The One and Only
Spa 2014
Belgian Grand Prix
Hamilton reflects on two sides of his life
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Sep 2011   |  6:30 pm GMT  |  146 comments

There is an interesting story from Press Association today with quotes from Lewis Hamilton denying that he has got distracted by his celebrity lifestyle to the detriment of his career in F1.

Even his most ardent fans would admit that Hamilton’s performances this season have been uneven, with some very high peaks, such as the German Grand Prix, but also some troughs, where he has collided with other cars and wasted opportunities.

Hamilton’s high profile girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and his friendships with music industry figures like Pharrell Williams and P Diddy have drawn him away from his roots as a racer. This is no problem in itself as long as he manages it. In a recent interview I did with Bernie Ecclestone, the F1 supremo said that the reason he admires Sebastian Vettel so much is that he is focussed only on winning and has his feet on the ground and it seemed he had Hamilton in mind as a contrast.

“I’m not searching for it, but I still love doing that stuff,” Hamilton told Press Association. “It’s still awesome when you hang around with people like that. I still feel exactly the same way about them, the way I did before I met them, even though I know them now.

“I’m still a little starstruck, in admiration. I still see them on television, exactly as I did then. But it’s strange when you look at your phone and think ‘I can call that guy.’ There will be more things in the future, but at the moment there are more important things to do.

“That is somehow to get this Formula One career at its peak because I don’t feel it’s at it’s highest.
I don’t feel the performances are at their best, and that’s what I am really trying to focus on most of all.”

In Hungary I asked Hamilton about why he felt he had been on such terrific form in Germany the weekend before, surely one of his best drives of the last couple of years. He said that it was because he had been able to focus on his preparation with no distractions. He was thinking perhaps of team sponsor promotions, having done a huge amount of them around the Silverstone weekend. If you look at the amount of videos and other activities he and Jenson Button do for Vodafone, Santander and the rest, you can see what he means. Experienced older drivers say that it’s vital to recognise that you only have so much energy when you are a top F1 driver and you need to get the right balance between the various calls on your time.

But in the end it is always the results that count.

A senior Red Bull person told me recently that when Hamilton was linked with their team around the time he met with Christian Horner in Montreal, the amount of coverage, attention and general buzz the team encountered was staggering. And this is from a team which is all about hype and communication and moreover which is dominating at the moment.

Hamilton is a huge draw, but he’s in a crossroads moment in his career. It will be interesting to see how he decides to proceed from here.

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146 Comments
  1. jonas says:

    I cant see Hamilton winning another championship if he continues in the same way … maybe if McLaren give him a winning car from race one he will prove this wrong.

    Considering the races Jenson has won in the McLaren this year, Lewis, if he is as good as many people seem to think he is, should be up there fighting Vettel for the championship.

    1. Jez says:

      There are a few races left in this season yet. Lets wait and see if Jenson finishes ahead of Lewis…

      1. **Paul** says:

        He’ll do well given he’s got two DNFs which were 0% his fault, the wheel @ Silverstone and the Hydraulics @ Nurburgring. Those were looking like a pair of 4th places. A couple of blameless DNFs would be required for LH to even that score up a little.

      2. CH1UNDA says:

        The most important thing is that he has acknowledged he is not performing at the level that he himself and his fanship expects of him. He doesn’t attribute this to his celebrity lifestyle and neither do i.

        IMO he has been slow to adjust to the F1 culture after moving from GP2 and slow to adjust to the changes in his team since he first moved to F1 with it. The politics in F1 is ruthless (or so most F1 books say). I am not surprised that he has been distracted – who wouldn’t when a driver hits you deliberately and gets at most a slap on the wrist (Spa 2011 – Maldonado) but you overtake a Ferrari under existing legitimate rules and your win its taken away (Spa 2008 – Kimi)?

      3. The rule had three parts to it: position advance, position defence and time advantage. He had a time advantage, because he was closer to Kimi than he would have otherwise been had he not cut the chicane.

        Sure, it’s rough to have a win taken away from you, but if you run on the edge of the rules, sometimes you’ll end up going over.

        If he finished 8th on the road and was demoted to 10th after a penalty, no-one would be talking about it. It just seems like he was robbed because he drove so well, beating everyone, but broke a rule at a crucial moment.

      4. garoidb says:

        I agree with malcolm.strachan and I seem to recall that many F1 drivers viewed it the same way at the time.

        If you run off the track for any reason while competing for position, you need to be very sure that you have handed back any advantage gained, and more. The fact that you have left the track, cutting a chicane in this case, means you need to eliminate any doubt. The same applies to Alonso at Silverstone 2010. Bad decisions.

        He was definitely closer to Kimi than he could have been had he stayed on the track. The stewards decision was correct.

    2. Ice_Berg says:

      Made a similar comment in 2007 though prefaced with given the right car he may luck into one. Which occurred in 2008.

      McLaren actually provided a championship car in the MP-23/24 and probably a good enough one in the 25 and the common denominator in failing to capitalise was of course LH.

      Hamilton’s style is perfectly suited to carting and he’s really not made the transition to F1, neither has he demonstrated the ability to learn from his mistakes.

  2. Silverelise says:

    Hamilton needs to stop thinking F1 is pop idol, get his dad back on side and concentrate on what he gets paid to do!
    Does anyone remember Ron Dennis’s face when Lewis was showing his new mates about the garage? That says it all, end of!

    1. Dave says:

      I have to agree re: his Dad. At the very least, he needs to ditch the current management team and get one who have experience in F1. Simon Fuller is an artist manager, not a Formula 1 driver manager.

      He either needs to get his Dad back – or, if he really feels it affects their relationship too much (and I would completely understand if that is the case) he should get someone with experience in the industry.

    2. CH1UNDA says:

      Maybe guys in F1 are just angry that he did not pick them as his manager – that is a nice little slice of pie they are missing there you know.

      1. Peter C says:

        It’s not ‘guys in F1′ who are angry, it’s fans on F1 blogs who have opinions on everything & often express them as indisputable facts.

    3. Curro says:

      I thought Dennis always had the same face no matter what.

  3. vicki says:

    In my opinion lewis wants everything his way but doesn’t realise its him creating the problems! As a vettel fan u can see just how hungry sen is for victory (look at how he reacted to the blistered tyres in spa) but lewis while wanting a 2nd crown also wants the lifestyle of a hollywood A-lister! He is a sport star not a movie star

  4. Andrew says:

    If only Hamilton would realise that he’s far more talented, in his own right, than those he lists in admiration, this problem wouldn’t present itself… Dare a say this, possibly a bit of arrogance required? Or maybe to simply re-realise the dream he’s living; his own dream. Is it possible he’s also regretting signing with management that has its roots in entertainment, not sport and certainly not Formula 1…?

    1. John says:

      MORE arrogance from Hamilton? Be careful what you ask for!

  5. Michael C says:

    Now isn’t this strange, his team mate was accused of similar issues years ago. Maybe Lewis should compare notes with JB

  6. wayne says:

    I am a huge fan of Hamilton, I believe that F1 is a better, more thrilling sport because of his participation. He is perhaps the most gifted British F1 driver of all time.

    I would love to see a ‘purer’ Hamilton, focused solely on putting his considerable tallent on track. Right or wrong the perception really is that he is a little too preoccupied in becomming a global superstar (his new management team’s vision perhaps).

    He is also not a ‘typical’ British sportsman. The usual image being one of a plucky, dignified but ultimately less than first class sportsman or woman (one thinks of Damon’s always dignified, courageous and very British approach in stark comparrison to Schumi’s excellence). We Brits love a plucky looser. Perhaps its not Hamilton that has to change, perhaps we Brits need to elarn and appreciate ultimate tallent and success to a greater extent.

    Love him or hate him, we Brits have a truly world class sportsman genius-like tallent on our hands with Hamilton and we should learn to respect him if we cannot all ‘love’ him as some of us do.

    Hamilton can help us achieve this by making the most of his potential! (ps I still do not see how he was responsible for the KK crash in Spa and think his acceptance of the blame was a PR message and nothing more).

    1. wayne says:

      Hamilton needs to come back to the UK and pay tax though. Stars who flaunt and play on their nationality for support could at least support their home country in return especially in times of widespread hardship and struggle, such as now.

      1. Dave says:

        I really don’t care where he pays his taxes. That is not why I support him, and him paying taxes in the UK will not affect his performances, so I don’t see how it is relevant.

        I don’t think he flaunts or plays on his nationality. I’ve never felt obligated to support him because he is British – only because I enjoy watching him race. It is frustrating at times, but then I am also a fan of the England football team, so I am well adapted to feeling frustrated.

