LEWIS Hamilton’s nemesis is not who you might expect.

It isn’t Sebastian Vettel or Max Verstappen, but a Basildon driving instructor who he could not beat, no matter how hard he tried, during his karting days in the 1990s.

Hamilton, recently crowned six-time Formula one World Champion, name dropped Niki Richardson after his fifth title last year.

The British driver told the media during the final press conference of the F1 season, that he always looked up to Niki as an eight-year-old, and his dad constantly reminded him of how to beat him.

Mr Richardson, who teachers learner drivers for Smart Drive UK in Basildon, was shocked at Hamilton’s words, and told the Echo that Lewis never beat him on the track. He said: “He never beat me, I can’t remember if he ever overtook me but he certainly didn’t beat me.

“It was amazing and totally unexpected to be mentioned by him.

“I searched the web high and low to find the interview and there it was.

“The response I got from family, friends and people in the karting world was truly incredible.

“For someone that famous who could well be the greatest racing driver ever to walk the planet to say that he looked up to me when he was growing up was just wow. He actually re-told the same story on stage at the British Grand Prix this year in front of 30,000 people which was crazy.”

The driving instructor, who met Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry, as well as the 1996 Formula One champion Damon Hill, and the three-time World champion Ayrton Senna, described how these encounters came about.

He said: “”I met with the Princes in the 90’s as I was asked to teach William how to drive a go-kart.

“Diana came along with them too on numerous occasions.

“William also asked to copy my helmet design because he wanted to replace his previous one.”

Niki, who still races go karts, raced Hamilton several times on the Rye House circuit in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, and he described how he knew Lewis from a young age: “He was a bit of nightmare on track as he would often spin off or crash into other drivers but after a while he improved and got better and better.

"Apparently he learnt his skills from me as I was British Champion at the time.

“Lewis’ dad Anthony would often ask my dad for help and advice and that’s how we got to know one another.

“ I still remember us getting KFC in Benfleet. The Hamilton family introduced me to peanut butter which I still love today.

“Unfortunately I stopped racing professionally in the late 90’s and that was the last time we were in contact.

“The Mercedes F1 team said that they would try and get us together but nothing has been finalised yet but it would be cool to catch up with him at some point.”