Friday 24th November 2006
Twenty-one year old Lewis Hamilton was confirmed as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate at McLaren for the following season, despite still not having driven an F1 car. It was the culmination of a relationship which had started 11 years earlier with a handshake between Ron Dennis and Hamilton. “We reviewed the grid and, apart from the top three, we reckoned most of them had plateaued,” Dennis said. “I am distinctly unimpressed with the majority of drivers currently involved in F1. I feel Lewis is well equipped to deal with these drivers who fall into that category.” Hamilton himself admitted he was “overwhelmed”. He added: “It was a surreal feeling. I was sat on a couch opposite Ron at his home. He told me that McLaren had decided to take me on as their new driver. It didn’t kick in. I put on a professional face. I could see Ron was excited. He said I should be, too. Inside I was. But it had been such a long wait. It was a warm feeling knowing the seat was mine. Now I have to get on and prepare.” The decision to appoint Hamilton was made after Monza in late September but had been kept secret.