      2. wayne says:

        No but him not paying his taxes in the UK actually affects everyone. It does not stop me supporting him either but F1 drivers have a habit of working the crowd at their ‘home’ Gp and then paying taxes elsewhere because it is cheaper (these guys do not need to save money). Alonso has just moved back to Spain and made a big point about paying taxes to his home country – a stand which I have much admiration for indeed.

      3. Al says:

        Hamilton has never “Flaunted his nationality”

        Hard to be any clearer on that.

      4. In some ways I agree with you, but when he moved away I remember him saying he just can’t live there because he can’t do anything without a mob forming around him.

        He’s finding out the pitfalls of stardom and unfortunately has to live elsewhere so he doesn’t have to disguise himself to run out to the local convenience store to grab a snack.

      5. wayne says:

        An excuse they all use. However if the likes of Madonna can live in the UK, I am sure Hamilton could manage it.

      6. Cliff says:

        Sports stars pay taxes in most countries in which they compete. As for Hamilton moving abroad, he’s just one in a long line of F1 drivers who have upped sticks and headed for Tax Havens such as Monte Carlo and Switzerland. I know Alonso has just moved back to spain, but how much tax did he avoid paying during his time away?

      7. Peter C says:

        Nigel Mansell chose the Isle of Man – obviously doesn’t enjoy hot weather.

      8. wayne says:

        The point is Alonso has moved back now, when he is still earning a huge amount of money. Just because it’s traditional to do something it doesn’t make it right!

    2. Kieran says:

      Spot on.

      Accepting the blame for the incident was all about his PR image rather than the reality. Looking back at clips I still wonder where Kamui thinks he was going!

      It would be interesting to see what he would be like as a racer without all this PR preoccupation, as no doubt he is one of the most talented drivers in the sport.

      1. wayne says:

        See that’s the thing. KK was on the outside of the corner in a slower car and in a space that was always going to vanish. Hamilton took his normal racing line didn’t he? I do not blindly defend Hamilton’s actions, but on this occasion….. I do hope he is not going to be ‘robotised’ by McLaren.

        I note as well how everyone seems to have leapt to the defence of KK who has been responsible for a larger than avergae share of broken carbon fibre since entering F1. Some of KK’s overtakes have been downright clumsy (some brilliant too!)

        It has simply become fashionable to blame Hamilton. Berger summed it up well for me:

        “Lewis is the best in overtaking, but with a huge amount of risk. Therefore, it’s usually 50-50 if it works or if he collides. Surely, Lewis is not to blame for every collision, but he is often involved. And it does not create a nice picture if you are always there when something goes wrong.”

      2. Martin says:

        Wayne,

        I haven’t been over the accident replays several times, but I’ll make a few observations.

        Lewis had no need to change lines – he had the corner well covered, being ahead and in the middle of the track. Moving back onto the racing line would be slightly faster, but it isn’t a huge gain.

        As Lewis should be aware from Mark Webber’s effort on in him Australian 2010, pulling right in front of a car is not a good idea as it takes all the downforce away. You greatly risk doing what Montoya did in Turkey in 2008 in causing a lapped (in that case) to lose downforce and crash into you. I don’t think this was the cause of the collision, but it was still an unncessary risk, especially given the next point.

        The Saubers were the fastest cars through the speed traps, which is information that was available in qualifying and Lewis probably had some idea based on catching Kobayashi on the previous lap. So basically Lewis having overtaken KK was then in effect being passed himselft.

        Lewis has a tendency to give a driver that he is racing minimal space. This maximises Lewis’ chances for being ahead as it gives the other driver limited room to manoeuvre, but it also put Lewis at greater risk. If the cars are side-by-side you need an extreme case on a dirty track (or touching the grass) for it to be an issue, but to take the air away from another car has a much greater chance of a collision.

        In effect, Lewis was asking Kamui to lift off really early, lose additional time by doing so to ensure there wasn’t a collision. Racing drivers don’t think that way, so instead Lewis drove his car across the front wheel of Kamui’s and went off. If Lewis was in Kamui’s situation, I dought he would have backed off either – I think Lewis just made an error of judgement as to how far back the Sauber was. Kamui may have taken the view that by keeping the pressure on Lewis might make a mistake. He wouldn’t have been thinking of a race ending crash, but it might have been enough that put the McLaren behind at the end of the (e.g. a nose cone change).

        Cheers,

        Martin

      3. quetric says:

        I don’t mean to get into an argument but it’s kinda hypocritical to accuse KK of being reckless while defending Hamilton as well. They both have above-average racing incident rates. Also, clumsy is a perfect description of Hamilton’s season so far, so let’s keep things in perspective.

        Now, regarding Berger’s appraisal, if 50-50 makes you a good overtaker, then Button is THE ALMIGHTY GOD OF ALL OVERTAKING. And that’s probably because he makes sure he’s clear of the other car before moving over to his normal racing line. It only takes a look in the side mirror.

      4. wayne says:

        Martin, thanks for this reply – it’s the most considered explanation of why Hamilton may have been at fault I have read so far.

    3. Mark V. says:

      He is a talent for sure, but at the moment it would appear some of that talent is being wasted on maintaining his image, both on and off the track. In the absence of a winning car perhaps his desire to keep his reputation as a fearless competitor and master overtaker has gotten him into some hot water.

      1. wayne says:

        Could not agree more. He overcompensates and some of that is due to maintaining his ‘image’.

    4. Sam says:

      Don’t forget that the other British world champion (Button) is also in the same team. He is ahead of his team-mate right now in the same car, and he has had some great results.

      They are both world class talents. They both acheived results that were against the odds.

      I for one will keep on hoping that the Brits keep fighting for glory

      1. wayne says:

        Well said Sam. I just put Hamilton ahead of Button as Hamilton is ALWAYS faster when he keeps in on the track and it is not raining.

      2. Martin says:

        Hi Wayne,

        I’ll start another argument :-)
        I can’t recall a wet race where Jenson was quicker than Lewis in the same car. It is just your last point about keeping it on the track.

        China 2010 was pretty even, but in Australia and Korea Lewis was faster, as he was in Canada and Hungary. Pushing too hard in the last two resulted in errors that put him behind Jenson. May be he walks a fine line between bravery, talent and stupidity :-)

        Cheers,

        Martin

      3. Rudy says:

        It’s not all about raw speed. In this era is paramount to look after the tyres, Hamilton’s nightmare.

      4. Isn’t it Murray Walker who said that to finish first, first you have to finish?

        Being the fastest ‘within the limits’ is what matters as far as I am concerned. JB does that pretty well, good on him.

        Hamilton will get there in the end one would hope. Seb ‘crashkid’ Vettel managed to overcome that aspect of his driving style in the last 12 months. The worrying thing is that he hasn’t lost pace!

      5. wayne says:

        Martin, you’ll get no argument from me, I didn’t really mean to suggest that Hamilton is actually slower than Button in the wet – just that the results have gone Button’s way due to Hamilton errors and Button’s strategy calls.

      6. Damien: it was actually Mario Andretti who said that.

    5. Dan says:

      Exactly this!

      Brits complained when England lost to Australia at cricket, and complained when Tim Henman went out of Wimbledon every year.

      Now we have the world’s no.1 Test team and English fans complain it was too easy without giving credit to the hard work involved and enjoying that it was for once their national side displaying total dominance.

      Same with Andy Murray, here we have a true world beater who can do excpetional things on a tennis court and yet he is derided for daring to have confidence in his abilities.

      In Lewis Hamilton we have a supremely talented guy who could end up being compared with the true greats.

      Let’s be proud of this. Give me a champion with a bit of cockiness any day over a humble runner up.

      1. Matt says:

        The point about outright pace is an interesting one. There’s no doubt that all the top drivers are blisteringly fast, but I think it was Fangio (arguably one of the top 3 all time greats) who was feted for always winning at the SLOWEST possible speed. Today is a different era, but management of tyres,fuel, mechanicals and important bits of carbon fibre mean the principle is still valid. On that basis, Hamilton’s apparent flat out speed advantage over Button is rendered somewhat redundant by his failure to understand that just being fastest won’t win the race. In fact the Pirelli wear rates on tyres mean it puts you in situations where you are forced to continue to go flat out and take risks – perhaps one of the reasons why Hamilton has had so many incidents this year and has said this week this has been his worst season in F1

      2. Owen says:

        In Australia we have an explanation for this: it’s called ‘Whinging Pom Syndrome’ – British people always have to have something to whinge about, whether it makes them happy or not!

