Lewis Hamilton and Formula 1's Winners of BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2014

Lewis Hamilton and Formula 1's Winners of BBC Sports Personality of the Year

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    By winning the 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Lewis Hamilton joined a select group of British athletes to be awarded what is perhaps the country's most prestigious multi-sport honour.

    The 2014 Formula One world champion pushed golf's Rory McIlroy, winner of two majors in 2014, into second place. European 10,000-metre gold medallist Jo Pavey was third.

    It was third time lucky for Hamilton, who secured almost 34 percent of the votehe had been second in both 2007 and 2008.

    But surprisingly, given the United Kingdom's rich motorsport heritage, he is only the fifth F1 driver to win the award. Many of the U.K.'s most famous champions, including Graham Hill, Jim Clark and James Hunt, were never voted as winners.

    Here, we look back at the five F1 stars who were.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year

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    1966 World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore won the award that year.
    1966 World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore won the award that year.Associated Press

    BBC Sports Personality of the Year (more conveniently known by the rather funky acronym SPOTY) was first awarded in 1954, celebrating the British sportsman or woman the public deemed most worth of the award.

    Per Television Heaven, in that year voting was done by postcard only, and the award was presented in a quiet, low-key manner at the end of the BBC's Sportsview programme.

    The winner of that inaugural award was distance runner Christopher Chataway, who in 1954 had set a 5,000-metre world record and acted as one of Roger Bannister's four-minute mile pacemakers.

    From humble beginnings, the award quickly built up a head of steam. The ceremony became larger and more categories were added, while the main SPOTY prize grew in prestige to become a major accolade in itself.

    Recent winners include former England captain David Beckham, Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins and two-time Grand Slam-winning tennis star Andy Murray.

    The two-hour-plus 2014 event was broadcast in a primetime slot on BBC One, and guests included royalty of the sporting and genuine variety. Per the BBC, 620,932 votes were cast.

Honourable Mention: John Surtees (1959)

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    Associated Press

    John Surtees was named SPOTY in 1959, but it was nothing to do with his Formula One achievements. He hadn't even started a single grand prix at the time.

    The award was instead given for his incredible success in motorcycle racing. In 1958 and 1959, Surtees won every single race he entered in both the 350cc and 500cc classes of the Motorcycle Grand Prix championship (the series now known as MotoGP).

    He was, of course, double champion in both years, adding to his 500cc victory from 1956. Surtees was champion again in both classes in 1960 before switching from two wheels to four in 1961.

    On the podium in his second race, Surtees was crowned F1 world champion in 1964. To this day he remains the only man to win grand prix world titles on both two and four wheels.

Stirling Moss (1961)

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    Associated Press

    Stirling Moss is the nearly man of Formula One.

    After entering occasional races between 1951 and 1954, Moss landed a plum seat driving for Mercedes in 1955. He finished the season second to team-mate Juan Manuel Fangio, a position he'd find himself in at the end of 1956 and 1957.

    Moss was second for a fourth consecutive season in 1958, losing out to Mike Hawthorn by a single point despite winning four races to his compatriot's one. In 1959 and 1960, he was third.

    The 1961 F1 season turned out to be the final chance Moss had to be champion. New engine regulations had come into force, and Ferrari had adapted quicker than anyone else; the 156 "sharknose" was the class of the field.

    Moss raced a Lotus run by the privateer Rob Walker. It was down on horsepower but handled well—especially at the circuits where the driver could really make a difference. Moss had a chance.

    He claimed a hat-trick of pole, fastest lap and the race win at the first event of the year in Monaco and later in the season led the German Grand Prix from start to finish.

    But overall the Ferraris of Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips were quicker, and Moss wasn't helped by a string of reliability issues which took him out of four of the final five races.

    He finished third as Hill took the title but received a small consolation as the public voted him SPOTY for 1961.

    Moss' F1 career was ended by a horrific accident in a non-championship race before the start of the 1962 season.

    BBC Sport states Moss is widely considered the best driver never to win the world championship. To further illustrate how misleading raw statistics can be, Autosport's panel of 217 current and former drivers ranked him as the eighth-best driver of all time in a 2009 poll.

    Sir Stirling continued to make occasional appearances in other series throughout his life before finally retiring from competitive motorsport in 2011at the age of 81.

Jackie Stewart (1973)

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Jackie Stewart first rose to sporting prominence as a trap shooter, missing out on a place in the 1960 British Olympic squad by a single target. He told Fieldsports magazine in 2006 that this remains his greatest sporting disappointment.

    Following this blow, he took up motor racing and in 1965 made his F1 debut with BRM. His talent was evident right from the start, the Scot standing on the podium at four of his first six races and winning his eighth.

    Stewart won his first world championship in 1969 and followed it up with a second in 1971.

    The 1973 season began with a close duel between Stewart and 1972's champion, Emerson Fittipaldi. They each won three of the opening six races to build a lead over the rest of the pack, the Brazilian ahead by four points.

    But while Stewart was able to maintain his strong early form, Fittipaldi dropped back. The Tyrrell driver was crowned champion with two races to spare, claiming his third world crown.

    He had intended to retire at the end of the year on 100 race starts but missed the season-ending United States Grand Prix after the tragic death of close friend and planned successor Francois Cevert in qualifying.

    Stewart was later voted SPOTY, becoming F1's second winner.

