Lewis Hamilton has won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award for 2020.

The Mercedes Formula One star was named as the winner of the prestigious annual prize for the second time during a virtual ceremony held in Salford on Sunday after being considered the heavy favourite following a commendable year both on and off the track.

Hamilton recently celebrated a seventh F1 world title that brought him level with the iconic Michael Schumacher and also passed the latter in terms of individual grand prix wins, while dominant Mercedes made history by easing to a seventh consecutive constructors’ title.

Gallery: Lewis Hamilton: Life in the fast lane (Photo Services)

Having won seven Formula One world championship titles between 2008 and 2020, Lewis Hamilton has equaled the legendary Michael Schumacher’s record. Once an up-and-coming prodigy tipped for success, Hamilton is now renowned worldwide as one of the best drivers the sport has ever seen, competing yearly against 20 or so drivers in one of the most physically and technologically demanding motor racing competitions on the planet.

We take a look at the major highlights from his career in pictures.

Born Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton in Stevenage, England, on Jan. 7, 1985, he, as all Formula One racers do, cut his racing teeth on the karting circuit. He was eight years old when he received his first kart. Two years later, Hamilton won his first title – Cadet Class of the Super One National Kart Championships.

There is a famous story about Hamilton meeting Ron Dennis (L), who was then the boss of the McLaren Mercedes team. The young champion walked up to Dennis and said, “Hello Mr. Dennis, I’m Lewis Hamilton and one day I’d like to race for your team.” Dennis obliged, added his phone number and told him to call in nine years. Only three years later, McLaren, keenly aware of Hamilton’s talent phoned first.

(Pictured) Dennis and Hamilton at the Grand Prix of Canada on June 8, 2008.

In 1996, still only 11 years old, Hamilton won a Champions of the Future race – a racing program created by McLaren Mercedes to identify future motor racing talent – at Buckmore Park in Kent, England. Over the next few years, he would go on to rack up an impressive array of race and championship wins, progressing through the Intercontinental A, Formula A and Formula Super A events.

One of the highlights of this period was a 2001 kart race against Schumacher, who was, by then, a four-time Formula One champion. Hamilton finished well behind the great, but his talent was obvious.

The young British driver made his professional debut in 2001 in the Formula Renault Winter Series. He competed in four races and finished fifth in the title race. The next season, Hamilton divided his time between Formula Renault UK and the Eurocup; he competed in a total of 17 races, winning four and finishing on the podium 10 times.

In 2003, Hamilton won his first pro title – Formula Renault UK; he won 10 of 15 races. His next big title was in 2006 – he won the GP2 Championship on his series debut, beating future fellow Formula One stats like Timo Glock and Nelson Piquet, Jr.

In 2007 (only three years after the time he told Dennis to expect him in the sport), Hamilton made his Formula One debut with McLaren Mercedes. Rookie seasons are never easy… particularly if your team mate is a double defending world champion (Fernando Alonso, R).

Nevertheless, Hamilton shone, reeling off an incredible run of results in his opening nine races! He finished on the podium in each of them; the streak was broken at the European Grand Prix in Germany, where he finished ninth.

Hamilton’s first season in Formula One also yielded his first race win – at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Canada. He dominated the race weekend, qualifying on pole and claiming victory ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Alexander Wurz. Not only did the win (and the three others in the season – in the U.S., Hungary and Japan) set Hamilton up for a charge at the championship, it was also the first time a black driver had won a Formula One race. 

He entered the final race of the season – at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo, Brazil – leading the championship by four points. His rivals were his team mate Alonso and Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and only seven point separated the three. Unfortunately for him, the combination of an accident and a gearbox problem allowed Räikkönen to take the lead and with it win the championship.

(Pictured) Hamilton leads Alonso during qualifying for the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Interlagos in São Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 20, 2007.

Hamilton started the 2008 season determined to claim his first championship and won the first race of the year – in Australia. He’d fail to win any of the next four, but that changed with the Monaco Grand Prix.

The race in Monaco is one every Formula One driver wants to win. This season, it was Hamilton’s triumph, an achievement made sweeter given he had an early puncture.

As with 2007, this year too the championship race went down to the wire, was in São Paulo and Hamilton had a narrow advantage over his rival – Felipe Massa of Ferrari.

Massa, driving in his hometown, did what was needed – he won the race. Hamilton, meanwhile, knew he needed to finish fifth or higher to retain his advantage… and going into the last corner of the last lap, was only sixth.

However, in a dramatic finish, he narrowly beat Ferrari’s second driver, Sebastian Vettel, coming out of the last corner! Such was the late drama that Massa was celebrating before realizing what had happened!

Already the youngest driver to lead a Formula One world championship table, at 23 years and 300 days Hamilton also became the youngest ever world champion; the record was lowered by Vettel, who was 23 years and 134 days old when he won the 2010 title. He was recognized for his achievement by Queen Elizabeth II, who named him a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2009.

The world champion also received an accolade from another iconic British institution – Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. A wax statue of him was unveiled in 2009. The statue cost over US$230,000!

Following his first championship win, Hamilton failed to repeat the feat over the next four years. His best result was a fourth-place finish in 2010. His rival, Vettel, dominated this period, winning four straight titles between 2010 and 2013. In an attempt to return to winning ways, Hamilton announced a switch to Mercedes for the start of the 2013 season.