      3. Peter C says:

        What’s that – a bit of sledging ? That ‘Pom’ Liz Hurley’s boyfriend is looking lovely at the moment.
        Ricky Ponting whinge – never!

      4. Blackacre says:

        Mark “not bad for a number 2 driver” has been prone to the odd whinge…

  7. Sarah says:

    Why can’t he have friends? Give him a break! Is it really necessary to psychoanalyze him everytime he has a bad race? I find people who blame his Girlfriend very low. He won his championship dating her. How could she be part of the problem? My recommendation to Lewis is to stop talking to the press, mostly the British press. All they want is to break him down.

    1. Chris Chong says:

      Yeah, it’s not like he’s dating Yoko Ono or something. You won’t find Nicole telling him to use a particular set up on his car because SHE prefers it…

    2. john g says:

      the press are well known to say anything to sell a paper or make an attention grabbing headline. at the moment, button is the darling of the media and hamilton is the villain, and they’ll continue to push that for as long as it suits them.

      however, i don’t see that hamilton has changed that much – apart from possibly being overworked away from the race weekend. he has always been a ballsy risky driver – and his moves have always required the other driver to give him a little more respect than anyone else – personally, i just think a few times lately these risks haven’t paid off. but if he held back and didn’t go for these moves, he wouldn’t be the lewis we love to watch!!

  8. mohamed south africa says:

    lewis should decide whether he wants to be david beckham or ryan giggs. david sought the celebrity lifestyle and got more useless as time went by wheras ryan tried to stay out of the limelight and was a key player till last season

    1. Richard D says:

      I think Sherzinger would rather he was Beckham over Giggs…

    2. Peter C says:

      Ryan Giggs tried to stay out of the limelight because he was playing too many away games.

      If Hamilton emulates him, Nicole won’t be too pleased.

  9. Peter Freeman says:

    Last season if he finished 4th in the two races he crashed out towards the end of the season he would have won the DC in what was the third fastest car over all last season. Add this to his first season near miss and it could be 3 DC’s already. I love Lewis, I personally think he is the most special talent on the grid right now, but I am afraid he has not had focus this year, it is true…

    1. Moose says:

      You don’t win championships with ‘if’ scenarios.

      He lost in 2007 and 2010 because of his own silly mistakes. And he keeps making more of these every season.

      ANd 2010 he had the fastest car in many races, just like this season too. He just does not deliver because he is too erratic.

      He is blindingly fast…but that’s it. But to win teh championship you need to have the total package.

      In 2008 he lost the title almost to Massa…of all drivers, I mean come on.

    2. Borg says:

      He is good at loosing them.

      Personally I agree with those that don’t want Lewis to change. His championships mean nothing to me, compared to his entertainment value that is.

  10. Jo Torrent says:

    Hamilton is clearly the star of F1. The number of articles written by James on him & other journos as well proves that.

    This guy has that special thing that makes him shine in a way Schumacher can never do despite his countless titles, or Vettel despite being a much better talker, a funnier human being & a smarter driver both in & out of the car and a younger star & Alonso despite being a complete driver who beat the Almighty Red Baron.

    Why is that ? I can’t figure it out exactly, it’s not only about the results for sure as Vettel beat him.
    Maybe it started with Hamilton brilliant year as a GP2 champion with magnificent overtakes especially his performance in Turkey, a vintage one. He came to F1 to shine straight away threatening Alonso in Australia & beating him in Bahrain : The golden boy was born & confirmed in Canada a race where Alonso had one of his worst races with many offs at turn 1. The fact that he went to ask Ron Dennis his phone number while he was a cute child made it a magnificent fairytale.

    [mod]

    Now, I reached a point where I wonder if Hamilton likes Senna because of his stardom rather than because of his achievements. Hamilton is a F1 star who behaves like a ‘Big Brother’ star.

    Hamilton hates to be overtaken because he sees it as an insult to his image & reputation & loves to overtake because it enhances both. He’d rather kill his tyres defending than let his opponent overtake & grab a better result at the end of the race.

    Sometimes I mock Hamilton as a brainless driver. Actually, he’s not but his mind is focused on something else : on being a star, on shining & putting into the shade of his stardom his opponents.

    In a way Hamilton succeeded to achieve that because of 2 things :

    - we all talk about him
    - we either love him or hate him but we’re never indifferent towards him

    But he can’t carry on without winning in the long term because without world titles, he can’t keep his star shining. Villeneuve in a way was a star because of his dad, of his success of the way he says it like it is & because he was fast straight away. He progressively lost his reputation to be fired twice at the end.

    …… To be continued.

    1. dddd says:

      James Allen is a UK F1 Journo, and Hamilton is the best UK driver.

      I am an Aussie, and if I quantified who the best F1 driver was by current media coverage, it would be Webber followed by Ricciardo. Obviously because that is who the media focuses on here.

      But from my perspective. Hamilton is a fast driver, but his personality is more emotional than controlled. Often this season on the radio he has whinges and outbursts, in other words, doesn’t have control over his emotion to the effect that schuey or vettel or even button does (they are more controlled). I also recall a few seasons back when the mcl was a dud and he qualied at the back of the pack, during the race he radioed in saying they should just pit the car because it was crap (he was being sincere) and the team replied to stay out there because you never know what can happen. Also with the aggressive overtakes this year, often they were too risky and therefore not logical to attempt if you are going for results or a win, but emotionally the drive and passion to pass surpasses such reserved logic. Basically I am saying, is he is emotional rather than a robotic, personally I think this adds a bit more spice to F1, like an artist vs a mathematician, but it doesnt help his results.

      I think you can see this, in looking at what his dad is like. His dad basically trained up his son since young to be a famous f1 driver. The dad was hanging around every race until lewis told him to go. The dad had a crash driving beyond his abilities in a famous friends porsche. And the dad is an drivers manager now. Basically the dad wanted to get into the f1 fame game bad. Obviously such an environment and values presented (and maybe some genetic element) during his upbringing, has resulted in creating the person he is now, a person who is in awe of superficial marketed fame.

      A lot of drivers have their weaknesses in personality in terms of achieving results. And I also believe if he can become more controlled and less focused on superficial bs than he will get better results. I agree with a previous post that hami could have won last years championship, but he wrote it off too early (unlike alonso who kept pushing and almost won it). But the question is, does he have the personality and insight too see his superficialities and combat them, or is it too innate?

      1. wayne says:

        I reject your comments about his father, who probably just wanted what all us fathers want for our children – for them to be able to live their dreams and do what makes them happy and successful. Let us not forget that Hamilton senior made considerable sacrafices to invest in his son.

        It is much more likely that he wanted to do the best he could by his son than simply use his son to get into the F1 fame game as you suggest.

      2. dddd says:

        Have any evidence?

        Lewis had to basically split from his dad. His dad used to be at every race in the garage, and you would see him sometimes speaking to engineers etc.

        Lewis even brought up in jest that his dad said that he was a better driver than his son. The dad is still an f1 manager and was always an f1 nut.

        Too me, his dad was living vicariously through his son, living the dream he wanted. You could probably say the same for most f1 dads though.

    2. Sam says:

      Are you an accountant? Or maybe a civil servant?

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Mmmm…, a very interesting and insightful reply. Maybe he’s an accountant. Maybe a civil servant. Or maybe not. And so?

    3. Very interesting comparison to Villeneuve. He was highly rated for a few years after his title, but then slowly slipped into oblivion. All it takes is a few bad years.

      What if McLaren lost their Mercedes engines (like Williams lost their Renaults), or he signed with a team like Brawn that suddenly turned into a team like Mercedes GP the year later (a car that had people wondering if Rosberg was actually a decent driver and whether Schumacher had made a huge mistake in coming back)?

      An F1 career is never secure…

      1. Andy C says:

        Absolutely. People who dont remember what Jacques was like when he came to F1 call him a lazy unmotivated driver.

        When he came from Indycar (I remember him on a banzai KK like overtake at Elkhart Lake) he was one of the few people who genuinely had Michael rattled.

        In many ways that was the start of the downfall for Williams when they lost renault power.

        Lets hope it will be another fresh signal of hope for them next year.

  11. Andrew Carter says:

    An interesting read James. Personally I think that his performances have been very strong in general this year but there have been a few things that have held him back from being considered the best driver out there at the moment, the most glaring of which is the accidents he gets into. I suspect that polishing that last aspect will be a tough process if its to still leave the hard charging characteristic of his driving in tact and experience will help with that, after all he is only 26.

