2006: The year Lewis Hamilton became a 'massive problem'
Ex-F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa knew Lewis Hamilton was a “massive problem” for every driver after his first testing appearance.
De la Rosa had put himself in prime position for a McLaren seat in 2007 after replacing Juan Pablo Montoya for the last eight rounds of the season.
He went into a McLaren test in September 2006 alongisde Gary Paffett and young prospect Lewis Hamilton, with the latter instantly lighting up the timing sheets.
Hamilton would ultimately secure the drive for 2007 and he made an immediate impact, winning his first race at the Canadian GP and falling just one point short of becoming World Champion in his rookie season.
And de la Rosa says that it was clear from that test in 2006 that Hamilton was a “massive problem”, not only for his fellow McLaren drivers, but for every driver.
“We go to test in September, one day with Lewis in Silverstone, and that’s when my mind changed,” De La Rosa told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
“We go testing there, it was his first ever Formula 1 experience. So I did a run, came back, looked at the times and I saw Lewis was fastest, you know? On the second run.
“And I looked at the data and I said: ‘What happened?’. [McLaren said:] ‘Well, we put him in new tyres.’ And he was so fast through Copse, Becketts, Maggotts… I just realised the potential of Lewis Hamilton.
“We had a massive problem. We [at McLaren] and all the drivers in the grid. [Joking] Because if Pedro de la Rosa has a problem, everyone has.
“First ever Formula 1 test, his second run, and I realised this guy is very, very fast. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of drivers in my life, you know, I’ve been with very good drivers I would say, and I feel very honoured of that. But when I saw Lewis, I thought: ‘Wow, this is very special’.”
Skip forward to 2020 and Hamilton has six World Championships to his name, but it remains to be seen if this season will get underway to allow him to challenge for a record-equaling seventh.
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