Editor’s Note: This article was first published ahead of the start of the F1 season in July.

CNN  — 

On a karting track in southeast England, an eight-year-old Lewis Hamilton has the measure of his rivals. He is flying around the course. He is quicker than the other boys and, though these are supposed to be carefree years, is racing with the intensity of someone who is eager to make an impression.

“There’s a downhill section on this track into a hairpin bend and there was little Lewis Hamilton, and he was small in those days, coming down, leading the pack of these little karts that sing along like bumblebees and he was just extraordinary even in those days,” David Richards, chairman of Motorsport UK, tells CNN Sport of the first time he saw Hamilton – who was on the same karting team as his son – race.

“He was quite shy, but he and his father had an exceptional rapport with each other, and they just got down and did the job better than anybody else and it stood out even in those days. He went from class to class, from strength to strength, and I think it’s easy to be flippant and say he was a future world champion at eight years old, but you could see he had standout talent that’s for sure.”