  12. AlexD says:

    I think he is wasting his life and talent. I never expected this to happen…I though he will go the same root as Schumacher, Alonso and Vettel now…but this is a sad thing to realize – he is indeed wasting his talent. He will regret…

    1. Sam says:

      Isn’t sad when people cant spell? And even sadder when people don’t recognise when drivers are overcoming the shortcomings of their cars to win a race or two (each).

      Enough of the negative attitudes to the 2 of the best sportsmen Britain has seen for a while, and more of ‘we will win’ !

      1. James F says:

        can’t?

      2. Andy C says:

        Lol. Brilliant James!

      3. Stevie P says:

        You’ve got me at it now Sam… “Hamilton’s is one of the great drivers” ;-) Obviously, from a grammatical point of view, I should use ‘s or is, not both -> ” ‘s is ” – lol

  13. Becken says:

    So we have here a very paradoxal situation: Vettel aside among the top dogs, everyone in F1 is more mature than Lewis, but none can go faster…

    Yes, his life style could be distracting him, but you could see that through other perspective: As a driver, right now, Hamilton is the biggest brand in F1. Like him or not, the man have attracted too much attention with his driving style, “Ultimate Racer Attitude” in F1 and… yes, his celebrities life style.

    That statement from the guy in Red Bull only confirms that. As evidence, I can say that Felipe and Rubens aside, he has the hugest fan base around here in Brazil.

    About Bernie´s comment, I can understand the thing about focus, but wasn’t the same Bernie who accused Schumacher – and Fernando – of doing anything to promote F1 outside its camps? I sense some contradiction in what is written here about Bernie’s comment.

    Anyway, I see Hamilton struggle in other manner. Every time he crashes or mess up his races pursuing an impossible win, I have a feeling – right or wrong – that he is the only one who really cares about the way Vettel is grabbing the titles.

    The man is really trying hard, and I respect that.

    1. Ryan Eckford says:

      I totally agree with you. I feel that McLaren haven’t done him any favours in some races this season. This is how I think Lewis’s season should have gone without amateur mistakes by his team:

      Australia: 2nd (18)(18)
      Malaysia: 2nd (18)(36)
      China: 1st (25)(61)
      Turkey: 4th (12)(73)
      Spain: 1st (25)(98)
      Monaco: 1st (25)(123)
      Canada: 1st (25)(148)
      Europe: 4th (12)(160)
      Britain: 3rd (15)(175)
      Germany: 1st (25)(200)
      Hungary: 3rd (15)(215)
      Belgium: 1st (25)(240)

      Compare this to how Vettel’s season has gone, or would have gone:

      Australia: 1st (25)(25)
      Malaysia: 1st (25)(50)
      China: 2nd (18)(68)
      Turkey: 1st (25)(93)
      Spain: 2nd (18)(111)
      Monaco: 2nd (18)(129)
      Canada: 3rd (15)(144)
      Europe: 1st (25)(169)
      Britain: 2nd (18)(187)
      Germany: 4th (12)(199)
      Hungary: 2nd (18)(217)
      Belgium: 2nd (18)(235)

      You would conclude that McLaren have caused most of Hamilton’s troubles and that he should be leading the world championship right now. It is not totally his fault. I hope everyone understands this.

      1. **Paul** says:

        How did ‘amateur mistakes by his team’ cause him to drive into KK in Belgium and JB in Canada? It was McLarens fault he clipped a kerb in Hungary and did a doughnut in oncoming traffic too?? Monaco you say? He had the chance to put a hot lap in and blew it, with driver error, sure the team could have sent him out a little earlier, but he’s a big now, if the Ferrari way up in the distance was such a distraction he should have accounted for that in the preceeding lap.

        Most of Lewis’s downfall is his own doing, be that driving into people, breaking rules that others do not, or blindly trusting the team rather than using his own judgement for key calls on tyres (unlike JB who often makes good calls!).

        You take all those out of the way and McLaren haven’t made that many mistakes at all with Lewis, one of two yes, but nothing like the number of errors he makes as a driver. To blame the team is a joke frankly.

      2. wayne says:

        He didn’t drive into KK in Spa, though did he. Hamilton has been on the receving end of countless errors from McLaren, it has almost been a running feature just as he too has made his share of mistakes. Look at the Chinese GP way back when – he could have wrapped up the wdc at that very GP but the team insisted he stay out on tyres worn to the canvass.

      3. **Paul** says:

        Well KK didn’t drive into Lewis, as he was sat on the racing line minding his own business. I figure you don’t work in insurance!

        The 2007 season has no influence on his teams decisions this season. There is absolutely no way that McLaren have made anything like the number of points dropping mistakes on Hamiltons car that he has made driving errors.

      4. Ryan Eckford says:

        It is errors like not rebalancing the flat spotted tyres in Malaysia, not sending him out at the start of Q3 in Monaco, not bringing the right type of rear wing configuration in Canada, he should have got pole position there and should have won the race by a country mile, like not sending him out on a fresh set of options at the start of Q3 in Britain, despite knowing the conditions could change at any moment. McLaren missed a strategic opportunity at Spain to beat Vettel and Red Bull by pitting later at the second pit stop, in Hungary they put him onto inters once the strategy was stuffed up knowing that it was not going to work and at Spa, he was taken out by Kobayashi, he was never a chance of passing Lewis around the outside. Some people may think that Kobayashi is aggressive and combative, but actually he is tentative and this was another of those moments. This will cost him in the future if he can’t sort this out. Back to McLaren, the racing side of operations has let Lewis down so many times this season and it has cost him any hope of winning the World Championship. I think Whitmarsh should be sacked for his below par management of the racing operations of this team. I hope everyone can see my opinion.

  14. John Gibson says:

    Wasn’t this supposed to be the year when Lewis re-focused on winning the title? Isn’t that what he said was going to happen, that he hadn’t been completely focused in 2009 or 2010 for various reasons, but that he now felt he had the right management?

    Other than in 2007, every one of Hamilton;s seasons have been pockmarked by staggering highs and almost catastrophic lows on the track. maybe this is just how he is and the 2007 season (when he had the prospect of being the only rookie to win the WDC at the first time of asking to focus his mind) has produced unrealistic expectations about him?

  15. Cristobal says:

    He has put these ‘friends’ of his on pedestals – there is an imbalance right there that needs to correct, and it will…… he will either grow up or they will disappoint him in some way. In any event he has always struck me as immature for his age, despite his immense talent as a driver. If he can grow up as a person while his driving wits are still high then he will truly be a force to be reckoned with, and certainly more consistent.

  16. Sam says:

    Did anyone read what Lewis actually said? I think he recognises that he is infact a star, and getting to meet the people he admires is a big thing for him, but he clearly doesn’t let that stuff get into his mind before he races. He very dearly wants to win, that is the ONLY reason why he has gotten himself involved in a lot of scrapes this year…always trying that extra bit harder on the limit.
    I personally don’t think the celebrity lifestyle has much of an impact…but it might help him to hunker down a bit and focus more on the technicalities of racing in Formula 1…and I think he knows that, and if he doesn’t, his father surely does…and you can be sure he will be having words with his son.
    Lewis will be fine, personally I think his attitude the past 3 or so races has been exactly what you’d want….he’s just been a bit unlucky on two of them.

    1. Rudy says:

      Modern F-1 demands focus, fit programs, balanced food, sponsor events, you name it…
      Many years ago it was all about raw talent and bravery. They knew how to go fast but also have fun out of it. Not so long ago Berger was a famed playboy. In the 50′s-60′s drivers smoked! In the 80′s Keke Rosberg, Sandro Nanini also smoked. Things changed for the 90′s. Senna was already devoted to racing up to the point of getting divorced from his wife to focus on F-1. Then the Schumi years and his famous training routines. Then came all these techno-kids managed to satisfy the most demanding team’s needs, PR correct, robotic, skilled electronic operators, simulator expert drivers and go-to-bed early boys.
      Few have broken that scheme, like Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button for a period and now this Lewis Hamilton. KR was inclined to partying, hang around with friends and drinking. Won one WDC and that’s it. For sure he had more talent for 2 or 3 WDC’s but was his choice to have more fun instead of focusing on winning. Button was a party lad, he matured and became a better driver, focused and he also won a WDC. Speed apart, Button is far more talented than Hamilton, just need to hear what his ex-egineers say about his telemetries! Hamilton is a rogue kid, already WDC once and maybe he wants to have some fun along with this F-1 gig. Give the lad a chance!! He’ll deliver maturely in 2-3 years time.

