First black F1 driver from Grenadian stock
December 1, 2006

First black F1 driver from Grenadian stock


BRITAIN: The first black driver named to race in Formula One next season has a Caribbean background.

Twenty-one year Lewis Hamilton of Britain will partner the reigning world champion Fernando Alonzo at MacLaren next season.

He has Grenadian roots – his father’s parents are from the Caribbean Spice Isle.{{more}}

Comparisons with Tiger Woods have unsurprisingly already been made.

Like Woods, 21-year-old Hamilton is a marketing-man’s dream.

He’s young, articulate and good-looking, and could attract a new demographic to the white, middle-class world of F1.

The story of his rise could be straight from a Hollywood script.

Even the normally unsentimental McLaren-Mercedes boss Ron Dennis says it has the “attraction of being a bit of a My Fair Lady story”.

The duo first met at an awards ceremony in London in 1995 when 10-year-old Hamilton made an immediate impact on the McLaren supremo.

“When I first met Lewis he was asking for my autograph,” Dennis told BBC Sport.

“Unlike so many people, he looked me square in the face and informed me where he was going in his life.

“Without breaking eye contact, he told me how he was going to go about his career. It impressed the hell out of me.”

Dennis remembered the meeting and signed Hamilton up to the McLaren development programme a couple of years later.

His rise since then has been inexorable.

He won the British Formula Renault series in 2003, the Formula 3 Euroseries in 2005 and the GP2 title this year.

Dennis says he has been a model pupil.