Feature: Reflecting on Hamilton's F1 bow

Feature: Reflecting on Hamilton's F1 bow

18 March 2017 – Lewis Hamilton has emerged as one of the most successful F1 drivers in history, with 53 wins, 61 pole positions and three titles to his name from 188 starts. He made his very first appearance 10 years ago today (Saturday), when he lined up for McLaren at the Australian Grand Prix. GPUpdate.net reflects on his debut.

Hamilton had been under McLaren's wing for several years and his stunning title-winning GP2 campaign in 2006, allied with the fact McLaren had a vacancy alongside incoming double World Champion Fernando Alonso, meant he was installed as favourite to join the roster for 2007.

Hamilton, who learned of his promotion in September 2006, two months before the news was made public, racked up mileage across the winter, ensuring he arrived in F1 as a well-prepared rookie.

Naturally, there was substantial focus on Hamilton, touted as the next young talent, racing for a team which had not taken on a rookie in over a decade, alongside the reigning champion. 

McLaren, too, had been preparing for the arrival of Alonso, whose signing was announced in December 2005, ensuring that it would be in a position deliver the Spaniard a third straight title.

As a result, McLaren and Ferrari soon emerged as the leading contenders, with reigning World Champion team Renault regressing amid the switch to Bridgestone tyres and the loss of Alonso. 

Hamilton, upon his first visit to Albert Park, quickly adapted to the tricky street circuit in his sleek chrome-and-red MP4-22, which had retained the distinctive 'horns' adopted by its predecessors.

Hamilton was fourth quickest in the opening damp practice session before claiming third across the next two sessions, setting him up for the three-part qualifying shootout.

He was a contender in all three segments but ultimately wound up fourth, with Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen on pole, Alonso second, and Nick Heidfeld third for BMW. Hamilton was nonetheless lifted by his performance, describing a second-row grid spot as "overwhelming".

The field lined up in near-perfect conditions beneath the late summer sun in Australia but Hamilton's initial getaway was so-so, allowing fifth-placed starter Robert Kubica to jump ahead, as the top three pulled clear.

Kubica forced Hamilton towards the inside of the circuit, boxing the McLaren driver in as the leading pack prepared to brake for the right-hander at Turn 1.

Räikkönen held on to the lead, but Heidfeld and Alonso duelled for second position, with the Spaniard having to back off on the inside line.

Hamilton, meanwhile, had instinctively swept to the outside, dared to be later on the brakes than Kubica and in the process negotiated his way around the compromised Alonso.

Just 10 seconds into his first race, Hamilton had already made an impression.

The start was to be the high point of a fairly tame curtain-raiser to the 2007 season; Räikkönen and Ferrari's superiority was such that he cruised clear, and had a 15-second lead before the first round of stops even took place, the win effectively already in the bag.

Heidfeld's BMW eventually slipped away from contention, courtesy of running the softer tyres during a short first stint, leaving the McLaren pair to contend for second position.

Räikkönen's earlier stop enabled Hamilton to lead the Grand Prix, a rare feat for a debutant, and in being fuelled heavier than Alonso, he was able to run a lap longer.

Consequently, Hamilton re-emerged from his stop a second ahead of Alonso, continuing the trend of the first stint, when the champion had shadowed the young upstart around the sun-kissed Melbourne track, the glistening MP4-22s lapping line astern. 

Hamilton and Alonso continued metres apart for the next stint until the next round of stops, when it was Hamilton's turn to be called in first. His prospects were hurt as he got stuck behind the lapped Super Aguri of Takuma Sato through the final sector and into the pit lane.

Alonso managed to stay out for an additional two laps on low fuel, aided by a clear circuit, while his stop was 1.7 seconds quicker than Hamilton's service.

As Alonso exited the pit lane, Hamilton was rounding the final corner – Alonso duly moved up to second, Hamilton down to third. 

The three-second gap gradually grew across the remainder of the stint but Hamilton was nonetheless able to claim a podium on his debut, the first driver to achieve the feat since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic – the result is more than I ever dreamed of achieving on my Grand Prix debut," said Hamilton after the race.

"I made a good start but the BMWs were quick off the line and Kubica managed to get past. There was no room on the inside so I got on the left and managed to out-brake both Kubica and Fernando coming into the first corner to take third.

"The race was intense, and I was working very hard. I made a few mistakes but nothing major and really enjoyed myself. It was great to lead the race for a few laps, but I knew it was only a temporary thing.

"Fernando got past me at the second pit-stop as he was able to stay out a bit longer and I lost some time behind backmarkers."

