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Murray Walker's first encounter with Lewis Hamilton unearthed: 'Asked me for an autograph'

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The legendary racing commentator has sadly passed away at the age of 97, after becoming one of the most iconic voices in British sporting history. For 52 years Walker delivered commentary, following in the footsteps of father Graham in taking up the mic on motor sports. His career was hugely successful, and from the Seventies, he would earn acclaim for his pulsating reports on Formula One.
Throughout his career, Walker commentated on some of the greatest names the sport has ever produced, including seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.

But in a throwback report, Walker discussed his first encounter with the driver he once described as the greatest of all time.

Speaking last year to the Telegraph, Walker said: “It’s amazing to think first time I met Lewis he was at the Autosport Awards in whatever year it was, and he came up to about my knee, and he had a dinner jacket and a black tie on, and his autograph book, and he wanted my autograph.”

Hamilton has since gone on to become a seven-time champion himself, and as a result one of the world’s most recognisable, and wealthy, sportspeople.

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Murray Walker's first encounter with Lewis Hamilton unearthed: 'Asked me for an autograph'

Murray Walker’s first encounter with Lewis Hamilton unearthed: ‘Asked me for an autograph’ (Image: GETTY)

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Murray Walker has passed away at the age of 97

Murray Walker has passed away at the age of 97 (Image: GETTY)

And for Walker, although it was a difficult decision to choose who was the best, Hamilton may have edged it.

He said: “People ask me who is the greatest of all time and I always say ‘Look, you really can’t compare drivers of one generation with drivers of another, because the regulations are different, the circuits are different, the cars are different and the competition is different.

“But having said all that, in a situation where I used to unhesitatingly say ‘Fangio – five world championships, they’re never going to beat that’, and then it was ‘[Michael] Schumacher – seven world championships’.

“And people talk about [Ayrton] Senna. Well actually I think Hamilton actually can be called ‘greater’ – in inverted commas – than the last two for one very simple reason, and that is their driving tactics. Schumacher and Senna were not always irreproachable. Hamilton has always been as clean as a whistle.

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JUST IN: Murray Walker dead: Legendary F1 commentator dies aged 97

Murray Walker chats to Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in 2010

Murray Walker chats to Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in 2010 (Image: GETTY)

“I have a great deal of admiration and respect for him.”

Walker became known for his iconic commentary pairing with James Hunt, up until the former racing champion’s death in 1993.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Hunt’s death, Murray told the BBC how the pair “were oil and water” which “seemed to work as a commentator mix”.

He detailed how there was “often a lot of friction in the commentary box” which came as a result of the pair have to share just one microphone.

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Murray Walker alongside Michael Schumacher

Murray Walker alongside Michael Schumacher (Image: GETTY)

Recalling one particularly incident at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Murray added: “I had been talking for what James thought was too long and he wanted to say something.

“He grabbed hold of the microphone wire and gave it a good jerk. The microphone flew out of my hands and into his. He started talking and I was absolutely incandescent with rage.

“I actually had my fist back to thump him but I looked across the commentary box and our producer was wagging his finger at me – and I got a ‘no, no, no!’ expression on his face.

“The blow never landed – and it’s just as well as it would have broken up a great friendship.”

Murray Walker with co-commentator James Hunt

Murray Walker with co-commentator James Hunt (Image: GETTY)

Such was Walker’s standing in the sport, after he completed his last ever Formula One television commentary in the US in 2001, a dinner to mark his career was attended by megastars like Schumacher.

Tributes for the icon have flooded in since the news of his death was confirmed on Saturday by the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

In a statement, the group said: “It’s with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate Member Murray Walker OBE.

“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nations favourite commentator and a contagious smile.

“We thank Murray for all he has done for our community.

“RIP our friend.”

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Murray Walker's first encounter with Lewis Hamilton unearthed: 'Asked me for an autograph'
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