British press on Hamilton’s troubles

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton has found his McLaren MP4-24 is a handful
Lewis Hamilton has found his McLaren MP4-24 is a handful

Lewis Hamilton has been the golden boy of Fleet Street since he arrived on the F1 scene two years ago. While the national football and cricket teams have struggled, his has been one of few success stories for Britons in international sport.

But facing a potentially un-competitive season with the McLaren MP4-24, Hamilton can expect a very different kind of press in 2009.

Here’s how the British media covered McLaren’s admission that the MP4-24 isn’t up to scratch:

Lewis Hamilton in trouble as McLaren falter

“The world champion has crashed twice during testing in Barcelona.” (Daily Mirror)

McLaren admit their car is not good enough to help Hamilton defend his title

“So slow was Hamilton?s McLaren in pre-season testing at Barcelona this week that Martin Whitmarsh, the new team principal, and Norbert Haug, boss of engine suppliers Mercedes, took the unusual step of making their plight public.” (Daily Mail)

Lewis Hamilton’s world title hopes suffer

“Lewis Hamilton is a great talent ? potentially one of the greatest to drive a Formula One car ? but if he does not have a vehicle under him that can compete with the best on the grid, then even he will end up looking ordinary.” (The Times)

We’ve built Lew an old banger

“It could be several grands prix into the 17-race season before he is able to challenge Ferrari, BMW and Brawn GP who have been setting the pace.” (The Sun)

Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren ‘not fast enough’ for new F1 season

“The news will come as a blow to the legions of Lewis Hamilton fans in this country, although McLaren do still have time to rectify the problem.” (Daily Telegraph)

McLaren: Car is not quick enough

“Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will head into the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in just 16 days’ time with a car that is not quick enough.” (Daily Express)

Today the stories are about how the car isn’t up to scratch. But what will the headlines be once the season has started and the press have to get used to Hamilton not standing on the podium every other weekend?

The British press – especially the sports press – has a reputation for being fickle. Hamilton’s coverage so far has been largely positive, aside for some sniping over his decision to move to Switzerland. But he faces a tougher time from the national press as he faces the prospect of defending his world championship in a weak car.

For the press, reasons will have to be found for why he’s not winning, regardless of whether he does anything wrong. Everyone knows how well newspapers sell when there’s an established star who can be taken down a peg. The Sun will probably accuse him of spending too much time on the yacht it claimed he bought last week which Hamilton later denied.

Hamilton has already complained about how media intrusion has changed his life. But how will he cope when the press love-in turns sour?

Read more about Lewis Hamilton: Lewis Hamilton biography

74 comments on “British press on Hamilton’s troubles”

  1. okay we know
    Lewis is a great driver, but we quite know he doesnt give good feedback
    raikkonen is lazy improving a car, but he’s the fastest man on track today
    alonso and schumacher good on improving the car and being in the zone
    senna is the fastest driver in f1 history, and goest to the tiniest detail to improve his car
    on the perfect car setup for a certain circuit, no one can beat Prost

    so not all drivers are perfect, they’ human after all

  2. Generally speaking, when it comes to sport the British love a good loser, someone who gave it all but failed at the last hurdle or near-last hurdle – Tim Henman, perennially England in football and Hamilton in 2007 spring to mind. It gives the press the chance to label these guys as ‘brave’ and for the nation to unite in disappointment. Hamilton then came back from the disappointment and won the championship in thrilling fashion.

    But despite the, I’ve met so many journalists who really dislike Hamilton, citing his arrogance as the reason behind this along with the fact he was nurtured from a young age by Ron Dennis. Of course he’s going to be a bit arrogant, he has everything a 24-year-old man could ever dream of! It’s down a lot in my view to a lot of jealousy from people who wish they had his talent, determination, looks, luck and girlfriend.

    If his car isn’t competitive, Lewis is going to have a torrid year off the press. The last 24yo British sportsman to have talent, determination, looks, luck and a debate-ably hot girlfriend was David Beckham who was similarly chastised by the UK’s tabloids. He dusted of the criticism to become an icon – and I’m sure Hamilton will do the same.

  3. Perhaps we could start a new thread to drill down into the British mentality on this one. “Why on Earth don’t I like Lewis Hamilton?-I’ve tried, but I just can’t seem to do it” I’ve already offered the slightly irritating sideburns, but without too much nastiness, can anyone else think of anything? I just can’t see him sporting a shabby beard like JB, or looking like he could do with a nice cuddle like Anthony Davidson does, but I am struggling to figure out what it is that I don’t like about Lewis, or what he could do to redeem himself to me. Please help.

    1. He looks like he could do with a good cuddle to me (especially now). Maybe if you actually met him or spent some time with him you wouldn’t dislike him. I don’t think I’ve read any report from someone who’s actually met the guy who dislikes him (including Alonso).

  4. This debate will go on forever. When will come to a point to agree that both Alonso and Hamilton are good drivers in their own right, just like Prost and Senna.

    The jury is still out on Lewis because he needs to prove himself in every possible situation. He’s come through the test of having a great car, proving he can beat everyone, now he has to prove himself with a **** car. Then he would need to build the car’s performance. Alonso has proved himself in all three of these test, so for now, the Spaniard in ahead.

