British press on Hamilton’s troubles

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Lewis Hamilton has found his McLaren MP4-24 is a handful

Lewis Hamilton has been the golden boy of Fleet Street since he arrived on the F1 scene two years ago. While the national football and cricket teams have struggled, his has been one of few success stories for Britons in international sport.

But facing a potentially un-competitive season with the McLaren MP4-24, Hamilton can expect a very different kind of press in 2009.

Here’s how the British media covered McLaren’s admission that the MP4-24 isn’t up to scratch:

Lewis Hamilton in trouble as McLaren falter

“The world champion has crashed twice during testing in Barcelona.” (Daily Mirror)

McLaren admit their car is not good enough to help Hamilton defend his title

“So slow was Hamilton’s McLaren in pre-season testing at Barcelona this week that Martin Whitmarsh, the new team principal, and Norbert Haug, boss of engine suppliers Mercedes, took the unusual step of making their plight public.” (Daily Mail)

Lewis Hamilton’s world title hopes suffer

“Lewis Hamilton is a great talent ? potentially one of the greatest to drive a Formula One car ? but if he does not have a vehicle under him that can compete with the best on the grid, then even he will end up looking ordinary.” (The Times)

We’ve built Lew an old banger

“It could be several grands prix into the 17-race season before he is able to challenge Ferrari, BMW and Brawn GP who have been setting the pace.” (The Sun)

Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren ‘not fast enough’ for new F1 season

“The news will come as a blow to the legions of Lewis Hamilton fans in this country, although McLaren do still have time to rectify the problem.” (Daily Telegraph)

McLaren: Car is not quick enough

“Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will head into the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in just 16 days’ time with a car that is not quick enough.” (Daily Express)

Today the stories are about how the car isn’t up to scratch. But what will the headlines be once the season has started and the press have to get used to Hamilton not standing on the podium every other weekend?

The British press – especially the sports press – has a reputation for being fickle. Hamilton’s coverage so far has been largely positive, aside for some sniping over his decision to move to Switzerland. But he faces a tougher time from the national press as he faces the prospect of defending his world championship in a weak car.

For the press, reasons will have to be found for why he’s not winning, regardless of whether he does anything wrong. Everyone knows how well newspapers sell when there’s an established star who can be taken down a peg. The Sun will probably accuse him of spending too much time on the yacht it claimed he bought last week which Hamilton later denied.

Hamilton has already complained about how media intrusion has changed his life. But how will he cope when the press love-in turns sour?

Read more about Lewis Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton biography

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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74 comments on “British press on Hamilton’s troubles”

  1. I can’t remember, but did michael schumacher/ferrari suffer the same criticism in 05 when ferrari were relatively uncompetitive compared to renault and mclaren?

    1. I don’t know the German press as well as the British so I’m not sure.

  2. Also, Lewis gonna get to live with Alonso’s shadow and I’m pretty sure that while Alonso will get all the credit for whatever improvements Renault has throughout the year, most of McLaren’s will be given to the team’s “amazing resources”.

    1. Spot on, Filipe.

      The only problem is that if McLaren arrive in Melbourne faster than Renault, nobody will claim that it was Lewis’s input that made the car faster.

      And we will stop to hear such a nonsense!

    2. Baby chatter, poor little Lewis… If you know he is a great driver, as I know he is, then the press coverage and the opinion of others shouldn’t bother you.

      So what if Lewis struggles this season, in and out of the track? Every driver gets that at some point of their career, big deal… Let’s enjoy the season for what it is!

  3. If you believe in Hamilton, as I do – then non of this really matters. Best driver I’ve seen in my lifetime (born 1968.)

    1. I agree to a certain extent, certainly since Senna and I was watching F1 in 1968 the year Clark died .

    2. you must be kidding calling a kid who always had the best car under him all his career. lets see how he behaves and what he says when he is in an uncompetitive car. this is the real test for the so called “greatest driver since 1968”

    3. At the time I was incensed with the usual british press starting up their libel-engines.
      A small correction, ONE of the best drivers I’ve seen in my lifetime. The gorgeous black and gold Lotus JPS and then James Hunt my earliest F1 memories.
      But yes, I do rate ‘The Kid’, as much as Senna. He is as you say “a kid” and F1 World Champion…

  4. F1 that is…

    1. Terry Fabulous
      15th March 2009, 7:30

      Ohhh what an opening pSynrg!

