HAMILTON’S CLOSE RIVAL BACK ON TRACK
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.”