We all have our own quirks and idiosyncrasies in life. There have been moments I’m sure we’re all not proud of and some things said or done that haven’t been the most reflective of our typical nature. Even if you’re a three-time—soon to be four-time—champion like Lewis Hamilton.
Take Sebastian Vettel and Baku or Turkey or Alonso or Schumacher or Senna or Prost or Hunt or…you get the point. They’ve all had their moments. Today’s story at Autosport doesn’t surprise me and nor do I feel it is as negative as some are claiming regarding a new book from 2009 world champion Jenson Button.
In his forthcoming new book, JB dishes some insider info on his relationship with then teammate, Lewis Hamilton, saying:
“Midway through that first season, I was ahead of Lewis in the points,” wrote Button.
“Did he like being beaten by his team-mate? Probably not, but he’s a competitor and I’m sure that like me he relished the challenge.
“That’s why we do what we do.
“Personally, he was fine with me, but you could just tell he was a little bit peeved. I don’t think that I was to his taste, if I’m honest.
“And things took a bit of a turn for the worse in Turkey, when we almost had a collision that led to a minor falling-out between us.”
Things got a little more strained when Lewis tweeted a picture of telemetry from what he thought was Button’s and was suggesting that things weren’t equal among them and if memory serves correctly, then accused JB of un-following him but, in fact, JB never was following him on Twitter. Something that just added to what JB called “weird” behavior.
“Quite what was in his thinking, I couldn’t say,” said Button.
“Certainly any displeasure he was showing was aimed at the team, not me, but I ended up being collateral damage because you don’t make telemetry public. You just don’t.
“The screen grab showed the kind of things you work hard to keep hidden from your rivals. I made my feelings known about that.
“The official version was that I was “disappointed”. Had I gone with my unofficial reaction it would have made ‘WTF’ seem very tame indeed.
“But at the same time I knew it wasn’t personal. Bit dumb maybe. But not an ‘I hate Jenson’ thing so much as an ‘I’m fed up with McLaren’ thing.
“Later in the season, it was officially announced, that Lewis was leaving to partner Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.
“That was a shame for me; I’d enjoyed our rivalry. Off the track, however, he was still being a bit weird.”
It was a bit of an odd time to be honest and you could sense the tension between Lewis and McLaren. Later that season, Lewis announced his departure to Mercedes to team with Nico Rosberg…his old buddy from the karting days. Once again, there were smiles all around but those quickly turned to frowns, didn’t they?
I think the top drivers who are highly and personally motivated can be a bit difficult to manage. They got where they are for a reason and those strong personalities are a large part of their driving force. In Lewis’s case, both he and his father came from modest beginnings, worked the McLaren system for all it could provide and have both worked hard to acquire a mutli-millionaire lifestyle but not without its challenges.
You’ll recall Anthony Hamilton wrecking a loaner Porsche into a children’s playground, right? The time when Lewis was flown over the heads of an audience at a Turkish opera playing the role of a god? The strained relationship and brooding image of Anthony lurking in the McLaren garage? Look, the Hamilton’s have taken advantage of every possible opportunity afforded them and that’s no different than any driver before them. The reality is, they (Anthony) set out to make a star driver of his son and he succeeded and did so in grand fashion. From that point on, Lewis seized the moment and has had his ups and downs but he’s driving as well as he ever has this season and is making it all on his own now.
Having known nothing else but competitive racing, is there any wonder a young man might be a bit weird when it comes to perceived inequality that may or may not be contextually accurate? I think Lewis is fiercely competitive as is Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. I love that about all three of them. I loved it about Senna and Schumacher too.
If Lewis’s “weird” behavior keeps producing titles and performances such as the one’s we’re getting this year, then perhaps Austin can lend it’s iconic phrase to Lewis Hamilton this weekend at the US Grand Prix…”KEEP LEWIS WEIRD”.
Hat Tip: Autosport