He said: “It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin a new chapter. Mercedes-Benz has such an incredible heritage in motorsport… I believe that I can help steer the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world championships.”

He made a promising start to his career with Mercedes, finishing third in two of the first three races. However, a relatively slow car meant he wasn’t able to pose a title challenge. He only won one race – the Hungarian Grand Prix – that season and finished fourth in the title race.

The 2014 season, however, was a completely different beast! Hamilton and Mercedes would form an unstoppable partnership, albeit one that got off to a slightly disappointing start. He qualified on pole position for the first race of the year – in Australia – but was forced to retire. His first win came right after – in Malaysia.

The race in Malaysia triggered a sequence of four wins on the trot – Malaysia, Bahrain, China and Spain. The sequence included Hamilton’s first hat-trick of race wins – an achievement he would repeat (and improve on) later the same year by winning in Italy, Singapore, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

He celebrated that second title with a win in the final race of the season – at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It was his 11th win of the season and 33rd overall, making him the most successful British driver, in terms of race wins, of all time.

Hamilton began the 2015 season as he finished the 2014 one – with a race win. It was only his second triumph at the Australian Grand Prix. The champion and his team mate, Nico Rosberg, dominated the weekend, finishing first and second in the race.

(Pictured) Hamilton with actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger after the race.

He followed that win by claiming victories in China and Bahrain and finishing second in Malaysia and Spain. The Monaco Grand Prix, which was next, seemed to be going to plan for Mercedes and Hamilton, who started the weekend 20 points in the lead.

Hamilton qualified on pole – his first at the race – and got off to a strong start. Having led for most of the race, a first win at Monaco since 2008 seemed assured. However, it wasn’t meant to be – a tactical error from Mercedes dropped their star down to third.

Beset by rumors of rifts within the team, Mercedes and Hamilton hit back to win two of the next three races – the Canadian and British Grand Prixes. He also won in Belgium – only his second win at the legendary and super-fast Spa Francorchamps circuit – and Italy.

Following a forced retirement from the Singapore Grand Prix, Hamilton rattled off a hat-trick of wins to settle the fate of the season’s drivers’ championship – it was his, for a third time. The title was confirmed with a win at the U.S. Grand Prix.

In fact, so comprehensive was his domination of the title race that despite failing to win any of the final three races of the season (they were all won by team mate Rosberg), Hamilton still finished 59 points ahead.

Given the dominant way in which Hamilton won the 2014 and 2015 championships, few would have bet against the Brit repeating the feat in 2016. He won six of seven races between Monaco and Germany and finished the season with a further four victories – in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

However, that was not enough! Rosberg’s consistency – he finished second more often than Hamilton – and sequence of four wins at the start of the season allowed him to claim a narrow five-point championship win.

Normal service was resumed in 2017, with Hamilton claiming nine race wins to seal a fourth world championship. The season’s highlights included a fourth consecutive win at his home grand prix – the Silverstone Circuit in England.

It was his fifth win at the circuit overall, equaling the record of wins at the track held by Jim Clark and Alain Prost. It also included a first retirement-free season since he began his Formula One career in 2007.

Already one of the most successful drivers of all time, Hamilton’s fifth world championship elevated him to the levels of the sport’s icons – Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio.

Only the third driver to win five championships, he declared himself humbled after clinching the title in Mexico, saying, “It’s a very strange feeling right now. It wasn’t won here, it was won through a lot of hard work through many races. I’ve been with Mercedes since I was 13 so to complete this – Fangio had done it with Mercedes – it’s an incredible feeling and very surreal at the moment.”

On Nov. 3, 2019, Hamilton finished second at the United States Grand Prix, sealing his sixth Formula One World Champion title. The victory took him past Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio and one shy of Michael Schumacher’s seven. In the 2019 season, Hamilton scored 11 wins out of the total 21 races.

During the 2020 season, Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins by securing his 92nd victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Oct. 25. With this feat, he became the most successful driver in Formula One history.

On Nov. 15, 2020, during the Turkish Grand Prix, Hamilton won his seventh World Championship title, equaling Schumacher’s record of seven F1 world title wins. The Mercedes driver said, “Seven is just unimaginable but when you work with such a great group of people and you really trust each other, there is just no end to what you can do together… I feel like I’m only just getting started, it’s really weird.”

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The Briton has also been a powerful voice in the fight against racism and played a leading role in attempts to improve diversity in his sport.

Hamilton’s only previous SPOTY triumph came in 2014, after he had sealed the second of his record-equalling seven world championships.

In a most unusual year when the global sporting schedule was heavily impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 35-year-old saw off competition from history-making jockey Hollie Doyle, Liverpool’s Premier League title-winning captain Jordan Henderson, two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, reigning world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and England cricketer Stuart Broad.

Henderson finished as runner-up on Sunday, with Doyle placing third in the public vote.

“Congratulations to all the incredible nominees … I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved,” Hamilton said via video link.

Lewis Hamilton is now a two-time winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award

Getty Images

“I want to thank everyone who called in and voted for me, I wasn’t expecting this, knowing there are so many great contenders, but I think we are all winners.

“I want to send a Merry Christmas to everyone … all the frontline workers, all the children around the world, try and stay positive through this difficult time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

This content was originally published here.