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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Nov 2011   |  8:34 am GMT  |  103 comments

One of the themes running through the second half of this season has been Lewis Hamilton’s troubled demeanour and the way issues off the track have affected his performances on it.

Here in the Yas Marina paddock yesterday Hamilton offered a window in to his troubled soul, confirming many of the things commentators have been saying for months about the effect his private life have had on his professional life. He explains some of how he is feeling. He envies team mate Jenson Button’s protective “bubble” of friends and family and faces the prospect of being beaten by a team mate for the first time in a championship season.

After the Indian GP McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said that he felt part of the reason Hamilton’s head was elsewhere was that he was being beaten by his team mate Jenson Button. That seemed a surprising thing for him to say, not the arm “around the shoulder” approach team bosses normally take when their driver is struggling.

Hamilton dismissed Whitmarsh’s comments as “rubbish” and explained how he is really feeling,

“He made some comments which I disagree with,” said Hamilton. “It’s rubbish. My issues have been much, much bigger than that – more personal. Jenson doing great is great for the team.

“Jenson has done a great job to get things in the right place. He’s got his Dad, who’s there at every single race, he’s got his manager, he’s got his friends and his girlfriend there all the time. He’s got a great bubble around him and with that he’s able to go out there and perform without any worries on his mind.

“Jenson’s in a much stronger position than me so I wouldn’t expect anything less than the results he’s been getting. But that’s not affecting the way I’m performing.”

Every driver is different; some need an emotional life support system around them, others, like Robert Kubica, are more self contained and need just a manager by their side.

Sebastian Vettel is a bit like that; he has his trainer Tommy and his father Norbert is around but very low key in the background.

Most people don’t take their parents or wife to the office, but in a sports context, whatever makes you perform is the right set up. It’s an important thing to get right, because a driver has to focus on getting the maximum from himself throughout a race weekend and he needs his life to be in balance to achieve that.

I remember seeing Jacques Villeneuve having a blazing row with his girlfriend minutes before qualifying for the Argentinian Grand Prix in 1997.

“They (relationships) affect everything you do, the things you say, the way you act, the groove you get into,” admitted Hamilton.

“It’s not an excuse it’s just the way things have gone. I feel quite confident that I know the right direction for next year and how I can get things better – it’s just about doing it. I don’t plan on being single for very long. It’s nothing to do with being single or not being single. When I was in my relationship she was probably the most positive thing that was in my life – and maybe that needs to be back there.

“I’ve just been a bit unfortunate and I’ve got my own problems. I lost that bubble. It is a priority for me to create that atmosphere around myself because it’s a happy bubble.”

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What I cant understand is why Lewis brings in his personal life into the competitve world of F1….I have never seen any other racing driver competing at this level to jerk in the knees due to lack of a “bubble” in the pits…not even the over-passionate Senna during his prime….

All this media pressure, limlight, public and fan opinions is a given at this level of competition and is the same for all the remaining drivers in the grid..Thats why they are F1 drivers to start with…and not you a nd me..Why Alonso does not yearn for his papa’n’mama by his side..nor does Vettel nor does any multiple world champion…all of them are head strong ruthless racers…

Hamilton is doing more harm to his career simply by having to rely on a “bubble” to get his mojo right…rather than a killer instinct to defeat his competition….and yes a low maintenance girl would help….I would love to see Hamilton win a championship again….


Just to add to my previous comment, it looks like Jenson Button has created that support structure within the McLaren team. He loves the team and they love him back by signing him to a multi-year contract. I guess the real question is, has Lewis Hamilton worn out his welcome within the McLaren team? It doesn’t look like, given Martin Whitmarsh’s comments and Lewis’s occasional outbursts at his engineer on the car radio, that he has many friends left within the team. Perhaps this is affecting his performance. What do you think James?


It suspect the relationship between Hamilton & Whitmarsh is far from the ‘father & son’ relationship he had with Ron Dennis, but this could be attributed to failings by both driver and team boss, or just a fact of life, that some of us get along with some people better than others. I think MW would prefer LH to be more like JB, in that JB has taken care of that aspect of his life, without needing MW to help him, as no doubt MW has enough to do without having to worry about the drivers mental state.

All drivers are paid handsomely, if they need a tribe of people to come to the races to make them feel better, they have the money to make it happen, as long as they dont end up distracting the drivers from doing his job!.

I also get the feeling LH’s issues stem from his relationship with his dad, which seems complex. Maybe LH just need a dad/friend with him, but maybe his father cant help but act like a manager? so LH has separated them a bit. Sometimes a father/son relationship can be a strained one. Maybe a close, long time friend being at the races might be the answer, as ive always noticed Valentino Rossi has several close friends almost always attending each round of MotoGP with him.


