Lewis Hamilton loses Sports Personality of the Year Award for a second year

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Lewis Hamilton\'s trophy cabinet gets some much-needed respite
Lewis Hamilton's trophy cabinet gets some much-needed respite

He may be the youngest ever Formula 1 world champion but the British public snubbed Lewis Hamilton in the voting for Sports Personality of the Year 2008.

Hamilton was beaten by cyclist Chris Hoy, who was supposed to be racing Hamilton in the Race of Champions at Wembley today. That event was cancelled due to safety concerns.

Hamilton finished second to Joe Calzaghe last year. The boxer was among Hamilton’s rivals for the award once again this year along with Rebecca Adlington (swimming), Ben Ainslie (sailing), Christine Ohuruogu (athletics), Andy Murray (tennis), Nicole Cooke, Rebecca Romero and Bradley Wiggins (all cycling).

Hamilton has been handed a string of awards since he won the 2008 world championship. He has already scooped the Autosport international racing driver of the year award plus a BRDC Gold Star and the Richard Seaman trophy. On Friday he collected the F1 world championship trophy at the FIA Gala.

British racing drivers have a tradition of success in the Sports Personality of the Year Award. John Surtees, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell (twice) and Damon Hill (twice) have all won (Surtees doing so for motor cycle racing, five years before he became F1 world champion). Mansell and Hill are two of only three people to win the award twice.

But Hamilton will have to wait another year to add his name to the list.

Author information

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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59 comments on “Lewis Hamilton loses Sports Personality of the Year Award for a second year”

  1. Rubbish.

    Bloke pedals a bike for half hour and wins it. Lewis races for a full year and gets second again.

    He was never gonna win it during an olympic year though, espicially due to Team GB’s performance.

  2. Still, he’s got another go next year. No-one will think about cycling again still 2012.

  3. Chris Who? Never heard of him. I’m in New Zealand, and a lot of people hear have no idea what Formula 1 is. Despite that, nearly everyone knows who Lewis Hamilton is. He’s a worldwide name. He’s a real love him or hate him character that the public attach to.

    Surely, being known on a worldwide scale would qualify him to win this title?

    1. A fellow NZer! i’m not alone at the bottom of the world!

  4. Well done and all credit to Chris Hoy… but next time its gotta be Lewis…

  5. Cameron

    No not at all. It’s hard to imagine how Hoy could be any more dominant in his event. The British public voted for the right man in my view.

    When Lewis takes the title convincingly he’ll take the SPOTY.

    This year had some extremely strong contenders which has not always been the case.

    In 1997 Greg Rusdeski won it just for getting to a grand slam final and in 1998 Michael Owen won it on the back of one, albeit brilliant, goal in the World Cup.

    Calzaghe was the right choice last year also. His win over Kessler confirmed him as the undisputed super-middleweight champion and a pound-for-pound top 3-4 fighter.

  6. Yes, I’m not a fan of Hamilton – but I truly believed that Chris Hoy deserved the title. Big congratulations to him on winning this award.

  7. David – Interesting, I really don’t know much at all about the other contenders although I met Hoy on Wednesday and he has the largest thigh muscles I’ve ever seen! I guess that’s his equivalent of a 2.4-litre V8…

  8. Is this the first time an F1 driver hasn’t won the BBC award even though he won the Drivers’ Championship? I know Hill and Mansell won during their glory years in ’92 and ’96, but I wasn’t around the time before that that an F1 driver won the award.

  9. ajokay

    James Hunt came second to figure skater John Curry in 1976.

    Jackie Stewart won the award only after his third championship in 1973.

    Stirling Moss won in 1961 and John Surtees in 1959 when he was still riding bikes

  10. And what about Jim Clark – two world titles (one in the same year as winning the Indianapolis 500) and apparently he never won the award either…

  11. Clark came second to Tommy Simpson in 1965. Simpson was World Cycling Champion in that year but his legacy was tarnished by revelations of drug use after his death during the climb of Mont Ventoux in the 1967 Tour de France.

    Clark came third in 1963

  12. Bloke pedals a bike for half hour and wins it. Lewis races for a full year and gets second again.

    You’re joking right?