      Who is the best driver full stop?
      Walter Rohl? Seb Loeb?
      (Please don’t say Digger the NASCAR gopher or your credibility will be sorely tested.)

  5. Keith, as a Lewis maniac, I read all Hamilton’s press and believe me, it has been far from positive whether he wins or not. Especially the ‘Daily Heil’ which publishes the most vicious stuff about him, lies and snipes mostly. Nothing will change – it will still be negative with added gloating and nastiness. I have already heard murmurings in forums about how the poor car is Lewis’s fault because “he can’t give back constructive data to his engineers” and “he can’t develop and set up a car and hasn’t bothered to do any testing”. I can’t remember any other driver who has ever been made responsible for poor cars over seasons whether it’s Rosberg at Williams or Sutil at Force India or Button at Honda, but when it is a Hamilton drive, he gets the blame. That will be the next thing the media picks up on, mark my words. Lewis’ fans will stick by him through thick or thin though. I am disgusted with his treatment in the media and in forums but we all know why he is picked on more than any other driver and I bet he does too though he’d never admit it as it would result in another heap of rubbish falling on him.

    1. In terms of the “Hamilton doesn’t give good technical feedback” stuff, a couple of people I know whose F1 opinions I especially respect tell me the same thing. I don’t know if it’s true or not and I guess unless you’ve worked with him at McLaren you’re not going to know.

      But this year will give us a good chance to put that theory to the test. It’s going to be difficult for him/them though, with in-season testing banned.

    2. Would you be able to tell me who those people whose F1 opinions you respect are? I am not leaping to refute what you have said, but I think a lot of negative rubbish re. Lewis flies around the F1 forums and as you say, we really would only know the truth if you spoke to his engineers. So speculation is not only futile in this instance, but opinions not based on fact are damaging to Lewis’s reputation.

    3. speculation is not only futile in this instance, but opinions not based on fact are damaging to Lewis’s reputation.

      Speculation is not ‘futile’ and Hamilton’s a big boy, I’m sure he can deal with it. I doubt he even cares, right now he’ll be much more worried about the state of his car.

  6. I should admit from the start that I’m not a Hamilton fan. I’m sure he is very good driver and has definitely had a great car up until now along with tremendous support which must have been a great help to him. But he hasn’t really needed to prove himself in a difficult car while getting bad press, such as Schumacher frequently had at various times throughout his career. Alonso too had a lot against him during 2007 and yet still managed to finish joint second, a fact that many people, especially Hamilton fans, seem to have forgotten. Occasionally when he hasn’t been in front Hamilton has done some really crazy things, so maybe a season where he has to battle against the machine will make him a more rounded driver and give him the extra experience I think he needs in order to be considered a truly great driver. Until then go Kimi and Fernando.

    1. But he hasn’t really needed to prove himself in a difficult car

      True, but that’s not the only way a driver can prove himself. Hamilton scorched through the lower formulae, matched a double world champion in his debut season, and won the title in his second year.

      If we’re looking for ‘true greats’ on today’s grid then we also need to look at which of them have taken on strong team mates in equal equipment and won the title – and by that measure all of them are found wanting.

      Alonso too had a lot against him during 2007 and yet still managed to finish joint second, a fact that many people, especially Hamilton fans, seem to have forgotten.

      I don’t think it’s a case of ‘forgotten’ – it’s a case of which version of events you believe. I’ve never subscribed to the Alonso conspiracy theory nonsense.

  7. If Lewis is smart, he won’t bother reading the headlines anyway. It would be too easy to take the criticism to heart. Far better to ignore it.

    For me, I think Lewis is really in a win/win situation. If the car is good & challenges for the title then it’s a win. If the car is a dog & he proves he can wrestle with it (a la Alonso last year) then he can silence some of the doubters, and develop his car craft which is also a win.

