Six of the best (and worst)! Sportsmail looks back at Lewis Hamilton's tumultuous career with McLaren as the Brit ace bids farewell
13:26 GMT, 23 November 2012
Lewis Hamilton will end his 14-year association with McLaren after this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix. It will mark the conclusion of a sometimes turbulent six-season spell with the British outfit.
Sportsmail looks back at his six best and worst moments since he emphatically burst on to the Formula One scene back in 2007.
'Thank you, McLaren': Hamilton will join Mercedes on a three-year deal after 14 years with the British outfit
Canadian Grand Prix, June 2007
A star was (officially) born in
Montreal back in 2007. Hamilton claimed the first pole position of his
grand prix career before sealing his maiden win. Despite his tender
years and limited experience, Hamilton led from start-to-finish and his
performance was faultless – even with the safety car emerging on four
separate occasions. It was only Hamilton's sixth grand prix, with
three-times world champion Niki Lauda left 'stunned' by the
British driver's performance. Hamilton became the first black driver to
win a grand prix and the youngest driver ever to lead the world
Maiden victory: Hamilton celebrates becoming the first black driver to win a grand prix
Japanese Grand Prix, September 2007
Hamilton had already forged a
reputation as a wet-weather specialist in the junior ranks of motorsport
before then delivering on the world stage in Fuji. The McLaren driver qualified on pole before mastering the miserable conditions to take the chequered flag – his fourth and final win of the campaign.
Fernando Alonso, already a double world champion and Hamilton's team-mate for the season, spun in his desperate bid to catch his inexperienced McLaren colleague. It left Hamilton leading the title race by 12 points
with just two races remaining.
All smiles: The British star waltzes on to the podium after clinching victory at the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix
British Grand Prix, July 2008
Hamilton arrived at his home grand prix
under huge pressure after two error-strewn races, and could manage only
fourth in qualifying. But in one of the
outstanding performances by a British driver in recent years, the
Stevenage-born star dominated the race, mastering the changeable
conditions and finishing a mammoth 70 seconds ahead of second-place Nick
Heidfeld, whilst lapping the entire field up to third. Unsurprisingly,
Hamilton ranks it among his greatest grand prix victories.
Over the line: Hamilton romped to victory at the rain-affected 2008 British Grand Prix
Brazilian Grand Prix, October 2008
'Is that Glock' yelled commentator Martin Brundle. Some four years on and it still sends shiver up the spine. Hamilton sealed the 2008 world title under the most dramatic circumstances after passing Timo Glock at the last corner on the last lap of the last race of the season. Hamilton's championship rival Felipe Massa won the rain-affected grand prix, sparking wild scenes in the Ferrari garage, but their celebrations were premature. It was Hamilton who'd prevailed after he finished fifth and with it sealing the necessary quota of points to claim his first, and to date, only world championship crown.
No 1: Hamilton celebrates his maiden title with father Anthony and popstar girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger
Hungary for success
Hungarian Grand Prix, July 2009
Hamilton was left with a pig of a car to defend his world championship title and arrived at the tenth round of the 2009 season in Hungary with a fourth in Bahrain his best result. Indeed just two races earlier, the McLaren driver had finished a dismal 16th at Silverstone. It's fair to say hopes weren't high in Hungary. But a number of updates on Hamilton's McLaren tied in with the brilliance of the British driver saw him claim his first win of the season. 'It is incredibly special to get back up here, not only on the podium, but to get a win,' said Hamilton. 'It is amazing.' A second victory in Singapore saw Hamilton finish fifth in the championship.
Winner: The British star takes the chequered flag for the first time in 2009
Yanks for the memories
United States Grand Prix, November 2012
Hamilton's displays this term have
arguably been his best since he won the world championship in 2008.
McLaren failures have cost him the chance of battling Sebastian Vettel
and Alonso for the crown, but when his car has been
trouble-free, as it was in Austin last weekend, Hamilton has proven he
still carries all the ability to win a second title. Hamilton kept the
superior Red Bull of Vettel in his sights at the Circuit of The Americas before nailing the German with
12 laps remaining. But will it be his last victory in a McLaren car
Chinese Grand Prix, October 2007
a show-stopping debut season, Hamilton arrived at the penultimate race
in Shanghai with one hand on the championship. The McLaren driver led
from the get go but as the heavens opened, the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen
caught and passed his title rival. Entering the pits a flustered
Hamilton then slid off into the gravel, and with it blowing his chances
of becoming the first driver to win a championship in his inaugural
campaign. It must be noted it was Hamilton's only real mistake during a
quite incredible year.
Blow: Hamilton retires from the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix after losing control of his McLaren in the wet conditions
Aussie (break) rules
Australian Grand Prix, March 2009
was disqualified from third place at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix
after he was caught lieing to race stewards. Jarno Trulli was originally penalised
after he passed Hamilton under safety car conditions, but it prevailed
that McLaren had instructed Hamilton to let the Toyota through. The
British team then shamefully tried to cover up the misdemeanour before
Hamilton issued a grovelling apology claiming he was 'misled' and
long-term sporting director Dave Ryan was sacked. The race marked
Hamilton's first as defending champion in a season he won't remember
with much fondness.
Under fire: Hamilton issued after a grovelling apology after he'd allowed Trulli through during the safety car
was the subject of vile, racist taunts ahead of what turned out to be
his finest hour at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2008. Over 16,000 racist
messages were left on a voodoo-style website taunting the British
driver. Hamilton was referred to as a 'n*****' 'half-breed' and
'Conguito' – a chocolate sweet with racist overtones. Earlier in the
season, Hamilton was jeered at a test in Spain – the home country of
rival Fernando Alonso – where some spectators were seen wearing black
make-up and t-shirts with the slogan 'Hamilton's Family' displayed on
Shame: Hamilton was jeered by racist fans at pre-season test in Barcelona
'Don't touch me, man!'
Singapore Grand Prix, September 2011
While Sebastian Vettel took all the plaudits in 2011 after a quite-sublime set of performances, the warring duo of Hamilton and Felipe Massa were never far behind in terms of column inches. The duo clashed six times on the track, with the fractious relationship reaching boiling point at the end of the Singapore Grand Prix when Massa forcefully tugged Hamilton on the shoulder in the TV pen, leaving the McLaren driver to say, 'don't touch me, man.' It was a desperate encounter for both men, who endured equally disappointing seasons.
'It's because I'm black'
Monaco Grand Prix, May 2011
Hamilton is unlikely to look back on the 2011 campaign with much fondness and his ill-advised Ali G impression after the Monaco Grand Prix was probably the pinnacle moment of a miserable year. 'Maybe it's because I am black,' Hamilton quipped after he was penalised by the stewards for a number of clangers during the race. The punishments had nothing to do with Hamilton's ethnicity, but more his kamikaze display around the French port. Pundit Brundle summed up the general mood when he said: 'He's played a card I'd never thought he'd use.'
Stay away from the keyboard, Lewis
Belgian Grand Prix, August 2012
social media career reached its miserable climax after this year's
Belgian Grand Prix when he issued a verbal volley at team-mate Button.
'I thought we respected one another, but clearly he (Button) doesn't,'
Hamilton bemoaned after he was unreliably informed that Button had
stopped 'following' him on Twitter. But it emerged that Button had never
befriended Hamilton and the latter was forced into a grovelling
apology. The clanger was Hamilton's final act on Twitter after he'd
earlier released sensitive McLaren data to his one million followers.