      1. StallionGP F1 says:

        Well summarized I wonder where this Hamilton’s exceptional talent is as am yet to see it.
        He has a few good races every season and everybody fails to see that unless the car is fast he’s always poor in races. Hence people say if the mclaren was faster Hamiliton would win.

  17. Nilesh says:

    Very interesting article James. Hamilton comes across as very hasty on track and off it. In his mind he seems to be jumping onto the next one before he’s completed the present one.

    Btw, excellent choice for the picture; describes the title perfectly.

  18. DMyers says:

    Interestingly, I think what we are seeing is someone who has come off a PR and media training production line aged 22, finally making a few of his own choices and learning by making mistakes on the circuit. Will he mellow out over the next couple of years? Who knows? I’ve never been a fan, but I have really admired a few of his drives over the last couple of years. However, he’s constantly involved in incidents at the moment, and a truly great driver shouldn’t be in that sort of situation. Maybe he’ll pull out of it, or maybe he will fade away. Time will tell, but it will give us all a lot to talk about along the way.

    1. David says:

      Very well said.

  19. Wornslicks says:

    I think Eddie Irvine nailed it when he said that he’s crashing because he doesn’t respect the other drivers anymore – because they don’t have celeb friends like him. His comments to PA suggest he’s over-awed by their patronage – this will inevitably make him feel ‘special’ and the other drivers ‘not as special’ by definition.

    He has to decide – does he want to be World Champion again or a shallow celeb (albeit very wealthy indeed)?

  20. Dave Aston says:

    I wonder if anyone thought Jackie Stewart’s friendship with George Harrison was a distraction. I don’t care who Hamilton hangs out with, he’s a superb racing driver. He’s coped admirably with the pressure of his job, and with growing up in public. He fights hard, and usually says what he thinks to the media. And, as he proved after Spa, he is big enough to admit when he makes a mistake. He’ll win multiple championships against tough fields in the next ten years, celebrity friends or not.

  21. Jmv says:

    How do you motivate a driver who is in constant denial about focus that is needed to win in F1?

    .. Having said that Lewis won in Germany after taking a break from PR stuff and he hung out with that boxer in a pretty relaxed way. Everybody commented on how relaxed he was before the start of the race.

    So dunno what works for him…..

    I KNOW:
    Lewis needs an Alonso or Vettel next to him. Competitors that keep him awake at night.

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Absolutely agree. Hamilton needs a top level team mate to keep him on his toes.

      Let’s face it…Jenson Button has only beaten Lewis when he has had problems or when he has made mistakes. Maybe Lewis is too relaxed in the knowledge that his team mate is no match for his speed.

      His approach in 2007 was superb.

    2. Andrew, Cumbria UK says:

      I think Hamilton is like Marmite you either love him or hate him. I have to say his fans seem to be blinded to his failings, he is neither a perfect driver nor a perfect man.

      As for needing a competitor in the sister car I think your simply wrong. Whenever he has had a team mate that could really challenge and push him the points have been shared between them, look at the year with Alonso, and the years with Jenson.

      He won his only WDC when he was the number 1 driver with a second rate support act (Koveleinan isnt a second rate driver in world terms, but in F1 terms he was a journeyman), and thats the only way Lewis will win again because he doesnt have that final ingrediant to get those addtional points when he could be third he pushes like mad and ends up with nothing.

      From a driving perspective he needs to mature and realise that a title is based on 20 races, and not one, and its the sum of points from all the races that count. He has much to learn. Lets face it with 2 DNF’s down to the team for Jenson this year, front wheel and hydralics, we can see Lewis cant even be certain of being the best McLaren driver, never mind the title winner.

      As for the perception of him being foremost a racer I would point you to the statitics this season for most overtakes. Yes its Jenson Button in the sister car, because he knows when to push, and does so in a clean fashion not by bashing his car into the one he is trying to pass.

      So all you Lewis fans out there, take a reality check, he has a great car, he should be getting better results if he is as good as you say, but the guy you keep putting down Jenson is leading McLaren driver right now. I can only see Jenson improving further next year, and therefore I cannot see either of them being WDC then either.

      I would be happier to see Lewis try at another team, oh but Red Bull and Ferrari dont want him, why is that. Perhaps they realise that the reality and the hype dont match.

      1. James Allen says:

        Whereabouts in Cumbria are you?

      2. Andrew, Cumbria UK says:

        Hi James,

        I’m from Cockermouth in the Lake District not so far from Keswick which everyone seems to know.

        ….and I’d like to say thanks for all the efforts on your website, this, and autosport are my first stops most days, please keep up all the good work.

        I would also like to thank you for all the promotion of the Senna film which I went to watch with my son. Amazing I could not help but cry at the end. What a terrible day for F1.

        As for my rant, I dont normally let the naysayers get to me, I am sorry, but this time I just cant let it pass. Jenson deserves more credit than many here give him, and I just cant understand why some many people are blind to their man’s failings, this is especially true of Hamilton’s supporters.

        We need to look at this honestly and clinically

        I would agree that during quali and one lap Lewis can find more speed, but over a race distance burning your tyres in the first few laps of a stint doesn’t often make for the fastest path to the chequered flag, Hungary is a perfect example of less speed more haste, and whilst I would agree that Lewis is not the worst we can see in many races where he just loses the plot, he’s his own worst enemy. He will not win another WDC, unless McLaren deliver a car as dominant as the Red Bull this year as he would only have 1 competitor to beat, or if he stops and puts his brain in gear as well as the car.

        That said I would love to see a Britain win the WDC again, and tend to support a British team, starting with the legendary James Hunt.

        Lets hope next year is like the previous few years where many cars are evenly matched and we get loads of different winners as the teams innovate to get ahead.

      3. James Allen says:

        I spend a lot of time up there, bit further south from you, near Windermere. Wonderful place.

      4. Peter C says:

        [mod]
        Andrew, I agree with your thoughts & it is a relief to read some neutral, objective thoughts on a thread with this heading.

        I used to be quite a fan of Hamilton, but have rather given up on it, due to the one-eyed opinions that he can do no wrong. NO ONE is perfect, I wish people would see that, rather than be in constant denial that a human being might have the odd weakness.

        It is extraordinary that when LH says ‘I was 100% wrong’ over the Kobayashi incident at Spa, people are still in denial & are blaming KK.

        Whenever a new Lewis Hamilton heading appears, the same reaction happens. Guaranteed returns?

  22. Chris Searle says:

    Hi James

    Would you agree James that a very strong case could be made out establishing that thus far Hamilton’s best season was his first, namely 2007, despite narrowly missing out on the titel in his debut year.

    If so, then when we examine the year in more detail, and read all the books and ‘expert’ comments on that season (including yours), then the evidence is very clear, by which we can then evaluate his seasons thereafter.

    If one holds a mirror to his subsequent seasons and ask ‘what would Prost, Senna or Schumacher have achieved in those years in the same car?’, I think we can make an informed and intelligent stab at the answer. In my view he’d already be the holder of more than One World Championship.

    Keep up your great writing James! We all love it, finding it both informative, stimulating and refreshing!

  23. Eduan says:

    I think James you are asking the right questions here. influence plays a major role in any persons life and when you look at it you become like those whom you surround yourself with. Clearly Hamilton has had encounters with big names and stars but the most striking is that it has effected his attitude towards drivers. This popped up in Monaco. I believe nothing has changed in his aggression and driving style, i just think that he has indeed lost focus and just needs to make some decisions in what is important to him. One thing I think we need to remember here is that great drivers never spent to much in the limelight and managed it and never allowed it to dictate their focus. I am sure Lewis will make the right decisions to get his career back.

    1. Eduan says:

      What meant was get his career back on track

  24. Allan says:

    Lewis certainly should be free to decide who he like to socialize with and it is possible to have celebrity friends, lots of other F1 drivers have had them, perhaps not to the same extent though.

    However, I think your question is well-put, James: I do agree that Lewis seems to be at a bit of a crossroads. Undoubtedly really fast and a great passer, the problem seems to be more that he does not seem to have progressed over the past few years. Each season has its share of great drives interspersed by clumsy errors. At first I was convinced that Lewis would mature and the errors would mostly disappear. Now, I’m not so sure. He seems to have plateaued, albeit at a staggering level.

  25. PeteM says:

    Interesting discussion. The thing is James in my opinion F1 is intensionally leading down this path blurring the lines between racing and entertainment and at some point a driver or drivers will loose direction and focus because of the situations put infront of them. Its natural. Its those drivers that can handle the different aspects of their job the best that will stay focused on what they are their for.
    Im not saying Lewis has lost his way at all, but I will say Lewis is taking the status of the modern day F1 driver to the next level.
    Whether it be good or bad for the sport who knows but their is no denying F1 is changing in every aspect and whether it be good or bad for F1 only time will tell.

