British press on Hamilton’s troubles

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?σΤιΌΤδσs 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 ?σΤιΌΤΗΨ potentially one of the greatest to drive a Formula One car ?σΤιΌΤΗΨ 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

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74 comments on British press on Hamilton’s troubles

  1. Arun said on 15th March 2009, 12:29

    It ll be fun to c hamilton in the mid field struggling for points and struggling to make it to q3.By the way Mr Mallya is right… the force indias will be as good as the McLarens….Only thing they will be rotting at the back of the field.

  2. Damon said on 15th March 2009, 13:09

    Ponzonha:
    From the Spanish point of view, a slow McLaren is undesirable, since it will spoil The Duel between Lewis and Fernando.

    Don’t worry, there will be a duel. Either they will be fighting for race wins or… for point-awarded positions. So far the latter looks quite probable, seeing both Renaults and McLarens speeds during testing.

    I think Hamilton fans needn’t worry about the Biritsh press being harsh on him in case of McLaren’s overall poorer results. Why? Because even if the car is slow, Hamilton will always be quicker than his team-mate Kovalainen. That’s a given. So nobody will be able to accuse him of poor performance.

  3. John H said on 15th March 2009, 13:22

    Imagine if he hadn’t won the championship last year.. The press would have destroyed him by now.

    Yes, the MP4-24 looks like a dog, but I’m hoping Hamilton will be a little more relaxed this season and so we won’t see as many ‘running into the back of Alonso’ Bahrain antics whilst he’s in the midfield.

    I’m probably wrong though! We shall see.

  4. iceshiel said on 15th March 2009, 14:22

    i’m actually looking forward to hamilton battling in the mid-field.

  5. Melanie said on 15th March 2009, 15:05

    I am struggling to understand what the big commotion is about with this subject. All drivers through their careers will drive cars that is not a championship contender. Look at Alonso and Kimi, throughout their careers they have properly only driven in 3 championship contender cars. Lewis has been been extremely lucky that he has only driven in 2 championship contender cars so far, it is only the natural turn of event that he will also drive in cars that is not the top. And like all the others before him I am sure Lewis will survive and do well with his natural abilities, and the press will recognize his achievement and criticize him when doesn’t do so well. It is just part of the learning curve and the way it goes.

  6. Damon said on 15th March 2009, 15:29

    @ Melanie
    10/10 :)

  7. NDINYO said on 15th March 2009, 16:18

    McLaren are cooked aren’t they? Well c’est la vie.

  8. NDINYO said on 15th March 2009, 16:22

    It could have been worse for McLaren. At least between 2008 and 2009, they already have a championship out of a possible two. Not bad.

  9. Does anyone actually still read those outmoded things called newspapers? :D

  10. Damon said on 15th March 2009, 17:31

    @ Clive
    I read newspapers – daily. I don’t, however, read any kind of magazines anymore, since the rise of internet.

  11. ruud said on 15th March 2009, 18:04

    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

  12. Adrian said on 15th March 2009, 19:30

    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.

  13. Martin Bell said on 15th March 2009, 21:15

    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.

    • S Hughes said on 16th March 2009, 1:07

      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).

  14. Jay Menon said on 16th March 2009, 1:49

    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

  15. JohnBt said on 16th March 2009, 2:37

    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.

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