The first ever race car of Formula One legend Lewis Hamilton has hit the track again after a "labour of love" restoration, and it will be coming to Stevenage soon.

The Stevenage-born star made one of his early forays into single-seater racing in 2003, when he raced for Manor Motorsports in Formula Renault, winning 10 races as he secured the driver's championship.

Alex Thornton from Pit Lane Spares Ltd purchased the car two years ago after tracking it for a number of years, and thanks to help from Nick Edginton Racing, it has undergone what he describes as a "labour of love" restoration back to track condition.

"The chassis had been sitting in storage and was waiting to be restored. It was loaned to the National Collage of Motorsport for a time for students to look at," Alex told The Comet. 

"It was then returned to the owners but I'd been tracking it whereabouts for years, and I was nagging them to buy it, which I finally did.

"We set about restoring it with the help of Nick Edginton Racing, and it was a labour of love, although I can't much of the credit, that has to go to Nick.

The Comet: Lewis Hamilton's Manor car drove for the first time since 2003.Lewis Hamilton's Manor car drove for the first time since 2003. (Image: Lee Cunningham)

"It came with a lot of parts, and the chassis still had remanence of the original livery on it. We fixed some damage sympathetically for a bit of posterity, and the car was missing some body work, but we were able to track down some original parts from a Lewis Hamilton car.

"Finding some original specification parts from 2003 is really rare, but we've had them come from France, Italy, Finland and the UK. It's been a challenge, which is why it's taken so long, but we've managed to get it back to how it would have raced in 2003."

The Manor machine had not been driven on the track since Hamilton last drove the car in his title winning season, but after more than 20 years, it hit the tarmac once again for a test yesterday (May 9).

The Comet: Alex (in car) had the car restored with the expertise of Nick Edginton.Alex (in car) had the car restored with the expertise of Nick Edginton. (Image: Lee Cunningham)

The test went "like a dream" according to Alex, who even got the chance to get behind the wheel himself.

"Everything went like a dream, which is really testament to Nick's work," he said. 

"It was incredible to drive the car and really one of those 'pinch me' moments.

"Lewis was the last person to drive it before yesterday and, as I was going down the runway, I was really trying to take a few moments to reflect on everything that has happened in the 21 years since it last ran."

The car will now be taken to events and exhibitions, with Alex hoping it can inspire motorsports next generation, with a stop at Stevenage Museum's Stevenage On Wheels exhibition set for this summer.

"Getting the car back to Lewis' home town was something I really wanted to do. Stevenage Museum seem really excited to have it as part of the Stevenage On Wheels exhibition," he said.

"We had some logistical issues about getting the car into the building, so it will be displayed outside the building."

The Comet: The car will be on display in Stevenage this summer.The car will be on display in Stevenage this summer. (Image: Lee Cunningham)

Since his triumph at the wheel of his Manor car in 2003, Hamilton has a record seven Formula One world championships with McLaren and Mercedes, cementing his legacy as one of motorsports all-time greats.

The 39-year-old Stevenage native made headlines earlier this year when he announced his departure from Mercedes to complete a dream move to Ferrari, a transfer that certainly excited Alex.

"It's really exciting. He'll go down as one of, if not the greatest driver of all time, so if he could win a title with Ferrari then that would quite something.

"If the rumours about Adrian Newey go there are true then I think he's got a chance of doing that. Ferrari are on the up so very exciting times ahead."