  26. jonrob says:

    All that James has mentioned above seems to me to be the result of Hamilton changing managers.
    Not just changing managers, it was probably good to get away from dad but he has ended up with a celebrity management company whose interests lie in getting him to do as much as possible, thus increasing their rake-off.

    I cannot help but think that he would be far better off with a traditional type manager, who would keep the focus on racing and ensure that he got the necessary preparation time.
    He said some time back that when it came to his next contract McLaren were going to be in for a shock as he wanted to cut substantially, the amount of PR work he was doing. Did it not happen yet, or did he not negotiate as he wanted or did his managers not do what he told them?

  27. Michael Cunningham says:

    I am a huge fan of Lewis’s.

    That said i found myself lately questioning his maturity. His continuing to push the car is something to marvel at, but i wonder if he truly trusts his teams calls right now or does he feel he has to do it all himself.

    His lifestyle is flashy but he has always had that type of attention from the start.

    I think a better car will be the cure for all this head scratching.

  28. james b says:

    Lewis is still young and learning. Think how good he will be in 5 years time when he puts together a season of Nurburgring races?

  29. Matthew says:

    Isn’t the real problem the car, not Lewis?

    If McLaren gave him a car he could stick on pole every fortnight, do any of you not believe he’d do exactly what Seb has done and waltz off into the distance?

    I’m a huge Ferrari fan and not overly fond of Lewis but you have to acknowledge the guy is special; special because he’s the fastest and best racer.

    I think the only reason he crashes is because he goes for gaps and people close them. 80%+ of the time (check the stats) these passes come off but some don’t. Senna was the same but you don’t have so many gaps to go for if your car is on pole and you lead into the first corner.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think Seb has still managed to win a race when he didn’t lead into the first corner. That is a telling statistic. Yes, we’ve seen him pull a few token passes when he’s straight out the pits on fresh softs and even one on a more level playing field… ahem… albeit on Rosberg’s Mercedes (does that count?).

    What I’m getting at is that Seb crashed all the time when it wasn’t a clear road ahead of him and nothing has changed but starting from the front. In Germany, he didn’t and what happened?

    Lewis wants desperately to win but no more or less than Seb, he’s just not got the car to do it from the front, so crashes every so often. When he doesn’t, he produces drives like China or Germany that for all his (great) achievements, Seb can’t lay claim to… yet.

    It takes a special temperament to hold station, knowing when to push. That’s why I think Alonso is by far the most complete driver – he has the most powerful mix of speed + all the other factors.

    With all this in mind, my point is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Lewis that getting a car that was as quick as the Red Bull wouldn’t solve in a week.

    And that’s coming from an Alonso fan.

    1. OukilF1 says:

      Yes you are wrong!

      Vettel won the Spanish GP with a faulty Kers system, from P2 when Mclaren was the fastest on race trim… and no he didnt lead into the first corner – it was Alonso!

  30. coconutbikinis says:

    George Harrison was a far greater man than P Diddy ever will be, and so for that matter was Jackie Stewart a greater driver (and team owner) than Lewis ever will be..

    Far braver and probably wealthier to boot and all achieved at a time when the chances of dying were far greater and the $ on offer were far less..

    I can’t see Lewis winning 3 WDC’s and P Diddy can claim all he likes (as he does) but he ain’t no Beatle….

    He may be as fast and on his day awesome but Senna, Clark, Fangio, Alonso, Hakkinen, Schumacher, Vettel, G Villeneuve, Prost, Lauda, Fittipaldi, Stewart, Moss and a couple of others were as fast and arguably more complete packages.. Even Button has proven to be his peer, well done Jense..

    He’s got a long way to go before he steps up to the all time great list, and he won’t do it whilst he’s trying to win the X factor on the side..

    You’re a racing driver Lewis, lose the earrings, the bling lifestyle and the Amish beard and concentrate on what you were put on this earth to do, cause you never know when you won’t be able to race anymore, or have a competitive car, let alone win more WDC’s..

    It can all be gone a blink of an eye, Gilles and Ayrton come to mind, bless their genius souls..

  31. Matthew says:

    I’m not suggesting Seb crashed in Germany by the way, just that he couldn’t win without the luxury of pole (or even come close). Plus, he couldn’t get passed Massa for toffee.

  32. Dave Deacon says:

    Hamilton is not hungry for success. When with his father he was as the child had been and did as he wasd bid. Now, without his dad, he’s a man and has found other things he likes. But F1 seems to require 101%. Indeed, most things at the top require the same. Maybe we are simply seeing the real Hamilton and not the manufactured one.

    I also think he’s being pressured a lot by Button. JB’s turned into much more of a racer than people thought he would.

  33. Simple says:

    Lewis has plenty of time. Time to mature as a driver and further hone his race craft. As he gets older his priorities will change, and his celebrity mates will lose some of that shine. The boy will do just fine!

    1. Werewolf says:

      I would not take time for granted. F1 rarely gives second chances once a career slide appears to set in.

      Hamilton is no longer certain of a bright future because he is the present, an experienced, race winning World Champion. His future depends on his performances now, not what is perceived to be his potential, as is the case with the genuine newer drivers.

      No top team will want a driver viewed to be past his peak or seriously flawed (be that in terms of speed, application, motivation or whatever), they will look for drivers at or closing in on their zenith; and it is so difficult for any driver to revive his career in a second-tier team, even with the obsessive application F1 requires.

      Moreover, should McLaren lose faith, with Ferrari pretty much closed off as an option and Red Bull more likely to want another of their own as the next Vettel, Hamilton’s options are more limited than he perhaps realises, unless another team challenges for the top in the next year or two.

  34. Atef Girgis says:

    I think it started when he watched the Senna movie , take no prisoners attitude

  35. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    How much of the “distraction” is the fact that the title race is over?

      1. CerinoDevoti says:

        As a paid professional race car driver Lewis still has obligations to his Team to perform at his best regardless of the points situation.
        There are drivers on the grid at the first race of the season who are effectively out of the title race yet they give their all each race. Lewis is a great enough driver that there should be no excuses like “the title chase is over”. If we truly respect his greatness, we shouldn’t offer up excuses for him. He owes it to his own natural talent, greatness and opportunity to perform at his best for himself at all times.

      2. StallionGP F1 says:

        Well said I wonder why James thinks that is an excellent point?

  36. Chris J says:

    For me, he makes the races worth watching, just to see his performances, good and bad. No other driver does that right now. However, I think his new management hasn’t really helped him this year. Are they only in place to manage endorsements, etc.?

  37. Fausto Cunha says:

    I think it was at Montreal all those celebrity stars at Mclaren garage, drinks on their hands…that was strange during a race.

    Maybe is got his world champion title to soon on his carear.

  38. Andrew Halliday says:

    What was the story with the split between Anthony & Lewis Hamilton? Someone told me the other day that he had got into a lot of arguments with McLaren and effectively been kicked out of the garage but I’ve always thought he’s a very polite individual and always seems to know the right thing to say. It will be interesting to see what he can do for Paul Di Resta.

  39. Vik says:

    I think we need a little context here. The celebrity lifestyle of LH is a red herring, or more precisely, symptomatic of a deeper issue. He has not had a race winning car out of the box since 2008, meaning he’s had to push and struggle and rage against his machinery for three long years. This dip in the form of McLaren has coincided with the emergence of Red Bull and Vettel. But the truth is, if Lewis had a stupendously quick, ultra reliable car, capable of dominating the field, he’d be focussed on winning as well. In the meantime, showing Rihanna round his garage is a sweet – albeit scant – distraction.

    1. Doug says:

      Whilst I agree that his machinery has been a little lacking in pace over the last few seasons. I think it must gall him as the ‘Best over-taker in the biz’, that his team mate has overtaken more cars this year than any other driver. Jenson’s passes in Spa were just awesome…the little dip out & in of the slip stream upto Les Combes showed a racer who really knows his craft. I would suspect that knowing what a competative animal Lewis is, this fact could be at least as responsible for his ‘over-driving’ this season as his ‘Celebrity lifestyle’.

      He’s still an awesome talent though…and reading that he’s a little star-struck by Nicole’s chums shows a refreshingly humble side to his personality.

  40. StephenAcworth says:

    What LH really needs is someone to protect him from himself and ‘coach’ him in techniques that allow him to concentrate on the task in hand and ignore all the outside clutter and noise that so often accompanies media celebrities. If he doesn’t manage to do this, his career will become an excellent case study in how a mismanaged talent failed to optimize his opportunities. LH should have multiple WDC to his name by now; but he keeps blaming others, rather than understanding his own limitations and weaknesses. Without a good manager, and I doubt that Simon Fuller fulfills that role well, he won’t deliver to the level he is capable of.