    I look forward to the season either way. Just watched Brazil 08 again last night to get me in the mood for Melbourne – what a fantastic race !

    1. And if the car is a dog and he struggles, the rabid tabloids will destroy everything he has built.
      From the Spanish point of view, a slow McLaren is undesirable, since it will spoil The Duel between Lewis and Fernando. It is true that watching HAM at the back would make a lot of Spaniards happy, but only for the first races. In the end, we all want to see a fair competition.

    2. Brazil 2008- one of the only races I bothered to tape record last season :) I’m also quite excited for the new season. Luckily for you Pink, I believe you are in a far better position in terms of time zones to watch the first three rounds without depriving yourself of a good chunk of sleep :(

  8. Alonso crowned himself a true star last year by dragging Renault forward. We had seen it before in parts & potentials but he brought it all together in 08. That same mantle is an awfull lot of pressure for Hamilton (both in the way he conducts himself and seeking to get incremently better results by staying cool and creating a halo around the team like Rubens describes where they all win and lose together) . Hamilton has already been vulnerable to cracking under adversity and being a blamer, he has also not given many signs of being a great development driver.

    15th March 2009, 1:33

    over to you Keith! #:)

  10. I thought Portuguese press was bias and, to put it in finer point, LAIRS – and their only goal is to sell their product – newspapers, magazines, TV ratings, websites ratings… but there’s also others that can ‘be bought’ for the right price to say what the ‘buyers’ want…

    So… My opinion about British pres is that it is (I wouldn’t think it was possible) WORST than the Portuguese – sports and politics and all.

    I only wish they can’t find anything to slam – that would mean McLaren is on top.

    We’ll see in a couple of weeks in Australia.

    Until then, who’s reading that ********? Desperate Housewives, probably :)

    1. This is Britain’s (not so) dirty little secret. We abhor success and award mediocrity and failure – just look at the myriad of people working in the public services in this country.

      When someone in the United Kingdom is successful it suddently becomes en vougue for us to criticise, snipe, pull down a peg or two and generally act like jealous litte children. Any part of their life is fair game, Hamilton moving to Switzerland? He becomes a nasty tax avoider (despite many british F1 and other sporting stars doing exactly the same thing).

      It makes me want to leave this petty little island for something nicer to be honest.

  11. I struggle to find anything about F1 in any newspaper, good or bad. You wade through 15 pages of football ‘news’, then theres maybe a page each for rugby and cricket, then the day’s horse racing, then it’s the small ads.

  12. To be honest, what ever the press want to throw at Lewis is up to them. All he has to do is to remain calm, cool and dignified and don’t react. It’s not his fault that the car might be slow and he might not be able to defend his title this year. He just has to do the best he can, for himself and the team.
    But hey, it’s not the end of the world, just a set back. It happens in life. Lewis is a winner everyone knows that, some don’t want to face that fact.
    But he will come back stronger and hungrier if he needs too, because as gloomy as it looks, no one can really predict what the outcome will be come November. It looks like it’s going to be a tough season for Lewis and the team, but it’s not over yet.

    1. Hear hear to that Lynn. Nice post, but I can’t help getting dismayed at the unjust negativity thrown Lewis’ way. He’s going to get a lot of that this year unfortunately.

  13. I’m with SLKManiac

    hamilton was helped throughout his whole career by mclaren, and when he entered f1 he entered with a team and a car that could win championships.

    he’s never had to prove himself, schumacher joined a losing team after a stint with a lower team (ferrari were not close to winning when he joined, took years and he helped them build that car)

    aside from that, there’s many other great drivers in f1 that given the right hardware will win championships, kovalinen is not one of them, but heinfeld, kubica, vettel and others are.

    lets not forget alonso here either, he’s not in a fast car and has been desperately looking for one, he’s hungry for more wins and championships while he’s young and he cant get them with that renault, but he’s arguably the fastest driver out there who’s the hungriest, he can still win races with that dog of a car.

    kimi is fast, but he just likes driving fast he doesn’t have the passion or hunger that alonso has, he just wants to go fast.

    hamilton hasn’t had to drive a back marker car yet or fight for track position that’s not in the points, i have far more respect for the drivers lower in the order who are fighting their way forward than hamilton and his silver spoon.

    if they aren’t competitive this year, i’ll be playing my tiny violin while i barrack for button, barichello, sutil and vettel.

