Remembering Lewis Hamilton’s First World Championship Victory
The 2022 Formula One season was groundbreaking for a number of reasons. Firstly, Ferrari finally returned to prominence after a spell of three years on the sidelines, with both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz picking up victories. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Max Verstappen was simply unstoppable.
The Flying Dutchman enjoyed a record-breaking campaign in which he romped to a second consecutive world drivers championship, with his margin of victory being a whopping 146 points, the largest margin of victory in the history of the sport. His 15 victories were also the most ever recorded in a single season, which helped his Red Bull team win the constructors championship for the first time since 2013.
But the 2022 campaign was also groundbreaking for another reason. Last term marked the first season in Lewis Hamilton’s illustrious 15-year career where he didn’t manage to pick up a solitary victory. Heading into last term, his Mercedes team was a second per lap off the pace of the leading Red Bulls and Ferraris.
That gap narrowed towards the end of the season, and Hamilton can consider himself unlucky to not have picked up a victory in Great Britain, the Netherlands, the USA, and Brazil, where his teammate George Russell pipped him to a maiden victory in the penultimate race of the season. But as the 2023 campaign looms large on the horizon, online casino and sports betting websites have made Hamilton the second favorite for the championship this term, behind Verstappen.
In honor of the GOAT going in search of a record-breaking eighth World Championship, we thought it would be a perfect time to look back at his maiden title victory.
Rising From the Ashes
Lewis Hamilton is no stranger to late-season drama. He was on the receiving end of some cruel luck in Abu Dhabi in 2021, which saw the championship handed to the young Verstappen on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. And he had to endure a similar fate some 14 years prior in his rookie season.
Back in 2007, the Stevenage-born star was on course to win the world championship in his debut season, something no driver had achieved before him. But disaster struck in the penultimate race of the season in China when he would beach his McLaren entering the pit lane. Then in the final race, a gearbox issue resulted in him being dead last at the end of the first lap, a deficit he couldn’t overturn.
Kimi Raikkonen would go on to win both races and seal his first and only World Championship, while Hamilton had to lick his wounds and rise from the ashes. But ‘Together We Rise’ is a mantra Hamilton lives by, and that began back in 2008.
The young British upstart would win the first race of the season in Australia, before enduring difficulties in both Malaysia and Bahrain, finishing 5th and 13th respectively. Following those opening three races, Hamilton would strike up a rivalry with Felipe Massa, a rivalry which would last all season long.
Hamilton And Massa go Toe-to-Toe
While Hamilton was finishing 13th in Bahrain, Massa picked up his first victory of the season. And the Brazilian would back that up with a second place in Spain and victory in Turkey, his third in a row in Istanbul. McLaren’s lead driver was able to minimize the damage however, finishing one place behind Massa’s Ferrari on both occasions.
Hamilton would win a wet-to-dry Monaco Grand Prix, before a bizarre pit lane incident in Montreal forced him to retire from the Canadian Grand Prix. He would follow that up with a tenth-place finish in France, while Massa would romp to victory, but then, Hamilton’s purple patch arrived.
He would pick up back–to–back victories, firstly on home turf in Great Britain, before winning an epic in Germany, to take the lead of the championship for the first time since Australia. A disappointing 5th place finish in Hungary was alleviated by the fact that Massa finished way down in 17th, but then the Brazilian would bounce back.
Massa picked up victories in Valencia and at Spa, a race in which Hamilton crossed the line first but was added a thirty-second penalty after the race finished, which would leave him down in third in the final classification. Those victories brought the Ferrari man right back into contention, and the pair wouldn’t pick up another victory until the penultimate race of the season, instead both having to settle for points finishes.
The Final Stanza
Hamilton would lay the ghost of Shanghai to rest, winning in China in the second-to-last race of the season. That meant he jetted off to Brazil knowing that he needed to finish fifth or better to become the youngest champion in Formula One history.
On home turf in front of a buoyant home crowd, however, Massa romped to pole position and stormed away from the rest of the field on the Sunday. Hamilton meanwhile struggled. He was in fifth position until the rain started to fall with barely five laps remaining.
An uncharacteristic mistake would see Hamilton fall down to sixth place behind Sebastian Vettel’s Toro Rosso, meaning that the championship would go to Massa. But with Toyota’s Timo Glock opting to stay out on dry tyers in the pouring rain, he was incredibly slow on his final trip around the famed Interlagos circuit. Hamilton would overtake Glock on the final corner of the final lap of the final race of the season, stealing the title from Massa and breaking the hearts of over 100,000 locals in the grandstands.
Up until 2021, no title had been won in more dramatic circumstances, and Hamilton will be hoping to channel that energy into the 2023 campaign, where he hopes to be a contender once again.