I watched the press conference at the British Grand Prix and thought the question put to Lewis Hamilton about his “Britishness” was a very base question and to be honest, I didn’t feel it even needed addressing. As a Yank, maybe these things don’t register as much as they do with my British friends but in the end, many F1 drivers live in Monaco and no one accuses them of being less British than others.
Then there was the racist overtones heaped on to this debate and I found that as base as the original charge so I was glad to see Lewis tack away from that because I don’t think either element has anything to do with the real issue at hand.
When you dominate a sport and you are at the top of your game, you’re going to get boo birds. Schumacher had them, Senna had them, Vettel had them, Alonso had them and Hamilton has them. There were some pretty heinous things leveled at Schumacher in the past.
For Toto Wolff, being a polarizing figure in F1 is better than the alternative according to a report by Adam Cooper:
“I think certainly racing in front of his home crowd in Silverstone he wants to do particularly well,” said Wolff. “And that puts an additional tension and intensity into the situation.
“For me many of the best sports stars in the world, they polarise. You will have heard similar comments about Serena Williams. Half of the people love her and want her to win everything, and the other ones cheer for the opponents.
“And I think you’d rather polarise than be down the middle and boring. That’s my opinion.”
I agree with Toto, I think Lewis is facing the very real notion that you can’t please everyone. I am nowhere near the celebrity status as Lewis and even I get hate mail so imagine what Lewis must get having walked 5 championships and dominated the sport with Mercedes for the last several years. It’s polarizing and it comes with a price…criticism.
Having read British press for some time now, it tends to be a bit of sport for them to build someone up and then tear them down but that’s just my observation from this side of the pond and that’s not an indictment because our press is even more miserable these days.
Lewis is a polarizing champion and that’s perfectly fine with me. I suspect Mercedes and F1 like his social media footprint and his ability to draw crowds and polarize readers/viewers. He hasn’t had a lot of competition until recently when Max Verstappen came into the sport and by the looks of things, Charles Leclerc may also give him a run for his money.
In the end, Lewis isn’t going to please everyone but just to be clear, “everyone” is not obliged to please Lewis either and having detractors is part of possessing fame.
Hat Tip: Motorsport