Lewis Hamilton thanks Ron Dennis for helping him get to F1
"Without Ron noticing me at the beginning, I probably wouldn't even be here," says newly-crowned six-time champion to Sky F1
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 07/11/19 6:04pm
Lewis Hamilton thanked former team boss and mentor Ron Dennis for "believing in me" as a youngster, after clinching his historic sixth F1 world championship.
In an interview with Sky Sports F1 after sealing the 2019 title in Austin on Sunday, Hamilton revealed he had received a message from the 72-year-old legendary ex-McLaren chief.
"I got a text from Ron and I just want to send my love, and thank you for spotting me when I was 10 years old and believing in me," said Hamilton.
"Without Ron noticing me at the beginning, I probably wouldn't even be here."
Hamilton first met Dennis aged 10 when an aspiring karter at the Autosport Awards, famously telling the title-winning team chief that he would one day drive for his McLaren team.
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This was me when I was 10 after having won my first British Cadet championship. The dream was so big, fire burning so bright in my heart and spirit. I was determined to never let anything get in my way, so was my dad who made it all possible. I miss those days karting. I just want to say, dream big and never let anything stand in your way but also live in the present! Time is all we have. 🙏🏾 #nevergiveup #believe #youcan #wewinandwelosetogether
McLaren duly backed Hamilton from the age of 13 and, together with then-engine partners Mercedes, supported his rise through the junior ranks, with Dennis eventually handing Hamilton an F1 race seat next to reigning champion Fernando Alonso for 2007.
After just missing out on the drivers' title in what proved an extraordinary debut season, Hamilton clinched the crown at the second attempt in 2008 and stayed with McLaren until the end of 2012, when he left for Mercedes in what at the time appeared a bold gamble.
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Hamilton's first team boss at Brackley was Ross Brawn and he has added his congratulations to F1's new six-time champion.
Now F1's managing director of motorsports, Brawn said in tribute: "I think the best compliment I can pay Lewis today is to say that he has found a unique way of being a great champion. I have to admit that when I started working with him back in 2013 I was slightly nervous about his approach to being a professional racing driver.
"For me, the benchmark was Michael Schumacher, a man totally dedicated to chasing success and at the same time very keen to guard his privacy and that of his family. Even then, Lewis was demonstrating a truly eclectic approach to his career and whilst totally professional he preferred a lifestyle that was definitely less monastic than Michael's.
"Lewis has always been comfortable moving in different circles, such as music and fashion, and that's given him the energy to develop his talent still further, while always ensuring he is in the best physical shape possible, which is vital in the modern Formula 1 era.
"And at Mercedes, Lewis has found the right support in an environment that is stimulating technically, but that at the same time allows him the freedom he absolutely needs."
Hamilton and Mercedes celebrate another double
Hamilton and the other leading figures of Mercedes' unprecedented F1 success were at the team's Brackley and Brixworth HQs on Wednesday to celebrate becoming the first team in history to win six successive championship doubles.
Hamilton told the team: "It's been an incredible journey. Every single Formula 1 lap, every single win, every single pole position has been powered by you guys [Mercedes]. I remember when I joined this team everyone said it was the worst decision that I could ever make.
"Just every time I arrive at the track and every time we come away with the success, particularly at the end of the year, I don't have to say anything because I know the people who were saying that and are now saying 'ah, I knew they'd do it!'"