WINNER: Lewis Appiagyei
EVER SINCE making his Formula One debut in 2007, Lewis Hamilton has inspired many youths to take up racing just like one of his biggest fans, Lewis Appiagyei.
The nine-year-old Lewis from Camden, north London, competes in karts and was named Junior Rookie Cadet of 2012 at the annual Star Pupil day at Buckmore Park in Kent in November, after winning three heats and finishing third in the final race where he drove against older competitors.
While Lewis is steadily filling up his fledgling trophy cabinet, the ultimate goal for the youngster is to emulate what his hero Hamilton did in 2008, which is to become world champion.
Speaking about his son’s admiration for Hamilton, Lewis’ father Anthony - who coincidently has the same name as Hamilton’s dad - told the Voice of Sport: “Lewis had been interested in cars for the longest time, for as long as I can remember, but when Lewis Hamilton hit the scene it was the catalyst for getting him to decide that racing is what he wanted to do. I’d say that Lewis was his main influence.”
ROLE MODEL: Hamilton during his McLaren days
Anthony continued: “If you ask him ‘what do you want to do?’ he’ll tell you that he wants to be an F1 champion. He doesn’t just want to be in F1, he wants to be an F1 champion. You might think that comes across as arrogant but that’s his goal. It’s lofty but that’s his ambition and I’m going along with it.”
Described as having “exceptional hand-eye coordination” by Anthony, Lewis set the world’s fastest time on the driving simulator computer game Gran Turismo 5 in a Red Bull X1 car at the Circuit de Monaco.
Red Bull were so impressed by the feat that they sent Lewis a congratulatory letter in the post that contained autographed photos of three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and his team-mate Mark Webber.
Lewis then sent a letter asking for permission to drive in a simulator for the reigning constructors champions but Red Bull were unable to accommodate the request. So for the time being at least, Lewis drives for Sodi Karts who he had a stellar season for in 2012.
“He’s exceeded my expectations for the year. He’s ticked all the boxes,” said Anthony. “All the events that he’s entered he’s more or less podiumed in. He’s my son and can’t be more proud than I am at the moment. He’s done really well.”
The speed of Lewis’ vehicle can reach a maximum of 55mph, which would leave most parents terrified of the potential for danger that comes with racing.
But, as Anthony explains, the level of skill displayed by Lewis at tracks leaves his mind at ease.
“I’m very confident in his abilities. The only time I get concerned is with the other kids. I don’t get frightened that he might get hurt because I’m quite confident in his ability. He’s quite skilful. With the race, it’s more the other kids’ abilities.
The proud dad went on: “If he’s in a group with kids that are equal to him, they’ll have a good clean race. You might see a kid who hasn’t got that skill set and that’s where accidents do occur. Some of his friends have had bad accidents. He’s had spins but he’s just so fast.”
While Hamilton will have a fresh start to 2013 with Mercedes, having left boyhood team McLaren at the end of last season, Anthony expects “more of the same” from his son in the New Year.
He added: “He’s only nine but he’s a driven, motivated, young man. He’s hit his targets for the last two years and I can see the same happening in 2013. I truly believe that he will achieve what he’s set out to do. God willing nothing bad happens, but he’s going to achieve his goals.”