The runners who overtook Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton won his fourth Formula 1 World Championship title this year, cementing his place as one of the sport’s all-time great.

Since breaking into Formula 1 in a dramatic way in 2007, the British has proven himself one of the sports most determined of racers. What good is it? To find out, we traced the select group of riders who were beaten in the course of a season.

Opinion: Is Lewis Hamilton, Britain greatest driver of F1?

Nico Rosberg, 2016 Formula 1 champion

The time I was a teenager karting sensations Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton could spend all day as teammates on the track, eating their evening meal together, sleep in a hotel room, and then repeat all over again.

And while their paths may occasionally have fluctuated in different directions in the way of the ladder, made it to Formula 1 and, between 2013 and 2016, gathered as they fought for supremacy in the Mercedes F1 team.

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The statistics of those occasionally tumultuous four years of reading much on the British in favor: two world titles on one -, three seasons ahead in the standings by one, 1334 points in the championship, scored in 1195. But Rosberg did out-score, out-race and out-qualify Hamilton on numerous occasions, and, what is more important, what he did in the entire course of the season 2016.

“Our relationship deteriorated as it gets very intense fight for victories and world championships,” Rosberg (pictured below in his karting days) now says, a year in the championship of retirement. “We’ve grown up together, we’ve worked very well together, but we are also both super-competitive people working with the same team in the same team to achieve the same goal. There is no surprise that there were ups and downs, but I think that the underlying respect was always there. It is how we have achieved a lot for the team.”

How, then, with the benefit of hindsight, what Rosberg believes that he beat Hamilton to reach the top of this sport? “I’ve had to dedicate my life to win,” he says, with a steely tone that suggests that memories of both the hard work and pride in the end result never fade. “Lewis is one of the best of all time and we were in the same car, so the only way to do it was to give it my full attention.”

2016: Champion Rosberg retires from F1

You may have to respond as a simple statement, but, when asked to elaborate more, Rosberg gives the first of many ideas about what the relentless pursuit of its objective required. “To win the world title became a way of life,” he recalls. “Even when I was in the house, I was not really there. Every bit of my energy was to get over the day. Even relaxing takes planning; I would like to try to conserve energy when I needed it, even if it was a day with my family, sit instead of stand, the conservation of energy, perhaps take a short trip instead of a longer one, to take the absolute maximum of the day. Time of silence was really the time working out how to go faster – or talking on the phone with my engineers discussing about how we could go faster. It was a constant.”

In 2016, Rosberg made two changes today in day is considered to be crucial, the first being to spend a free time that I could find at the wheel of a kart, in order to make sure that he was always alert, the second to hire a mind coach. “The coach taught me to be more aggressive in an area I felt that I had to work, especially in the wheel-to-wheel racing – and to adopt a more holistic approach way of thinking, of looking at the bigger picture all the time,” he says. What’aggressive’ means ruthless, I ask? Rosberg flanges at the tip, possibly aware of not to be painted as the villain in the hands of another British hack. “No. You don’t have to be ruthless to be a champion of the world,” he says, emphatically. “Lewis and I raced with respect.”

Mission accomplished, the world championship in the record books, Rosberg says he knew that the time was right to quit smoking. “The goal to which he had devoted my life was complete, and could not imagine a better way to do it again,” he says. “It was a great effort. Impressive in its intensity and an incredible adrenaline rush, but so, so hard. Had everything to be perfect to achieve that goal. It was a privilege to have had the opportunity.”

The story behind one of F1’s best photos

Pushed on if beating Lewis meant more than winning the title and Rosberg is cautiously effusive. The subtext is that it would have been bloody hard to beat anyone for the world title, although he is too polite to say so, and perhaps there is a hint of not feeling the need to heap more praise that is necessary on the shoulders of his sometime nemesis.

“Again, there is no respect between us, and beyond that there’s not much to add,” he says. “I am very proud to have beaten him. We had raced together since I was 12 years old, so I know what fast is. To beat him is a huge, huge privilege, of course.”

‘Not Lewis again!’ – how Mercedes boss reacted to Rosberg’s stop F1

Danny Watts, 2002 champion of the Formula Renault

After his first season in the junior championship of Formula Renault, Danny Watts was forced to scrabble for funds to stay a second year, while his team-mate, a certain Kimi Räikkönen, he graduated to F1 with Sauber. The rest, as they say, is history.

Watts now has 37 years, and retired from racing having starred in a variety of GT and Le Mans categories when the single-seater dream it’s over, but such was his talent that he managed the star enough in his second season of Formula Renault for winning a third year with a top team in 2002.

There he faced two well-regarded rookies: in his own Fortec team-mate Jamie Green, and in the ace Manor Motorsport, the team by a young Lewis Hamilton. “I was in the last chance saloon and Lewis and Jamie were the bright young things,” recalls Watts. “It is intended to go up every year or two, but not had the funding or the results to do that. So I got a deal with a top team and had to prove to myself, or accept that racing had finished.”

