Hamilton named McLaren driver for 2007

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Englishman Lewis Hamilton will drive for McLaren in Formula One for the 2007 season.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:37 IST
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Englishman Lewis Hamilton will drive for McLaren in Formula One for the 2007 season. The 21-year-old Englishman was confirmed as McLaren's second driver for 2007 on Friday, alongside double world champion Fernando Alonso. He will be the first black driver in Formula One. Born in Stevenage in January 1985, he first got behind the wheel of a kart in 1993, aged eight. Two years later he had won his first British karting title. When he was 13, Ron Dennis - the McLaren team principal - began to support him and he remains the youngest driver ever to be signed by an F1 team. European and world kart titles followed, and having made the switch to cars with Formula Renault in 2002, Hamilton dominated the following year to secure the title with 10 wins. Dream come true Hamilton took the European Formula Three series in 2005, and then the GP2 title in 2006 at the first attempt. But now comes the biggest step so far. For Hamilton, a place in McLaren's 2007 F1 line-up represents the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. "It's an overwhelming feeling - coming over to Formula One. Although deep inside it was something I believed I could do, you can never imagine what it's like when you actually get there…my dreams had just come true," he said. Teaming up Hamilton's team-mate in 2007 will be Fernando Alonso, making his McLaren debut after moving from Renault. Many would find the prospect of partnering the reigning world champion a little daunting. But not so Hamilton. "I think it's going to be tough, for sure - it's my rookie season, and being paired up with someone of his calibre is always going to be tough. But I'm looking forward to it. Alonso has got a lot to give to the team, and I know he's going to do very well, and I'll be able to learn a lot from him," he said. Firmly rooted Stories about Hamilton have often focused on the driver's ethnicity. His paternal grandparents emigrated to Britain from the island of Grenada in the 1950s. Hamilton says that first and foremost he is a racing driver - but he nevertheless embraces the fact that he could become a role-model for ethnic groups wanting to enter F1. "I've grown up in the sport wanting to get somewhere in the sport, and get to the top. But I think that it (being the first black Formula One driver) is a positive, on one side. Hopefully I can open up doors for other cultures," he said. Looking ahead, there's every reason to believe that Hamilton will remain impressively level-headed, no matter how much success Formula One bestows upon him. In the future, the first black driver in Formula One might well be able to add 'F1 world champion' to his ever-growing list of accomplishments. (AP)

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