Lewis Hamilton's F1 career in pictures

Lewis Hamilton Hungary 2013

A look back at 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton's career to date in photographs.

Hamilton first came to public attention as a seven-year-old when he appeared on the children's television programme Blue Peter, though at the time he was racing radio-controlled cars. He'd soon switched to karting and, aged 10, told Ron Dennis he wanted to drive for him in F1. A meteoric rise through the ranks ensued, culminating in back-to-back titles in F3 Euro Series and GP2. When McLaren hired reigning world champion Fernando Alonso for 2007, they elected to slot the rookie in alongside him. Little did they know what they were letting themselves in for.

His season began well with third place in Australia, behind the winning Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Alonso. Hamilton then secured four successive runner-up finishes, grabbing the championship lead in Spain thanks to this consistency.

Few expected the rookie to maintain this charge, but he proved them wrong in spectacular fashion with back-to-back wins in Canada and the USA. Further wins in Hungary and at a rain-soaked Fuji Speedway put him on the brink of the world title in his debut season, despite the tension of an increasingly fraught relationship with his team-mate. With two rounds remaining, Hamilton led Alonso by 12 and Raikonnen by 17 with just 20 points left to score.

But his challenge hit a serious snag at the penultimate round in China. On a drying track, McLaren left Hamilton out on increasingly worn intermediate tyres. When he finally entered the pits for fresh rubber he couldn't turn the car and slithered into the gravel. Raikkonen won from Alonso, putting the Spaniard four behind Hamilton with the Finn seven in arrears.

It all got worse at the finale in Brazil, where a spin and a gearbox issue saw Hamiltom come home seventh. Raikkonen won to secure the title by a single point, with Hamilton and Alonso both finishing on 109 points. It felt as though Hamilton and McLaren had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Hamilton's 2008 campaign began perfectly with victory in Australia, but Ferrari were in fine form and Raikkonen led the standings by round five in Turkey. Hamilton then secured victory in Monaco to take the points lead.

A rookie error exiting the pits in Canada saw him eliminate himself and Raikkonen, with Robert Kubica going on to win and take the championship lead. Ferrari's Felipe Massa then won in France and, from here on out, became Hamilton's chief title rival. Lewis won successive races in Britain and Germany, then Massa did the same in Valencia and Belgium. A crucial win in China - no doubt made sweeter by the previous season's nightmare - gave Hamilton a seven point lead over Massa heading to the finale in Brazil.

It seemed that Hamilton would fall short for a second successive year. In a race bookended by rain, McLaren chose a questionable strategy while Ferrari dominated. Massa won and, with Hamilton seemingly set to finish sixth, the Brazilian was world champion. But, with just a few corners to go, Timo Glock ran wide in his Toyota, allowing Hamilton to pass the German and secure a crucial fifth place. The Brit was world champion in what is remembered as the most dramatic season finale in the sport's history.

Sweeping technical changes for 2009 caught McLaren out, with their car nowhere near race winning pace early on. To compound their miseries, Hamilton was disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix after he and the team were found guilty of misleading the stewards. He took minor points at the next three grands prix, then went on a four-race run outside the top-10. His title defence was clearly over at a very early stage.

The second half of the campaign was better, however. Hamilton got his fist win of 2009 in Hungary and then bagged victory in Singapore. Further podiums in Valencia, Japan and Brazil saw him end the year a very respectable fifth in the drivers' standings, not least given his troubled start to the campaign.

2010 would prove to be a thrilling year for F1 fans, with five drivers battling for the world championship for much of the season. Hamilton was amongst them, taking back-to-back wins in Turkey and Canada, then runner-up finishes in Valencia and on home turf at Silverstone during a stellar four-race streak.

He took the points lead with victory in Belgium, but retirements in the next two races took their toll. Nevertheless he went to the season finale with an outside chance at becoming champion for a second time, eventually finishing as runner-up in Abu Dhabi and fourth in the standings.

2011 did not live up to the same standards. Hamilton won three races, including his third in Canada, but was generally out-performed by team-mate Jenson Button. While Lewis finished fifth in the standings, Jenson provided Sebastian Vettel's only real challenge and ended the campaign as runner-up. For much of the year, Hamilton's head didn't seem to be in the right place.

2012 represented a return to form, with four victories (including his third in Hungary) and a further three podiums. But the season was crucial for something that happened away from the circuit.

Because after more than a decade as a McLaren driver, Hamilton announced his decision to leave the team for Mercedes, where he would replace the great Michael Schumacher. Many felt Hamilton had made the decision purely for the extra salary and commercial freedom he would enjoy with the German marque. Perhaps that was a factor, but time has shown that he made the correct decision from a racing standpoint, too.

Hamilton’s first podium for Mercedes came in Malaysia, home of the squad’s title sponsors Petronas. He then took pole and another podium in China, as well as another rostrum at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which has proven a very happy hunting ground for the Brit.

His breakthrough win came at another favourite track. The tight, twisty Hungaroring resembles an overgrown kart circuit, and Hamilton has always thrived there. He bagged win number four - his first for Mercedes - at the venue, and eventually finished the season in an impressive fourth place.

Then came the 2014 season and the all-conquering Mercedes W05. After a technical failure forced him out in Australia, Hamilton bagged four successive wins to wrestle the championship lead from team-mate Rosberg.

The German fought back and, with Hamilton seeming to suffer the burnt of mechanical issues, it looked as though the season was falling in Nico’s favour. Then came their infamous clash in Belgium, which seemed to shift momentum back to Lewis.

And with Rosberg’s car letting him down in Singapore Hamilton was able to re-take the championship lead. The Brit is now five races from securing a second title but, given his team-mate’s ability and mental strength, Lewis still has a lot of work to do if he is to conquer the world once more.