Is Hamilton a flash in the pan?

November 1, 2007 at 5:14 am Leave a comment

Max Mosely seems to think so. This is what he said in an interview with BBC’s Hardtalk programme:

“He’s got a lot of interest worldwide because he’s come manifestly not from a rich background. There is always somebody new. If it wasn’t him it would be either [Nico] Rosberg or [Robert] Kubica or one of the other new stars, a Sebastian Vettel, would suddenly be the big one. So I think there is a tendency to exaggerate the importance of Lewis Hamilton.”

Many in the media are quick to draw the analogy between Lewis Hamilton and Tiger Woods. Both are black (to a degree), exceptionally gifted and at a tender age had the opportunity to redefine their sport. Woods sprung onto the scene 11 years ago and came as advertised, single-handedly catapulting golf to prominence among the media. Won’t Lewis do the same for the aristocratic world of F1?

The difference between F1 and other sports is that Lewis can’t just rely on his natural talent as winning requires both man and machine. If McLaren produce a duff car for the next few years (and the £50m fine could see to that) then Lewis could rapidly fade from the spotlight as quickly as Jenson Button did.

Despite that I think Mosely is wrong. Hamilton is an enormously talented driver — possibly more gifted than Michael Schumacher — and even in a sub-par car is capable of racing miracles. Don’t forget that Hamilton in his maiden season clocked 109 points and should have (and still could) snare the World Championship. Would Kubica, Vettel or Rosberg have done that? No. Okay, so Hamilton had a helping hand from the uber-competitive McLaren, but to comprehensively outrace the double World Champion for half a season on unknown tracks is an incredible achievement.

Lewis Hamilton has the ability to transform F1. He is young, good looking, from a normal background, and more importantly black. That will chime with many in the less developed world, which is where F1’s focus will be for the next decade. The media and marketing men play a dominant role in developing superstars today. Unless Hamilton is exposed as an alcohol fueled, drug ravaged, sexual deviant then expect his to transcend his sport for the next 10 years.

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Entry filed under: Comment.

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