Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton - The BIG Debate

Ben AutySenior Writer IJuly 26, 2008

Where can I start with this one, for those who know my writing I have to mutter those famous words:

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

We could be in for a bumpy ride, so buckle up your six-point harness and put on your helmet. Trust me, I have mine on because I know this one should spark up the masses. Enjoy.

How can I start the article about this guy, oh, I know...

The world over, people play word association games. If a group of brand new F1 fans were to sit down and play, and one guy starts things off with the words ‘Formula 1’, the chances are, the next guy will say ‘Lewis Hamilton.’

Hamilton is always surrounded by media hype, whether it be positive or negative. People love him, people hate him, some people are neutral and don’t have an opinion.

No matter what your stance on him is, you can’t get away from the fact that he is the current face of our sport.

Ten years ago, it was Michael Schumacher and 10 years prior to that, it was Ayrton Senna. Does this mean that Lewis is going to be the new face in the sense that he will win championships? Or will he just constantly be the talking point for the wrong reasons?

I think that he is certainly capable of winning championships, and if he doesn’t, he will go down in history as one of those “should have been” kind of drivers. It would be a career tarred with so many “Oh so close” moments. Let’s just take a look at what records he has right now:

  • Most consecutive podiums from debut race (9)
  • Most consecutive podiums as a British driver (9)
  • Youngest driver to lead the world championship (22 years, 4 month, 8 days)
  • Most wins in a debut season (4)
  • Most pole positions in a debut season (6)

Pretty impressive stuff, I am sure you will all agree. How can I compare him realistically without sparking too much debate?  Well, I am sure the only way we can realistically do it is by looking at pure stats. Let’s compare where he is right now to two drivers who seem to be at the brunt of every debate.

In the red corner, weighing in at 74.5 kg from Germany, its Michael "seven-times champ" Schumacher.

In the blue corner, weighing in at a square 70 kg from Brazil, it’s Ayrton "The Legend" Senna.

Then in the silver corner weighing in at 64 kg from the United Kingdom, it’s the youngster Lewis "NKOTB" Hamilton (New Kid on the Block).

It seems fitting to do the comparison with these two drivers for a number of reasons. First would be because there have been a lot of articles lately where the two have been compared. Second, because it fits in with my comment earlier in the article about 10 and 20 years prior to now. Lastly, the two drivers that Lewis bases himself on are in fact Michael and Ayrton.

In a recent interview when questioned how he felt when being compared to the greats, Lewis gave this answer:

“To me, it is an honour. Senna is the best ever. I am working to show the world what I can do. Maybe in the future I can show them that I can be a world champion. Michael Schumacher is very cool. As a kid, I watched him and supported him. For me, he is very special.”


PLEASE NOTE...The following stats are based PURELY on race wins, podiums and race points. NOTHING else will be taken into consideration, we are not here to talk about different cars, different opponents, different eras, or anything else like that, and I just want a straight comparison between the three so PLEASE do not debate on these stats.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE...As I am currently writing this article, I am compiling the stats as I go, so the result might be just as much as a surprise to me as it is to you.

So that the analysis can be fair, we will judge up to the lowest amount of GPs started, which would be taken from Hamilton’s figures having started in the fewest GP’s so far. Twenty-seven GPs will be the amount that we will judge this on. Over the three different driver’s eras, three different scoring systems have been used, so I will calculate the figures using the current 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 scale.

“About 20 minutes later”

Phew, that took a while, I tried to be clever and create a rule using the ‘IF’ function in Excel but it didn’t quite work, I couldn’t even consult my manual from my college course because I left it at work, so I had to do it manually.

We are only working out the beginnings of the drivers' careers so as to compare the start to F1 life that Lewis has had compared to “The Greats.”

Ayrton Senna

  • Wins – 1
  • Podiums – 7
  • Points – 60

Michael Schumacher

  • Wins – 1
  • Podiums – 11
  • Points – 108

Lewis Hamilton

  • Wins – 8
  • Podiums – 18
  • Points – 167

Yes, I am aware that the cars that Michael and Ayrton started their journeys in were not exactly reliable, while Lewis has had the best of starts possible. So please don’t try to analyse this article based purely on the stats provided.


Amendment - Version 1.2

I had a conversation with Daniel Chalmers after posting this article and we were discussing how many people would not like how I have compared Lewis to Michael and Ayrton, while I can understand where Dan and everyone else is coming from I cannot reiterate enough that I am not exactly comparing them, to do that would be silly.

I am comparing the beginnings of their careers because Michael and Ayrton went on to be two of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. A lot of people think that Lewis will go onto great things just as MS and AS did so I thought it would be ironic to compare how he is getting on.

I also didn’t really go into much depth talking about the stats after I wrote about them, I just thought I would put them on there and let you draw your own conclusions from them which most have.