  13. Not really bothered by the Sports Personality of the Year award, and I usually am not one to support someone just because they’re from the same place…but given that Edinburgh’s produced enough rubbish characters in recent years, it was nice for Chris Hoy to win it if just for that reason.

    But meh, Lewis Hamilton could’ve won it and I would have been equally apathetic…

  14. Remember when Jenson was nominated for just winning one race?

  15. He’d probably be nominated if he finished second now.

  16. There’s probably a bit of underdog to it as well. Athletes in Britain don’t seem to get the adulation they do in Australia (footballers excluded). So good on him. Lewis has had a pretty easy time of it, let’s be honest.

    Chris Hoy is one of those feelgood, come out of nowhere stories. Lewis, well, we all knew it was going to happen. :-)

  17. Lewis did not look disappointed that he did not win this evening. It would have been great if he had won. But it does not matter, he is world champion and that is all that matters. Well done to Chris.

  18. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion
    14th December 2008, 23:49

    I feel sorry, really. Seems like we’ve missed another Senna comparisson speech. I will not get enough of it till I hear it another thousand times. Lewis is Senna reincarnated…. Uauuuu.

    By the way, congrats to the winner. A real olympic sportsman will always be greater than any F1 driver. I mean trully olympic sports like athletism, boxing, swimming, and all that kind of sports that makes what olympics sports are.

  19. @David Watkins

    Couldn’t agree more. Hoy has utterly dominated an Olympic sport winning everything in sight. I often feel the Sports Personality award goes to the popular sports rather than the most deserving candidate. In this case, a relatively minor sport has won and that goes to show how much of an impact Chris Hoy has made. Hamilton would have won in a less successful year for British sport, but given the scrappy nature of the F1 championship this year the best man has won.

    I do wonder though if the the negative press surrounding Hamilton’s move abroad, or the over the top coverage that has some people in the UK wanting him to lose, meant he missed out on a lot of public votes?

  20. Hoy deserved the award he absolutely dominated the opposition in the most glamourous and toughest event in the year – the Olympics.

  21. David Watkins

    I can understand Greg Rusdeski and Michael Owen winning this award, as I know who they are. But, It’s a British Public thing, and I guess international exposure doesn’t really mean anything.

    If New Zealand ran the same thing, you probably wouldn’t know our winner either ;)

    Thanks for the explanation anyway :)

  22. For those non-British F1 fans out there, I think Keith ought to have explained that the BBC Sports Personality of the year covers all the sportsmen and women (and teams and coaches and supporters) in the country – and the sports covered by the BBC, of course.
    Normally the event is dominated by the football (soccer) teams and occasionally snooker and rugby too. However, the British success at the Olympics (remember them?) and in various track, sailing and cycling championships throughout the year have brought the athletes to the fore – third place went to our top female swimmer by the way. And the top award is voted for by the public, who also nominate people for other awards as well.
    So overall, Hammy should be pleased to receive second place when motorsport is not one of the most watched sports in the country, and F1 was not broadcast on the BBC, apart from the scandals and silliness during the year. How many other countries have events which bring all their top sportsmen and women together for a celebration of their success?
    Now, with F1 returning to the BBC, we can hope for more nominations for the next SPOTY, and we can start campaigning for the British F1 teams and engineers to get awards as well!

  23. DG – Thanks for that. I do wonder whether which sports get BBC coverage has a bearing – there’s been no F1 winner during the ITV years.

    Here’s how the voting was split among the top four:

    Hoy – 283,630
    Hamilton – 163,864
    Adlington – 145,924
    Ainslie – 35,472

  24. I think Mr Collantine is not necessarily a 100% fan of Lewis. Ive noticed the, maybe unconscious, angle on Lewis stories tends to give that impression. “lewis loses SPOTY” – gosh does that mean Rebecca Adlington is an even bigger loser? The stuff about Lewis & Senna also has a bit of a cynical “who does he think he is” subtext to it.

    Theres a group of people who love Britains successful sporting stars and tend to get interested in whatever sports they are in for that reason alone. Then theres another group who feel their sport is being hijacked by these fair weather friends and distance themselves from the superstar, almost finding things to dislike about them so as to differentiate themselves from the former group.

