Lewis Hamilton was greeted by 1000 cheering McLaren staff at the team’s high-tech HQ building when he made his triumphant homecoming after winning the F1 drivers’ championship.
His last-gasp victory over Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, courtesy of a late overtake on Toyota’s Timo Glock, also earned him a letter of congratulations from the Queen – and praise from the local police in Woking.
The note from Buckingham Palace read: “I am delighted that you have succeeded in winning the Formula 1 World Championship to become the youngest ever champion. I send you my warmest congratulations on your remarkable and historic achievement.”
The messages from the local constabulary were more informal, but no less genuine, and followed the team re-lighting the 10m-long neon-white entry sign to the McLaren Technology Centre in red.
McLaren’s head of PR, Matt Bishop, said: “The Rocket Red sign has really made an impact: motorists have been beeping their horns in support and celebration as they pass by – some have been stopping to get their photographs taken next to it. We’ve even had the local police pass by to send on their messages of goodwill to Lewis and the team.”
Hamilton returned to the McLaren Technology Centre in dramatic style on the Wednesday following his victory, driving his MP4-23 out of the morning mist (say McLaren – you can’t see it on the photos) and round the ornamental lake that fronts the centre and forms part of its innovative cooling system.
He was met at the main entrance by the thousand-strong team that were behind his championship-winning season and McLaren’s runner-up spot in the constructors’ title race – all of them resolutely on-message in the team’s trademark red t-shirts (available in many good gift shops for Christmas).
Taking their cheers from a pedastal laden with the trophies he’s gathered during his two seasons with the team, Hamilton said: “I know how hard everybody has worked to achieve what we did this year – and I couldn’t have succeeded without the help of everyone here today.
“I have a very strong emotional bond to this team – it’s the best team in the world, and I’m very proud of everything we’ve achieved. I love this team and I ain’t going nowhere.”
Team boss Ron Dennis added: “There isn’t just one world champion here today – there are 1000 world champions; they are who make this team so special.”
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