Lewis’ first experience of racing came at the age of six when his father bought him an remote controlled car, with which he started entering competitions with and was met with immediate success finishing second in the BRCA championship in 1992 and also, now famously, appeared on Blue Peter to take part in a demo race which he won. In the Christmas of 1991, however, his father was beginning to realise the potential of his son and bought Lewis his first go-kart and made a pledge to Lewis that if he worked hard at school, he would support his racing. Anthony’s commitment to supporting Lewis’ karting career could never be doubted as he often worked in two or three jobs at a time to fund what is renowned as a rather expensive hobby.
At the age of eight, Lewis’ karting career began and was racing at Rye House Kart Circuit, a circuit which many names have driven at over the years including Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson. In only his second year in Karting, Lewis was on a championship winning role, beginning what would become a lengthy CV by winning the British Karting Championship in the Cadet Class and the STP Karting Championship. The former earned him an invite to the Autosport awards in 1995 where he famously approached Ron Dennis for an autograph and telling him he wanted to become a McLaren driver to which Dennis responded by giving Lewis his phone number telling him to “Phone me in nine years”.
Hamilton then continued to add titles to his name in 1996, winning the Five Nations Championship, Champions of the Future Series and the SkyTV Kartmasters Championship. The following year he retained the Champions of the Future Series title and won a second British Karting Championship as well as participating in the Junior Yamaha series. This success meant that instead of waiting nine years for Hamilton to contact Ron Dennis, Dennis contacted Hamilton only three years later in 1998.
Hamilton was signed by Dennis onto the McLaren Driver Development Support programme which made him the youngest ever driver to hold a contract with an F1 team at just thirteen. During that year Lewis started racing in Junior Intercontinental A, he competed in the McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future series in which he came second and he came fourth in the Italian Open Championship. The following year he repeated his fourth in the Italian Open Championship, as well as being a runner up in the European Championship and also won the Trophy de Pomposa. He also won the Italian “Industrials” Championship at Intercontinental A level.
In 2000, Hamilton’s form went up a notch. He began racing in Formula A and won the European Championship in dominant fashion, winning all four rounds. Lewis won the Elf Masters in France and outside of Europe he won the “World Cup” Championship in Japan. His successes earned him the status of “World Number One”. After all this success in Karting over a time span of seven years, Lewis finally made the jump to single-seaters at the end of 2001.