    He had long advocated greater safety for drivers and continued this push after he left the grid. Sir Jackie later founded his own team, which won one race before he sold it to Ford at the end of 1999. They in turn sold it on and it's now known as Red Bull.

Nigel Mansell (1986, 1992)

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    Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images

    Nigel Mansell didn't have the easiest start to his racing careerwithout a wealthy family or benefactor, he paid his own way through the lower formulae.

    During this journey, he experienced a number of heavy crashes and—per ESPN—after one was told by doctors his injuries were so severe he would never drive again.

    Undeterred by the broken neck he'd just suffered, Mansell went straight back to racing.

    Plucked from Formula Three by Lotus boss Colin Chapman, the Brit spent four full seasons with the team before joining Williams in 1985. The following year he looked set to claim his first world championship, but a tyre blow-out at the final race handed the crown to Alain Prost.

    The voting public deemed his efforts worthy of his first SPOTY award.

    Mansell was second again in 1987 after being forced to miss the last two races due to a spinal injury suffered in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

    A barren spell followed, including two seasons at Ferrari. Mansell returned to Williams in 1991 and finished second in the championship yet again. Always the bridesmaid, he was now 38 and looking like he may never be the bride.

    But Williams produced the dominant FW14B, and from the first race, it never looked in doubt. Mansell took pole 14 times, won nine races and clinched the championship with five races still to run.

    After this dominant year, he became only the second person to win SPOTY for a second time.

    He left F1 in 1993 and won the CART title at his first attempt. He later returned to F1 to grab a final race win at the end of the 1994 season. A comeback with McLaren ended when the car was uncompetitive, and Mansell retired from F1 for good.

    Later years saw him compete in a single weekend of the British Touring Car Championship and in occasional sports car races.

    When sporting his trademark moustache, Mansell remains one of the most recognisable men in British motorsport.

Damon Hill (1994, 1996)

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    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Following Nigel Mansell's retirement, those among the British public who liked to have a home hero to support quickly found a replacement.

    Damon Hill, son of two-time 1960s world champion Graham, started his racing career on motorcycles. Far from wealthy despite his late father's success, he worked as a labourer and motorcycle courier to fund his on-track advancement.

    He could never afford the best machinery and had little success on his way to F3000, but Hill did enough to catch the eye of Frank Williams. He was hired as a test driver and made his racing debut in 1992, driving for the dying Brabham team.

    Hill only qualified twice, but a vacancy opened up at Williams for 1993 and Damon was suddenly thrust into the spotlight. He coped with it rather well.

    He won three races and stood on the podium a further seven times; when team-mate and world champion Alain Prost retired at the end of the year, Hill was joined at the team by Ayrton Senna.

    The Brazilian's tragic death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix left Hill leading a shattered team. Just as he had his arrival in the spotlight, he handled the situation admirably.

    The bitter fight between Hill and Michael Schumacher went down to the wire at the season-ending Australian Grand Prix. Schumacher led but made a mistake and ran wide into the wall; sensing his chance, Hill dived down the inside into the next corner.

    Schumacher turned in and the resulting collision put both men out of the race, handing the title to the German. Whether it was deliberate or not, we may never know, but Hill at least had the consolation of his first SPOTY award.

    Two years later, the Brit had the dominant car but faced a challenge from across the garage. Jacques Villeneuve took to F1 like a duck to water after winning the 1995 IndyCar crown, and the title race went all the way to the final grand prix of the season.

    But on this occasion, Hill was able to fend off his younger challenger. In doing so, he became the first son of a world champion to also take the crown; a second SPOTY award duly followed.

    After leaving Williams, he tasted the winner's champagne a final time at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix but began to lose interest. He called it a day at the end of the following campaign.

    Hill now works as a pundit for Sky Sports.

Lewis Hamilton (2014)

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Lewis Hamilton was a 10-year-old karting star when he first met Ron Dennis. Per Formula1.com, the youngster approached the imposing McLaren boss and said: "Hello Mr. Dennis, I'm Lewis Hamilton and one day I'd like to race for your team."

    Dennis advised Hamilton to call him in nine years. Instead, he called Hamilton after three and the rest is history.

    Fresh from winning the 2006 GP2 championship, Hamilton made his debut in one of the quickest cars on the grid. He was partnered with the man who had won the last two world championshipsFernando Alonso.

    Few, if any, can have foreseen what followed.

    The young man from Stevenage stood on the podium in his first nine races, the run including his first two F1 wins. Entering the final two races Hamilton looked certain to be champion, but a tragic comedy of errors, botched strategy and reliability saw him beaten into second by Kimi Raikkonen.

    The following year he very nearly threw it away again, only to take the title in one of the most dramatic season finales F1 has ever seen.

    Four tough years with McLaren followed. Though Hamilton kept up his record of winning at least one race every season, he finished no higher than fourth in the championship. A switch to Mercedes at the start of 2013 didn't bear immediate fruithe was fourth in the championship again.

    Then came 2014, the year of the W05. Driving one of the most dominant cars the sport has ever seen, Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg steamrollered the opposition and turned the title fight into a sometimes friendly, sometimes bitter, sometimes controversial but always exciting two-horse race.

    Rosberg had the qualifying edge, but his race craft was no match for Hamilton's. The Brit won the season-ending, double-points Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to take the title by a comfortable-looking 67 points.

    Having been runner-up in 2007 and 2008, Hamilton won his first SPOTY award at the end of the year.

    Per Oddschecker, he starts 2015 as favourite for a third world titleand for a second SPOTY award.


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