  41. Glenn says:

    Well I for one hope he gets things sorted for himself. I miss the kid that burst onto the scene in 2007(?), qualified on the 2nd row and finished on the podium in his first outing!!! How many fans did Lewis make that year? About a zillion! Why? Because he was young, polite, grateful, respectful, humble and FAST. People like that sort of stuff.
    F1 fans need someone who is going to step up and take it to Sebastian. There are not too many people who qualified for that job.
    Get well soon Lewis.

  42. Matt says:

    I’m positive it was Hamilton’s pop star lifestyle that caused Button, Kobayashi and Maldonado to drive their cars into him!

    *cough*

    All this Hamilton focus talk goes back years, even to his rookie season when he was photographed fraternizing with a McLaren shareholders daughter on a super yacht when apparently he should have been meditating or spending the summer holiday in an oxygen tank or something ridiculous like that.

    Hamilton is fine, if McLaren provide a car capable of beating Red Bull then he will win a championship again. Jenson is no match for Lewis in a straight fight, every time Jenson “does better” it’s because Hamilton had an incident.

  43. For sure says:

    I think one of the most overlooked element in Lewis career is that his dad did everything to support him financially.

    Guys like Schumacher, Nigel Mansell struggled to financially support themselves in the early stages so, for them, making a living in F1 is a luxury let alone driving a top car.

    Where as, for Lewis, anything less than a winning car is a disappointment. If things don’t go his way, he gets upset and say certain things just like most of us.

    The other thing is that I think he really needs to add patient and cautiousness to his game if he wants to win more championships.

    Michael overtook more than anyone this season, he had less DNF than Lewis.

    I think Alonso handled the situation much better. A new kid arrived and destroyed everyone. Instead of whining and crashing, he kept his head down, working very hard to bring the team forward which is what a champion should do.

  44. Forzaminardi says:

    Being so impressed by the social standing of your so-called friends smacks to me of someone who is deeply insecure.

  45. Alex Yoong says:

    Morning all, some of you may remember me from the BBC message boards, and later the 606 debacle. Good to be back, and James, this is a great website, I regularly come here to get a) indepth points of view, based on industry knowledge, and b) a more imaginitive take on the current F1 stories.

    Hamilton: I agree with many on here, he is one of the great talents on the grid at the moment (with Vettel and Alonso). As we know, he is WDC material, give him the fastest car and he’s a safe bet, give him not the fastest car and he has a go anyway- last year being a good example. Despite my being a diehard Jenson fan (originally because of his early promise, then because of his underdog status, and now because of his niche talent-smoothness- along with his character), even I have to admit that Hamilton is the key talent in that team. He is the faster driver, and though consistency may be a problem, when he has a really fast car, he more than makes up for the results throughout the season.

    But that is the point- really fast cars. Only Vettel is going to win the WDC this year (Webber’s results this story is another story). A McLaren driver is not going to win the championship this year because, frankly, at no point has there car been the fastest (though it may have been up there on occasion). And when your car is being strained to the limit like that, you inevitably run into more mistakes. I mean, if you had given Hamilton the Red Bull this year, do we seriously think he wouldn’t be leading the championship? Of course he would. Look at the stats- a Red Bull car has been on pole at EVERY race this year. Red Bull are the fastest, and they will deservedly win the championship.

    The reality is the F1 press, like the British press in general, are (excluding this excellent website, and a few others) often reactionary and susceptible to short term memory loss. Hamilton is brilliant after Germany, now he’s lost focus because of his celebrity lifestyle. How about: the McLaren guys are straining the bit every other weekend to try and do the impossible- beat the faster team. What happens when you strain? Often, you either win heroically, or look stupid.

    Hamilton, and other drivers, are rightly properly susceptible to criticism about their focus etc when they are in the car that should be winning all the races. Much as I love him, there’s one key driver this season who in my mind should be receiving this sort of criticism, but on the whole is not. Webber.

    1. terryshep says:

      Absolutely correct, Alex and especially your final comment about Webber.

      In passing, can there be another global sport which has such a large fanbase within one profession? That of psychology? We can be grateful that so many of them have found the time to offer Lewis the benefit of their advice.

    2. Glenn says:

      Webber?
      How do you come that conclusion Alex?
      Consider this; Webber & Vettel are in the fastest car. The car is more than reasonably reliable. In this world, there is always someone who is going to be faster than you. Mark currently drives against that person every week. Vettel is the current WDC. He didn’t achieve that by fluke. He won it fair and square. He is currently the fastest, most consistent driver in the field. He is faster than Webber. Full stop. There is no shame getting beaten by a guy like Vettel in equal equipment. Senna and Hill come to mind here. Schumi and Herbert, Alonso and Massa, the list goes on.
      Lewis is among the most talented drivers i have ever seen (although I have not seen him in a B Grade team to see how he fairs in the middle of the pack each week). Be that as it may, he is having a terrible year by his own high standards. In the world of top level competition, great driver, bad season = criticism. No one said he wasn’t great though ;)
      F1 is a better place for having Lewis in it (and I’m a Webber fan).

      1. Alex Yoong says:

        Glenn: I like your referencing to past teammates, but I would seek to differentiate Webber to those examples. The reason being that he was in contention throughout last season for the WDC, and was even soundly beating Vettel throughout the middle of it. So we know he can do it against Vettel in the same team. So this year his failure to even take a race win seems stark. The Schumacher/Herbert, Alonso/Massa examples can in my opinion differntiated, because in neither example, to my knowledge, had either 2nd driver driven competitively in comparison to their teammate whilst in the same team.

        Webber did it last year, I was hoping he could at least have a proper effort at taking it to Vettel this year. A bit like Button has managed to do to Hamilton (like Vettel, in a different league to teammate IMO) this year.

        I like and support Webber, but even I have to admit he needs to find a better way this year. I hear the Pirellis are problematic. Still, top drivers find a way around it.

        Hope that clarifies.

      2. Glenn says:

        Alex: You make some excellent points here. I do seem to recall some instances where it seemed Herbert moved over for the boss but it is what it is. Webber did have a relatively good 2010 compared to his teammate, that can’t be argued. He got the better of him on occassion also. I guess that in response to your excellent reply, I would argue that Vettel has improved considerably from 2010, while Mark has probably gone a little backwards, or at least, not improved at the same rate as the young WDC. Had Mark won the 2010 WDC, he too may have gone forwards like Sebastian has in 2011. My point would be that Vettel has now cemented himself into the team leader role and due to the confidence that winning a WDC brings, finds himself as argueably the best driver in the field at this point in time. If not the best in the field, at least the best at RBR. With his current form and maturity, I would rate him better than Webber at this time. Put simply, Sebastian is faster than you Mark ;)I’m reluctant to compare this to Felipe and Fernando, both who have had great seasons in their careers. I hate to critise Felipe because I just like the guy for some reason. I guess it’s his humbleness that appeals to me.
        Thanks Alex, good health.

  46. DaveF says:

    I’ll freely admit to not being a Hamilton fan but do think he is one of fastest drivers in F1. In my opinion he is not the complete article due to his inability to make decisions for himself. Like Massa he seems to need a lot of hand holding by the team. Unlike Massa though Hamilton lashes out when the team make mistakes that cost him. He also needs to be man enough to accept when he has made mistakes and take responsibility. And I mean genuinely rather than just because somebody tells him to for PR purposes.

    On the other hand if he is enjoying his life outside of F1 then good for him. Whilst drivers such as Vettel are incredibly successful by being so focused on F1 I do think they are missing out on life by doing so. I guess it is a question of which is most important to you.

  47. Mr G says:

    I don’t think Hamilton is at a cross road in his career.
    Just cast your memory back 10 years ago and look at Jenson career, he was in the wild for a couple of year, described as a playboy.
    We need to understand what it’s happening in sport nowadays, F1 is just the same as football in the UK and Europe, basketball and American Football in the US.
    Young athletes become heroes, from nowhere to fame, from having a bob or two in their pockets to millionaires.
    For sure this instant change of lifestyle will impact in how they react and behave and, to be fair, I don’t know how I will react to becoming a superstar in my chosen field.
    So I think Hamilton will be back, he is a racer, he, most probably, will ask his dad to help him out and will eb back on track eager to win.
    On the other hand I personally don’t like how people judge Hamilton and starts like him without any first hand experience.
    I have played sport at national level in Italy and used to be a so called star in my region.
    I saw team mates loosing the plot because they were starts and we did not earn as much money as Hamilton or a professional sportmen, we did it for the passion and love of the sport.
    And Lewis has started his career because of the passion not for the money or the fame !!!
    So, Hamilton fans, don’t worry, he will be back

  48. Werewolf says:

    Hamilton is a supreme talent and one of the most exciting drivers of this era. It seems to me, however, that his application and mind management are sometimes flawed. From the radio messages we hear, it also seems he can be tetchy about receiving advice.

