Guest blog by @naijaSolar.
November 8th 2012, Barack Obama, the first mixed-race President of the United States of America was re-elected.
November 18th 2012, Lewis Hamilton, the first mixed-race Formula 1 champion won the United States Grand Prix.
While both accomplishments are not comparable but there are a few coincidences/similarities common to both men.
2008: Lewis won his first World Driver Championship in the same year Barack was elected as USA president for the first time, both men “breaking into” a position that had previously only been occupied by caucasian men.
Ethnicity: Both men are of mixed-race parentage: white caucasian mothers and black African/Caribbean fathers who separated while their children were at a young age. Both are only children, although they have step-siblings.
Impact in rookie year: Just as Lewis rattled F1 and his team-mate in his first year in the sport, Barack was an unknown senator before he became the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2008. With their respective stratospheric rise to fame and success, came the Hollywood friends and endorsements.
However the successive years were less forgiving. Lewis’s 2009 MP4-24 was not competitive at the start of the year and he has not in contention for the WDC for several years. 2011 was a particular bad year for Lewis, even by his own admission. He was involved in several accidents and failed to score more points than his team-mate; in a way this is analogous to the Democratic Party’s heavy losses in the 2010 elections.
Resurgence: 2012 has been a major turn-around compared to 2011 for Lewis – his driving, mature and controlled. His demeanour has remained relaxed even after deciding to leave the team that nurtured him from a very young age. Despite not being the running for the 2012 World Driver Championship, he has fought for every point and only other drivers and reliability issues have scuppered his attempts.
2013 onwards: All eyes on Lewis and Barack in the next few years: both face new challenges, trying to prove themselves to their critics – more than ever before. However, everyone’s expectations of them are lower; for Lewis – joining a new team which finished 5th in the World Constructors Championship and won only once in 2012. He is not expecting to win and his first year will be to about building new relationships and trying to build a new team around him. For the President, his 2008 slogan of HOPE has been replaced with a more tempered FORWARD during the 2012 campaign. And this is what America and the world will be expecting of him; moving them forward is important, how quickly is less so.