Lewis Hamilton and Barack Obama

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his record-breaking F1 world championship title

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his record-breaking F1 world championship title

Unless you’ve been living on Venus it can’t have escaped your notice that Lewis Hamilton’s feat of becoming the first mixed race driver to win the F1 championship occurred in the same week America elected Barack Obama as its first non-white president.

American reader Kevin MacCauley emailled in a light-hearted look at the coincidences between the two:

There’s some huge similarities between our 2008 President Elect and our 2008 World Champion: (aside from the obvious)

  • Both winning teams (McLaren and the Democrats) have been repeatedly defeated by a huge opposition team that has won everything for six of the last eight years. (Republicans lost Congress for two of those years, Ferrari lost two titles to Renault). In recent times this well-oiled machine has fallen out of form, losing key personnel and making embarrassing blunders along the way. Still powerful, still with a huge base, but more reckless in strategy. I’m not gonna touch the corruption thing…
  • Both our 2008 winners had useless team mates.
  • Both our 2008 winners went into the deciding event with a several-point advantage ?σΤιΌΤΗΨ but it was still an unexpected, unbelievable, history-making result.
  • The amount of money and resources it took to win in 2008 is inexplicably more than it took eight years ago. The game has changed infinitely.

So… Ross Brawn is Karl Rove?

Unfortunately there’s one more coincidence to add: both victories have been followed by rows over race: Obama being congratulated on his ‘sun tan’ by Silvio Berlusconi, and Bernie Ecclestone being criticised for his view of the racial taunts Lewis Hamilton faced earlier this year. More on that later…

Read more about Lewis Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton biography

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29 comments on Lewis Hamilton and Barack Obama

  1. Mr. Man said on 7th November 2008, 19:55

    While I know that F1 Fanatic is basically an anti-racist site masquerading as a F1 blog, could you capitalize the word “White” when referring to the White race? Thanks.

  2. As a political junkie and Democrat, I would have to disagree that Joe Biden has been useless. Perhaps he has on the campaign trail, but over the next four or, hopefully, eight years he’ll prove his worth.

    And something I pointed out on the F1 Fanatic Facebook group: if you don’t count 1960, since the official start of Formula 1 in 1950 Democrats have only won the Presidency in years when a Briton has won the world championship. 1964 (Kennedy/Surtees), 1968 (Johnson/Hill), 1976 (Carter/Hunt), 1992 (Clinton/Mansell), 1996 (Clinton/Hill), and now 2008 (Obama/Hamilton).

    Also, I don’t like Ferrari being the Republicans, because I want to root for them!

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th November 2008, 20:35

    Thanks for the suggestions guys – keep them coming!

    Mr. Man – This is intended as a light-hearted post, see the second paragraph.

  4. squiggle said on 7th November 2008, 20:42

    Funnily enough, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won his first Masters Series tournament a few hours before Lewis won the championship.

  5. Journeyer said on 7th November 2008, 20:55

    Nico, quick correction there: it was Johnson/Surtees in 1964 (since JFK died in 1963). LBJ decided to pass on a 2nd term after the nightmare that was Vietnam, and it was the Republicans led by Nixon who won in 1968.

    But come to think of it, yeah, that’s a rather creepy coincidence there. :)

  6. Dan M said on 7th November 2008, 21:04

    Maybe Bernie could be Bush, he also seems effectuated with the Middle East.

    On a serious note, I think it unavoidable yet still an issue when we make the connection between the two based on skin color. In one way it is much needed acknowledgment but it also shows skin color is still subconsciously on our minds

    Other than the similarities between McLaren and the Democrats, I don’t think the two men could have more differing agendas and attitudes(granted both attitudes suite the given career path).

    Congratulations to both men they are bother deserving winners.

  7. beneboy said on 7th November 2008, 21:06

    Thanks Kevin & Keith, you’ve combined two of my favourite things, F1 & Politics, into a single article – very well done :~)

    @ John Spencer – No 10.
    Quality mate, it’s amazing how many coincidental similarities there are between the two of them.

    Mr. Man

    While I know that F1 Fanatic is basically an anti-racist site masquerading as a F1 blog

    Is it ?

    I know I’ve only been visiting the site for a few months I really hadn’t noticed.

    Even if it was, is that such a bad thing ?

  8. Nico, I’d like to clarify my statement about Joe Biden and Kovalainen being useless! I put a smiley face next to it originally, as I meant it pretty lighthearted. Biden had a few “gaffes” that the media jumped on during the campaign, and it didn’t really help the Democrats. Likewise Heikki was not very helpful to Hamilton when he needed it!

    I do like both Kovalainen and Biden very much so I didn’t mean it to be taken too maliciously.

  9. John Spencer said on 8th November 2008, 0:41

    They are both publicly supported by their (only) younger half-sibling (Obama by his half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, and Lewis by his half-brother, Nicholas)

    Both drive SUVs they don’t really like for PR reasons – Obama swapped his Chrysler 300C for a Ford Escape Hybrid, and Lewis drives a Mercedes GL320CDI.

    The Hawaii connection – Obama was born in Hawaii to parents who moved there, as was Lewis’s girlfriend.

    Nine – the number of previously Republican states that Obama won, and the number of wins Lewis has secured

    Thirteen – Lewis’s pole positions and the number of electoral college votes from Virginia – a state secured for the Democrats by Obama for the first time since 1964.

    Indiana – Lewis won the United States grand prix in Indiana in 2007, following a string of victories by the red team in that race. Obama won the electoral votes of Indiana in 2008 following a string of victories by the red team in that race.

