Britain toasts Lewis Hamilton, a new sporting legend
London, Nov 3 (IANS) All of Britain, led by none other than its prime minister, Monday toasted the sensational success of Lewis Hamilton, the youngest man ever and the first black to become the Formula One world champion.
"I think the whole country is thrilled by his exceptional talent," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "The whole of Britain are proud of the inspirational Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren team.'
Hamilton, 23, won in the final lap of a dramatic rain-lashed Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paulo Sunday, giving Britain its first Formula One champion in 12 years.
"Lewis is now officially a British sporting legend and a role model for what you can achieve if you follow your dream," declared Conservative Party leader David Cameron.
Hamilton began his career when his father bought him his first go-kart as a Christmas present at the age of six. At the age of 10, he approached the McLaren team principal at an awards ceremony and famously told him, 'I want to race for you one day'.
Less than three years later, at age 13, he was signed by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz to their Young Driver Support Programme.
Motorsport officials said Hamilton's win showed Britain was the best test-bed for young drivers, and predicted he would go on to win many more titles.
"Lewis Hamilton's performances since his arrival in Formula One have set the world alight," said Colin Hilton, chief executive of the Motor Sports Association.
"Nearly half of the current Formula One drivers learnt their trade in the United Kingdom and Lewis's success brings further credibility to the UK as the world's best proving ground for young racing drivers," he added.
Britain's last Formula One champion, Damon Hill, said Hamilton is "going to be big news'.
"He's bound to be a superstar globally after a race like that. That's the most exciting race I have seen."
Prime Minister Brown said Sunday's win is the first "of many that he's going to win in years to come" - a view that was echoed by many sports commentators.
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