    1. Why do you think McLaren chose to mentor him? Because he proved himself to them in the very junior ranks.

      If you don’t think he’s a fighter look at some of his blistering performances in GP2, fighting from the back at the Turkish race to come 2nd – no mean feat.

      Look also at Monza last year, bad quallifying, but then he spent the race fighting for places aggressivly (nothing wrong with that, apart from the delicate flowers that are the other F1 racers getting their knickers in a twist – look at some of the great duels in F1 and you’ll see Hamilton at Monza was pretty damn tame by comparison). He murdered his tyres hauling the car around the track. What did Massa do? Finished where he started.

  14. Vapors again. Hamilton won’t be challenging Brawn GP?! If you have followed F1 for any amount of time, and if you believe that testing times doom some team or another to backmarker status, you are not paying attention. Some teams, say, Renault, are not even running 09-legal cars at all times in testing. McLaren and Ferrari will be at the front in plenty of time to contest the WCC this season. $=wins.

  15. In my view, perhaps this is the right time for lewis to show the public the talent of his own! kinda reminds me of what Schumacher did in 1992 with Benneton Ford, he manage to win Belgium GP or in 1996 with Ferrari (4 wins) even just like Alonso did last year (2 wins).
    For me every special driver has their own way to demonstrate how good they are even in a disadvantage situation. Imo a real WC in F1 have to be facing some situation like this (mid field running car), and yet always capable to draw some praise from the media.

  16. All the above further reinforces notion that F! is defined by the idiosyncrasies and uniqueness of different teams’ chassis and approach to design.

    The calls for standard engine and advocacy for a common chassis would have yielded none of this kind of pre-season excitement.

    Things were becoming anodyne and predicable enough, but now we be have a genuine dice between the manufacturers and the potential of some faces at the front of the grid.

  17. Eduardo Colombi
    15th March 2009, 3:45

    Sure Hamilton is as good driver, but I think that’s it, just another good driver. He takes risks when he doesn’t need to. We don’t see drivers that can drive just with 2 or 3 gears to finish a race as it was in 80’s and 90’s.

    The cars are so advanced now with the Traction Control and other improves that can correct some errors of the drivers.

    Alonso is my hope of watch overtakes like the one that Piquet did agains Senna in Hungary 86′ ( )

    1. Traction control was banned in 2008, which is why Massa spun out so much, especially in the early races.

  18. theRoswellite
    15th March 2009, 4:07

    If the press chooses to degrade Mr. Hamilton’s skills because he is unable to overcome an uncompetitive car, they only reflect poorly on their own lack of journalistic sophistication when it comes to F1. Anyone who understands the sport will understand this, and the opinion of anyone who doesn’t understand the sport isn’t worth serious consideration.

    1. True, but these reports only feed the already enormous Hamilton-hater bandwagon, and they’ll have media quotes to help them.

  19. hahaha, the season doesn’t start for 2 weeks and they’ve already turned. easy come, easy go.

    hear that whistle? it’s the train to Jensontown. now boarding, have your tickets ready!

    1. Very nice- do you think everyone will be digging out the old black and red Honda gear if Brawn GP really turns out on top in the first few races? ;)

  20. Eh, I think the press is still pretty fawning so far, from what I’ve read.

    If Hamilton has a bad car, he will get sympathy.

    If Heikki outperforms him, the press will be merciless.

  21. Hello

    I think that lewis and heiki are a little bit slow maybe not becasue mclaren is slow but maybe they dont know how to setup it. From 2007 to 2008 there were not so much changes in setup of the car department because rules didnt change so much but from these year and those massiv changes i think that this is the problem. Maybe yes they lerned from alonso but now balance susspension front downforce back and returning of the slicks changed everything. I really dont think that mclaren is so slow on there own. Please give pedro de la rosa a test drive and watch how he changes mclaren 2009 into a faster car

  22. In fairness I wouldn’t say Lewis’s press journey has been a bed of roses to date. I seem to recall that when he lost the title in his first year the British press were not very supportive objective and indeed pleasant.

