The hypocrisy of Lewis Hamilton

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    As much as I respect the driving skills of Lewis on track, I disrespect his ‘holier than thou’, and media projected role model image. The golden boy of F1 was the first to comment on Alonso’s German GP win, by saying that he didn’t want to comment on how Ferrari handle their two drivers, and condemned Alonso’s title quest by saying that he wanted to win the championship “the right way”. After the Korean GP, Lewis changed his ideologies by saying that it “would be fantastic” if he could get the help of Jenson in his own title conquest. Lets not forget that Jenson is still mathematically still in it, and within the 17 point benchmark of 2007’s Kimi Raikkonnen charge.

    A lot of fans, and f1 enthusiasts condemned Ferrari’s actions after the German GP. But the first people to project their perfect philosophies were Horner, Whitmarsh and Lewis Hamilton. We will just have to wait and see what Whitmarsh and Horner do in response to Fernando’s title charge. Hypothetically, if Jenson moves over to let Lewis through in Brazil, and if Lewis goes on to win the title, would he still be able to say that he won this championship “the right way”?

    What do you guys have to say?



    There is a huge difference.

    Ferrari did this very early on when Massa was not that far behind Alonso. Now with two races to go and with the third best car it is going to be difficult enough for Hamilton to win the championship even if Button races for him. Raikkonen was in a completely different situation; he had both a better car and the McLaren drivers took points off each other constantly.

    Furthermore, if it is true that Hamilton said that ‘it would be fantastic’ if Button helped him is different from saying ‘Felipe is holding me up, but I can’t overtake him – please do something about this’ halfway through the season.



    Well.. I could argue that Ferrari’s situation in the German GP is not so much different from Mclaren’s current situation. After the British Gp Fernando looked pretty much out of it, and during the German GP they were faced with supporting Felipe; a driver who was inconsistent, getting beaten by his teammate at almost every race, and nearly 80 points off the championship lead. Although Felipe was mathematically still in it, his chances were slim, similar to Jenson’s chances right now.

    Additionally, my point was that why should any of the team bosses have such strict philosophies and statements, if they are not going to stick with them? If they had just shut up and not commented on Ferrari’s team orders, they could definitely use them now and avoid the criticism of the fans.



    First of all, are you saying it’s wrong to switch team-mates when both would still be mathematically in with a chance, or always wrong no matter what the situation? Since Horner, Whitmarsh, Hamilton, hundreds of f1fanatics and the vast majority of F1 opinion have never taken the latter opinion, I’ll assume you meant the former. If you did mean the latter, then you have your answer already: there would be no hypocrisy because he never held that position.

    In the next race, Button could be mathematically out of the championship. In fact, he probably will be. The only way he can stay in contention but also be in a position to help Hamilton is if they’re the only championship contenders left in the race in a points-scoring position and Button would have to be running at least 2nd.

    Let’s ignore the fact that none of this was true for Massa and Alonso in Hockenheim. Let’s ignore the fact that Button has two more rivals to beat than Raikkonen did, even if it’s proportionately the same points margin. If McLaren are 1-2 or 2-3 Hamilton and McLaren would probably not ask for Button to move over. Why? Because it would barely change what he would then have to do in Abu Dhabi. Whether the gap to Alonso would decrease to -4, 3, or 6, he still has to do the same thing: beat Alonso to the win. Okay, if he inherited a race win from Button (who even if we won would proportionately be little closer to Alonso than before and would have to rely on another disaster for the Spaniard) or second place it would make his chances easier and in the event of a non-Alonso win in Abu Dhabi the amount of points he would have to score to be champion would be lessened, but in terms of actual finishing position his job would not be very different at all, probably only having to finish one place higher in each case. Button should make the very same argument if he doesn’t want to be relegated to a supporting role.

    But let’s say I’ve put too much faith in Hamilton and he would ask for Button to move over. The question then is do McLaren comply? Do they risk it all coming apart, do they risk then losing the championship entirely because Button won the next race but lost out on the championship because he gave up his place to Hamilton? Do they dare risk the WMSC finding a convenient difference from Hockenheim to disqualify them from the race or championship?