Today, Watts laughs at how he even found himself on the network. “My dad and my godfather took me to watch the racing, and when I was 12 years old I took him karting,” he says. “Most of the children began to run to eight. It was a hobby that was not dreaming of F1.”

But the results came their way, a friend of a friend provided some sponsorship and the hobby became a potential profession. In the 2002 season, Watt scored six victories, accumulating points to the beginning of the year, and then hold on to their advantage as the Green and Hamilton came in the descent.

“In the beginning of the year, I was not thinking about anything other than winning the title or against the curtains of my career,” says Watts. “My advantage was my experience. I knew that I could accumulate points while Jamie and Lewis built experience.”

Today, Watts notes that it was Green that took the second in the series, eclipsing Hamilton. “We pushed each other so hard,” he says. “We weren’t companions, but we have had total respect for one another. The data were open, and I think that helped us to overcome Lewis, who was the leader of his team in its first year, although with the benefit of some pretty serious testing beforehand.” Standout moments involving Hamilton still come to mind. “It was bloody hard but 100% of the fair”, says Watts. “We clashed once, in the first round in Snetterton. It was a racing incident – both to his favor in the first round. Normally, you can blame each other and have a little set. We ended up with him. There was No tension.

“I also remember that I had fallen a little, but never when it mattered. He had to go in the practice, a knock on the car and thought: “I’m going to put it on again.’ Any other driver would take time to get back on it, but, of course, your name appears at the top of the timesheets in the qualifying or the race.”

Watts also remember that a good end of season race on the Brands Hatch Indy loop. “It’s a short lap so a tenth of a second can cover five cars in qualifying,” he says. “Lewis qualified on pole by two-tenths and won the race by something like 10 seconds. Reconciles Me to be on the podium and win the championship, but it was a demolition job.” After having won the title, Watts to the Formula 3, while Lewis remained in the Renault. While Watts enjoyed more success, their career paths went in different directions.

“Even when I was on the top step of the podium that year, I never thought that I would get to F1,” says Watts. “On the track, I gave everything, but away from him I was more interested in getting to the next party. Out with the pilots of the race was great – not many of them drink and they were good for a lift home. I always felt lucky to be there, is not the most talented but a hard worker on the track. I was determined to enjoy it.”

Today, the Watts, says age has brought maturity, and works as a bus driver in the world, bringing in the next generation of aspiring motor racing superstars. “It’s not just about being fast,” he says. “You need the whole package: the raw pace, a cool head, the computer, the support. Not to do so on their own, and that is perhaps the biggest lesson that I teach to my drivers.”

Jamie Green, The 2004 European Formula 3 champion

For more than a decade, from karting through Formula 3 single-seater racing, Jamie Green and Lewis Hamilton, are regularly crossed, and regularly met on the podium – often with Green on top.

In his first year of Formula Renault in the year 2002, colour Green finished second in the championship and Hamilton third party; the Green is moved to F3, while Hamilton remained quiet. A year later, both contested the European Formula 3 championship, with Green emerging as champion and Hamilton’s fifth-place finish.

Today, Green acknowledges that he probably had the advantages of experience, and a better car and the team behind him in that crucial year, but there is no doubt that he touched Hamilton – and a fourth, Nico Rosberg. The irony is that from then on his career was oriented in very different directions by the same company, Mercedes.

The two were at the signing of the young pilot scheme of Hamilton’s association with McLaren since the age of eight years, the Green age of 20 years old when his success in the car that brought him to greater attention. But from F3, Green was placed in the German DTM touring car championship, where he is still a title contender, but now with Audi. Hamilton, of course, stayed in single-seaters and won in F3, GP2 and Formula 1.

Today, Green express is only thanks to Mercedes – after all, they took a driver to rely on the goodwill of sponsors, and made him a well-paid professional; since for him the more cynical point of view that he moved to one side to leave the center free care for your conservatee, and no bitterness. “Lewis was always going to be ahead in the queue, after having been chosen in karting,” he says.

Green’s time as a fellow Merc junior provided some insights into Hamilton. He recalls a training ground where drivers were challenged to run up and down a set of steps at the side of a ski jump. “Lewis was not the fastest way to set off back before the turning point and came to the finish line in first place,” he says. “It wasn’t done nastily – he just had to win, even if that means cheating. He had a single mindedness and determination that was left out.”

On the track, Green, says Hamilton run distinguishes it: “He has been racing every weekend since the age of eight years. He was not alone in that, but I could see that is just. He was exceptional in being able to be in the correct position on the last lap to take the victory. The go-karts would be the nose-to-tail, swapping the order like a madman, but Lewis had the ability to work wherever. He was a master of being in the right position.”

