Tracking Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton: A Dream Comes True
By Brian Belton
Pennant £17.99, 227 pages

I found myself mulling over Brian Belton's book on Lewis Hamilton while sitting in the stands at the Formula One Belgium Grand Prix in Spa and overlooking Eau Rouge, one of the most challenging corners on the F1 calendar.

What possesses an individual to drive the pinnacle of automotive technology at speeds approaching 180mph through such a corner? Belton gives us an insight into the closed world of F1 and the story behind Hamilton’s meteoric rise from childhood karting prodigy to rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

I had wondered whether we needed a biography of a man who had only been in F1 for a matter of months and I was sceptical that there would be much substance to this story. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The chronology of the book is a little haphazard, most biographies start with childhood experiences and chart the progress through the formative years to the person we see before us today.

But Belton goes straight into in-depth accounts of the first two races of the season before taking a step back and delving into Lewis’ not too distant past - he is only 22, after all. Do we need a blow by blow account of each race? I fear they were included to pad out the book in an attempt to give an insight into Lewis’ ruthless driving style and uncompromising overtaking.

The book makes quite a lot of Lewis’ ethnicity and how previous black drivers have fared in motor sport. As an F1 fan I do not see him as a black driver in Formula One but as a great young talent showing the older guys – Alonso is a stately 26 – how to do it. I’m not sure that young black families which are struggling have any less chance of getting their son into motorsport than a struggling white family or any ethnicity. It is purely a question of funding.

This book would have benefited significantly by being written at the end of what turned out to be one of the most intriguing seasons in recent times, in which, of course, Raikonnen grabbed victory from Hamilton in the very last race and by the narrowest of margins, one point.

Not only would we have had his insight into the mind-boggling $100m fine levied against Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and its consequent ejection from the constructors championship. But also, and more interestingly, we could have learned more about the brooding rivalry between rookie Hamilton and two-time world champion Alonso.

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