This is not an article I ever thought I would be writing, for I will confess straight away I am in no way a Lewis Hamilton apologist, quite the opposite in fact.
Watching some of his driving over the last two years not to mention his off the track conduct has left me feeling numb in the sense that once again it would seem one of the most gifted drivers of our time is willing to push the rules and sportsmanship into places his supreme talent does not require to go.
As a Jarno Trulli fan then, it may surprise you that I am taking this moment (in light of recent events which need no further discussion) to appeal to all true F1 fans and those in the media in the UK to take a step back and give Lewis Hamilton a break regardless of his actions not in spite of them.
Remember why we know him to talk about in the first place: his supreme ability, his young age.
Over the recent days I have read numerous articles in daily papers about how Hamilton has been disgraced and is dragging his name and that of F1 through the mud, I’ve seen similar before and agreed with many but these seem to have stepped up a notch both in how frequently they have appeared and in tone and vitriol.
I make no bones about it, before today, I may well have been jumping on this wave of criticism.
But no longer, for the press coverage has made me uneasy as I hope it has many others, its personal nature, from many people who care little for the sport of F1 and are simply looking for their next tabloid scapegoat who is to be built up ready for the oh so familiar knocking down.
If you’re not familiar with the UK gutter press, then count yourself lucky!
Dare I suggest that the press now feel that launching attacks upon Hamilton is now a risk free policy given that we have Jenson Button stepping up and doing it for the UK as it were? I dearly hope not if it is it’s a terrible route to take.
Did Lewis Hamilton lie over events in Australia to ensure he got the third place he was entitled to, yes I think so. Do I feel the punishment is correct yes I do.
But having seen his press conference transcript from Malaysia addressed to the press (and the wider world), I must be honest and say I respect him more today than I ever have and I really hope others feel the same.
This day should not be looked upon as a low but rather an important day in the life of a exceptional young man growing up in the unforgiving glare of the worlds press, mistakes and all.
He will make further errors of judgement in his life and be poorly advised of course—as it now seems was his main issue in Australia, he’s still young and like Senna and Schumacher before him he treads close to the line at all times, it would be folly to think he will not step over on the odd occasion, that is the nature of the these men.
They are not ‘cheats’ but supreme competitors conditioned to achieve the maximum at all costs.
But today Lewis deviated from the above archetype in one key area many had felt beyond him (I include myself in that); he gave a full and frank apology not a few mumbled words but something that seemed to me genuine and full of regret, for that he must be respected as a human being racing driver or not.
I only hope this revisionist opinion of him is not confined only to myself, people who should know better must not destroy him in the chase for headlines and paper sales.
Lewis Hamilton is a man as much in love with F1 as you or I that is now clear to me. We must be careful not ruin his love for this great sport by allowing the media to carry out a bizarre character assassination with no thought for the consequences.
Critique his racing, yes, and his sportsmanship even, but please keep perspective.
I have read comments on blogs and YouTube video’s over recent days about how he is ‘bad for F1’, this is just not so, to have a driver with that level of ability on the grid will always be an absolute pleasure for any ‘real fan’ of F1.
The real disgrace is not Lewis but the treatment he is receiving from sections of the media and the guidance he has been given. He made as he put it ‘a huge mistake’ and that’s all there is to it really, a 24 year old guy making a mistake in his job, doesn’t look so bad when you put it like that hey….
It’s a good job I’m not trying to shift papers I suppose!