    And frankly I expect the same again as now they have a hook to hang their nastiness off, that being the McLaren is not a great car for him to defend his title. All I can say is hold on to your hats folks and prepare for the poison pens to start gushing spurious vitriol as the red tops so love doing.

    As ever I apologise for the cynicism and will be happy to be proved wrong…

    1. No, you’re right. Add to this a “middle England” “true British” Jenson to support instead, and it will be Hamilton-hate coupled with Jenson-love all the way. Note the euphemisms as I am sure the way I’d like to post wouldn’t be allowed.

  23. What irks people about Hamilton has been described as his sense of “entitlement”, which translates into the press/public feeling that he somehow hasn’t paid his dues. This is of course nonsense, but perhaps a season in an average car may dispel this perception. There will always be people who say, for instance, that Damon Hill only won in 96 by having the best car. Formula 1, like most things in life is about making the most of an oppurtunity, and Lewis has done this. To win in the best car still requires you to drive like a champion and beat your team mate. It is unfortunate for Lewis that even Bernie Ecclestone seems to have suggested that he didn’t deserve to win last season, that we need to change the rules to reward race wins rather than give it to a driver who drives a scrappy race to finish fifth. They repeatedly changed the rules to try to stop Schumacher from winning, and he kept on winning, so whilst I was no Schumacher fan, his talent and skill are beyond question. His entitlement was deserved. What we will remember are his extraodinary drives in underperforming cars, the strategic masterpieces, the sense that you could never count him out. I’m no Hamilton fan either, but perhaps this season I could start to believe the hype, start to enjoy watching him simply because he is so good. Perhaps. However technical F1 becomes it is still the human elements that fascinate us all so. Oh dear, I seem to have rambled on a bit.

  24. McLaren quick or slow, I can’t wait. Either we have the McLarens challenging Ferrari \ BMW and maybe even Brawn or we get to see what Hamilton does mid pack.

    I don’t think a slow car and the press will upset Hamilton. If he starts to DNF too much due to overdriving a slow car, then maybe he’ll flip out with frustration. Who knows? All fun for us anyway.

  25. @Martin Bell
    Feel free to ramble on some more. A voice of reason among so many anti-Hamilton “silver spoon” comments that will no doubt spring up on every Hamilton related article this season.

    To say he hasn’t paid his dues when he’s had immense pressure to produce the goods in every season since he signed his first McLaren contract. He then matched his double world champion team mate in his first F1 season and delivered the world title in his second. I think even the most bitter Hamilton-hater would have to concede he has some ability. Anyway, I digress.

    I refuse to follow the links to the red tops, they aren’t even journalists who write for those comics. The British press is a joke most of the time, treating everything as a pantomime. Hamilton will be praised beyond reason one minute then crucified the next. Most of the time for reasons utterly made up.

    I probably consider myself a Hamilton fan mainly because I’m British and will always want the Brits to do well, but it’d be very interesting to see the McLarens (and the Ferraris for that matter) amongst the field. It would make for a great season if there were several teams capable of winning.

    Roll on March 29th!

  26. Sorry for sounding so harsh, but if Hamilton didn’t do too well this season and had to crawl around the midfield like many many others have had to…that would be so deliciously tragic. :-)

    Roll on Melbourne!

  27. I wonder what will happen if Button is a champion contender while Hamilton struggles to get points. Button used to be british press’ golden boy but almost completely disappeared from headlines when Hamilton irrupted on F1. Will all that journalists suddenly remember they were long time Button’s fans? Will Hamilton be ostracized as Button was?

    1. Er yes, not just ostracised but ridiculed and hated and lied about and berated too! You know, just the usual British press stuff.

