Soapbox: Why Lewis Hamilton should be champion

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2007 | Daimler ChryslerStarting today the first of a three-part series in which three guest writers will put a case for why a different driver deserves to be champion.

First up Clive Allen from F1 Insight is going to argue in favour of Lewis Hamilton – check back over the next two days to read the arguments for Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.

Take it away Clive…

Lewis Hamilton is not the most popular driver with hard core F1 enthusiasts. This is probably the result of the adoration and hype exhibited by the British tabloid press in his name; we all dislike such ignorant and one-sided nonsense and that carries over into our assessment of Hamilton himself.

But, as enthusiasts, we ought to be dispassionate and recognize that it is not Hamilton’s fault that this has happened. He cannot help being British and an extremely talented young driver in his first season in F1. Surely we should ignore the fuss made by journalists who have no understanding of the sport and make our assessment of Lewis based purely upon his abilities and character.

I think we have all been surprised at how good Hamilton is as a driver. Until his rookie error that led to the gravel trap in Shanghai, he has hardly put a foot wrong. He had some luck in Germany, it is true, but plenty of other drivers were caught out by the downpour – it was a lottery as to who slid off the road and those who did not should be thankful that fate decided to give them a free pass for once.

The other two contenders have made many more mistakes and, as experienced and respected campaigners, have less excuse. Raikkonen’s contact with the barriers in Monaco qualifying was merely the most obvious of his unforced errors; let us not forget those numerous occasions in which the new tarmac run-off areas have been the only reason he did not have to pay for mistakes.

Alonso too has hardly been error-free. Remember how amazed we were at the number of times he messed up in Canada, a champion we had thought almost perfect suddenly spending more time off the track than Sakon Yamamoto? There have been times when Alonso’s desperation at being beaten by his team mate was very obvious.

On quality of driving, I think we have to say that Hamilton deserves to be champion. So do the other two but not quite as much. It is when we come to character that things become more difficult.

I need not spend much time on Alonso’s public utterances this season. He has revealed himself to be a man who cannot stand to lose and who becomes quite irrational when he does. As far as I’m concerned, that alone means he does not deserve to be champion. Raikkonen, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish (and his character has been likened to a wet fish at times). I cannot fault his preference for stoic silence through all controversy and it is only his tendency to over-drive that prevents me from preferring him to Hamilton for champion.

Lewis has occasionally shoved his foot in his mouth quite firmly this season, it’s true. At times he seems to have a talent for saying things in a way that irritates us. But that has been fairly rare – generally he is quite good at the bland, corporate line that we expect from F1 drivers. And his few misjudged statements do reveal the character beneath the polished, well-trained public persona.

He’s a young kid living his dream. We assign all sorts of devious motives to him but, in essence, I think he is genuinely an open, honest and likeable guy. He is ambitious but all racers have to be; sometimes he appears arrogant but, again, that is not exactly an uncommon trait in F1 drivers. And it must be admitted that very few young men of his age could have experienced the hype surrounding him and not been too affected. This guy will turn out okay, mark my words.

So I think Hamilton shades it in the “deserving stakes”. And, let’s face it, the statisticians are going to be very happy if he does win the championship this year. First ever rookie world champ; oh, they’ll love it!

Clive Allen writes for F1 Insight

Photo: Daimler Chrysler

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16 comments on Soapbox: Why Lewis Hamilton should be champion

  1. I think some care is needed when we start using the ‘d’ word: deserve.

    What does it really mean to deserve to win? Some would say that Kimi has done his time, fought through many mechanical problems, and lost out on several championships through no fault of his own, whereas Alonso has won it twice. Surely it is Kimi’s turn yes?

    Hamilton on the other hand has climbed straight into the best car, with a team mate that is not accustomed to being equal and hence is slightly wrong-footed. He has had all the chances, and hasn’t ‘done his time’.

    You could also argue that Hamilton has simply made less mistakes than Alonso. Being ahead of Alonso by virtue of Alonso’s mistakes makes Alonso undeserving, but does it make Hamilton deserving?

    Do I want Hamilton to Win? Yes, Do I think he drove better than the others? Yes, for the most part, Do I think he deserves it? Not sure.

  2. That ‘d’ word has caused me some problems as well. I think all three should win because they have each shown great skill and determination this year. They really are among the best drivers out there. I appreciate we cannot necessarily tell that from Hamilton as he hasn’t driven a poor F1 car yet, unlike Alonso and Raikkonen (Minardi and Sauber respectively). But Lewis makes up for that by adapting to F1 so quickly.

    But do they deserve it? As you’ll hopefully read tomorrow, and as Andrew says above, that’s a tricky one to answer.

  3. nellyweb said on 15th October 2007, 13:50

    As a hardcore F1 fan I firmly believe that Hamilton deserves the title this year. it would would actually be a very cruel ending if, having lead for most of the season, he lost it at the final hurdle.

    The “hamilton has climbed straight into the best car” argument makes no sense if we are talking about deserving something through being the best throughout the course of single seasons F1. This year Kimi and Alonso have made more driver errors than Hamilton (although he has had his share!) and have been outperformed by him in either identical or near identically performing equipment.

    I have no doubts that Alonso and Kimi are two of the fastest drivers in F1, however they have simply been outclassed this year by a fast man. Maybe next year will be their turn, although with a seasons worth of experience behind him, I would expect Hamilton to do the double!! ;-)

  4. William Wilgus said on 15th October 2007, 15:47

    How can it be that someone who has won four (4) races this year deserves the championship more than someone who has won five (5) races this year? How about all those rules infractions that someone got away with? When did the championship become a `deserves’ vote?

