'At one point Lewis Hamilton and me were the only two black drivers in British motor sport' says St Ippolyts Formula 1 expert encouraged by rise of Stevenage's four-time world champion
PUBLISHED: 15:15 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:26 30 October 2017
Lewis Hamilton is not only a hero to millions around the globe after clinching his fourth Formula 1 world title in dramatic circumstances in Mexico on Sunday his rise through the ranks of the sport also encouraged a St Ippolyts man to greater heights.
The 32-year-old Hamilton came from a humble beginning growing up in a Stevenage council home to become the champion of the world as Sam Collins, also from a mixed race background, used his rise to spur him onto success.
Sam, who was born in Camden, North London was always passionate about motor racing, watching everything he could on the popular motorsport as a child.
In 1997 he got his big break finding himself at the Williams Formula 1 team in Oxfordshire while most of the other pupils in his class did work experience in dead end jobs around south London.
Sam made electronic parts at the site which were used on the car which Jacques Villeneuve drove during his 1997 world title win.
After that and on the advice of Williams he went to college in Redhill in Surrey where he built his first racing car, competing in various international races in the USA and Europe for more than a decade before being offered a job on a weekly motorsport magazine.
The 36-year-old Sam told CometSport: “I’ve followed Lewis’ career since he was karting – at one point we were the only two black drivers in British motor racing.
“I saw what he faced and heard the comments. A lot of people wanted him to fail, not just because of his skin colour but because he didn’t have all the latest kit. He still beat all the better funded kids, and they resented it. But he showed them he was made of over and over again.
“I remember a race at Silverstone when he was in Formula Renault, part way through the race it poured with rain, he was on slicks and just drove away from the field.
“I knew then he was going to be incredible when he got into F1. But nobody expected him to become as good as he has become now.
“The other day on ESPN on TV in the US I found myself discussing Hamilton in the same terms as Senna, Fangio and Clark as one of the greatest the sport has ever known. Not bad for a kid from Stevenage – I’m seriously stoked Lewis has now got four titles I hope he gets to seven or even eight!”
Sam is now a motor racing technology journalist, working on a magazine called ‘Racecar Engineering’ which has its editorial office in Letchworth.
He also writes for a number of Japanese magazines and presents Nissan’s motor racing YouTube channel ‘NISMO.tv’.
Every year he commentates on the Le Mans 24 hours on ‘Radio Le Mans’ and appears from time to time on various TV channels talking about Formula 1.
He has written six books on motor racing including the award winning ‘Autodrome.’