HAMIL­TON’S CLOSE RI­VAL BACK ON TRACK

Motor Sport News - - Racing Reports -

Eigh­teen years ago, two very tal­ented rac­ers were bat­tling for a ti­tle at the head of a com­pet­i­tive field. To­day, one of those driv­ers has just claimed his fifth For­mula 1 cham­pi­onship crown in Mex­ico, while the other has re­cently made a win­ning re­turn to rac­ing – in rather less il­lus­tri­ous sur­round­ings.

For­mer world kart­ing cham­pion Colin Brown re­turned to com­pet­i­tive ac­tion last month, rac­ing in the F1000 cham­pi­onship fi­nale at Don­ing­ton Park in his first sin­gle­seater ap­pear­ance for 15 years.

But back in 2000, Brown tri­umphed over both Lewis Hamil­ton and Nico Ros­berg en route to the For­mula A kart­ing ti­tle.

De­spite the early suc­cess, his ca­reer stalled at the end of a brief spell in Euro F3000 in 2003, due to a num­ber of per­sonal and con­trac­tual fac­tors.

How­ever, an in­vite to join the F1000 field for the sea­son fi­nale pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity for Brown to re­take to the track in sin­gle-seater ma­chin­ery.

Hav­ing qual­i­fied fourth, Brown bat­tled into sec­ond place dur­ing the open­ing race of the week­end be­fore storm­ing through from sixth on the grid to claim vic­tory in the sec­ond race.

“I’ve been do­ing a bit of kart­ing this year just to get my body and mind back into it and then I got an in­vite to come and do this race,” says Brown. “I just felt that I was ready for it.

“As for the 15 years [away] – a lot of it was [caused by] peo­ple who had promised me the world and let me down, a lot of it was me hid­ing away deal­ing with my own prob­lems hav­ing not raced for so long.

“But then, when I had my daugh­ter a few years ago, I just be­came a lit­tle more fo­cused again with life in gen­eral. I started feel­ing bet­ter and I just thought I’d go for it.

“I felt con­nected to the [F1000] car straight away. It felt great. The first few laps in the car, I was just laugh­ing, putting your foot down and go­ing through the cor­ners, it’s like a new buzz and is some­thing I’d re­ally missed.”

Brown’s kart­ing cre­den­tials make for an im­pres­sive re­sume. His For­mula A ti­tle in 2000 was sealed by a win dur­ing the fi­nal race of the sea­son at Braga in Por­tu­gal, in which Brown lined up on a grid fea­tur­ing the likes of Ros­berg, Robert Ku­bica, Giedo van der Garde, Pas­tor Mal­don­ado, Mike Con­way, Jamie Green and Susie Wolff.

How­ever, it was Hamil­ton, who stepped up to For­mula A for the 2000 sea­son, who was Brown’s main ri­val. In the Braga de­cider, the pair ex­changed the lead through­out the race be­fore a camshaft fail­ure in the clos­ing stages forced Hamil­ton to re­tire.

Asked whether he ex­pected Hamil­ton to make it to the top of mo­tor­sport, Brown says: “It did seem like that straight away.

“When­ever I was on track he was al­ways right near me which was a bit ir­ri­tat­ing at times be­cause I just wanted him to go away.

“I can say that he was the most tal­ented driver I came up against when I was grow­ing up. Ros­berg was there as well but he wasn’t in the same league. I hate to say it but that was the case.”

De­spite his im­pres­sive early years, a suc­cess­ful re­turn and re­newed fo­cus on rac­ing, Brown does not have a plan in place for his fu­ture.

“At the mo­ment, I’m just liv­ing on a prayer as far as where I’m go­ing next,” he says. “Just hop­ing that some­one gives me a shot.”

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