f1 driver champion
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton talks to the media after the Formula One Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit in Baku on June 12, 2022. Source: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

Seven Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship, 296 race starts, 103 wins and 183 podiums. Sir Lewis Hamilton is a name that F1 fans will find hard to forget. From pushing for more diversity in the sport to rocking the F1 race paddock with his eccentric fashion sense, the 37-year-old is more than capable of converting his voice into action.

Behind his impressive track record, there is something that you might not know about the Brit: his educational background. As an alumnus of Cambridge Arts and Sciences (CATS) College Cambridge, Hamilton has described his time at the school as a “pleasurable experience” and noted how CATS embraced his passion for racing.

“When I went to CATS, they were willing to give me time. They were totally open to my racing. They didn’t even ask about it,” explained Hamilton in his 2007 autobiography. He added, “They never questioned it. Instead it was, ‘Well, how can we work around it?’ And that’s why it was so good. They worked with me.”

With a goal of nurturing ambitions, here are four interesting facts about the school that housed the seven-time F1 driver champion:

British driver Sir Lewis Hamilton arrives in the paddock at the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec on June 16, 2022. Source: Geoff Robins /AFP

Four facts about the school that housed the seven-time F1 driver champion

1. CATS has campuses based in the US and UK

Cambridge. London. Boston. Canterbury. Each location is tailored according to CATS College’s philosophy towards education: high-quality teaching standards paired with a deep understanding of their students and personal needs, as stated on their website.

The school is experienced in nurturing and guiding international pupils so that every student fulfils their potential within the British or American educational system. In 2019, CATS College opened its first campus in Shanghai, China.

2. The school boasts of outstanding academic results

According to reports, he studied for his GCSE in Feb 2001 at CATS College Cambridge before moving on to pursue his professional racing career. Their flexible one or two-year programmes offer a seamless transition into their A Level or University Foundation Programme (UFP), which houses an impressive track record: 71% of all A Level students last year achieved at least one A* or A and 55% of UFP students at CATS College Cambridge gained at least one A*/A/B.

How do they do this? Tomasz Kinowski, a 2021 CATS College Cambridge A Levels student, said the college allowed him “develop and focus” on his passions. “The teachers encourage you to get involved and ask questions, which is crucial if you want to study at one of the best universities in the world,” explains Kinowski

f1 driver champion

Hamilton won his F1 World Driver Champion in 2008 during Brazil Grand Prix where he overtook Timo Glock on the final lap. He won the 2008 World Driver Championship by one point. Source: Nelson Almeida/AFP

3. CATS is home to a supportive staff

For all racers, starting a professional career in racing can be difficult. Hamilton had a difficult start to his go-karting career. His dad worked three jobs to fund his karting career, and his racial background made him a familiar subject to racial discrimination in the British-karting scene.

He needed a school that understood his unique challenge as a young race driver. That’s why CATS College Cambridge was a perfect place for him.

“CATS was a fantastic place. The staff were really nice: they spoke to me on a level that was not above me,” he said in his biography. “I also felt more fulfilled and began to value myself differently. I was happier.”

4. It’s a school where students are supported to fulfil their potential

Student welfare has been a top priority for CATS College since its inception in 1952. For its Cambridge campus, the school offers support to students in three ways: an in-House Parent, a Personal Tutor and an opportunity to reach out to the Programme Director.

This three-dimensional system prioritises emotional and social support for students in hopes of nurturing, fulfilling, and enhancing their potential. For Hamilton, that support helped him realise his academic potential and motivated him to do well in his studies.

“Once I went to College I realised that I could enjoy more things and I bucked up my ideas a lot. I felt like I really wanted to do well,” he said in his book. “Something clicked for me. It was a much smaller class and I got on well with my teachers…It was the first time in my life in my academic work that I actually thought to myself, ‘I can do this and I can do well in exams.'”