Born winner: A timeline of Lewis Hamilton's career

As he claims his third World Championship, we look back at the British driver's career and how he cemented his name among the greats.

James Reynolds October 27, 2015

Some people love him, others not so much. Whatever you feel for Lewis Hamilton, there is no arguing that he is one of the most talented drivers to have sat in a Formula One car. 

He has broken numerous records and with three World Championships, has put his name amongst some of the sport’s all time greats – Senna, Piquet, Brabham, Lauda. 

Behind Hamilton’s success there is a story to be told and as glamorous and exciting as his career is now, there was once just a boy behind the helmet hoping to be a champion. 

1991: Hamilton was born on the 7th January, 1985 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England, to his parents Anthony Hamilton and Carmen Larbalestier. By the age of six his love for racing began to grow, after his father bought him his first radio-controlled car. 

1992: He took part in his first racing competition; using the trusty remote controlled car his father bought him, finishing second in the BRCA (British Radio Car Association) Championships. The competition saw a young Lewis Hamilton race people years older than him, adults even, yet he still shone, resulting in his father’s decision to purchase Lewis his first go-kart. 

1993: After developing a love for racing with a controller, the following year saw Hamilton get behind the wheel of his go-kart and race competitively at just eight years old. He began racing at Rye House Kart Circuit in the cadet class that saw him rise as one of the best racers in his age group.

1995: Proving to be one of the most pivotal points in his career, at the age of just ten years old, Hamilton won the British Karting Championship, as well as the STP Karting Championship the same year. 

It was in 1995 that Hamilton met Ron Dennis, head of McLaren Racing, and with a single sentence announced his ambition. “Hi. I’m Lewis Hamilton. I won the British Championship and one day I want to be racing your cars.” Dennis replied by signing his autograph book with, “Phone me in nine years, we’ll sort something out then.”

1996: Was the year Hamilton claimed his third, fourth and fifth titles as he won the Champions of the Future series, the Sky TV KartMasters Championship and became the Five Nations Champion.

1997: There was literally no stopping Hamilton, as racing became his life and passion as he turned out for Martin Hines’ Zip Young Guns Karting Team, progressing through the cadet ranks through to Junior Yamaha.

1998: This was the year Hamilton was officially named he greatest karting racer of his time. While, three years to the day Hamilton won his first championship, he was now crowned Karting World Number One and still remains the youngest driver to do so.

He also claimed the European and World Karting title the same year thanks to help from Ron Dennis after he signed him up to McLaren and the team’s partners Mercedes-Benz, to become part of their Young Driver Support Programme. IAG

2000: As he progressed from Intercontinental A - two years later Hamilton became the European Champion in Formula A with maximum points. 

2003: Although he took part in the Renault UK Championships in 2002, it wasn’t until the following year that he would win it with Manor Motorsport. Claiming ten wins, nine fastest lap times and eleven pole positions in the process, he also made his Formula Three debut in the same year. 

2004: After showing signs of promise at the Korea Grand Prix and Macau Grand Prix, he came close to signing for Williams, but it fell through after BMW refused to fund him. As a result he continued to race in Formula Three, picking up plenty of wins in the process. He finished fifth in the Euro Series with 68 points with Manor Motorsport. 

What people tend to forget is the journey that I had getting to Formula One. There were plenty of years where I have to learn about losing and having bad races. - Lewis Hamilton

2005: Hamilton’s career continued to blossom as he won the Masters of Formula Three Championship and Formula Three Euro Series with ASM, toping his previous year’s point tally by 104 points. He was also ranked 24th in Autosport’s ‘Top Drivers of 2005’ edition, all in the same year.

2006: The beginning of a Formula One champion; Hamilton became the GP2 Series Champion at his first attempt, with ASM’s sister ART Grand Prix. Shortly afterwards, McLaren announced Hamilton would join their Formula One ranks later that year.

2007: In his first year in F1 racing alongside then World Champion Fernando Alonso, he managed to secure a third place podium finish with McLaren Mercedes on his debut race.  Three months later he secured his first pole and first win in the Canadian GP. He also became the youngest driver to ever lead the World Championship, and narrowly missed out on the season title.

2008: This was the year that all of his hard work and dedication to racing would pay off, as Hamilton became the Formula One World Champion at the age of twenty three. 

2009: A year of ups and downs for Hamilton. Off the track he was awarded an MBE by the Queen in what he called, “one of the most overwhelming experiences” of his life, for his achievements in racing. But he was banned from driving on public roads after he was caught speeding in France. He also admitted to lying in a hearing with the FIA involving an incident with Jarno Trulli, which saw Hamilton provide “misleading evidence”, in what he claimed was the hardest week of his life. He finished 5th in the championship.

2012: After a difficult and barren year of racing, Hamilton announced he was moving to Mercedes, ending his five-year deal with McLaren. A decision widely criticized by pundits and ex-drivers.  

2014: It took just two seasons at Mercedes for Hamilton to win his second World Championship title, sealing the crown in Abu Dhabi. It was undoubtedly his most successful year in the sport, reaching a total of thirty-two career victories, the most of any British driver, before being voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

2015: His third World Championship was won with three races still to go on the calendar. He also claimed the third longest streak of podium finishes in the sports history (14) with his win at the Canadian GP.