Racing With The Hamiltons: Nic in the Driving Seat

Those of you more familiar with Lewis Hamilton’s family would undoubtedly know of his younger brother, Nic, who embarked on his own racing career last year in the Renault Clio Cup.

All well and good, you might think, but what makes his story especially interesting is that Nic has Cerebral Palsy.

Last week, the BBC broadcast an excellent one-hour documentary charting the first year of Nic’s foray into motorsport, as the 19-year-old embarks on stepping out of his brother’s shadow to forge his own identity and fulfil his own ambitions.

vlcsnap-2012-03-11-14h17m07s138What rings through in this journey is that Nic doesn’t consider himself ‘disabled’ or as a ‘sufferer’ of his condition. And neither does the rest of the family.

He’s received few favours or privileges in his upbringing, a fact that comes across starkly in the documentary. His father Anthony – who previously managed Lewis’ earlier motorsport career – demands and expects 100% commitment from his younger son.

Certainly, the connection to his famous older brother no doubt helped him secure a raft of sponsors prepared to put their stickers on his car. Additionally, the tie-in with McLaren proved useful: they engineered his pedal set-up to better allow him to accelerate and brake, along with installing a hand clutch.

Nic walks shortly after his major surgeryNic has learned to be resilient from a young age. During his childhood, he underwent a major operation – where the tendons in his groin, knees and ankles were cut – to help him be able to walk. He was bullied relentlessly in school, but he bears no ill will towards these former tormentors.

His raised profile has seen him called upon as a mentor to other youngsters who have been diagnosed with the condition. Their stories – including one child who found himself repeatedly abandoned by the school bus driver on account of him being wheelchair-bound – are heartbreaking, but Nic’s sage advice is certainly heartening.

His resilience was also demonstrated on the race track. Nic had never driven a race car before his Clio Cup foray; his only ‘racing’ experiences had been online.

It was little surprise that he found himself, at times, struggling against much more established opponents, and his confidence took a major hit when he had a big accident early in the season, landing upside-down and writing off the car.

Part and parcel of being a racing driver, one would argue, and his father Anthony pulled no punches in setting out his expectations. Ultimately, it’s down to Nic to drive the car and achieve the results for himself, regardless of his ability, circumstance, or having a World Championship-winning older brother.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.
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