  28. @owen, Just for the record, I didn’t say the Lewis hadn’t paid his dues, but that there is a perception amongst some people that he hadn’t. From the outside, we can only wonder at the kind of pressure he must have been under to perform from day one, a kind of intense scrutiny that none of us will ever by subjected to. The point I was trying to make is that public perception does matter, because it comes to define how you are remembered, how your place in history is accorded. It would do Lewis no harm to be perceived to be working a bit harder this season, fighting an underperforming car, developing it’s competitiveness. This goes to the heart of a peculiar part of the British character, we love a winner, but only if they have struggled and overcome, and if they are not too succesful. We look for, and cherish, a fatal flaw, a kind of James Bond-esque weakness for a pretty girl. I think we would have really struggled to love Schumacher. Lewis, to some, appears to have it all, without the endearing weakness. Even though it would appear to be technically possible to drive a Formula one car by remote control, it is the human element that keeps us on our sofas (and computers). I have been a Formula 1 nut since 1976, and seen British world champions come and go. Think Hunt, Mansell, Damon Hill, all brilliant but flawed in a perfectly British way. All Lewis seems to have are slightly irritating sideburns. Well, you did ask me to ramble.

    1. Sorry for the confusion Martin, I wasn’t referring to you saying that he hadn’t paid his dues!

      I’ve often wondered the same about Schumacher. I doubt whether he would have been accepted as the ruthless winner he was. He would have been too successful for Brits to accept.

      So maybe Hamilton needs a couple of seasons of hardship to win the hearts of the British sporting fans?

  29. I will be supporting Hamilton in the midfield this year. I’m sure that he will battle just as hard as ever and will get some good finishes in an inferior car.

    And then I will sigh with dismay when the British Press slaughter him for only finishing seventh whilst reading rumours that he has cracked up/has had a falling out with Dennis/Whitmarsh/his dad/doesn’t care anymore/doesn’t know how to set up his car/has let his relationship with that pussycat doll go to his head.

    But I think it might be good for him, as he will be in the unique position of having to prove himself in a slow car AFTER he has won the WDC.

  30. The British press were pretty merciless in 2001 when Jenson Button’s form slumped after switching from Williams to Benetton. If Lewis can’t deliver the goods in 2009 then there’s good reason to suspect the same would happen again. The British media tend to work on the “build ’em up, knock ’em down” principle.

    From my perspective, however, it would be interesting to see how Lewis responds to being given a car that isn’t anywhere near the front of the field. I’m not willing him to fail or succeed, but as someone who follows F1 without ever having supported any particular driver or team it would add an extra element to the season.

    The talents of Senna, Schumacher, etc shone at their very brightest in cars that were not the best.

  31. It ll be fun to c hamilton in the mid field struggling for points and struggling to make it to q3.By the way Mr Mallya is right… the force indias will be as good as the McLarens….Only thing they will be rotting at the back of the field.

  32. Ponzonha:
    From the Spanish point of view, a slow McLaren is undesirable, since it will spoil The Duel between Lewis and Fernando.

    Don’t worry, there will be a duel. Either they will be fighting for race wins or… for point-awarded positions. So far the latter looks quite probable, seeing both Renaults and McLarens speeds during testing.

    I think Hamilton fans needn’t worry about the Biritsh press being harsh on him in case of McLaren’s overall poorer results. Why? Because even if the car is slow, Hamilton will always be quicker than his team-mate Kovalainen. That’s a given. So nobody will be able to accuse him of poor performance.

  33. Imagine if he hadn’t won the championship last year.. The press would have destroyed him by now.

    Yes, the MP4-24 looks like a dog, but I’m hoping Hamilton will be a little more relaxed this season and so we won’t see as many ‘running into the back of Alonso’ Bahrain antics whilst he’s in the midfield.

    I’m probably wrong though! We shall see.

  34. i’m actually looking forward to hamilton battling in the mid-field.

  35. I am struggling to understand what the big commotion is about with this subject. All drivers through their careers will drive cars that is not a championship contender. Look at Alonso and Kimi, throughout their careers they have properly only driven in 3 championship contender cars. Lewis has been been extremely lucky that he has only driven in 2 championship contender cars so far, it is only the natural turn of event that he will also drive in cars that is not the top. And like all the others before him I am sure Lewis will survive and do well with his natural abilities, and the press will recognize his achievement and criticize him when doesn’t do so well. It is just part of the learning curve and the way it goes.