    That’s it. I’m done.

  10. S Hughes said on 8th November 2008, 5:08

    John Spencer, I like the Hawaiian connection – v. clever.

  11. First up, fantastic job to Kevin on a great article, thanks to Keith for spicing up the blog with a bit of American politics, and bravo to all of you for your outstanding commentary-honestly, we’re got a fantastic collection of brilliant minds here. I saw Obama in person in April 2008, when he was still battling in the primaries, and have often raised the question with freinds of “can you imagine Obama presenting Lewis with the 1st place trophy at a renewed USGP?”

    Obama’s election is a great moment in Americna history, and will hopefulyl mark a turnaround from the destructive policies of the last eight years. He is a leader we can all be proud of, and I look forward to seeing his administration take shape and go to work.

    With that said, I see some of you are discussing the role of Vice President-Elect Biden in the campaign, so let’s talk Biden for a bit.

    I presume that for many of you, the election was your first long-term exposure to Mr. Biden. But here in my city, we’ve known him since birth and are proud to call him one of our own. You see, before his family moved to Delaware when he was 10, Biden was born and raised here in Scranton, and grew up here in the city’s Green Ridge section- the same place I have called home for all of my 22 years- Indeed, I drive by Biden’s childhood home every day. Even after his move and subsiquent political stardom, Mr. Biden has maintained a strong relationship with Scranton, and I have seen him on numerous occasions around the neighborhood over the years. We know his reputation well, and he is far from useless…

    The Joe Biden you saw on the campaign trail was one who was toned down and kept on a leash, because in his normal operating mode he is an attacking force that isn’t afriad to take on any political challenger. His work in the Senate has been outstanding, and God forbid if Obama should ever be unable to lead, I would have 1000% confidence in Biden being able to run the nation. If you look back to the VP debate, the democrats did not want to make it seme as though Biden was picking on Pailn and bullying her, so they told him to keep it quiet and play it safe. Otherwise, he would have ripped her to pieces and exposed her for the worthless know-nothing she is. Honestly, after following even one season of F1, most of us know a great deal more about international politics and geography than Sarah the “Hockey Mom.”

    On a closing note, if you want to see Biden in proper form, take a look at the following YouTube clip and fast forward to the 33:00 mark. Crank up the speakers, as it is quite an inspiring moment towards the end:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYRrVKKnsV8&feature=related

  12. AussieLeb said on 9th November 2008, 13:01

    I’m sorry but I find this type of discussion somewhat annoying. I love F1 dearly but there is far too much nostalgia in comments and articles when you are comparing sports and politics.

    Racial issues in sport have been overcome some time ago and I can’t see how Lewis Hamilton winning the Championship could be considered a step forward in addressing said issues. I would suggest that it’s almost a step backwards because the issue isn’t an issue unless someone makes a point of it. Would we be heralding the end of war in the middle east if an Arab won the championship or if Lewis was a Muslim?

    I watched both events prior to the climax (no pun intended – Pink) and at no time during Lewis’s win did I feel as good as when Obama declared his victory. I feel the racial issue in US politics is fair game for discussion but is also now at a stage where it could be considered a step closer to being a moot point.

    I guess what I am saying is I find it offensive that for all the talk of trying to overcome racial issues people can’t help but draw comparisons on the basis of colour/race.

    What Lewis can do for the world pales in insignificance to what I feel Obama will do for us all!

    PS: Obama was always going to win. Not unexpected at all.

  13. Journeyer – very true, i think i just got mixed up because i’d mentioned the 1960 election…

  14. John Spencer said on 10th November 2008, 11:28

    @AussieLeb (27) – I don’t think anyone contributing to this discussion sees it as anything more than a light hearted look at the kind of coincidences to which people tend to erroneously attribute some special significance. There is a long history of conspiracy theorists erroneously reading significance into presidential coincidences, and the fact of Lewis Hamilton and Barack Obama making very different kinds of history at the same time might prompt us to see if they have anything else in common, and the truth is they don’t – unless you consider the fact that John McCain and Felipe Massa are both short to be of mystic significance.

    I’m sorry if you find it offensive when people draw comparisons between Obama and Lewis on the basis of colour/race, but I honestly don’t believe there’s anything patronising or malevolent in any of the comments made here.

    I’m pleased you think race in US politics has moved a step closer to being moot, and I fervently hope that’s the case. Obama’s speech on election night was something special, and for me it really did feel like a very important moment indeed. I wasn’t as confident as you that Obama was always going to win. I followed the polls on RealClearPolitics daily, and while the poll average did indeed turn out to be spot on for election day, there was a week back in September when McCain was up a few points and it looked like things could go either way. But then the Palin bounce kind of flopped, and all the talk of Bradley effects came to nothing.

    Lewis’s victory has been less about race and more about racing. Apart from a couple of well-publicised incidents, we fortunately haven’t heard much about it. It seems that the reasons why people support or don’t support Lewis have nothing to do with race. But for me that’s not entirely true. Sure, I support Lewis because I think he’s an incredible driver. I also support him because he’s a British driver who wins races. But for me the fact that he’s mixed race is actually very important. My son is five years old. He is Anglo/African American, and when he was born in Houston in 2003, I couldn’t imagine that within half a decade both the US president and the Formula 1 world champion would share his heritage. Certainly, Obama’s achievement is more historic, but my son is going to spend more time watching Formula 1 than US politics and it means a lot to me that as he becomes aware of his heritage (he couldn’t care less right now), there are role models to demonstrate he’s growing up in a free and fair world.

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