Why Lewis Hamilton returned to racing, now that he’s on the F1 main stage

Back in April, Nicholas Hamilton visited his racing team in Spain. “Really awesome,” said Nicholas, 24, who is part of his family’s three-car Toyota Team USA Sprint Cup operation. “Pretty cool. Had a proper…

Why Lewis Hamilton returned to racing, now that he’s on the F1 main stage

Back in April, Nicholas Hamilton visited his racing team in Spain.

“Really awesome,” said Nicholas, 24, who is part of his family’s three-car Toyota Team USA Sprint Cup operation. “Pretty cool. Had a proper race weekend there. No tears. Nothing. Still looking forward to coming back there this year.”

Sunday, Nicholas will find out just how big of an impact his older brother Lewis has had on racing.

He’s a three-time Formula One champion, but rather than take his time plotting his next move, Lewis Hamilton will make his bow at Le Mans on Sunday. His teammates include three other members of the Hamilton clan. He’ll partner with brother Anthony, his sister, Kimi, and Nicolas — the grandson of Britain’s three-time F1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart.

“I’m extremely excited,” said Nicholas, who is also a member of the Toyota staff. “I know what to expect. I’m very aware of how incredible the expectation is from the public and the fans in general and the championship. I’m looking forward to being a part of that, getting to be involved in it.”

Lewis Hamilton has been doing that since he was 3 years old. Back then, Lewis and his family lived in Monaco and as kids, liked to go racing at Petty Track and the Monte Carlo racetrack. He took to road racing in middle school, but his true love was Formula One.

At 16, he started driving the car his dad was driving for Michael Schumacher, who won a record seven world titles. In 2005, Lewis Hamilton scored his first victory at age 18 and first pole at age 19. Then came the Mika Hakkinen deal in 2005, another five wins with Tag Heuer and, by age 23, his first Formula One championship.

In 2007, Lewis Hamilton set a F1 world lap record at the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix. It’s all part of the story that has brought him so much attention that he is one of the wealthiest drivers in the world and in 2016 even headlined a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.

But the drive to win has not been cultivated overnight, said his brother and said that Lewis’ confidence has improved on the go-kart tracks and street circuit he races on.

“I think a lot of that comes from his (Lewis’) development with his hobby of racing. I guess I was always with him, but when I was in North Carolina, I remember him racing at Mount Adams. I remember every year doing a go-kart event, running races,” Nicholas said. “In the beginning, he was a bit too cocky at times. Now he knows his stuff and wants to learn.”

Racing is a family affair for Nicholas, who also races go-karts. That could be what was missing in his early racing days. For one thing, he never raced until he was 18. Also, he said that he likes racing on smaller tracks that suit his speed.

Having family around also fuels the Hamilton fire.

“It’s also that racing is what we’ve always loved to do. For us it’s just the way we grew up,” said Nicholas, who took it in turns throughout the weekend. “We all have different jobs in racing. I always kind of wanted to be a pit-crew member, so I’m working for Lewis now. Anthony does an engineering job. Kimi’s a brake engineer. I don’t usually do more than drive a car. My brother works in the testing department, my dad works as a technical director and so forth.

“For us it’s not like we are all out there trying to work.”

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