I have never made any secret of the fact that I think that Lewis Hamilton is an overrated driver. Don’t get me wrong, I think the boy has talent, and he definitely has speed over a lap, but as an all round driver, I believe there are many areas in which he is lacking.
Every year since he started in 2007, his title campaigns have been littered with mistakes, and he can barely go a week without some story appearing in the newspaper about his sex life with a girl nobody cares about or his probably ill fated latest music recording project!
I find this all doubly frustrating as I myself would kill to be in his position, and from the outside it would appear the life he has been gifted is being taken for granted and wasted, whilst he seeks pleasure in some of the many perks that come with being a young, rich, handsome Formula One driver.
It makes me sad to see it as I joined the masses in 2007 in thinking we had the next Michael Schumacher on our hands, and to make it even better, he was British!
Whilst I, along with the average armchair fan, couldn’t resist the temptation of labelling him an all time great in the making, if you look a bit closer you can see why all was not quite as we would have liked to believe.
Again, I stress, what Lewis did that year was a great achievement. For any driver to enter the sport and in his first season challenge for the title is an achievement of the highest level. But there are some things to take from this success.
I know already there will be a gaggle of Hamilton fans waiting to shout at me that Lewis, a ROOKIE, finished his first ever season level on points with his double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso. Well, you are correct, yes he did… but it’s this word ‘rookie’ that I don’t like.
Today, a rookie is fresh from a feeder series like GP2, he is called up to do a few tests for an F1 team, maybe gets to take part in a few Young Driver Tests here and there, then BAM! He is covered in sponsors and slung out onto the race track in a Formula One car that will be lucky to be within 6 seconds of the leaders in qualifying.
This is alien to Hamilton. He was picked out at a very young age, lucky already to have a dad who was willing to sacrifice time and a lot of money to get his son onto a race track each weekend, he was snapped up by McLaren with the aim of turning him into a corporate, race winning machine!
With testing being unlimited back then, by the time Lewis lined up alongside his team mate for the first race in Australia, he already had thousands of miles in the car under his belt. If anything, he was more prepared than Alonso, who was having to learn a new car, as well as forming relationships with a new team and new sponsors. This is before we even start to think about the fact that McLaren had been a team out of sorts in recent years. This year however, as the Lewis luck normally was back then, they had made an extremely quick car!
Obviously we all know what was to follow; a childish spat between the pair saw them throw away a championship and Alonso to seek solace in the arms of his old team whilst he looked for better options.
All this was put down to youth and inexperience at the time, but in my mind not a lot has changed.
He won the title the following year, but people are quick to forget that the year did not go smoothly, and only some exceptional rain dancing from the McLaren team on the last few laps of the last race of the season, saw Lewis take the title from Massa by the smallest of margins.
Since then I have to say I am disappointed. A young German driver by the name of Vettel has come along and done all the things I was expecting Lewis to do, and I think he was expecting to be doing these things too. But, he has since found himself in the second best car, and recently with a team mate in Jenson Button who has been able to slot into the nest that Hamilton had made at McLaren, and make it his own.
All this has knocked his once sky high self belief and I’m sure it leaves him pondering the decisions he has made over the last few years.
Is it time to make that change? Is it time to leave home and move on to pastures greener? He may have a hard time saying goodbye to the friends and family he has made at Woking over the years, but I’m pretty sure I know a decent team who have a drive available next year whose management may just welcome him with open arms.
I’m not sure Mr Alonso would be quite so welcoming though…