    Somewhere in the middle lies the truth but you dont “lose” SPOTY- its the last bastion of a gentler age and no one lost then, they just enjoyed taking part.

  25. Antonyob – As far as I’m concerned if you finish first in a contest you’re a winner, and if you don’t you’re a loser. It’s merely a semantic difference.

  26. well yeh i take the meaning of loser to be very different to how you obviously do! If id been voted the 2nd best in my profession then id be made up, i assume you would to and the word loser wouldnt enter your head.

  27. Ultimately, I think SPOTY is fairly irrelevant – you can’t really argue about whether the results are fair/justified, as it’s essentially a popularity contest. I don’t think I even understand what sports personality means…

  28. Antonyob – Ah, the ‘second place is the first loser’ argument…

  29. Paul

    SPOTY dates back to the 1950’s in Britain, a very different time when our sporting heroes ahd 3 minutes of coverage on Pathe news and everyone used the word “old chap” more often than was strictly necessary. Sport was either played by working class types who were dashed grateful or by the ruling classes who did it for fun.

    The PERSONALITY bit was because “winner” was considered too vulgar. Its an anathema, an anachronism but it still carries weight in the UK and Chris Hoy was genuinely overwhelmed. Its nice that not everything has to be about winners and losers but who the public perceive as the best example.

  30. keith – thats your argument,not mine

  31. Overall I agree with Owen (#19) on the points he made, and appluad Hoy on his achievements that he has worked very hard for all his life.

    I can see where Antonyob is coming from also… am sure SPOTY was never on Lewis’s list of must haves this year, as its not something he can work toward, “oh, I need to try harder in the next race for SPOTY”… its a bonus if you like.

    You can’t lose SPOTY, you can only win it.

  32. Hoy was the right choice.

    He might only have “ridden for half an hour” or whatever nonsense that comment was but he trained for the FOUR years leading up to it.

    Hamilton did a good job in winning the WDC but looked considerably less assured and much more nervous in doing it this year compared to last season.

    And that’s ignoring the fact that, when you really come down to it, Formula 1 is not an individual sport, and Lewis relied on someone to design and build a fast car for him. It’s not even, say, 30% car and 70% driver any more, it’s more like the other way round.

    I’m not saying that automatically precludes Hamilton from winning it, I’m just saying that there are and were other sportsmen out there who can make a better case for their efforts over 2008.

  33. hmmm cycling got huge funding and the technology of the bikes had a big influence on our teams performance. Not upto f1 levels but though Hoy is a worthy winner, hed not have done it without the funding levels and super high tech bike.

    No sport at that level is an individual sport

  34. I have to say, that’s a bit harsh saying he lost it for a second year isn’t it?

    Anyway, credit to Hamilton for his demeanor on the night, and well done Chris Hoy – 3 gold medals is no small achievement.

  35. Good to see The Chain used on Lewis’ featurette – thats pretty promising for the BBCs 2009 coverage :D

    Tough break for Hamilton missing out on the top prize again but he did make a few errors this year and I imagine Chris Hoy’s performance leading up to and at the Olympics was pretty flawless to bring home three golds.

  36. 2nd is hardly a snub! Especially in an olympic year where the British team had their most successful ever medals haul. This was always going to be about the olympians. I’m suprised he beat Addlington!

  37. keepF1technical
    15th December 2008, 16:03

    Keith, is that a typo with the voting?

    only 35,473 (not 135,472) for fourth place for ainslie. All credit to all of them, but he’s been doing his thing and winning for years just like hoy. If the vote is correct thats a huge ‘lead’ for the top three and you’d have to question the argument about voting by sport. He was also an olympian, not just any other BBC televised sport.

    I was half expecting Lewis to make a comment about ‘the chain’. Maybe he doesnt remember it!

  38. KeepF1technical – I think that’s right, here’s the results I found.

    Also, is that a new username? Welcome to the site!

  39. hmmm cycling got huge funding and the technology of the bikes had a big influence on our teams performance. Not upto f1 levels but though Hoy is a worthy winner, hed not have done it without the funding levels and super high tech bike.

