Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hamilton honoured with 'Champions' plaque

Friday 8th May 2009

Lewis Hamilton was today left emotional after unveiling a special commemorative plaque in his honour.

At Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya where in February of last year Hamilton was racially abused during a test session, he was clearly choked after viewing the plaque in recognition of him becoming a Formula One World Champion.

No mention was made of the sensitive subject during brief speeches made by Hamilton, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and circuit boss Ramon Praderas.

But the sentiment behind the honour was apparent, in particular due to the inscribed words that read: 'Thanks for your passion and support,' with his trademark 'Lewis' signature below.

The plaque will now go up on 'Champions Avenue' where all those who have raced at the track and gone on to take the title in either cars or bikes are honoured, such as Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Mick Doohan.

"Wow!" exclaimed Hamilton, before adding: "It's kind of emotional to be standing here, to be in Barcelona, to be here at Catalunya, one of my favourite circuits.

"To have heard the speeches, and know I am welcome here is a great thing for me, and to be recognised as World Champion is something very, very special to me. I will always carry that with me.

"So I want to say thank you to the people here at Catalunya for having me, and for their continued support, and thank you for Bernie's kind words as well.

"I will continue to do the best job I can, and I hope to continue making my country and my team proud."

Ecclestone had moments earlier made particular reference to the torrid year Hamilton has so far endured on and off the track, in particular in light of the 'lie-gate' saga.

"Up until now he's had a terrible year through no fault of his (own), and I'm sure he's going to remedy that very, very quickly," remarked Ecclestone.

"The good thing about Lewis is he hasn't forgotten his roots. He supports go-karting, supports all forms of motor sport, not just Formula One.

"This is what we need guys to do, not to forget where they come from."

Praderas had been equally glowing in his praise for Hamilton as he said: "We are pleased to have the opportunity to show you that you are a driver who is always welcome to Catalunya.

"Passion means Formula One, and you are a part of this passion for motor sport. Keep like this for us. We need people like you.

"Today your name is written on a permanent page in Champions Avenue."

Whitmarsh added: "We're obviously very proud to have Lewis in our team as a great World Champion he is, and very proud to see our name is going to be incorporated permanently with this memorial."

Source : Planet F1

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