Anyway, let me get to the point, Daniel believed it would be better if I had a comparison between 4 drivers, adding in Jacques Villeneuve to the mix because JV was put into a fast car that was on the pace in his rookie season. Another comparison would be that JV came 2nd in his rookie season as did Lewis, so let’s have a look at the stats, JV vs. LH.

Jacques Villeneuve

  • Wins – 9
  • Podiums – 16
  • Points – 149

Lewis Hamilton

  • Wins – 8
  • Podiums – 18
  • Points – 167

For everyone who still didn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing, please take what you want from these figures, but again, they are only raw stats to compare the difference in the individual driver’s career beginnings. Please do not start to talk about different eras and different engines, it is only a comparison of stats.

Can I continue? Because this article is about to get interesting.


So why do I think people have such a dislike for him? It could be sourced from a number of things, and I suppose only the Lewis haters can tell me if I am right, does it come from:


It could maybe be said that F1 was going through a dark time on the back of that fantastic run by Michael Schumacher. Viewing figures where down, attendances at the tracks were down, interest was low, media involvement was minimal, merchandise sales were not even a side project, and most of all, us Brits didn’t really have anything to shout about, and we like to shout.

Sources say that with the introduction of Lewis Hamilton, the ITV viewing figures were boosted by up to 40 percent. Silverstone sold out in record time.

Interest is high, as there isn’t a day of the week that Lewis isn’t in one of the tabloids. He has more column inches than the Queen (God Bless Her). Merchandise sales are now rocketing. You can’t go anywhere without seeing a Lewis cap. All of a sudden, the McLaren fan base has tripled in size (not an official figure).

Then the final point: we Brits now have something to shout about. Poor DC and Jensen just didn’t do it for us, but now we have a young, likable guy who is winning things. It's a match made in heaven, but it could also be a reason for his hate base.

Some people just don’t like his clean-cut, butter-wouldn’t-melt image that has been painted around him, and some may see him as sickly and disgusting? Then there are the minority who just don’t like to see someone do well from this country.


Maybe people don’t like to see the new kid come in and have everything put on a plate: a fast car, a reliable car, the women, the lifestyle, the instant success, and the fact that there are so many people who do like him.

A lot of people just think that he has waltzed into this sport unopposed and received his race seat with McLaren. It’s not like that at all.

Lewis and his father have had a very long road to where he is now, going through a lot of different race classes in which he has had to prove himself. Only then was he put into the driver training scheme by McLaren, and it was there that he was groomed to what he is today.


Personally, I don’t think it's for this reason. I don’t think that racism is an issue within this sport, but a lot of people cried foul with the loyal Alonso fans when they made their feelings known towards the youngster in Barcelona.

But it is a factor that has to be considered. After all, he is the first dual-heritage black driver to race in F1. Even today, we are still divided by the issue of race. I think the vast majority of people, including myself, would just wash over this subject, but it has to be considered for the minority.

The Fernando Problem

Lewis was launched into the world of F1 as a rookie in a fast and reliable car, paired up as the No. 2 driver and with two-times WDC Fernando Alonso. It should have been a match made in heaven, not only for Lewis and Alonso, but for the team.

Things didn’t go so well in the 2007 season, though. The script was never sent to the Hamiltons, and they started to cause upsets, scoring nine podiums in the first nine races.

Feathers where beginning to get ruffled with Alonso, and the Hamilton camp declared war after Monaco after they felt that team orders had came into play. Lewis was told to back off Fernando.

A war of words ensued between Fernando and Lewis, which the media just reveled in taking it all down and splashing it all over the sports pages of their tabloids.

Hamilton and Alonso clearly didn’t like each other, and the team sportsmanship just went out of the window. It was a fight to the death between the two.

It all ended in tears, though, as the two finished on exactly the same points at the end of the season. Unfortunately, that points total was one point off the championship winner Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis felt he was faster than Fernando and needed to be allowed to stretch his legs. Fernando believed he needed to be given more preferential treatment as the champion that he was at the time, and as the No. 1 driver.

With the whole Spygate affair tied in to Fernando and Ron Dennis not getting on very well, the pot bubbled over and heads had to roll.

Ron Dennis was left with a choice; does he go with Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion, the guy who was one point off the title in 2007, the expensive choice, but the experienced option?

Or does he go with Lewis Hamilton, the rookie, the guy who was just one point off the title in his rookie season? While he was a rookie, he was not only equal to the mentor that never was, but sometimes faster.

Ron chose wisely in a lot of McLaren fans' eyes when he chose his long-term investment. So Fernando is left to go back to his old team of Renault. Maybe this could be a reason so many hate Lewis. Maybe they are all secret Alonso fans?


So why the love affair with Lewis? Well there is no getting away from it, he is an amazing talent who is applauded by the greats as just this. The list is endless, Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda to name a couple:

Michael Schumacher: (Speaking before the 2008 German GP) “There is no doubt he has a lot of talent, and he is driving at a very high level.”