    No sport at that level is an individual sport

    But in cycling the person peddling is putting in most of the performance, the bike is only giving you a very slight advantage but it’s not comparable to the difference between driving a Ferrari compared to a Force India.

    Lots of the funding that’s gone into cycling in Britain in the last few years has gone into building & maintaining velodromes as well as community cycling schemes. The papers may like to say we’ve put £millions into cycling but when you look at the breakdown of where it’s been spent you see only a small percentage of it went to the Olympic team directly.
    They obviously benefit from the new facilities but it’s not a case of it all being pumped into the elite program alone.

    No one will win in the Olympics without the appropriate funding & infrastructure to support them but to say Chris wouldn’t have won without the bike is just wrong.
    Just check out this to see how good the guy is:

    Chris has now won medals at consecutive games and is a worthy winner, Lewis has plenty of time left in his career to win SPOTY.

  40. well im not getting into a yes it is, no it isnt debate about cycling. This is an f1 site for starters. But the cycling team as a whole said the technology of the bikes was a big factor. I

    ronically the biggest factor was probably the marginal return theory where every tiny thing was looked at and changed to improve performance. Basically if you improve 100 things by 0.1% you get 10% extra performance. The fit one – cant remember her name even said she was told not to go shopping by her coach as the walking would impact her training regime negatively.

  41. They’re hardly going to dismiss the effect of the bikes on their performance, especially when the manufacturer is one of their biggest sponsors.

    But as you say this is an F1 site so we can leave it at that :~)

    On a slight tangent “if you improve 100 things by 0.1% you get 10% extra performance”.

    If the thing you improve only contributes to 0.01% of your overall performance then no matter how much you improve it you’re never going to improve your performance by more than 0.01%. So improving 100 areas with a similar impact will only give you a 1% increase in overall performance, not counting any conflicts that these improvements bring.

    Sorry, I know this isn’t a maths site either but the statistical analysis of performance isn’t quite that simple.

  42. you just said the same thing as me 0.01 x 100 = 1%

    0.1% x 100 = 10%.

    i’ll get your coat

  43. Sorry, tried not to turn this into a thesis but:

    If you improve the performance of 100 things by 10% then their relative performance is now 110% of the original.

    If these things only contribute to 5% of your overall performance then your overall performance has only increased by 0.5%, not 10%.

    You may make a 10% improvement of the parts but this does not necessarily result in a 10% improvement in overall performance.

    So for an F1 example, if Ferrari improve the power of their engine by 10% this doesn’t mean their performance has increased by 10% as the engine only makes up a set amount of the cars performance.
    You then get the associated problem of the gearbox & transmission etc needing to be improved to handle the extra power, without which the extra power of the engine can be a disadvantage.

    As my boss constantly reminds me, solutions are the main cause of problems.

    Without going into field arrays and several pages of boring math this is the best I can give you.
    Please accept my apologies if my previous post sounded a bit arrogant or adversarial, it was not my intention. I’m just getting very, very bored waiting for the next season to start & find myself arguing with people over nothing as there’s little to argue about now the racing has stopped.

  44. I’m surprised no one has pointed out charisma is not one of Lewis’ strong points. If anything he did surprisingly well….

  45. Exactly Alejandro, Hamilton lost because he doesn’t have an appealing personality. Then again I’ve never really heard Chris Hoy say much. Perhaps Ronnie O’Sullivan should have won it, he’s got one hell of a personality, even if he is a little bit crazy. Or perhaps I shouldn’t take the word “personality” too literally.

  46. Surely you can’t lose something you don’t have? Lewis wasn’t the holder of the title therefore I wouldn’t say he lost it personally…

    Anyhow, Chris Hoy is a well deserved winner of the title – an awesome effort went into making him the winning machine he currently is, good to see that recognised.

  47. Saying anything other than congrats to Chris Hoy is sour grapes to be honest. He won by a “landslide” and it was his time to shine to get an award he truly deserves. People think that Olympics are just a temporary thing but behind it is life-time commitment, waking up very early in the morning to get the training done…those Olympians who achieve a medal let alone multiple golds deserve more respect than they are getting.

