Lewis Hamilton: The Story So Far
Friday, July 6, 2007.
By Karl Williams
I can just about remember through the haze in my memory. It was 1964: this rookie with all the odds stacked against him was also claiming his place in history.
With every shuffle of his feet, Mohammed Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, predicted what power he would unleash upon Sonny Liston, the reigning champion. As he destroyed and humiliated Liston, Ali would taunt: “Your hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” The feet moved, while the hands talked!
That was the pivotal moment! It was a tumultuous and everlasting tactical tour de force, replayed in glorious Technicolor a decade later in “The Rumble in the Jungle”.
On the 10th June 2007, Lewis Hamilton, in his first season’s, his sixth race and first attempt to win the Formula 1 World Championship Crown, triumphed! He too, like Mohammed Ali “The Greatest” was a mere young man of 22 years!
Was I surprised? No! I’ve had him in my sights for around five years now, and while I was doing my bit at another publication, I made a request to profile Lewis in our “The One to watch” section, but it was not to be. The media folks at McLaren were having none of it. So, here I am, two and half years later doing it; still without the man. Now I have to queue, then I didn’t.
I’ve been keeping a ‘watching brief’ of events these last few months, as you do, watching and listening to the comments of how king Lewis, this supreme, devastatingly talented young blood is consumed by the world’s media.
I have not been disappointed! I read in The British Daily Telegraph, where one journalist had spent many a night trawling through the archives.
He told us about how Lewis' “four podium finishes in a row” had been done before! Even though as he admitted all the so called ‘races‘ way back then “weren’t” in the Grand Prix calendar, but their were races after all and should count! So what Lewis did wasn’t so great afterall, it doesn’t matter. Afterall, it had all been done before!
Then in The Times there was Adolph, alive and well and living in London, telling us that “let alone drive, he’s never seen a black man run!”
"No, he’s a product of science," shouted the writer from the first post. Lewis has been psychological treated, enhanced and honed by McLaren.
Oh Eureka! That’s what it is. My watching brief is over!
It’s called talent and opportunity. Give any young man or woman; the chance to fulfil their ambition from an early age and I suggest you’ll get the same result. The boy is gifted with natural talent. Pure and simple! So get used to it!
Did we hear these stories with such greats as Alain Prost, Aryton Senna whose helmet colours are sported by Lewis, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill or how about our good old Nigel Mansell? Nah! I don’t think so.
How many times have we seen such genius in our lifetime and simply look, standing mouth open in absolute amazement at their achievements?
Mohammed Ali, Tiger Woods winning at Augusta, Mike ‘Kid Dynamite’ Tyson becoming the youngest ever World Boxing Champ with such controlled brutality at 20! Less we forget Venus and Serena Williams, who like Lewis have taken ownership of a sport. Every generation has its heroes. This is our Century!
In Montreal, on a track he’d never raced before, he takes pole position. No! He works bloody hard for it! The lights go green and he leads from start after keeping Alonso at bay for 60 laps six laps; he goes on to convert it into a win. His first win, on a track he’s never raced.
We stay in North America, head to Indianapolis. Same script, take pole by half a second from Alonso. On Sunday afternoon the lights go green and he gets into the first corner again just, as Alonso does his best to squeeze him onto the green stuff. The boy wonder has none of it and keeps his foot on the loud peddle, stays on the driving line and eyes out front. Once again he keeps the lead from start to finish and he wins in the land of the free and the brave!
Yet again we have more records broken. First British driver in 23 years to win at the other side of the pond. Eight podiums in eight races. He has never finished lower than third; it’s his first season! He’s leading the Championship! It has never been done before, has it? Let me help you. No, it has not!
With that win, the big bucks are even now more on his case. We saw Pharrell Williams hanging out with Lewis' dad in the US and talking about ‘the brand’ and how “Lewis believes he can do anything and we’d love to do something with him”.
He’s now being totted as the £100million man! That was the rumoured pay packet for five seasons before the US and Canadian Grand Prix wins. Now that’s the quote per season!! We could have our very first £100m dollar man! I remember when John Barnes was the £5 million dollar man at Liverpool Football Club back in 1990.
I tell you what, the four happiest men alive right now are Ron Dennis, Anthony and Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher! Not necessarily in that order.
The odd man out is Schumie. Why, I hear you ask?
Ferrari has won four races so far this season because the boys from McLaren have upped the ante. Could you imaging Michael sitting-it out behind another up-start, as he would see it, as he did in his last two years?
Remember Monza last year, when Alonso had worn rear tyres and couldn’t drive fast’ out of the bends due to lack of traction!
When he came into a bend, he slowed down to control Michael’s speed out of the corners, and then took off while making his Renault the widest car on the track by using the entire road and the straight-line speed of the Renault! For lap after lap, Michael and the Prancing Horse tried but he couldn’t get past. He was none to pleased.
Now fast forward. Hindsight is a wonderful thing as my mother would remind me.
Hey, do you think Michael had a vision? You know last year the whole Ferrari F1 team had an audience with the Pope! You think the Pontiff told him to quit because that young blood Lewis would be coming through and you don’t want to be around when he is in town! I hear chuckles and you may well laugh, as I am.
Well, we’ll never know, would we? What we do know is there is a new king in town, every other Sunday, as luck would have it. Lewis Hamilton is going for the crown and I think he’s going to take it.
Now, this weekend it is his home race - the British Grand Prix. After his win in Canada, tickets have sold out and the whole country is rooting for this brilliant driver.
This is Lewis Hamilton's time, as Vodafone, McLaren’s main sponsor reminds us. Make the most of now; So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. All Hail King Lewis.
Karl Williams is a London-based freelance journalist and motoring correspondent for The New Black Magazine.
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