“Lewis Hamilton: The People’s Champion” (Bruce Jones, 2007)

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This is the sixth Lewis Hamilton biography I’ve reviewed and at 14.99 it’s among the cheapest.

Published by ITV Sport, one would expect this to be targeted towards casual F1 followers rather than dedicated fans. Appropriately enough, “The People’s Champion” is also the title of the work of unintended comic brilliance that is Nigel Mansell’s autobiography.

So does “The People’s Champion” belong on the bookshelf – or is it just another hunk of Hamilton-branded firewood?

The ‘ITV Sport’ logo in the corner of this book tells you exactly what to expect. Just as the broadcaster has overdosed on Hamilton-mania this year, so this book is more a celebration of Hamilton than an analysis.

That’s exactly what some people will be looking for, but it doesn’t make for a very satisfying read.

In fact it doesn’t make for much of a read at all. Brevity is one thing but much of the text seems to exist just to put space between the photographs (which would explain the large amounts of white space on several pages). The Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying debacle, for example, gets a scant paragraph.

There’s a bit more information on his pre-F1 years, accompanied by some very samey looking photographs and at least one piece of brazenly patriotic caption-writing: (“When racing in the UK, Lewis races for Lewis, but when in Europe Lewis raced for Britain, as this British bulldog mascot demonstrates.” Puh-leaze!)

But even the passages on his junior racing lack context and give you the feel that they’ve been written by looking at a page of statistics rather than by someone who actually followed the races. So although we get told he won 15 races of 20 in the F3 Euroseries in 2005 including, “victories on four circuits (Hockenheim, Spa-Francorchamps, Monaco and the Nurburgring) that hold F1 Grands Prix,” the detail that he won the second race at Spa but was disqualified is ignored.

It serves its purpose as a brief, factual, uncritical account of a new driver, and the narrative by former Autosport editor-at-large Bruce Jones is decent. But I found it a bit too brief and simple – if you’re after a Lewis Hamilton picture book like this Andrew van der Burgt’s “A Portrait of Britain’s new F1 hero” is better.

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Carlton Books

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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