  36. @ Melanie
    10/10 :)

  37. McLaren are cooked aren’t they? Well c’est la vie.

  38. It could have been worse for McLaren. At least between 2008 and 2009, they already have a championship out of a possible two. Not bad.

  39. Does anyone actually still read those outmoded things called newspapers? :D

  40. @ Clive
    I read newspapers – daily. I don’t, however, read any kind of magazines anymore, since the rise of internet.

  41. okay we know
    Lewis is a great driver, but we quite know he doesnt give good feedback
    raikkonen is lazy improving a car, but he’s the fastest man on track today
    alonso and schumacher good on improving the car and being in the zone
    senna is the fastest driver in f1 history, and goest to the tiniest detail to improve his car
    on the perfect car setup for a certain circuit, no one can beat Prost

    so not all drivers are perfect, they’ human after all

  42. Generally speaking, when it comes to sport the British love a good loser, someone who gave it all but failed at the last hurdle or near-last hurdle – Tim Henman, perennially England in football and Hamilton in 2007 spring to mind. It gives the press the chance to label these guys as ‘brave’ and for the nation to unite in disappointment. Hamilton then came back from the disappointment and won the championship in thrilling fashion.

    But despite the, I’ve met so many journalists who really dislike Hamilton, citing his arrogance as the reason behind this along with the fact he was nurtured from a young age by Ron Dennis. Of course he’s going to be a bit arrogant, he has everything a 24-year-old man could ever dream of! It’s down a lot in my view to a lot of jealousy from people who wish they had his talent, determination, looks, luck and girlfriend.

    If his car isn’t competitive, Lewis is going to have a torrid year off the press. The last 24yo British sportsman to have talent, determination, looks, luck and a debate-ably hot girlfriend was David Beckham who was similarly chastised by the UK’s tabloids. He dusted of the criticism to become an icon – and I’m sure Hamilton will do the same.

  43. Perhaps we could start a new thread to drill down into the British mentality on this one. “Why on Earth don’t I like Lewis Hamilton?-I’ve tried, but I just can’t seem to do it” I’ve already offered the slightly irritating sideburns, but without too much nastiness, can anyone else think of anything? I just can’t see him sporting a shabby beard like JB, or looking like he could do with a nice cuddle like Anthony Davidson does, but I am struggling to figure out what it is that I don’t like about Lewis, or what he could do to redeem himself to me. Please help.

    1. He looks like he could do with a good cuddle to me (especially now). Maybe if you actually met him or spent some time with him you wouldn’t dislike him. I don’t think I’ve read any report from someone who’s actually met the guy who dislikes him (including Alonso).

  44. This debate will go on forever. When will come to a point to agree that both Alonso and Hamilton are good drivers in their own right, just like Prost and Senna.

    The jury is still out on Lewis because he needs to prove himself in every possible situation. He’s come through the test of having a great car, proving he can beat everyone, now he has to prove himself with a **** car. Then he would need to build the car’s performance. Alonso has proved himself in all three of these test, so for now, the Spaniard in ahead.

    If Lewis wants to cement his credentials, he has to come through the aforementioned tests. All the great champions of recent times have done this.

    Can we agree on this? Because this debate it becoming pointless

  45. This is the time for Lewis to proof to the world how great a driver he is with the MP4-24 that has way underperformed in the 2009 test season. Senna and Alonso did wonders on many occasions and brought exciting racing with lesser cars. Lewis should learn humbly how to set up a car, forget all the glitz, material gains, and up his passion as a driver. There’s a key word in globalisation “UPGRADE”.
    As far as I remember I haven’t read much on Senna’s and Alonso’s so called galmourous public lifestyle. I’m sure this will be a very tough year for Lewis, but if he does well he will certainly be respected more than winning the 2008 WDC.

  46. If anything, the years that cemented Senna’s reputation were not his championship years, but instead it was his years in drives in less competitive cars like the Tolman & the Lotus in the mid 80’s, or later in the fred-flinstone powered Maclaren of 92 & 93. Any victory against Mansell in ’92 or Prost in ’93 required extraordinary skill.

