6 Nov 2008

Tears and cheers accompany Hamilton's homecoming

6:42 am on 6 November 2008

The newly-crowned Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has made an emotional return to the McLaren headquarters, promising the adoring workforce he will stay with the team.

The factory, 32 kilometres south of London, produced the car he drove in Monday'ss nerve-shredding finale in Brazil and the 23-year-old Briton arrived in it to a roar of adulation.

Formula One's youngest world champion was blinded by a sea of flashing cameras as he mounted a platform groaning with the trophies accumulated from the last two seasons -- 22 podium finishes from 35 races.

More than 1000 employees, almost all of them glowing in the company's luminous orange livery and many of them wet-eyed with emotion, provided a vivid backdrop as they crowded round to hear their hero offer his thanks.

Hamilton, the first black driver to win the title and who has suffered racial abuse even in his championship season, said he was "happy and proud" to see Barack Obama win yesterday's US election.