Hamilton on how Ayrton Senna helped him approach Ron Dennis

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Lewis Hamilton talks about the first time he approached McLaren’s team boss (at the time) Ron Dennis when he was just 10 years old.

Lewis Hamilton first met Ron Dennis when he was 10 years old after he became the youngest driver ever to win the British Karting Championship in 1995.

Lewis approached the legendary team boss at that year’s Autosport Awards, and what led him to this moment was his love for Ayrton Senna.

“At the time I was coming home watching Formula 1, watching Ayrton Senna video races every day,” explained Hamilton.

“My mind was set ‘I want to drive a McLaren, it’s my favourite looking car and it’s got my favourite driver in it’.

“When I won the championship, I got this opportunity to go to this awards ceremony and I had never been to anything like it before. We had to borrow a suit from the kid that won the previous year because we couldn’t afford a suit.

“Then when I got there, my dad was telling me who was who, because I was a 10-year-old, I [had] no idea who was who.

“I was looking for Ayrton, but obviously Ayrton’s not there because he passed away the year before.

“My dad goes ‘that’s Ron Dennis over there, he’s the boss of McLaren that makes those cars that you love’. And I knew immediately at that point, that’s who Ayrton drives for and that’s who I wanted to drive for.

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“Literally before my dad finished explaining to me about Ron Dennis, I went over to him straight away and tapped him on the shoulder, or on the side.

“I said ‘hi I’m Lewis Hamilton, I just won the British karting championship and one day I want to be Formula 1 world champion in your car’.

“I don’t know what possessed me to say those things where I have the confidence at the time to be able to say those things. But I guess naturally kids have lots of confidence or at least don’t have any fear.

“Then he sat down with me and he spoke to me, I don’t remember what he was talking about at the time, I was probably star-struck or something.

“But he did put down in the book ‘nice autograph, phone me in nine years’.”

What followed is now a part of Lewis Hamilton’s legend. He was signed to McLaren’s young driver programme in 1998, and made his Formula 1 debut with the team in 2007.

He then won his first Formula 1 championship just a year later in 2008.

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