Race’n’drivers

Why oh why isn’t Lewis Hamilton properly appreciated by British motorsport fans?

So goes the annual lament around the time of the British Grand Prix and so it went again this year in spite of a record crowd at the event, where Hamilton was the only British driver at the pointy end of the grid, and he won convincingly, proudly draping the Union Flag round his shoulders as he celebrated his victory.

Hamilton is a spectacularly, game-changingly talented driver. It is beyond dispute. He may not have yet beaten all the records held by cheating, spoon-faced, born-again blumenkohl Michael Schumacher, but I have no doubt that he will if he wants to and if he doesn’t throw away his career with a vainglorious move to the Maranello Mafia.

Some will claim that it’s Hamilton’s brashness, arrogance and petulance that’s the problem. Others will claim it’s because he’s a tax exile who lives abroad. Others still will argue that his obsession with Americana, music culture and celebrity is his achilles heel.

But that is all besides the point. Setting aside F1 drivers like Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell who seem to have been born middle-aged and grumpy, many of the mealy-mouthed criticisms levelled at Hamilton can equally be levelled at Jenson Button or James Hunt or, when it comes to sportsmanship, Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton was careful to downplay Rio Ferdinand’s suggestion that objections to him are merely racism, pointing out that he’s mixed race. However, it feels to me like Ferdinand is probably correct, because people like Rio Ferdinand and his fellow proponents of race-baiting identity politics have made it so.

The more Hamilton has embraced ostentatiously black culture – and he has, in so many ways – the more he has marked himself out as different from whitey. His every action outside of the circuit has screamed ‘ I’m one of these guys, not one of you guys’.

It’s beyond doubt that people prefer idols with whom they can identify – I can see myself having a pint and a cigarette with James Hunt, playing 18 holes with David Coulthard or playing Counterstrike against Lando Norris, but can I see myself in a San Francisco nightclub, rapping with Lewis, sporting half a BA Baracus-worth of gold? Nah.

We are discouraged from holding black people up to the same standards we have for white people, we are excoriated for any suggestion that we may have the faintest idea what life might be like for a black or mixed-race person.

So how can anyone be surprised or offended that what some people actually don’t like about Hamilton is that he’s ‘different from us’?

Come on, Lando!

AJ

2 thoughts on “Race’n’drivers

  1. “Why oh why isn’t Lewis Hamilton properly appreciated by British motorsport fans?”
    Because most British motorsport fans don’t like tax exiles who regard them with contempt? It’s not that entirely, it is more the sense of entitlement that has come with it. Remember that time he had to frantically back pedal when he called Stevenage a slum?

    “Hamilton is a spectacularly, game-changingly talented driver. It is beyond dispute.”
    Look a little closer and you might be surprised.

    His failed Formula 3/Formula Renault career, for example. – Four years in these two formula and only one championship in the process is not a searing, rising talent. It’s middling good at best and at worst it’s a flat out liability to stay there that long. Also, don’t forget his botched GP2 “career,” where he managed one season and only won the title upon a technicality involving another car. It strikes me as a career spent waiting for something, and in his case, that was for a call from Ron Dennis as they needed someone junior to Fernando Alonso. No-one else was interested as he had been part of McLaren’s young driver program from the beginning.

    Contrast that with Jos Verstappen, Max’s dad, who went from Karting to Formula One in just three years, and who received submissions of interest from every team on the grid except Williams (Back when they were good.) and Ferrari (Back when they were rubbish.).

    Let’s also further not forget the fact of the very easy ride he gets given by the media for his on track screw ups. Baku in 2017 for example saw him not accelerate out of a corner and have Vettel drive into the back of him. He either did that deliberately or was incompetent, but he was naturally blameless in the eyes of the media.

    A final illustration of his uselessness is how he wound up at Mercedes: By accident. He got the gig because of Niki Lauda who recommended that they grab him as part of Mercedes’s return to formula one as a full chassis manufacturer rather than just an engine supplier. The reason? Their plan was a final championship for Michael Schumacher that turned out to be a complete disaster. Hamilton was available and so he stabbed Ron Dennis in the back. Whatever was said to end that relationship must have been horrendous, since McLaren re-signed Fernando Alonso, and he was up to his neck in the Spygate scandal that got them expelled from the 2007 championship.

    “However, it feels to me like Ferdinand is probably correct, because people like Rio Ferdinand and his fellow proponents of race-baiting identity politics have made it so.”

    I’d venture that he’s actually stuck at Mercedes from now until he retires. McLaren won’t have him because they’ve got Lando Norris. Red Bull won’t have him, because their driver program gives them Max and a line of subordinate drivers. Renault have not proven to be good enough, as Daniel Riccardo has found out to his cost. Racing Point can’t afford him and neither Williams nor Haas are good enough for a world championship. And he will never drive for Ferrari, not ever, because if he does follow Rio Ferdinand’s belief that the British are racist, he doesn’t want to know how the Italian press will treat him.

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