It’s never nice to be at the receiving end of boos like Sebastian Vettel was on Sunday, but bizarrely Lewis Hamilton spent most of the weekend being rude about himself! Both situations, although very different, were completely unnecessary in my mind.
Sebastian Vettel was getting booed for winning a Grand Prix. Yes he was a Red Bull driver marking his territory in the fields of the Prancing Horse, but these are passionate, knowledgeable fans and after a fair, clean race, should have known better.
It was the same at the concert at Silverstone when a large group of F1 fans decided to share their dislike of Vettel to him. Why? We’ve discussed Malaysia enough, as we have done with Turkey 2010 before that. Let’s also not forget Mark Webber’s “not bad for a number 2 driver” weekend at Silverstone. Do these things all add up to make Vettel a villain? If so then surely Red Bull has to be accountable too for creating the ‘baddie’ in the show?
Is it because, in some people’s eyes, he’s making Formula 1 boring? A combination of Adrian Newey and Vettel’s talents have created a dominant force in the last three years, but you could hardly describe winning races and a fourth title as selfish… In fact, how many of those past three titles were dominant? Just one.
Whether you like him or loathe him, to be sporting is the correct way to be. It’s OK to switch off your television thinking “that’s that then” after Vettel takes pole or wins a race – trust me, many people up and down the Formula 1 paddock think that too – but to jeer someone who has displayed their skills in a faultless way all weekend just seems churlish.
Someone who didn’t have a faultless weekend according to himself, was Lewis Hamilton. I like Lewis, I admire his passion, honesty and emotional approach, but whether it all helps him is something I doubt.
I have been on the Lewis roller coaster since he took part in GP2 in 2006. I’ve done more emotional/bizarre/confused/great interviews with Lewis than with any other driver. He’s been angry, emotional, spiritual, in tears of sadness and joy and we’ve apologised to each other and I’m starting to wonder… when did we get married?!
When Lewis is having a good day behind the wheel you’ll struggle to find a better driver. Indeed, when he’s having a bad day, you’d still struggle. Outside of the car is a different story. I knew on Saturday after qualifying he obviously wouldn’t be happy. He hadn’t missed a top ten shoot-out since 2010. I was still surprised, though, when he was so down beat that he could hardly bring himself to speak.
“I drove like an idiot,” seemed to be his mantra, claiming it was the worst he’d driven for a long time. In the race he started from 12th and despite fighting back to ninth, which doesn’t sound much, but watching the race you could see what a battle that was, he still wasn’t happy and was still ruing that he “blew it in qualifying”. You expect top class athletes to have the highest of expectations, but it’s Lewis’ body language and delivery more than his actual words that show how much he can be broken by a bad weekend.
He is very reactionary, though, and after writing off the championship to me after the race on camera, he has since backtracked and said that, although it will be extremely difficult, he will give it his all. And you’ve got to believe him because what he says at that particular time, he does really believe. He just does change his mind a lot as his emotions go up and down on that roller coaster.
From that point of view he is the exact opposite to Michael Schumacher who was controlled and calculated and didn’t seem to be at the mercy of his emotions. Again, like or loathe, it didn’t do his results any harm. Fernando Alonso is somewhere in between Schumacher and Hamilton. His comments on team radio are emotional and frustrated, his interviews always claim nothing is a problem and his tweets suggest he is the next Samurai. Maybe he can be as emotional as Lewis, but just tries to hide it better.
I am not a psychologist, I’m not saying there is a right way to be, but it struck me that once the damage had been done on Saturday, Lewis couldn’t mentally bring himself back – or even accept that in the end he had driven a very good race – which is a shame. Yes, his mind is on the championship and now he is even further away from that goal, but he came into this season with no expectations of Mercedes in 2013 and yet he has scored five pole positions, four podiums and a win. There is some light in the darkness.
I love Formula 1 and, when it is deserved, I just want to see drivers and fans enjoying it too.
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