    If Lewis wants to cement his credentials, he has to come through the aforementioned tests. All the great champions of recent times have done this.

    Can we agree on this? Because this debate it becoming pointless

  5. This is the time for Lewis to proof to the world how great a driver he is with the MP4-24 that has way underperformed in the 2009 test season. Senna and Alonso did wonders on many occasions and brought exciting racing with lesser cars. Lewis should learn humbly how to set up a car, forget all the glitz, material gains, and up his passion as a driver. There’s a key word in globalisation “UPGRADE”.
    As far as I remember I haven’t read much on Senna’s and Alonso’s so called galmourous public lifestyle. I’m sure this will be a very tough year for Lewis, but if he does well he will certainly be respected more than winning the 2008 WDC.

  6. If anything, the years that cemented Senna’s reputation were not his championship years, but instead it was his years in drives in less competitive cars like the Tolman & the Lotus in the mid 80’s, or later in the fred-flinstone powered Maclaren of 92 & 93. Any victory against Mansell in ’92 or Prost in ’93 required extraordinary skill.

    For instance in ’92 (& ’93) the Williams was peerless. Mansell was beaten only 3 times when he actually finished a race, twice by Senna and once by his own team mate.

    So although I’m no Lewis fan, if anything his reputation as a driver could potentially be improved if he spent a year in a less competitive car and got wins/podiums against better cars.

  7. I have no experience of any other country’s press but the British press are well known for the build them up and knock them down mentality. If Hamilton has a bad season, no matter what the reason, I expect plenty of criticism, however if the Brawn is as quick as it promises and so Button has a successful season the press may just switch their coverage to Button and ignore Hamilton if he is not getting the results.

    Having read various forums I feel that no matter what Hamilton does, some people will always find something to criticise him for, and try to diminish his achievements by saying that any driver could do the same given circumstances.

  8. Its all about sensationalism. A dramatic headline and big impact story sells papers. A negative big impact story – well thats even better. Would we all be debating this if the story had been ‘well Hamilton is going just like usual, and the Mclaren as expected is somewhere near the top of the time sheets’? So the papers have achieved what they aimed to do and caught everyone’s attention.

    Admittedly, Mclaren’s form is a little unusual, but then again Mclaren have had a habit over recent years of having a slightly off car every so often – just ask Kimi! Its how we see Hamilton deal with a slightly off car that will be the most interesting point, and we can see that for ourselves without the press telling us.

    ‘I have no experience of any other country’s press but the British press are well known for the build them up and knock them down mentality. If Hamilton has a bad season, no matter what the reason, I expect plenty of criticism, however if the Brawn is as quick as it promises and so Button has a successful season the press may just switch their coverage to Button and ignore Hamilton if he is not getting the results’ – PGA

    That is completely the case – and it happened with Button when he had a bad patch. Doesnt mean that he is no good (I happen to think that Button is a pretty darn good driver), and it wont mean that Hamilton is no good (clearly he is good, not one of the all time greats yet, but he is obviously one of the top guys in the sport at the minute)

    1. I read the papers a fair amount, and when it comes to F1 news – I read it, laugh at some of the stuff written, scoff at how on earth they can write such things and then completely ignore it and make up my own mind. I long gave up on completely trusting what the papers say about F1 once I realised how they skirted over anything that didnt involve a British driver, no matter how key to the sport it was.

      And here’s me wanting to find my way into sports journalism eventually!

    2. Clare,

      Good to see another prospective sports journalist on here- I do some local sports writing, nothing big and I don’t envision it as a career, but it’s a lot of fun if done right.

      I have never been in the UK, so I can’t speak firsthand, but over here the type of coverage depends a bit on the style of publication. In New York, the tabloids are much quicker to break down the failings of local teams than the established daily publications. In terms of Lewis, he arrived on the scene with a bang, so I agree that people do expect sensational news- Lewis has set the bar very high for himself, much like my previous mention of Derek Jeter. Every move he makes is looked at with a microscope, and of course it will always be like that.

      Here’s hoping for a scandle/problem-free year for Lewis, and best wishes in the sports journalism world :)

  9. Amazing how quick the vultures in the press circle at the smallest sign of trouble for Lewis and McLaren…..

    Being a fan of several sports teams in New York, I have always compared Lewis to Derek Jeter of the Yankees, if any of you follow MLB. Both broke into their respective sports at young ages, with prestigious teams that have big backing in sports where money helps determine success. Both also performed at incredibly high levles as soon as they arrived. Both are also adored by the ladies and linked to a-list chicks on a regular basis.

    Jeter is known for his all-out hustle and zero complaints, even when things go poorly for the Yankees. Lewis is in a very difficult spot, and he’s going to take some sniping in a rough season even if he dose drive to the best of his abilities. If the McLaren really dose turn out to be non-competitive, I believe the reasonable and prudent F1 fans will see what he can do. I don’t think the MP4-24 will be bad the whole year, but if it is, I look for Lewis to display the same skills Alonso did last year with the Renault early in the campaign.

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