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?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

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74 comments on British press on Hamilton’s troubles

  1. teamorders said on 16th March 2009, 3:14

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. Clare msj said on 16th March 2009, 11:53

    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)

    • Clare msj said on 16th March 2009, 11:59

      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!

    • Gman said on 17th March 2009, 2:37

      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 :)

  4. Gman said on 17th March 2009, 2:24

    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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