factor in his success. "I see Toto as a friend, but on the other hand, he's also my boss. He's very fair and a great leader within our team”, Hamilton said. The Austrian gave Hamilton the necessary confidence to devote himself to projects outside of racing. 

The driver capitalized on the freedom and drew a lot of strength from it, which translated to success on the track. "Expressing myself creatively off the track helps me focus and keeps me fresh before every race weekend”, Hamilton said. Toto Wolff, too, noticed this talent early on, saying, "He's incredibly good at maximizing his resources. That is why I'm not worried at all." The Briton had no shortage of creative ideas. In addition to his own fashion collection and self-written songs, the talented World Champion's repertoire also includes a Virtual Motorsport team founded in 2020. Named "X44", a reference to Hamilton's starting number, the team will compete in the Extreme E electric off-road racing series. What makes it special is that the all-electric rally series only takes place in locations particularly hard-hit by the impact of climate change, which series organizers hope will draw further attention to the issue. 

"At the moment, I don't feel like I'm done here yet. I love racing. I love the challenge."

For years, Hamilton has also been committed to social issues and denounced injustice. He is a strong advocate for greater diversity – among others in Formula 1 – and is supported in his mission by his team and Mercedes-Benz Group AG. Ola Källenius, the company's CEO, commented, "Lewis is passionately committed to greater diversity and inclusion and has taken concrete steps to advance this important issue. As a team and as a company, we stand by him wholeheartedly in this endeavor." Last year, the Mercedes racing team made a public commitment to greater diversity by giving the notoriously silver racecar a black coat. This year, the Formula 1 car will once again hit the track in black. Among other things, the team aims to have at least a quarter of all new employees come from underrepresented groups by the end of 2025. Hamilton has already created a commission to promote diversity. The fourteen-member team of experts has identified the reasons behind the lack of inclusion of young black people in Formula 1, which Hamilton hopes will accelerate long overdue change. "Formula 1 teams are much bigger than just the drivers in the spotlight, but there is not enough representation across the board – from the pits to the engineers in the factories and design departments. Changes are not happening fast enough and we need to find out why."

The important extracurricular work has not relegated Hamilton’s sporting ambition to the background, as he proved once again in 2020. With his seventh World Championship win, Hamilton drew level with Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher and now shares the title of record World Champion with the German legend. This year, Hamilton wants to make the honor entirely his own: "At the moment, I don't feel like I'm done here yet. I love racing. I love the challenge. And I don't think that will change anytime soon.” 

Team player with a hunger for success

Since 2013, Toto Wolff has been a defining personality in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team. As team principal, he has played a major role in the historic success seen in recent years. A success story based on constant self-improvement and critique regarding performance.

Racer in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 opening the car door

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