Hamilton learns it’s the friends that you keep

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I’m on the record as saying that this year may be the best I have ever seen Lewis Hamilton perform. Even his teammate, known for the gentle touch with tires and ability to manage tires, pales in comparison to what Hamilton has been able to accomplish and he’s not been accused as a tire management guy.

The 2011 season seemed riddled with dodgy performances that even Hamilton admits were a product of the distractions in his life. I had mentioned then that if I were Martin Whitmarsh, I’d hate to have had to manage a distracted Hamilton knowing you were not getting the best of your star driver due to issue beyond your control.

The 2012 season is a complete and refreshing change for the Brit and Hamilton told AUTOSPORT that is is because he rid himself of outside distractions:

“I’ve strengthened bridges and relationships with people, not only in my personal life but also in my team. I’ve been working with the engineers better this year and all of that stuff has just helped.

“I don’t have any particular problems going on in my life, or any baggage – and last year I had a big, big sack. Fortunately I’ve dumped that in the dumpster and it’s all good now.”

When I was young, I learned a valuable lesson that it isn’t always your intentions or hard work but it can be a simple case of the company you keep. We’ve all felt that pull to behave, say or act a different way than we really are because of the people around us telling us its fine, everything is good. This isn’t always insidious advice, sometimes it can be meant with the best of intentions but it can take our eye off the ball.

I think Lewis’s friends meant well and they wanted the best for him in and out of Formula One. The discordant relationship with his father has had a major impact as well and you can see the galvanizing effect that Anthony Hamilton has on anything he is involved with. While I wouldn’t call him a schlockmeister, I get the impression he’s sold a few jars of snake oil in his day and left a wake of collateral damage in doing so…or that’s the feeling I have from reading his story in the press but I have no tell-all quotes to support that. Anthony, in the end, wants the very best for his son but he’s trying to make a business out of this too and while it may be opportunistic, it’s his gig. It’s good to see the two on speaking terms in 2012 and Anthony seems genuinely excited for Lewis.

In the end, I have no idea what “baggage” Lewis jettisoned but I’m glad he did. He looks terrific, has a command of a recalcitrant car and is heading toward the sharp end of the grid. I like a focused, professional Lewis much better than the R&B musician Lewis and I suggest that McLaren may as well.


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