    Let’s say they do. Let’s say the switch occurs when Button would still be mathematically in contention, they pay the $100,000 fine and everything stands. What happens then? We wait. We wait and see if it affects the championship. If it doesn’t cost Button the championship, you would have to say it’s right. Only the most idealistic purist would say team-mates shouldn’t switch even when one is out of the championship and there are very few of those. The furore over Hockenheim was a result of the fact that there were so many more unknowns. What if Massa would have gone on to win another 4 races and right now be sitting 13 points behind Mark Webber? We know that’s not the case now, but we didn’t then. Ferrari, as much as it pains me to say, have had their decision proven right (all I question is their being allowed to keep Alonso’s points for an illegal tactic). But now we also know a lot more about the Hamilton-Button situation than the Alonso-Massa situation. It is easier on our consciences to right off Button’s chances, even if a miracle happens in Brazil. We’ve already had one, what’s the betting on three in a row? What’s the betting Button will actually take advantage of either of them, given he didn’t in Korea?

    Perhaps this is moral fudging. Perhaps you don’t believe me when I say I’d feel the same way if Alonso and Massa or Webber and Vettel were in the exact same situation. Maybe I’m deluding myself in thinking I would. So let’s come to the crux: what if Button loses a championship because he helped Hamilton? Answer: I’d not be happy about it. Obviously I’d be ecstatic if Hamilton (or Webber) won instead because they’re the other two I’ve supported for the championship (as well as Massa). But I’d be as unhappy about it as I would have been had Schumacher had won in 1997, as unhappy as I am about him winning in 2002 and 2004 by shafting Barrichello even when there was no other contest and I would hope for Hamilton to win a better championship in the future.

    I’ve realised I haven’t answered your main question. Well, of course Hamilton would be happy for Button to help him of his own free will. Would he be sad if McLaren forced Button to kill off his championship for Hamilton? Of course not. But he and everyone else knows that Button’s only being asked to help because his chances are next to zero and would have to pull off probably the greatest recovery in F1 history. So in his mind, Button is already out of it. But just because it’s that way in his mind, it doesn’t make it true. So what if it came down to it? Seeing Button get right back into it as the cost of improving his own hopes still further would be entirely consistent with everything he’s said regarding Button this year.

    But let’s say it happens and he wants/wills it to. Let’s say McLaren say “it’s up to you Lewis, would you feel comfortable with potentially costing Jenson the championship” and he says yes. Will he be able to say he won the “right way”? Only if Button wouldn’t have won after the final points are known. Just like Ferrari at Hockenheim, it would merely be making the correct decision but further back in time when the opportunity was available and hoping like hell it would be proved right (well not Ferrari because they wouldn’t admit it if it had turned out to be a mistake, but you get the point).

    I’ll probably be called a hypocrite myself given my comments during the Hockenheim saga. So a man can’t learn, can’t be convinced of better arguments? After all, I’ve done my best here to minimise the difference between what happened with Ferrari and what might happen with McLaren. And if Alonso’s 7 points are illegal, wouldn’t Hamilton’s 7 or 3 also be illegal? Perhaps; two wrong’s don’t make a right. But it’s clear the rule-makers and rule-interpreters consider the former not to be, that it is wrong to make the order but fine to keep the points gained – in which case, why would it be any different for Hamilton. The only difference, I would contend, is that we know them to be that way now, but not before Hockenheim. McLaren would knowingly committing an offence that the authorities have changed their mind on; Ferrari didn’t. Whether that makes Ferrari worse is a different discussion; in any case, it invalidates the argument that any future team order would be against the rules.



    Well, I think that this comes from the same pot as “They’re such cheaters, how dare they use that F-Duct – No, they’re even bigger cheaters, just look at that flexi wing.” All the teams want to make themselves look better than they actually are in the public eye. Accusing others of doing the same dirty things that one does himself simply belongs to they daily routine. Actually I think that Turkish GP told us a lot about McLaren. Hamilton’s question “Is Jenson gonna overtake me?” and the answer “No” show that “team orders” term is not exactly unfamiliar to McLaren. And their polemics after race like “Look how good our drivers are, they know how to race each other, not like those RBR folks” were quite hypocritical as well because radio messages that were revealed later showed that actually McLaren escaped RBR’s fate by probably five inches.

    And Hamilton is a great driver, I have no doubt about that. I just think that all the great F1 personalities are controversial and Hamilton is no exception.



    Great post Icthyes!

    In simplicity, I think Jenson actually covered all of this in the F1 Forum:

    “I won’t be asked”.

    He made it very clear that he only joined the team on an equal footing. The team know better than to ask, and he proved that in Turkey when they (let’s say) assumed he wouldn’t pressure Lewis and attempt to pass. But equally he said,

    “It would come from me, I would do what’s good for the team if I can’t win.”

    When Button says “I’ll help my teammate when I have to, for the good of the team” I believe it, unlike when Massa said it a few months ago.




