Op-Ed: First Liegate, now Hoongate

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What is it, exactly, about Australia?

Is it the distance from most of the rest of the world?

Is it the great middle where almost no one lives?

Is it some strange, Antarctic wind that blows across the nation?

Whatever it is, Lewis Hamilton clearly is incredibly susceptible. And I think we can say that Australia and Lewis are now, officially, at odds, with today’s little incident that, after a series of high-level conference calls, Negative Camber and I have determined must be called “Hoongate.”

Vick posted the details here.

Here’s a recap:

According to ABC in Australia, the police say the McLaren driver was turning into Fitzroy Street at around 9.15pm when he ‘deliberately lost traction of his wheels.’ The 25-year-old Hamilton was driving a silver Mercedes Benz sedan and police say they have impounded the vehicle. He will be summonsed for improper use of a motor vehicle. The Briton is likely to face a fine if found to have to committed an offence. ‘It’s something that will be settled in court and would be a monetary matter,’ said a police spokesman. ‘None of these court times or dates have been set as yet.’

[snip]

Hamilton was pulled over close to the Albert Park circuit and taken back to his hotel in a police vehicle. His Mercedes car was also impounded. The police spokesman said: ‘There were no problems whatsoever when the driver was stopped. He was assisted back to his hotel, which was about six kilometres [four miles] away. He was with a male passenger in the car.’

Local reports said the 2008 world champion was seen ‘doing a burnout and fishtail.’ The Melbourne Herald Sun described his conduct as ‘hoon driving.’ The term ‘hoon’ has obtained a semi-official use in Australia, with police and governments employing it to describe legislation targeting anti-social driving activity.

Now, Lewis has apologized (sound familiar!?) for his “overexuberant” driving. “This evening, I was driving in an overexuberant manner and, as a result, was stopped by the police,” Hamilton said in a statement. “What I did was silly, and I want to apologise for it.”

The statement comes via McLaren, but I warn about going to its website. I think every hoon-lover in the world is there, and it isn’t loading very fast.

Which, of course, is the exact opposite of what Lewis was doing.

I’m really just plain shocked. Hooning in Bahrain, I would have understood it. Hooning in China. Fine. Hooning along the harbor at Monaco. I’m with you, Lewis.

But Australia? Really? Someone didn’t pound into you the need to be on your absolutely best behavior this weekend after last year and Liegate.

How could he have done this, how could McLaren have let him do it, how could Bernie Ecclestone not have had watch?

Ah… wait, I know. Brilliant guys, brilliant.

Is there a better way for Lewis to turn legions of hooning Aussies away from Australian Super V8 to Formula 1? Is there a better way, well aside from getting a Holden tattoo, to prove he’s “one of us?”

Huh. Maybe this is a better viral marketing effort than “Secret Lewis.”

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