Niki Lauda (Speaking after the 2008 German GP) “He gave an outstanding performance. It was a great race from him in Germany. He has now gone up in my estimation, Last year he was my favourite, but then he screwed up in the last couple of races and so didn't understand why he started this year as bad as he finished last year, but I think he's got the message now. The race was won by Lewis and not by the team, because the team made it unnecessarily complicated. Whatever excuse they will have, the other way was easier. But if he continues to drive like this, and not start fading like last year in the last couple of races, then he is going in the right direction, no question. It was an absolutely great race from him. It was Senna-type driving. It was Senna-type driving. So he is on the right track, and if he continues like this he is unbeatable.”

I can instantly think of numerous great drives that he has produced in his career so far. He is currently dubbed as the rain master after two majestic wins, the first in Monaco and the more recent at his home GP at Silverstone.

His overtaking is clinical, he is a daring driver who will always push the car that extra mile when needed. To be fair, he is in the one of the best cars on the grid and it works well for him, but even so he pushes his team to the very edge.

Right now on the grid there are some amazing drivers, but the man at the front of it all and the one that will probably have the most impact on the future of F1 is the man we are currently debating. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mr. Lewis Hamilton.

Let’s face it, he isn’t going anywhere; he will be around for a few years yet.

I want you to really let go, I want to know why you love or hate Lewis, what would be more interesting if you could start your comment by just putting your opinion in brackets, for example:

(Love) I think Lewis is great because he has great hair!


(Hate) I think Lewis is an idiot because he is dating that fit one out of the Pussycat Dolls!

You see what I mean? Of course you can also put “(Not Bothered)” if you really don’t have an opinion but please leave your comments anyway because I want to know just how the Bleacher Creatures are thinking about this subject. Everyone must have an opinion on him, because he is so prominent in the sport. I am fully aware that this could get very heated as we tend to have some very passionate guys within our community.

What I will do is run this article kind of like a poll, so when the passion has died down and no one is posting on it no more and the votes are all in I will edit the article with a result, maybe intermittently to keep you up to date with how we think.

Please leave your vote and your comments now, but before you do make sure you score this article accordingly, five stars I hope, pretty please, oh and don’t forget about ‘Pick of the Day’... Do you think this article is the best you have read all day? Well go back to the top of the page and award it with your Pick of the Day vote and let’s keep spreading the word that the F1 community is the place to be.

Lewis Hamilton: Love, Hate or Not Bothered? The BIG Debate begins...

Ben, Over and Out!

Amendment - Version 1.1

After day 1 (11 Hours after publication). The article stands at 169 individual reads, 102 comments and 18 votes, thats not a bad ratio is it, im impressed with it!

Fingers crossed it gets pick of the day and some well deserved front page publicity now, heres hoping anyway.

So as it stands the scores are as follows:

  • Love - 10 Votes (55.5%) (Ben, Miles, Nick, Michael, Kyle, Ryan, Mark, Carol, LJ, Nick)
  • Hate - 1 Vote (5.6%) (Ian)
  • Not Bothered - 7 Votes (38.9%) (Saraswathi, Paul, Jane, Dagni, Sheiban, James, Daniel)

Suprising stuff, I honestly thought that there would be more "Haters" than that, anybody else think the same? Only 1 hater and a large majority of Lewis "Lovers" or "Likers" ... Think I will be hard pushed for any more votes but if there are any then please voice your opinion.

Just start your comment with your vote in (brackets) and dont forget stars and POTD, I will post the final results up soon. "Love", "Hate" or "Not Bothered"?

Amendment - Version 1.3

I think this has pretty much died down now, its been a good article so I will tie things up now...

154 comments / 540 reads and Pick of the Day for July 26th, successful I would say. Excellent. So now for the results:

  • Love - 13 Votes (59.09%) (Ben, Miles, Nick, Michael, Kyle, Ryan, Mark, Carol, LJ, Nick, Prasenjit, Steven, Siddharth)
  • Hate - 2 Vote (9.09%) (Ian, Paul)
  • Not Bothered - 7 Votes (31.82%) (Saraswathi, Jane, Dagni, Sheiban, James, Daniel, Long John)

I am not going to draw any analysis or conclusion from these figures, I will let them speak for themselves but I am sure you know what I am getting at. Thanks for reading.


    No “toxic atmosphere” at McLaren, says Boullier | 2018 French Grand Prix

    McLaren logo

    No “toxic atmosphere” at McLaren, says Boullier | 2018 French Grand Prix

    Keith Collantine
    via RaceFans

    Eric Boullier defends McLaren F1 team amid reports of staff unrest

    McLaren logo

    Eric Boullier defends McLaren F1 team amid reports of staff unrest

    Adam Cooper

    Hamilton Leads Mercedes 1-2 in French FP1

    McLaren logo

    Hamilton Leads Mercedes 1-2 in French FP1

    Rory Marsden
    via Bleacher Report

    Fernando Alonso feels he's leading a motorsport 'revolution'

    McLaren logo

    Fernando Alonso feels he's leading a motorsport 'revolution'

    Pablo Elizalde