Lewis Hamilton - 2008 F1 World Champion
This year's Brazilian Grand Prix had race fans on the edges of their seats until the very end, and the final race of the 2008 Formula One series appeared for a time to be Felipe Massa's. However, a last minute effort by Lewis Hamilton resulted in his becoming the world's first black Formula One champion.
Lewis Hamilton fans were elated when he secured first place at the China Grand Prix in Shanghai. He had been predicted by many Formula One watchers as the front-runner. Hamilton needed that win to be in the running for World Champion heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix.
His two year career with Formula One has been fraught with high hopes and subsequent disappointments. His association with the sport and team McLaren actually began long before his induction to Formula One. Lewis Hamilton began as one of the first drivers to receive instruction in the Young Driver Support Programme. The school was started in 1998 as a joint effort between McLaren and Mercedes-Benz. Hamilton was just 13 at the time.
His rookie season looked promising at the start. He had nine podium finishes in a row and four first-place finishes. It wasn't quite enough in the end though. The 2007 Grand Prix season saw Lewis Hamilton take the runner up position to World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. Still, it was an impressive finish for the British rookie.
His fans waited eagerly to see if he could step it up in 2008. He took five first-places in the season. He narrowly missed a sixth in Belgium. Hamilton was at first declared the winner, only to have his title stripped from him. He lost his ranking at the Belgian Grand Prix due to an illegal manoeuvre. He cut a chicane late in the race. The act got him demoted to third place.
He also narrowly missed a win in Japan in October. Lewis Hamilton had been the favored racer. Instead he managed to earn a disappointing 12th place, thanks to a penalty. His loss in Japan narrowed the gap to a small margin between him and rival Felipe Massa.
It was Massa who sped to a first place finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix, the season's final race. It appeared initially that Massa, who also had an impressive season, would take the World Championship according to many popular blogs
Fortunately for Lewis Hamilton he was able to overtake the fifth place drive on the final lap. It was just enough to squeeze out Massa. He beat Massa by a mere one point.
Lewis Hamilton set more than driving records this season. He isn't just Formula One's first black champion. The 23-year-old will go down in history as the youngest driver to win the series.
Hamilton will likely spend a few weeks reveling in his newfound status. His name, after all, has been uttered in the same sentence as David Beckham's as of late. His star will be shining bright when he returns home to England for some much needed and deserved rest. His brilliant performance and last-minute manoeuvre at the Brazilian Grand Prix will be remembered for years to come with F1 fans.