    I really have no idea how much the celebrity lifestyle detracts from his racing but I am certain it cannot help, anymore than it did Button in his playboy years.

    Hamilton needs the right management/coach to help him utilize his massive talent consistently and there’s no shame in that but to fail to acknowledge it and waste the opportunities he currently has would be shameful indeed.

    An entertainment-based management approach is no good for an F1 driver. They need clever coaching and understanding mind management.

    Additionally, outside of the cockpit, even the biggest F1 stars are required to promote their sponsors and their teams; it is a corporate style, like it or not. Managers need to work with and for the benefit of sponsors, not on the profile of their driver – the results do that! How will McLaren view Hamilton’s desire for less corporate promotion when he can find the time for such (from a team perspective) pointless acts of self-promotion as appearing on The Jonathan Ross Show?

  49. As an aside to this one, I wonder what the dynamics are like in the McLaren garage between Jenson, Lewis and the crew now that Jenson has fully settled in,the mechanics must be fairly confident that Jenson will bring his car back ‘shiny side up’ but not to sure about Lewis.

  50. Mark in Australia says:

    Lewis needs to remember how he got to where he is and how he got to have famous friends… For being a racer. Hollywood is fickle. These famous people aren’t friends with him because he is a top bloke.. They are friends with him because he is WDC; Lewis Hamilton.

    All sports need personalities. But the personalities maybe sometimes need to remember where they come from and stay true to their roots… Case in point; Mark Webber, Rubens Barricello or the greatest of all Aryton Senna.

    Ignore the sideshows Lewis. You will be much more fondly remembered as a multiple WDC, rather than a wannabe friend of some wannabe rapper/singer/gangster

  51. Arcturis says:

    Accepting that almost none of us have met him let alone know him …. my 2p worth then is a naturally fantastically fast and gifted driver (out of only 2 or 3 in the field) who has forgotten how to race an entire race (racecraft) and who is driving currently to fulfill this “image” he and his management team are building i.e the derring-do exploits of the “fastest, bravest hero of them all”. His racecraft seems to be going backwards and as it does so he blames everyone and everything else.

    Agree with all those who think he should change his management team to one that is focussed on sport and racing and his results will be the better for it.

  52. Ade says:

    Again, like many of the above posts I’m not a Hamilton fan. He IS however one of the fastest out there, and perfectly capable of dragging a dog of a car around faster than it should go – but he just seems to lurch from one race to another being very happy or incredibly angry. He doesn’t seem strong enough in the mental department to take everything in his stride, he should be a double world champion by now and isn’t. He should be beating his teammate by quite a margin and isn’t. He may have distractions, but I feel he is taking a similar journey through F1 to his teammate, a certain Mr. Button who was accused of being a playboy but seems to have come good later on.

  53. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    I can’t help but feel that there are some double standards amongst observers.

    So what if Hamilton has celebrity friends. I’m sure that David Coulthard had plenty as well during his time as a driver but no-one ever questioned his lack of focus.

    Has McLaren ever complained about Hamilton’s lack of focus or work ethic? Kimi Raikkonen was a hellraiser and described by Ron Dennis as very lazy. There are videos of Kimi in a drunken stupor on youtube but no-one ever questioned his talent and passion…and nor should they have done.

    And who’s to say that these celebrity friends are a bad influence for Hamilton. These artists would have to be as single minded and dedicated to get to the top in their own field.

    I’m sorry to say this but it just seems like some people just don’t like Hamilton’s type of celebrity friends.

  54. vancouver j says:

    I can’t believe I’m reading so much complaining about a Formula 1 driver hanging out with rock stars and partying on yachts. So much for tradition.

  55. Andy C says:

    Some really interesting points again James. [mod]

    From my perspective, whenever I’ve seen him speaking at length (the FOTA fans forum we attended at MTC) and the recent Jonathan Ross interview, he comes across as a really decent down to earth guy.

    IMHO, so what if he has celebrity friends. Its almost inevitable for top sportsmen to have celeb friends isnt it. I think the implied logic that this somehow means he is not focussed when he turns up to race weekends is pretty ropey to say the least.

    Someone else raised a really good point in the earlier comments. Jenson in the early part of his career got a bit of a bad rep for his playboy image, and has come through the other side of it and learned/taken positives out of the experience.

    Lewis needs first and foremost to just convert his pace into race finishes. He still has lots of time to mature as a driver. Incredibly people somehow see his genuine tweet saying it was his fault for the crash at Spa, as some sort of PR exercise. No pleasing some people is there.

    The one thing that struck me last night was Seb is going to be a double WDC by the end of this year, barring a miracle turnaround (which I’m hoping for as a McL fan).

    So potentially Seb could be a 3 times WDC by next year, and therefore noted as the standout driver of his generation in terms of titles (over and above Lewis/Fernando). I bet neither thought 3 years ago that would be the case.

  56. Gaz says:

    Like it or not F1 is more about the car than the driver. How often is the WDC won in other than the winning constructors car?…….the last time this happend recently was 2008…..with Lewis Hamilton.

    Hamilton has probably pushed to far this year in trying to overcome the short comings of the Mclaren…….at least he trys….thats why he,s so entertaining to watch.

    The reality is the RB7 is even more dominant this year than last especialy in the hands of a more experienced Vettel. The media,s fasination with Hamilton is more driven by the lack of any real drama in this years WDC which as already been decided.

  57. Matt says:

    Very few people are qualified to comment with any authority on Hamilton’s mindset or the influences (good and bad) on his attitude. A few years ago I hung out with a couple of celebrities and it didn’t affect my work – any deeper analysis than that would require detailed knowledge of his lifestyle – which I doubt many of us have

    What is worrying for Hamilton is the evidence that there are other leading drivers who have improved post winning a WDC in the past few seasons (Alonso, Button, Vettel), whereas he seems to be getting worse (though he remains extremely quick). His PR skills remain poor – his rants against other drivers with whom he has had comings together followed up by unreserved apologies do nothing for him. Who knows what he really thinks about these incidents?But frankly, who cares? The big picture is, nothing matters except results, and its not happening at the moment.

  58. Robin says:

    An aspect of this “focus problem” that hasn’t been touched on the matter of McClaren sponsor commitments. The complaint was registered earlier in the season that commercial commitments with McClaren are very heavy and because many of these may happen in conjunction with race weekends, that may be a greater source of loss of focus than hanging around with rock stars. Likewise the media attention must be really tough, and it’s a bit of a downward spiral as the more you have controversy, the more the media is around making a big fuss – see post Monaco. Valentino Rossi showed that you can be the most charismatic guy in the sport, play the media like a violin and still win five world titles though.

    Meanwhile, I’m fascinated by Vettel. He has some sponsor commitments, such as driving mainstream journalists around in Infinitis on the Montreal weekend, but he’s certainly not in the english media much. Is Germany like here in Canada, where the press follows well defined guidelines in leaving athletes alone most of the time? And what about his dad? Norbert Vettel seems to be around this season but largely just watching and enjoying, as I’m sure I’d like to do if it was my kid. History is not relating the role he played in getting Seb into F1. Was he another Antony Hamilton or just the guy who drove the minivan and held the kid’s jacket on the sidelines?

    RC

    1. James Allen says:

      Vettel’s Dad is about the most down to earth bloke you could ever meet. He’s a little, unshaven character who shambles about, all smiley and friendly – clearly astonished by what his son has achieved

      1. Robin says:

        That’s so awesome.

  59. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    I wonder how James Hunt would have survived in today’s PC times!

    1. James Allen says:

      He would have adapted, as most humans are able to do

  60. Rich says:

    It seems like Hamilton is always “at a crossroads in his career”

  61. Trix says:

    These comments are really interesting. It seems that Brits are really fickle. Now all of a sudden all this criticism comes Hamilton’s way?? Build them up and tear em down! Well, even if he doesnt receive support from his country men, he has a lot of support from many other nations. I think he is a young bloke and will become a very very great man. All this is just a process.

    Comments I have read on this are just disgusting.

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