7X WDC Champion Sir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton Larbeister has been the biggest name in Formula 1 for a while now. He ranks with the likes of Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, and many other all-time greats.
He has won 6 of his drivers titles with his current team, Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team continuously from 2014 to 2020, except in 2016 when his teammate, Nico Rosberg outscored him in equal machinery. But, his debut title with McLaren was the start of a journey like no other.
Hamilton’s 2008 WDC journey
Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren season in 2008 was nothing short of extraordinary. He was in his second year of Formula 1 and had already established himself as one of the most gifted drivers on the field. Hamilton had barely lost out on the championship in his rookie season and was eager to make up for it in 2008.
Hamilton started the season on a high note, winning the first race in Australia. He went on to win four of the first six races of the season, including another triumph in Monaco. He did, however, suffer some setbacks along the road, including a retirement in Canada and a fifth-place result in France.
The second part of the season was just as thrilling with Hamilton squaring off against Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. The Brazilian driver won three of the season’s final five events, while Hamilton only won one in China. Hamilton beat Massa by seven points in the title rankings heading into the season finale in Brazil.
The Brazilian Grand Prix was a terrifying experience for Hamilton and his supporters. He began in fourth place, while Massa had pole position. Hamilton’s title aspirations were dashed early in the race when he was hit by Sebastian Vettel and dropped to the rear of the field.
“IS THAT GLOCK?” 😳
The story of @LewisHamilton‘s triumph in Brazil 2008. 🇧🇷🏆
Celebrations, tears and even sore knuckles… an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved. 🎢 pic.twitter.com/RheJKfVVts
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 2, 2022
The race, however, took an unexpected turn in the final phases. Massa was dominating the race and appeared to be on track to win the championship, but Hamilton passed Timo Glock in the final consequently taking fifth place and the championship. It was a thrilling conclusion to an amazing season.
Hamilton’s 2008 McLaren season demonstrated his ability and drive. He won five races, placed ten times on the podium, and earned points in all but two. He also demonstrated tremendous resilience and poise in the face of adversity and duress. It was a showing that established him as one of the most talented drivers of his age.
Lewis Hamilton’s departure from McLaren
The departure of Lewis Hamilton from McLaren at the end of the 2012 Formula One season signaled the end of an era for both the company and the driver. Hamilton had been with McLaren as his Formula 1 début in 2007, and the partnership had been beneficial, with Hamilton taking the title in his second year with the team.
Lewis Hamilton to race for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS from 2013 @lewishamilton http://t.co/hz6uBUQI
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) September 28, 2012
By 2012, however, Hamilton’s rapport with McLaren had deteriorated. In the previous two seasons, the team had fallen short to provide him with a viable vehicle, and Hamilton was growing frustrated with his lack of success. He also claimed to be fed up with the team’s internal intrigues and was looking for a new task.
Hamilton revealed in September 2012 that he would be leaving McLaren at the end of the season to join Mercedes. Many in the F1 community were astonished by the decision, as McLaren had fostered Hamilton’s talent and helped him become a world champion.
McLaren suffered a major loss when Hamilton left the organization. He was one of their most accomplished drivers, with 21 wins and 49 podium finishes. He was also a popular member of the team, with strong relations with many of the technicians and engineers as well.
#OnThisDay, 2014 🗓@LewisHamilton wins the #AbuDhabiGP and his second #F1 title 🏆
Then celebrates in style… Donuts! 🍩#OTD #F1Finale pic.twitter.com/isg7iuAMoW
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 23, 2016
Hamilton’s transfer to Mercedes, on the other hand, proved to be a wise choice. He won the Hungarian Grand Prix and finished fourth in the title rankings in his first season with the team. He claimed his second WDC title in 2014 and went on to win four more in the years that followed.
Meanwhile, McLaren failed to duplicate their success with Hamilton. Between 2013 and 2020, the team did not win a race and had several challenging seasons. However, in recent years, they have made considerable progress and emerged as a more formidable force in the tournament.
What did Lewis Hamilton say about his departure from McLaren?
The Englishman decided to quit the English Constructor’s side in 2012, which wasn’t very easy for him. He told SkySports “Obviously, I was with McLaren for so long. [For] the first time, I was coming to the end of my contract [at the end of 2012],”
🎙️ “Niki called me and said hey you must come to the team, this is the place!” 📞
Lewis Hamilton reveals how he was persuaded to join Mercedes in this never seen before FULL sit down interview with MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi 🙌 pic.twitter.com/nQx0CFYcnA
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) April 29, 2022
Hamilton explained that he had been thinking about the steps he needed to take. He added that he had management at the time, but he wanted to make the decision himself. Hamilton stated that he had looked at different options and had written the pros and cons for each team. He also considered where each team was going in terms of performance.
But keeping in mind that Mercedes was not a very successful team until Lewis Hamilton joined the team, it is intriguing to see why he thought of joining an ‘up-and-coming’ team rather than ‘established teams’ like Ferrari, Williams, and McLaren.
He mentioned that he had seen people like Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi moving to teams that were not ‘established’. He continued “But the idea of the journey to success with that team, [where] you build something special, is something special. If you join the winning team already, there’s less passion there. So, I really wanted to see if that was possible.”
“We’re witnessing you making history, man!”
A memory to last forever as Sebastian Vettel congratulates his friend and rival @LewisHamilton 🤜🤛#TurkishGP 🇹🇷 #F1 pic.twitter.com/5LGvaby4k0
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 15, 2020
“Did I know what’s gonna happen? Of course not. I believed that, at some stage, we would win with the decisions that were being made.” He mentioned the uncertainty that came to his career with joining a newer team.
But as we all know, the sun shone brighter and sooner on the Briton when Mercedes hit the nail on the head with the new era of turbo-hybrid V6 era of engine. Mercedes not only gave Lewis Hamilton excellent cars but also gave him teammates like Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas that complemented his racing style, allowing him to become the most successful Formula 1 driver ever, statistically.