By now, we’re all used to Lewis Hamilton acting like a tool on the racetrack. He already has a litany of on-track cock-ups on his CV, more than most drivers manage to amass in an entire career.
Now, however, Lewis has taken his penchant for automotive brain-farts out onto a public street, outside of the Albert Park racetrack in Melbourne, Australia.
In full view of a police car, Lewis had the brilliant idea to smoke up his tyres and fishtail down the road in his sponsor-provided Mercedes—although there's apparently no truth to the rumour that Nicole Scherzinger was chasing him with a golf club.
Mr. Plod, as you might expect, took a rather dim view of this and we have been treated to sight of a chastened Lewis sitting in a police car, while his sponsor’s car is impounded under the Victorian anti-hoon (rev-head) driving laws.
While there is no chance that Lewis would have lost control of the car, the message that it sends to the millions of idiots who would line up to emulate him is probably not a good one. He obviously didn’t think it all the way through.
Then again, thinking things through has never been Lewis’s strong suit.
Looking back to 2007, we first got the idea that Lewis wasn’t one of the planet’s great minds. After a tremendous start to the season, he dropped his team in the poo by publicly complaining about team orders, something that the FIA frown upon.
In Japan he was accused of erratic driving behind the pace car that resulted in the crash of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton could have clinched the 2007 championship in China, but managed to beach the car in a gravel trap on the entrance to pit lane. Despite that, his lead in the championship was such that any kind of decent points finish would have seen him claim the title in the final race.
History tells us that he made more errors and finished the race in the highest position possible to guarantee that he still missed out on the championship.
The 2008 season saw controversy follow Hamilton yet again. After the perfect start, Hamilton drew the wrath of the stewards for blocking in qualifying for the Malaysian GP.
Then there was the strange and inexplicable Canadian GP incident in which he slammed into the back of Raikkonen, after ignoring a pit lane exit red light.
Hamilton got himself in trouble again in the French GP after he cut a chicane after an overtaking manoeuvre on Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton and McLaren maintained that he had completed the overtaking move before running Vettel off the road—the stewards disagreed.
Then there was the widely documented Spa incident at the Belgian Grand Prix, where he was duelling with Kimi Raikkonen in the wet and again cut a chicane. He was again penalized, but not until everyone had been subjected to an arrogant and self-deluded defence of his actions.
And he was at it again in Japan where he completely ballsed up the start, made a mad charge down the inside, locked his brakes, ruined his tyres, and ran half a dozen cars off the road.
Not that Lewis saw it that way, of course, but he rarely sees things the same way as us mere mortals.
Lewis had a much better 2009, if you don't count lying to the stewards in Melbourne, and we could perhaps have been forgiven that maturity and experience had combined to help put his moments of stupidity behind him.
We were wrong; he was just having a break, and now he’s back on form.
Lewis has now come to Australia and managed to shoot himself in both feet. In Sydney, a few days ago, he suggested that it might be time for Mark Webber to retire. Webber is on the front row of the grid in Melbourne, Lewis is in 11th spot—maybe he should shut up and concentrate on driving.
Lewis claims to be driven by perfection, but you’d have to think that he still has a fair distance to drive in that regard. He won’t, however, be doing it in the sponsor’s Merc—that’s locked away in the police impound lot for 48 hours.