    My point was not to prove what you and I feel is morally wrong or right, but for Team bosses and drivers to stick to their word in front of the media. Hypothetically, in Brazil, if Jenson were to move over and give Lewis either 3 or 7 points, and Lewis went on to win the championship by 1 or 2 points, I still think he would call it an amazingly well deserved championship. This would a clash with his ideologies from 6 races ago.

    To get back to what the Mclaren management will decide… I guess we cannot argue that further until we see what happens in Brazil. But from what I’ve heard, Jenson has not given up on his championship hopes yet, no matter how slim his chances are. If Jenson is in front of Lewis in Brazil, I cannot see him letting Lewis by on his own free will.

    Mclaren pretty much said that they do not care what the rule book says on team orders, as they were not going to issue them anyways. This was followed by Lewis’ version of winning a championship “the right way”. I agree all of us as bloggers have made hypocritical statements from time to time, but its not like our opinions are broadcasted to the world after every race. So none of my earlier comments were to find out hypocritical bloggers, but instead was to shed dilemma faced by drivers and team bosses right now.



    *shed light on the dilemma*

    typo.. sorry



    If for example Button was leading in Brazil with Hamilton second with the other contenders in positions that meant that Jenson would end the race 23 or 24 points behind the WDC lead. Considering that would leave Button essentially needing to win in Abu Dabhi and have all the other 4 title contenders retire/ score very few points it would be insane for McLaren not to switch them to give Hamilton the maximum possible chance of winning McLaren the WDC. Lets not forget that McLaren don’t have the fastest car, they simply cannot win claw back 21 points without some unusual events in the races. Giving Hamilton an extra 7 points in those circumstances would be a no brainer.

    Frankly I’m not bothered about the hypocracy of McLaren or Red Bull if they use team orders, we all know how F1 works. I’m sure like Ferrari they won’t use them unless it comes to a point where they feel they have to. Ferrari thought they had to maximise Alonso’s points considering how desperate Ferrari’s position in the WDC was, McLaren might use them in the above hypothetical and the two Red Bull drivers still have a plausable chance (unlike Massa in Germany) so I’d be very surprised if we see any team orders with them until Abu Dabhi. Also I doubt any of the teams will actually see themselves in a position where team orders will be effective this season apart from possibly Red Bull in Abu Dabhi.

    As for Lewis I think he has a habit of tying himself in knots with his press answers sometimes with answers that are either somewhat contrived and not really being straight or McLaren PR speak.(I know Ferrari are capable of PR speak as well if you’ve ever read Alonso’s and Massa’s ‘blogs’ you’ll know what I mean) Also the media have a horrible habit of taking quotes out of context, so its very easy to paint any driver as a hypocrit if you were seletively quoting people.


    Ned Flanders

    ” (if) Lewis went on to win the championship by 1 or 2 points, I still think he would call it an amazingly well deserved championship”

    Er, but that’s just speculation. It’s fair enough to start this argument if he does win and he does say that, but there’s no point having a go at him for something he hasn’t actually done…



    It’s not Lewis’s position that’s going to determine what Jenson does – If Alonso finishes 6th or higher in either race, Button is out of it. So if it’s 1-2 Jenson/Lewis with Alonso in 5th on the last lap, you’ll see Jenson switching places.



    I believe most of what I would reply to the OP has already been said in the monster of a post by Icthyes :p

    Put simply, I don’t think you can call it hypocrisy from Hamilton because Button, while mathematically is in the championship, realistically is not. Should that change during the race (i.e. both red bulls and Alonso crash out) then I would expect McLaren to not order Button to move over. However, that simply won’t happen.

    The problem with Massa and Alonso was simply that it was too early in the season and not necessary at the time. Team orders are fine when they are for a purpose that is apparent, not when that purpose is not yet apparent.



    Yes, Lewis (and I am a fan) is showing double standards here.

    If you want to win it the “right way” then you must take the points where you finished without assistance from your team mate, regardless of the point in the season, regardless of “mathematically in it”, regardless of simply team orders and contracts stating number 1.

    As soon as your team mate moves over to let you through, whenever that may be, even if it’s just the once, then the championship becomes “assisted”.

    However, I think it is fair to say that most, if not all, championships have been “assisted”… for me, at the end of the day, a championship is a championship and a deserving champion does make.



    “Er, but that’s just speculation. It’s fair enough to start this argument if he does win and he does say that, but there’s no point having a go at him for something he hasn’t actually done…”

    that ^



    The argument started because he said it would be fantastic if he could get Jenson’s help to improve his own title chances.

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