McLaren and Mercedes-Benz backed driver Lewis Hamilton has claimed the 2006 GP2 Championship at the Monza circuit in Italy after a series of impressive performances. 21-year-old Lewis has been backed by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz since 1998 as part of the McLaren and Mercedes-Benz Young Driver Support Programme, which was set-up to provide a structured environment for nurturing and developing future driver talent.
RON DENNIS, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, McLAREN GROUP
"We are delighted for Lewis and his latest success in winning the 2006 GP2 Series at Monza. The manner of his many outstanding performances this year, such as those at Silverstone and Turkey, has been phenomenal and he is a deserving Champion. McLaren and Mercedes-Benz's ongoing involvement in Lewis' career began in 1998 and he is getting better every day, a trend that has been constant during the past nine years. Lewis has an exceptional talent, which has been demonstrated this year, and his overall performance during the season gives you a definite sense of pride and satisfaction. Lewis will now focus on this morning's race to end the season on a real high and in due course the team's and Lewis's plans for 2007 will be announced."
NORBERT HAUG, VICE PRESIDENT, MERCEDES-BENZ MOTORSPORT
"This is the greatest day in Lewis's career so far and after Formula Renault and the Formula 3 Euro Series the third important Championship he has won in the last four years at the age of 21. We have known Lewis since he was a little boy and Ron had the idea that both McLaren and Mercedes should support his racing programme starting with karting nine years ago."
"Since then Lewis has become a real part of the family and during his GP 2 races this year you could have heard a pin drop when team members watched television in the Team Communications Centre on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings. Congratulations on winning the GP 2 Championship this year, Lewis, now together let's see what the future brings."
Lewis Hamilton has been involved with the McLaren and Mercedes-Benz Young Driver Support Programme since its inception in 1998. He moved through the ranks of karting winning various Championships including the 'McLaren Mercedes Champions of the Future' karting series in 1998. Lewis dominated the 2003 British Formula Renault Championship winning 10 out of the Championship's 15 races. In 2004 Lewis competed in the prominent Formula 3 Euro series with Manor Motorsport. His car was powered by Mercedes-Benz engines.
In 2005, Lewis dominated the F3 Euro Series Championship, in a car powered by Mercedes-Benz. Lewis was crowned champion in August with four rounds of the series still to be contested. Following 14 rounds of the 18 round series Lewis was unbeatable with a 49 point lead over his closest rival. In total he won 15 races that year. In 2006 Lewis won the GP2 Series Championship with the ART team.