  5. nellyweb said on 15th October 2007, 16:39

    William – honestly, what rule infractions would those be? Aside from getting lifted back onto the track (for which the marshals should have been hauled up) I don’t know of any other infractions?

    The F1 championship is decided by POINTS – always has been so it’s just as fair this year as it has always been.

  6. nellyweb i 100% agree!

  7. hey guys, remember F1 is a big bussines, and notthing better for it than a rookie, british and black guy winning the championship, thats a boom for media and Bernies pocket, and thats what he wants, so does Mc Laren. Alonso or Kimi winning is not any more a good bissines for none of them.
    I only have one question, can any body imagine the president of the FIFA (I dont know his name) telling to the media, (at the same time they are playing the Football World Cup), that Austraila should be the winner and that would be great for football bussines, because seeing Germany or Brazil winning is no good for football, because they do nothing for it? and of course not punishing them as they do with other teams.
    This year lots of drivers have been sanctionated, and some of them for very extrange reasons, even without having broken any written rule, and, has Lewis been sanctionated?, because I do think he has done several things to be, ¿isn’t it strange?
    F1 bussines needs Lewis, thats all

  8. nellyweb said on 15th October 2007, 21:17

    Uk – A couple of points:

    Bernie Eccleston is the Commercial Rights holder of F1. All Bernie cares about is getting good payback for his investment. he can say what he likes, just as the head of Sky Sports could say that he hopes Australia win the world cup because it would be good for business…

    Bernie is not the President of the FIA – that would be Max Mosley – a man who has stated on record that he would like to have seen Lewis and Fernando kicked out of the championship. The only reason that they were not is that the FIA offered the drivers immunity from penalty in return for evidence – evidence which proved that Alonso and de la Rosa had discussed information from Ferrari with Mike Couglan, but not Hamilton.

    Bernie did not drive the McLaren to 4 wins (so far) this year – that was all Hamilton.

    Of course McLaren want Lewis to win – Alonso has betrayed them and has been a spoilt petulant child for most of the season because he has not been the favoured driver. Frankly, I imagine the only reason they haven;t fired Alonso this season is because they are calling his bluff and waiting for him to ask to leave.

  9. Hi Nellyweb, agree with your point about Bernie, but you must admit he is more than the owner of F1 rigths.
    About Alonso’s and De la Rosa’s mails, I just cant beleive how anybody can still believe Ron’s version, he just needed someone to point at when all the Stepneygate exploded, those were Alonso, De la Rosa and some few mechanics from the test team, how can you believe that no one (even Ron himself) did`nt knew about those 708 pages from Ferrari.
    Is Mc Laren a company where his Boss and principals don’t know that they have such an important information from his rivals?.
    Just think how much money you can get from any team if you offer them all that information from Ferrari, ¿do you think Nigel is silly?, he knew those pages were gold and just sold it to the ones who he knew tehy would pay for them, its a too romantic view to think he did it because he was so unhappy in Ferrari´s new schedule.
    I didn’t like how Ron pointed his two drivers as the betrayers of the team and sold this to the media.
    As may drivers told this kind of mails with information about other teams are quite common, they also do it, no team is punished like Mc laren was because those mails, I’m sure there are many other reasons (we will never know) for this sentence against Mc Laren, and the main responsable for all those reasons is no other than Ron.

  10. William Wilgus said on 16th October 2007, 2:11

    Nellyweb:
    Let’s see . . . cutting a chicane to pass Kimi, “obviously erratic driving” behind the safety car, . . .
    No, I don’t like Hamilton, but I like the points system even less.

  11. oliver said on 16th October 2007, 3:50

    William:

    Cutting a chicane to pass Kimi? What race was that? I sincerly hope u know and can identify the characters participating in the races and also, that you do watch the races thoroughly.

    Now I am also surprised Kimi didnt get any penalty for cutting all corners in his effort to overtake Coulthard at the Fuji race. On how many occassions did he shorten the distance he had to travel, by simply running over the grass and also using sections of the tarmac that was grippier but not actually part of the circuit.

  12. Hamilton – great rookie season and let’s admit it, not too many people’s bet at the beginning of the season. Having the best car – yes that plays a big part in it, but driving McLaren was not a way to title since the days of Mika Hakkinen.

    Alonso – if he wins it then all respect. Winning the title despite being an self made outcast in the team for basically half of the season that would be some accomplishemnt.

    Raikkonen – that would be some come back… he is my favourite because he has the biggest mountain to climb

    On the note why Alonso hasn’t been fired yet by McLaren – Among other reasons don’t forget, Mosley warned McLaren strongly against taking any action against Alonso …

  13. why theres all this jealousy for hamilton il never know, face it hes come in and beaten a self obsessed double world champion who ant accept hes been beaten by the better man over the season. Hamilton has been superb this season his wins have been brilliant flawless drives and when he hasnt been able to win hes been 2nd or 3rd for the majority, much like alonso for the past 2 years. for the people who dont like hamilton get used to is hes going to get better!

    i cant see how some people think if hamilton wins its unfair, as nellyweb said, the championship is decided on points not race wins, the current system rewards consistency and hamilton has just played the system an picked up as many points as possible at every grand prix. wheras alonso has panicked under pressure and had poor results in some races.

    GO HAMILTON!!!!!

  14. nick clews said on 17th October 2007, 19:01

    BECAUSE HAMILTON IS BY FAR THE BEST RACER AS WE AHVE SEEN ALL SEASON AND THAT IF HE CAN DO THIS ON HIS ROOKIE YEAR WAT CAN HE DO NEXT YEAR

  15. verasaki said on 18th October 2007, 4:47

    wow, debating is more or less a lost art in the u.s. i see the earmarks of a liberal education here. reading all three of these at once makes me want to give up citizenship.

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