What is the matter with Lewis Hamilton?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. He’s at the end of his contract and he is exploring his options. He has been a loyal servant of McLaren since he was a child and has more than paid back their investment. He has turned a boring, unglamorous racing team into a stylish, slick, corporate operation, attracting sponsorship and a profile that the team never had with Coulthard, Kimi Räikkönen or Juan Pablo Montoya.
He’s a superstar, the first minority ethnic Formula One driver and a champion in his second season. He is competitive, hates losing and is dedicated to his sport. He is articulate, emotional and proud.
I think there has been a marked change in his public persona since he ended his business relationship with his father, but I also think that makes sense. Anthony Hamilton is no Kris Jenner, happy to pimp out his son for commercial gain. He saw Lewis a racing driver, not a celebrity. The relationship was bound to be stressed as the distractions available to his son became too tempting to ignore.
I don’t blame Lewis for looking for success outside of McLaren and even outside of his sport. It amazes me that he gets more recognition for having a pop star girlfriend than being one of the nation’s most successful sportsmen in a sport as exclusive and inaccessible as Formula One. He was 23 when he became the youngest Champion in Formula One history – but compare his exposure to that of Tom Daley or Andy Murray. Lewis has arguably achieved on par, but not many people wave their flags for his achievements.
He is constantly portrayed childish and petulant and detailed descriptions of his ‘gaffes’ are often proceeded in the media by the observations of Jenson Button, the archetypal Englishman, faintly damning and dismissive in equal measure.
Button has had an unremarkable season this year. He can’t work his tyres. Yet if he were to be judged by the press, you’d think he was getting more out of the MP4-27. He’s not.
Lewis Hamilton is determined to be World Champion again, certainly because he loves to win but perhaps because this lack of recognition amazes him too.
I hope one day, this racing prodigy gets what he deserves.