    For instance in ’92 (& ’93) the Williams was peerless. Mansell was beaten only 3 times when he actually finished a race, twice by Senna and once by his own team mate.

    So although I’m no Lewis fan, if anything his reputation as a driver could potentially be improved if he spent a year in a less competitive car and got wins/podiums against better cars.

  47. I have no experience of any other country’s press but the British press are well known for the build them up and knock them down mentality. If Hamilton has a bad season, no matter what the reason, I expect plenty of criticism, however if the Brawn is as quick as it promises and so Button has a successful season the press may just switch their coverage to Button and ignore Hamilton if he is not getting the results.

    Having read various forums I feel that no matter what Hamilton does, some people will always find something to criticise him for, and try to diminish his achievements by saying that any driver could do the same given circumstances.

  48. Its all about sensationalism. A dramatic headline and big impact story sells papers. A negative big impact story – well thats even better. Would we all be debating this if the story had been ‘well Hamilton is going just like usual, and the Mclaren as expected is somewhere near the top of the time sheets’? So the papers have achieved what they aimed to do and caught everyone’s attention.

    Admittedly, Mclaren’s form is a little unusual, but then again Mclaren have had a habit over recent years of having a slightly off car every so often – just ask Kimi! Its how we see Hamilton deal with a slightly off car that will be the most interesting point, and we can see that for ourselves without the press telling us.

    ‘I have no experience of any other country’s press but the British press are well known for the build them up and knock them down mentality. If Hamilton has a bad season, no matter what the reason, I expect plenty of criticism, however if the Brawn is as quick as it promises and so Button has a successful season the press may just switch their coverage to Button and ignore Hamilton if he is not getting the results’ – PGA

    That is completely the case – and it happened with Button when he had a bad patch. Doesnt mean that he is no good (I happen to think that Button is a pretty darn good driver), and it wont mean that Hamilton is no good (clearly he is good, not one of the all time greats yet, but he is obviously one of the top guys in the sport at the minute)

    1. I read the papers a fair amount, and when it comes to F1 news – I read it, laugh at some of the stuff written, scoff at how on earth they can write such things and then completely ignore it and make up my own mind. I long gave up on completely trusting what the papers say about F1 once I realised how they skirted over anything that didnt involve a British driver, no matter how key to the sport it was.

      And here’s me wanting to find my way into sports journalism eventually!

    2. Clare,

      Good to see another prospective sports journalist on here- I do some local sports writing, nothing big and I don’t envision it as a career, but it’s a lot of fun if done right.

      I have never been in the UK, so I can’t speak firsthand, but over here the type of coverage depends a bit on the style of publication. In New York, the tabloids are much quicker to break down the failings of local teams than the established daily publications. In terms of Lewis, he arrived on the scene with a bang, so I agree that people do expect sensational news- Lewis has set the bar very high for himself, much like my previous mention of Derek Jeter. Every move he makes is looked at with a microscope, and of course it will always be like that.

      Here’s hoping for a scandle/problem-free year for Lewis, and best wishes in the sports journalism world :)

  49. Amazing how quick the vultures in the press circle at the smallest sign of trouble for Lewis and McLaren…..

    Being a fan of several sports teams in New York, I have always compared Lewis to Derek Jeter of the Yankees, if any of you follow MLB. Both broke into their respective sports at young ages, with prestigious teams that have big backing in sports where money helps determine success. Both also performed at incredibly high levles as soon as they arrived. Both are also adored by the ladies and linked to a-list chicks on a regular basis.

    Jeter is known for his all-out hustle and zero complaints, even when things go poorly for the Yankees. Lewis is in a very difficult spot, and he’s going to take some sniping in a rough season even if he dose drive to the best of his abilities. If the McLaren really dose turn out to be non-competitive, I believe the reasonable and prudent F1 fans will see what he can do. I don’t think the MP4-24 will be bad the whole year, but if it is, I look for Lewis to display the same skills Alonso did last year with the Renault early in the campaign.

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