So much so that the Green remember seeing the wonder that followed Hamilton’s every move in his debut F1 season with the fun. “There were even people in his team McLaren, who could not believe his streak of podiums and victories,” he says. “Of course, the cars were faster, but it was just a large version of what I had done before. In karting, that have been heated and the end of each weekend. Lewis was amazing, but, by the time he came to F1, he had a lot of experience to combine with his talent.”

Today, Green, is talking about Hamilton with admiration but, as many of the fans, who would love to see him in the same car as a real big again, as it was in the first year with Fernando Alonso. “In the DTM, the half of a second can cover the 10 cars,” he says. “In F1, half a second is the minimum level of Mercedes advantage – even a bad weekend of results in the second place. Lewis is in a luxurious situation at the time. I would love to see someone of the same caliber in the same car as him.”

Colin Brown, 2000 Formula A kart champion of the world

“We were classmates. We would like to go on holiday together, as a family, spend time in the hotel next to the events, and then go to the track and fight tooth and nail, not giving each other an inch more space than was fair, but never overdo it.”

Colin Brown was a British karting sensation before Hamilton, to forge a career in the cutthroat world of European racing, and, in general, competing in a category ahead of the future of four-time Formula 1 champion. “Very often we were at the same event, so that I could see in him the race,” recalls Brown. “I remember that I thought:” This boy has something about him.’ His natural talent was there to see.”

Come the year 2000, and Hamilton approached the Formula One racing class, where he and Brown were going to go head-to-head, but with Hamilton on a well-funded multi-kart team and Brown races as the only representative of his relatively shoe-string suit.

“Every race, it was him or me,” recalls Brown. “Very often he was going to fight on the same bit of track. I was aggressive, it had to be, as I had no team mates to help me out – but no matter how hard they pushed me to Lewis, maybe with a touch here or there, he always maintained his composure.

“He was a great runner. The videos of those races are still on the internet, and does not seem to pass from one to the other constantly; if one of us gets ahead, the other would come straight back. It was hard racing, but was always fair.”

Brown’s day of days came in that year the World Championship event, a race in Braga, Portugal. Hamilton’s crankshaft is seized mid-career, while the pair were biting, Brown, and crossed the line the victor, after fighting against the attentions of Clivio Piccione, who came to the cusp of F1. Other runners competing in that were future F1 drivers Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica, Lucas di Grassi, Giedo van der Garde and Pastor Maldonado. A couple of weeks later, Brown repeated the feat of winning another one-off, the Monaco Kart Cup.

“The competition between us all was so fierce, and for Lewis, and I was more so, because we both wanted to be superior to the British,” Brown says. “But he was so bad: right on the track and very nice. Never boils”.

Brown says Hamilton determination will also be emphasized. Half A season, fell off a bike and broke his wrist, but, after the presentation of himself to the organizers of the race, Hamilton was allowed to race in a cast in a european Championship round. He won both finals. “I remember seeing him in the paddock and thinking, ‘Well, surely he can’t run?'” Brown says. “Then, when he went out to practice, I just thought: ‘Well, good for him, he is trying very hard, but never going to win because it is too competitive for the race to success with any type of impediment.’

“So there I was, in the end he goes to a corner and this kart came. Was Lewis. I probably lost another couple of tenths by trying to understand how on earth they had achieved”.

Brown did get a chance in the racing cars, moving up to single-seaters and facing Hamilton again in the first level of the Championship of Formula Renault.

Their results were good, too, but he never had the money for the progress and the racing dream soon ended. Today, Brown is 35 years old and works at a car dealership Audi, and that, inevitably, no one flashes more than a curious eye as we took our photos in the centre of Wandsworth. He has not competed for years, but is now wanting to get back in the sport.

“I am a firm believer that people can be born with a natural instinct, an innate ability to do something, and I think that Lewis and I could both claim that,” he says.

“But Lewis was the complete package, both in itself and in the support he had. As I sit here today, however, I have nothing but admiration for what he has achieved.

I adored him as a person at that time – he was a nice guy living life to the fullest, warm and sincere – and I will embrace for all its success if I saw it today. I wish I would have had the same opportunities, of course, but life does not play out the same way for everyone.”

Get the drift, Lewis? When the Coach met Hamilton

The Coach met Lewis Hamilton in the year 2000, when the 15-year-old accepted an invitation to try your hand at this journal, then, annual Side event to the Challenge.

The idea is based on the science rather than a love of side the photography, of course – was to find out who could best manage a powerful, rear-wheel drive car. Chobham test track is sprinkled with the water and the Bus staff gave points a drift of the angles and control.

How Lewis in the BMW Z3 M Coupe? It is not very large. Imagine the leap of ultra-sensitive kart heavy duty road and you’ll start to get an idea. But he dealt with the disappointment with a smile, thanked everyone and then in a low voice I asked if I could have another chance. And it went round and round with no one watching until they broke.

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