It was the first of 104 podiums – and counting – as Hamilton began life in Formula 1 at the sharp-end of the pack, where he would remain for the following decade. Next weekend, at the same circuit, he will begin his quest for a fourth world crown.

Written by: Phillip Horton

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Sunday 10 December 2017

  2. 17:02

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  3. Vettel says Baku was 'worst feeling' of 2017 15:18

    Vettel says Baku was 'worst feeling' of 2017

    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel says the aftermath of the rancorous Azerbaijan Grand Prix left him with the "worst feeling" of 2017…

    F1
  4. Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 10 14:22

    Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 10

    Mercedes continues its countdown to Christmas by reflecting on its 1-2 finish at the Canadian Grand Prix, bouncing back from its…

    F1
  5. Hamilton hopes for competitive McLaren in '18 13:04

    Hamilton hopes for competitive McLaren in '18

    Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton says he hopes former team McLaren will be able to compete among the leading group in…

    F1
  6. Video: Rosberg's Deutsche Bahn shoot 11:22

    Video: Rosberg's Deutsche Bahn shoot

    Go behind-the-scenes with 2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg during his recent commercial shoot for Deutsche Bahn in…

    F1
  7. MotoGP review: Márquez hits rivals for six 09:16

    MotoGP review: Márquez hits rivals for six

    Marc Márquez claimed his fourth premier class title in five years, and the sixth championship of his career, as he added more…

    MotoGP
  8. Video: Mercedes reflects on 2017 F1 season 05:48

    Video: Mercedes reflects on 2017 F1 season

    Mercedes reflects on its title-winning 2017 Formula 1 season with a pictorial review, to the words of Rudyard Kipling's 'If…

    F1
  9. Saturday 9 December 2017

  10. Wehrlein: Sauber slide hid personal gains 15:34

    Wehrlein: Sauber slide hid personal gains

    Pascal Wehrlein believes Sauber's regression through the second half of 2017 masked his improvements, as he faces an uncertain…

    F1
  11. Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 9 13:16

    Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 9

    Mercedes continues its countdown to Christmas with the latest instalment of its #FollowTheStar series by reflecting on the…

    F1
  12. Social: FIA Prize Giving ceremony in Versailles 11:34

    Social: FIA Prize Giving ceremony in Versailles

    The biggest names in motorsport were in attendance at the Palace of Versailles for the FIA's Prize Giving Ceremony. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  13. Video: Prize Giving Red Carpet highlights 09:58

    Video: Prize Giving Red Carpet highlights

    Watch highlights from the Red Carpet as leading figures from the world of motorsport attend the FIA's annual Prize Giving…

    F1
  14. Massa takes on FIA role as karting chief 08:36

    Massa takes on FIA role as karting chief

    Felipe Massa has been appointed as the President of the CIK/International Karting Commission, following the annual meeting of…

    F1
  15. 07:30

    Gallery: FIA Prize Giving Ceremony 2017

    F1
  16. Hamilton, Mercedes crowned at FIA Gala 07:29

    Hamilton, Mercedes crowned at FIA Gala

    Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have been officially crowned Formula 1 World Champions for a fourth time at the FIA's annual Prize…

    F1
  17. Video: Mahindra reflects on Hong Kong 05:36

    Video: Mahindra reflects on Hong Kong

    Mahindra reflects on the opening pair of rounds of the 2017/18 Formula E campaign, after the team moved into the lead of the…

    F1
  18. Friday 8 December 2017

  19. Williams dismisses Rowland's seat talks claim 19:05

    Williams dismisses Rowland's seat talks claim

    Williams has dismissed suggestions made by Formula 2 racer Oliver Rowland that the Briton is in discussions for the team's…

    F1
  20. Hamilton warns rivals he has 'plenty to improve' 16:42

    Hamilton warns rivals he has 'plenty to improve'

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton believes he and Mercedes still has "plenty to improve", despite the Briton taking his fourth world…

    F1
  21. Harvey gets partial IndyCar run with SPM/Shank 16:17

    Harvey gets partial IndyCar run with SPM/Shank

    Michael Shank Racing is to collaborate with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2018, resulting in a partial IndyCar campaign for…

    Indy
  22. F1 reveals overall rise in 2017 attendance 15:20

    F1 reveals overall rise in 2017 attendance

    Official figures released by Formula 1 chiefs have revealed that there was an eight per cent increase in the number of…

    F1
  23. Leclerc says 16 was third choice F1 number 14:47

    Leclerc says 16 was third choice F1 number

    Sauber's Charles Leclerc says he chose 16 as his permanent driver number in Formula 1 after his first two choices were…

    F1
  24. DeFrancesco gets 2018 F3 seat with Carlin 14:19

    DeFrancesco gets 2018 F3 seat with Carlin

    Devlin DeFrancesco will step up to the European Formula 3 championship full-time with Carlin in 2018, the British team confirmed…