There are bumps in the road, but a manager like Whitmarsh is always going to want a driver of Hamilton’s calibre. He just needs managing


I think Lewis’s feelings are misplaced. The Team should be your support system, not your friends or family. As a professional sportsman, whether or not your family or friends are around you to create that bubble should be irrelevant, because with professional sportsman, the love of the sport, love of the team and the will to win should sufficient to propel you to success. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, when they were at McLaren, were successful in building a strong support system within the team. The question is, has Lewis Hamilton done the same within McLaren or has he alienated the team with his tantrums, errors and demands? James, I hope you can share some insight into this…


Hi James,

“I remember seeing Jacques Villeneuve having a blazing row with his girlfriend minutes before qualifying for the Argentinian Grand Prix in 1997.”

Forgive me but I’m not sure what your intended point is with this statement. I don’t recall the session however: states he stuck it on pole. Are you saying that some drivers are thicker skinned than others?




Its a revelation… I hope he gets whatever he wants around him to go out and unleash himself on the track… He is extremely excitable to watch… So, I wish him well to find the personal stability he so desires 🙂


It could be while before Lewis finds himself another hot model / singer…I mean, how many girls would want an F1 champion.

Surely his best bet would be an internet dating website?


Hi James I would like u to coment about this staement made by Alonso today. “In fact, at the next winter testing he [Hamilton] will be the only one I’ll be watching closely. The other guys can win if they’ve got the best car; he’s the one who’s able to clinch a championship with a car that’s not the best.”


Same goes for Alonso. Just hope 2012 we’ll have six drivers fight for the championship.


I think he’s right at the moment. It’s a nice thing to say, but both of them would prefer to have a winning car. They are afraid Red Bull will be ahead again and that’s quite likely


The Villeneuve comment was really interesting and would be good to hear more on it, although it’s nothing.


He’s back with the same girl now, Sandrine. I spoke to them in Montreal last year and reminded them of this incident. They remembered and laughed about it, JV was just able to put it straight out of his mind. Last night here in Abu Dhabi I had dinner with Mika Salo and he agreed that personal matters go straight out of your head when you drive. But of course they weigh on you and sap energy the rest of the time


One point here is that Villeneuve put his car on pole and went on to win the Argentinian GP in ’97. So, having a fight with his girlfriend worked well for him! Come on Lewis, man up.

James, we’d all be interested to know how drivers managed the “bubble” in days past. For example, did the WDC’s of yester-year need a “bubble entourage”? Seems like a new age problem to me.


I think he has simply made too many errors and driving most of the time average this year. Period. The rest is just trying to find excuses. Being beaten by Vettel and Button will do only good to his ego and coming years.


Actually I don’t think it’s Hamilton at all. It’s the media: They jump on every last vestige of infomation about him that comes their way, and I’m sure he’s as sick of it as we are. Yes he’s been through a bad patch, so what, don’t we all, but I daresay that F1 racing is one area where one cannot get through in coast mode like most other jobs. – It requires 100% commitment for success as all the top drivers know.


I thought I’d look up the results to the Argentine Grand Prix after your mention of Villeneuve’s fight with his girlfriend. Pole position and the win. I guess it wasn’t a fight he dwelled on much or possibly he put his fiery emotions to good use.


Always loved his baggy race suit. Style man. I remember hearing a story that he split up with Dannii Minogue partly because he was playing too many online games. Legend.


Yeah, all that after he was physically unwell too.


Bet ya Lewis will bounce back next year. As long as he knows his problems means there’s a solution.


LOL! Wow you wanna make Lewis feel small.


Haha, not at all, just suggesting that a if 1 girl doesn’t work, try 33!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wish I was JH. He had 99 problems but, well you know the rest…


Maybe Hamilton doesn’t have enough girlies…look at what happened to Tiger when that ended!


There’s a lot of truth in what happened.


I think that this is a revealing piece.

Unfortunately it doesn’t really say anything positive about Hamilton’s current state of mind. I think that whatever problems he has he is allowing them to consume him, and it sounds like he has convinced himself that he can only perform with a bubble of people around him. This rhetoric brings to mind the image of the urchin looking through the window to the happy family scene.

Seriously, he needs to stop wallowing in this and get his mind right. Whatever support you feel you might need, performance comes from within.


The guy needs to grow up and act like a professional – end of story.


He’s a bit of a baby really, lacking emotional resilience. He’s young, but its not like he’s 14. Yes its crap what he’s been through personally but so what? Those things happen (to lots of people) and he has to take responsibility and move on. And most importantly do his job, for which he needs to remember he is handsomely rewarded. I’m not surprised Whitmarsh appears to be running low on empathy. I like Hamilton as a driver but I’m getting sick of his whining as a personality.


What strikes me is that he never admits his own failures. Yet again, the reasons for his lackluster performances are not realted to his own doings but to some outer circumstances (i.e. “protective bubble”).

The other way around, he diminishes JBs achievements. (i.e. JB is doing as expected considering his great environment and all the advantages he has over poor hamilton.)

