This is the first installment in a new series exploring how the people of F1 got to their positions. If you’re young enough, you may take inspiration from these stories. If not, you can try to live vicariously through your children and make them follow one of these paths. Enjoy.
Lewis Hamilton, three time world champion, was born in 1985. At the young age of 6, Lewis embarked upon his racing career when he received a remote controlled car. Strong evidence that any outlet, even toys, can fuel a passion. If we have any child-readers out there, you may want to cite this as evidence that your $500 Playstation is actually an investment in your future that will pay millions.
At the tender age of 8, Lewis’s father gave him his first go-kart. For all of you dads out there, here’s a quick tip: Lewis’s father promised that he would support his racing as long as Lewis continued to do well in school. As we say in business school, that’s a “win-win” type of bribe. Lewis’s father worked several jobs to keep Lewis racing.
Not much is known about where exactly Lewis was driving his go-kart. Let’s hope it was not on public roads, but he was soon rubbing shoulders with the racing greats. At age 10, Lewis met Ron Dennis, principal of McLaren Racing, and said that he wanted to race for McLaren one day. By age 13, Dennis and McLaren signed Lewis into their young driver programme and got an option on him if he should ever race in F1. The McLaren money allowed Lewis to compete at bigger events and allowed his poor father a bit of a reprieve.
Lewis continued to kart in his teens, including his much publicized friendship and karting rivalry with Nico Rosberg. He became the youngest ever karting world champion at 15. At age 16, Lewis graduated to car racing (which is earlier than he could drive a car on the roads in the UK). He worked his way through the “minor league” ranks, and joined Alonso at McLaren in 2007 for his first F1 race. The rest is history.