    F3
  25. Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 8 12:34

    Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 8

    Mercedes continues its build up to Christmas with the latest instalment of #FollowTheStar, as it reflects on Lewis Hamilton's…

    F1
  26. Todt re-elected for third term as FIA President 12:08

    Todt re-elected for third term as FIA President

    Jean Todt has duly been elected for another four-year term as FIA President, having stood unopposed, during the FIA's General…

    F1
  27. SPM cancels Calmels/Gommendy Indy deal 11:18

    SPM cancels Calmels/Gommendy Indy deal

    Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has confirmed that its proposed 2018 Indianapolis 500 programme with Calmels Sport has been…

    Indy
  28. Mercedes pays $4.6m in 2018 entry fees 10:06

    Mercedes pays $4.6m in 2018 entry fees

    World Champions Mercedes paid over $4.6m in entry fees for the 2018 Formula 1 season, a reduction of over half a million on the…

    F1
  29. Ferrari-backed Armstrong moves up to F3 09:00

    Ferrari-backed Armstrong moves up to F3

    Ferrari-backed Marcus Armstrong will graduate into European Formula 3 with Prema in 2018. Armstrong, 17, joined Ferrari's…

    F3
  30. Video: Márquez and Pedrosa off track 05:42

    Video: Márquez and Pedrosa off track

    Repsol Honda shows the fun side of Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa with this highlights reel of their off track adventures…

    MotoGP
  31. Thursday 7 December 2017

  32. Formula 1 set for stronger helmets in 2019 16:18

    Formula 1 set for stronger helmets in 2019

    The FIA's Safety Commission has given the green-light to stronger helmets, set to be introduced in Formula 1 in 2019, along with…

    F1
  33. Andretti, Rossi swap car numbers for 2018 15:30

    Andretti, Rossi swap car numbers for 2018

    Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi will swap car numbers for the 2018 IndyCar season, Andretti Autosport has…

    Indy
  34. Video: Australian GP confirms support events 13:02

    Video: Australian GP confirms support events

    Australian Grand Prix organisers confirm the support events for the season-opening round of the 2018 Formula 1 campaign, which…

    F1
  35. Massa to contest Stock Car Brasil opener 11:27

    Massa to contest Stock Car Brasil opener

    Felipe Massa is to make his first post-Formula 1 racing appearance at next year's opening round of the Stock Car Brasil…

    Misc
  36. Misano replaces Monza on 2018 F3 calendar 10:28

    Misano replaces Monza on 2018 F3 calendar

    Next year's European Formula 3 calendar has been unveiled, with the 10-round season compacted into a five-month spell. The…

    F3
  37. Brawn tips Mercedes 'steamroller' to continue 10:02

    Brawn tips Mercedes 'steamroller' to continue

    Formula 1's sporting chief, Ross Brawn, reckons the Mercedes "steamroller" effect will continue in 2018, amid relatively stable…

    F1
  38. Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 7 09:38

    Video: Mercedes' Follow the Star - Day 7

    Mercedes continues its build up to Christmas with the latest instalment of #FollowTheStar, reflecting on Valtteri Bottas' maiden…

    F1
  39. Engine penalty system adjusted for 2018 08:18

    Engine penalty system adjusted for 2018

    Formula 1's engine penalty system has been adjusted for the 2018 season, in a bid to simplify the process for…

    F1
  40. Brazil GP issued with security recommendations 08:04

    Brazil GP issued with security recommendations

    Brazilian Grand Prix organisers have been issued with suggested revised security procedures after an array of incidents at this…

    F1
  41. Hasegawa to leave F1 role in Honda reshuffle 07:46

    Hasegawa to leave F1 role in Honda reshuffle

    Honda has confirmed that it is to implement a revised technical structure, with Yusuke Hasegawa moving to a new position within…

    F1
  42. Video: Best FE onboards from Hong Kong 05:36

    Video: Best FE onboards from Hong Kong

    Overtakes, crashes, close calls and hand gestures –ride along with Formula E drivers in the most dramatic onboards from the…

    FE
  43. Wednesday 6 December 2017

  44. WMSC confirms 21-round 2018 F1 calendar 20:57

    WMSC confirms 21-round 2018 F1 calendar

    The 21-race 2018 Formula 1 calendar has been finalised, following Wednesday's meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in…

    F1
  45. Punta del Este returns to Formula E schedule 20:35

    Punta del Este returns to Formula E schedule

    The FIA's World Motor Sport Council has confirmed that Formula E will return to Punta del Este this season, with the proposed…

    FE
more news