During Lewis Hamilton’s recent media silence, the only person who gave updates on the seven-time champion was his brother Nicolas. So who is Nicolas Hamilton?
Nicolas Hamilton is Lewis Hamilton’s paternal half-brother. Lewis’ father Anthony separated from Lewis’ mother Carmen Larbalestier (now Lockhart) when Lewis was two years old. He remarried to his second wife Linda, who on 28 March 1992 gave birth to their son Nicolas.
Nicolas was born with cerebral palsy, and when he was 18 months old, his parents were told that he would never be able to walk and that his eyesight was extremely poor, and would only get worse as ge grew older.
In his early years he had to use a wheelchair, which led to some difficult experiences during his school years.
“I got bullied and got pulled backwards in my wheelchair and laughed at,” Nicolas told CNN.
“I was the only Black person at my school, so I was very singled out.”
However, after a major operation and years of physiotherapy he was able to improve his condition, get out of the wheelchair and walk unaided by the age of 17. This led to his father giving him a chance to try out a go-kart, which ultimately led to him pursuing his dream of becoming a race driver.
In 2011 Nicolas was given an opportunity to race in the Renault Clio Cup, however, there were more hurdles to overcome. His condition affects his legs and balance, and prevents him from being able to flex his ankles. This means he is unable to use conventional foot pedals when driving.
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For this reason his car was equipped with a carbon fiber hand clutch on the steering wheel, which minimized the use of his legs while driving.
“When you release the clutch and you feel the bite point… I just have that through my hands,” he explained.
Additional modifications to the car included wider accelerator and brake pedals positioned in a way so that he doesn’t need to fully extend his legs. His seat has also been specially moulded for his body.
In 2015 Nicolas became the first athlete with a disability to compete in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), an amazing achievement accomplished through hard work and dedication.
In 2016 and 2017 he again competed in the Clio Cup, but then made his return to BTCC in 2019. At the time his brother Lewis applauded the return on social media.
“Couldn’t be prouder of my bro [Nicolas] on his first weekend back in British touring cars,” Lewis wrote.
“This is a product of his immense hard work and dedication, bro, you inspire me so much.”
Just a year later Nic scored his first point in the BTCC.
“I’m the first disabled athlete to have done that,” Nic said.
“Getting closer to the front of the grid, I want to get to the top ten, top five.”
In 2019 Nicolas collaborated with Team BRIT, a competitive motor racing team consisting of people with disabilities, to launch UK’s first racing academy for disabled drivers.
“I’m really pleased to be able to support the launch of Team BRIT’s Race Academy,” Nic said.
“I’m all about championing disability in motorsport, having been working at establishing myself in the sport since 2011.
“Disabled people are used to being told what they can’t do. I’m all about proving what’s possible, and I’ve learnt that sharing my story inspires others, which can only be positive.
“Team BRIT is inspiring others in the same way, and now, the Academy will open doors people haven’t had access to before, providing the same chances that able-bodied drivers have.
“This is a huge step forward in motorsport and something I’m proud to support.”
And that is ultimately Nic’s ambition, to help others overcome their disabilities and be able to pursue their dreams.
“I would love to see disabled people be able to access circuits and access the industry.
“Hopefully, through this academy, we can give people more opportunities, more happiness, more purpose,” concluded Hamilton.