    Add to the fact that some people see 1 WDC as inferior to THREE gold medals (four if you count overall) that Hoy achieved.

    But this was Hoy’s year to shine, and he made me more proud to be British than Lewis did to be frank.

    Having said that, Hamilton is extreme talent and its only a matter of when he wins the SPOTY, there is no if about it.

  48. He probably lost it because he is going out with a Pussycat doll which is a sign of having no personality (or at least a pretty ordinary one).

  49. Owen, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Building up to the awards, I read article after article by the British media about Lewis “having no personality” (from people who had never met him I presume); about how he is a tax shirker (never seemed to be a problem for Paula Radcliffe, and Nicole Cooke also lives in Switzerland and that never gets mentioned); about how he is a “so-called champion only because of the skulduggery of Glock” (yes, I actually read that written by a “journalist”); how he is too greedy to actually meet his fans at motorsport events anymore (this was because he had a prior engagement and despite the fact he has been at Goodwood and Brooklands this year meeting and greeting his fans – I know because I was there). So all in all, he has been decimated in the British media; his character has been slandered and dragged through the mud, so their work is done. I really don’t know what Lewis has done to upset British journalists, but he is evidently hated by them and the sheep in this country believe what they read unfortunately. I do think Hoy and Adlington achieved a phenomenal amount this year – I would never downplay their achievements – but Lewis has done something amazing in his 2 years of F1 and had to put up with the most incredible pressures of FIA bias, racism, driver ganging up, and to come through it all and become champion in only his 2nd year, fully deserved to be recognised by the British public. Hoy or Adlington did not have to endure the psychological pressures that Lewis did over an entire year. I doubt he will ever be duly recognised though – every year there will be another candidate that the journalists try to big up while crucifying Lewis in the run up to the awards. I wouldn’t bother turning up again if I were him.

  50. Alejandro, that’s your opinion. I find Lewis has oodles of charisma.

  51. Ever noticed that the press often fail to mention that their companies owners & many of their highly paid staff are also non-domiciled residents or tax exiles ?

    A recent BBC website debate was full of comments about Lewis being a rich kid who left the country when he made it in F1, unfortunately there were also many thinly disguised racist comments on there too.

    I’m not a big Lewis fan but I don’t get some of the more extreme Lewis Bashing, he’s a very good driver and could be a great one some day.

  52. @ S Hughes, of course it’s my opinion, what else can it be? unless you have a formula to define charisma… ;)

  53. Terry Fabulous
    16th December 2008, 5:44

    I’m serious folks

    No man dating a pussycat doll has ever won Sports Personality of the year…

    Coincidence OR NOT!!!!

  54. Terry Fabulous, yeah they’re all jealous!

  55. Alejandro, Lewis + Hamilton = charisma/personality to the power of 1,000,000. Remember and learn!

  56. Given the success of the British Olympic team this year Hamilton was only ever going to win if the Olympic vote was split as they had 7 of the 10 finalists, I managed to guess the final three of Hoy, Hamilton and Addlington, but wasn’t sure what the final order would be.

  57. @ S Hughes, I totally forgot that bit, my bad! :D
    That being said, are you saying that if his personality is mildly higher than his charisma then Lewis+Hamilton is a very small number aproximating zero?
    You are making my head hurt now…. :D

  58. OK so the general feeling is the ‘loser’ thing was a bit harsh. Duly noted.

    A few people have brought up tax exile stuff. I think it’s garbage, but it is something the mainstream media brings up a lot. I was also disappointed to see one Scottish newspaper peddling that rubbish about Glock slowing down as being a reason not to vote for Hamilton. Only some completely ignorant of motor racing could think Glock did that deliberately.

    As for Hamilton’s personality, I think it comes across in a very mixed way. Stuff like the Top Gear interview he did last year was great – because it was just him talking. I think some things he says get taken the wrong way – intentionally or not – like the ‘monkeys’ quote last year. That’s the peril of living in the public eye. But the kind of manufactured image of him we get through stuff like that FIA Gala video is less likeable.

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