Written by Staff Writer
Nineteen years after he entered Formula One as a test driver with McLaren in 1994, Lewis Hamilton is a Formula One World Champion.
Born in England to Filipino parents, Hamilton grew up racing motorcycles in Malaysia, Britain and Ireland.
He began Formula One testing at the age of 12, then in 2005 and 2006, won two of the four stages of the Formula Three World Championship.
However, the 34-year-old racer’s promising career was derailed in 2007 when a series of bad-luck races forced him to miss the German Grand Prix, while he was trying to set a new record for the most race wins in a single season.
“I’m very lucky that I went through that,” Hamilton said in a conversation with CNN following his Mercedes team’s celebration party on Saturday night.
“I was never close to falling out with McLaren — it was never the right time for that — but I was close to falling out with myself. I had my head down in the abyss, and I had to close that whole box.”
“We took massive strides forward from the experience we had last season, to get a driver on the podium in each of the races and in this season, to go for victories, there was a complete change.”
Hamilton won the 2018 Formula One title with a victory at the Mexican Grand Prix on Oct. 28. It was his fourth win of the season and another successful campaign for Mercedes’ dominant driver, who now has 13 wins and 17 podium finishes since joining the team in 2014.
“I did feel like it was a bit of a tidal wave,” he added. “One of the things I’ve learnt about Formula One is it’s not just about winning the cars, it’s about a mix of handling and turning points where it comes together and that’s why it can be hard for new teams. It’s not just about going out and winning races, you have to be consistent and good.”
CNN’s Junior World Champion Sofia Carrizosa celebrates victory in the Formula E Championship in Mexico City. Tune in to CNN’s Formula E Live weekend program as the FIA Formula E Championship concludes on Sunday, December 2, 2017, with the semi-final round of the championship.
Many of Hamilton’s formative years were spent racing the MotoGP World Championship and in 2014, he took part in his first World Championship, finishing fifth in the standings.
Although he enjoyed his motor racing career, Hamilton was lucky to be able to make it in F1.
He isn’t the only Hamilton in the family, with sister Sharon Hamilton competing in the 2009 World Rally Championship.
“She and I talk about riding a bike, the challenges of riding a bike, how lucky I was that I was gifted a helmet for all the years I was racing.”