I so can not stand this kind of attitude ..


I’m inclined to agree.

I remember his press conference about the lying incident in Malaysia.

Paraphrased: “I’m sorry, in that I regret it happened, but as for responsibility I was misled by the team manager. In life it’s easy to be misled. It’s important, as a man, that I come here and say this.”

Also on the Canada 2008 crash where Raikkonen observed the red light and Hamilton caused an accident he said, “Personally, I think the rule is silly. How can you see a light at the end of the pitlane?” (ask Kimi).

I’m not aware he took any responsibility for passing Vettel by cutting the chicane at France 08, his part in the Hungary 2007 qualifying row where he admitted disobeying a team instruction related to a known team protocol.

I personally don’t believe, in this case, his performances have suffered because of his personal problems.


Agree and its a tendency now.


“lackluster performances are not realted”

lacklustre spelling. LOL!


I think the gist of it is here in James’s words:

“Every driver is different; some need an emotional life support system around them, others, like Robert Kubica, are more self contained and need just a manager by their side.”

“…in a sports context, whatever makes you perform is the right set up. It’s an important thing to get right, because a driver has to focus on getting the maximum from himself throughout a race weekend and he needs his life to be in balance to achieve that.”

It’s not fair, although completely natural, for each of us to imagine how we would react in the situation; we aren’t Lewis. He seems to know himself well, and if he says he needs people around him who believe in him, and say so, then I’m sure he’s right. He’s probably lucky in that sense to have the example of Jenson’s support right there in front of him, because if he had a loner teammate he might waste a year or two trying to fit that template.

He’s not going to rush into a marriage. He’s just going to be serious about his relationships.

And, full confession, that IS how I would react in his situation. I think he’ll be alright. He’ll be back on form soon enough.


Well yes we all suspected that. The fact is Jenson is on a high and Lewis has been on a low and that has reflected on both their performances both positively and negatively respectively. What more is there to say. Frankly I’m sick of hearing about it. I will say that Jenson has surprised me in how he has improved both his qualifying and race performance beyond what I though him capable of. – but good luck to him!

He hasn’t really come up against Lewis in top form yet, and it is my hope that Lewis will mature, become more emotionally settled, and concentrate on his driving rather than anything else.


I don’t think Hamilton has fully recognised his problems. His problems started way before his split from the pussycat doll. The only person he needs right now is his father. Without him, he is going to struggle. His management team can’t give the kind of support he needs.

The other problems are, McLaren didn’t have the best car and he could not keep up with some other drivers. He doesn’t manage the Pirellis well. Then he upset the team by saying silly things to the media. He had a good lesson in overtaking from Button which I am sure had an impact.

He now has to re-build the relationship with the team and the team believes Button could be a better person to bring them the world championship to the team next year. Even though he doesn’t agree with what Whitmarsh said, that is a fact and he has to deal with all this.

Looks like McLaren has a better car in Abu Dhabi. A win would definetely cheer him up.


I always wondered what family/friends of drivers get up to when their man is working. I can understand the thrill of watching the actual race and qualifying with the Team but with all the media and other committments for drivers, what do they do from Thursday through to Sunday in a place like say Korea?

Can you enlighten us on this James, who organises and pays for parents/girlfriends travel and accomodation, how much do they actually see of each other before and after a race if they win. Can a mechanic take his partner along to a race???

I must admit John Button seems the most happy and chilled person in the paddock whenever I see him, relaxing with a glass of red and popular with everyone. How about a race weekend with John Button as an article or better still as a competition winning prize??


The driver pays for it


Buttons family aren’t there cause they are needed. They are there for fun. Suppose it’s nice to feel like contributing to the success too, before enjoying the riches it brings to them all.

Hamilton bit is too ridiculous to even comment.


Before I get slapped I should add that of course his father has contributed greatly in the early stages of the career.


“Troubled” is right !!!

It really is hard to believe that the guy is 26 years old.

He just continues to dig himself into holes by talking absolute blah-blah to the press thereby just creating more questions and interest.

He talks about Buttons bubble but then says “But that’s not affecting the way I’m performing” : Why bring it up then ??

He says Whitmarsh’s comments were “rubbish” : Ooops. Not a great choice of words.

He says “I don’t plan on being single for very long” immediately followed by “It’s nothing to do with being single or not being single”. Once again, why bring it up then ?

He needs his dad back in his life to give him some structure and guidance and he needs to answer every media question with “Nah, everything’s cool man, relax.”


Good on Lewis! Very brave to admit that he is in difficulties, and not try to point the finger elsewhere. Nice to see that he has moved very much away from the groomed talking head of previous times, taking the company line. I hope that this will be a watershed for him. Interesting that he acknowledges Jenson’s success is down to having the support network around him, and very generous of him too it the way that he has said it.

We need more drivers in the Mark Webber mould, telling it like it is, and not moaning about the team, car or which way the wind is blowing!

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