Sport » Championships
Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Formula One youngest winner Lewis Hamilton to get 1 billion dollars at age 23

As the youngest and first black driver to win the Formula One drivers' title, Lewis Hamilton is now looking for more barriers to break and records to set.

After winning the season title in Sao Paulo on Sunday, Hamilton seems on track to become the first British sportsman to reach $1 billion dollars in earnings and endorsements and, at age 23, has plenty of time to beat Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles.

Hamilton, who won his first championship by one point after finishing fifth in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, has a 75-million-pound ($120 million; 94 million euro), five-year contract with the McLaren team and his endorsements are expected to add at least 20 million pounds ($32 million; 25 million euro).

Now that he has won the title - a year after missing out on the feat in the final race - Hamilton is likely to attract even bigger deals both on and off the circuit.

He's got all the attributes to be a huge celebrity: His girlfriend is Nicole Scherzinger, a singer with the popular all-girl group Pussycat Dolls. His good looks and articulate interviews increase his potential as a big earner, especially with the likelihood of more titles to come.

Although David Beckham's overall wealth is far greater as a result of the earnings he and "Posh Spice" wife Victoria have collected over the years, Hamilton is 10 years younger than the football star and is only two years into his F1 career.

British bookmakers are offering odds of 25-1 that Hamilton will break the record of seven world titles held by Schumacher, who retired in 2006. In what appears to be a wide-open F1 championship, however, Hamilton is 7-4 to win next year's drivers' championship, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen (11-4) and Felipe Massa (4-1) rated the next two favorites.

The first British driver to win the title since Damon Hill in 1996, Hamilton dominated the front and back pages of Monday's newspapers with photos of Hamilton celebrating with his father and Scherzinger under headlines such as: "Lionheart Lewis" and "Lap of the Gods".

A peak TV audience of 13.1 million watched Hamilton win the title on Britain's ITV network, and an average 8.8 million - a 42 percent audience share - watched the entire race, the highest since the company began broadcasting F1 in 1997.

Hamilton might not have joined F1 if he hadn't approached McLaren's Ron Dennis when he was only 10 and told him he wanted to drive for him one day.

"If you look at the statistics, he has won more points, more races and had more podiums in the last two years than any other driver," said Dennis, now McLaren's team principal.

"He is now the youngest world champion ever, and he just keeps on delivering. He is two years into his career, and there is a long way to go."

Hamilton, whose father is black, was named after American athlete Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic gold medals as a sprinter and long jumper, and his second name is Carl. His father, Anthony, bought him remote-control cars and then introduced him to kart-racing as a boy. It was at an awards ceremony that the young driver approached Dennis.

With Dennis guiding his career, Hamilton captured a place in a young drivers' development program and was eventually offered a place on the McLaren team.

"He has done everything he has been asked to do, and more," Dennis said. "He has made the sacrifices, made the commitment, and whilst it's nice to have direction, to raise your game, you still have to be the person that makes it happen.

"He has phenomenal support from his family, but also from the team, which has a lot of depth and which has worked so hard."

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