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FORMULA One wonder boy Lewis Hamilton's mum has revealed how she made her heartbreaking decision to give him up to his dad.

Carmen Lockhart said she let her beloved son go to live with his father when he was 12 so he could concentrate on his growing success as a boy motor-racer.

"I couldn't see myself in that busy, hectic lifestyle, but I didn't stop his father making sure Lewis got what he wanted," said Carmen, who split from Lewis's father Anthony when their son was two.

"Anthony obviously saw a skill in Lewis and picked up on it. His dad has worked very hard to raise money for Lewis's career - it was something I could not do for him."

Her decision was made all the harder as Lewis had been very special to her after she struggled to conceive a baby.

"We tried for a long time for Lewis," she said. "He is special because I didn't think he was ever going to come along. But it was important for him to be with his father when his career took off.

"He now has his racing life with his dad and his normal life when he comes over to my house.

"Without his dad's constant, constant work he would not have been able to continue in the sport."

Happily for Lewis, Carmen and Anthony are friends now, attending races and even holidaying together with their new partners.

The two couples celebrated together at a London nightclub when Lewis signed his contract.

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Carmen said: "Lewis has got such a magnetism about him. His personality is outstanding and he just makes people get on. Everyone in racing thinks we're an unusual bunch. They're quite amazed when they see us come down pit lane. "The split didn't damage him. He is probably better for it than had we stuck it out in an unhappy marriage.

Lewis's rise to fame is all the more remarkable tale because unlike many stars who came from wealthy backgrounds, he faced a tough start to life as the only child from Carmen's ill-fated marriage to fellow British Rail worker Anthony. The couple split in 1987 and Carmen was left to raise Lewis, now 22.

He was her third child - he has two older half-sisters, Nicola Hewitt, 31, and Samantha Shickle. He also has a younger halfbrother Nicolas, 15, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Carmen, who lives in a modest semi in Bedfordshire, gave the interview several months ago as Lewis trained for his first Grand Prix. She said: "Everything Lewis has got, he's worked really hard for. He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth."

But she says he is handling the trappings of fame very well and believes he will stick with his high school sweetheart Jodia, 21.

"She is the kind of girl that will help him keep his feet on the ground. She is not after the high life. I think he'd rather hang on to somebody he knows than have all these dolly birds in Formula One. You never know what they're after. Jenson Button had a lovely girlfriend and all that finished. Maybe now he wished he had hung onto her."

Carmen also revealed that Lewis's earliest sporting promise was on the football field rather than the racing track.

His ex coach at Bedwell Rangers FC Ken Headington says: "On the pitch, he was a leader - he'd always rally the other players when things were looking grim. If he'd had the time and the commitment to his football, he was talented enough to have done anything."

Lewis has set numerous records since bursting on to the F1 scene - not least becoming the first black driver to have a full-time seat in Formula One. However Carmen played down her son's colour, saying: "Lewis has got everything - he has the personality, the looks, the physique and charisma to become a massive, absolutely massive star.

I'd like people to see beyond the colour. The fact that he's the first black driver is going to be the cherry on the cake."

His domination has caused a rush on tickets for next week's Silverstone GP.

His dual wins in North America have given him a 10-point lead over Alonso in the championship going into today's French Grand Prix at Magny Cours.

'It was heart breaking ..but I had to let him go and live with his dad for him to be a star'

michael.duffy@sundaymirror.co.uk

Copyright 2007 MGN LTD
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