The Big Lewis Hamilton Debate: Is Arrogance the Problem?

Dave BatesAnalyst IJuly 28, 2008

With so many arguments circulating, I felt it was time to throw in my opinion on one of the hottest debates surrounding British Sport.

Since his debut in Australia in 2007, Lewis Hamilton has become an international superstar. He has soared into the record books with numerous achievements, most notably the nine consecutive podium finishes following his debut Grand Prix and becoming the first black person to compete in Formula 1.

But despite his numerous achievements, Lewis Hamilton has come under much scrutiny from Formula 1 fans. Why is this?

There is no question that Lewis Hamilton has had a seismic impact on Formula 1. He shook the Formula 1 world from the moment he passed Fernando Alonso on the first corner of his debut grand prix.

Formula 1 is still experiencing the aftershock of Lewis Hamilton's arrival. TV viewing has rocketed, and the Hamilton name has become one of the most marketable brands the sport has ever seen. All this and he isn't even two years into his Formula 1 career.

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His majestic displays of brilliance on the racetrack have won him countless fans the world over and it is clear to see why. He is incredibly active behind the wheel and not afraid to risk it all for glory.

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He doesn't have the makings of a champion; he has the makings of multiple world champions. Hamilton is a hero everyone can relate to—an international phenomenon.

So why is it that in recent months, many people have become skeptical of the Lewis Hamilton steam train?

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The answer is seemingly simple. It is in no doubt that he holds an incredible amount of talent. No skeptic can deny that. What is a problem, for some, is his attitude.

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There seems to be an aura surrounding Lewis Hamilton, which generates the impression he feels superior to everyone else. His body language is often that of a man oozing with confidence; however he gives off the impression of arrogance.

In TV interviews, he often answers questions with a cunning smile, as if he is trying to restrain himself from saying something politically incorrect. It also sparks the impression that he doesn’t really want to be in the interview.

Very few drivers enjoy being hassled by the press, but it can be argued that most show greater amounts of diplomacy than Lewis Hamilton.

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For all his restraint as well, little comments often break out in his speech. Following his victory at Hockenheim, he was quick to criticise Felipe Massa for not defending his line well enough.

He sparked controversy at last year's Brazilian Grand Prix by claiming on Brazilian TV he was more like Ayrton Senna than his nephew Bruno.

In a pre-race interview last year, he referred to the drivers at the back of the grid as "monkeys." Whether he meant that in good humour or not, the comment left him open to criticism from many Formula 1 fans and drivers.

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A final criticism of Lewis Hamilton is his often-erratic driving style. This was most recently demonstrated during the first lap of the French Grand Prix, where he earnt himself a drive-through penalty for cutting a chicane in a desperate bid to get past the Torro Rosso of Vettel.

His uncompromising overtaking manoeuvres also appear to be more ruthless and aggressive than an act of pure skill. One example is his move on Nelson Piquet Jr. during the 2008 German Grand Prix.

Back at home, fans across England were questioning if it was a little over the top. In Hamilton’s defence, the move looked fair but firm. 

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The debate surrounding Lewis Hamilton could go on, as so many people have contrasting views. What is clear is that he is a world-class driver, but to many his character comes across as incredibly arrogant. Where do you stand?


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