Bring Me the Head of Lewis Hamilton: The Hounding of F1's Superstar

Duncan ScottAnalyst IJune 13, 2011

MONTREAL, CANADA - JUNE 09:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren is interviewed in the paddock during previews to the Canadian Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 9, 2011 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

You've seen the old horror movies that end with a mob of villagers heading up to the evil count's castle bearing flaming torches and pitchforks, intent on destroying the vile undead creature.

Nowadays after every F1 race, there is a similar mob seeking the head of Lewis Hamilton.

Mouths foam at the mention of his name, and lips twist into ugly snarls. Punish him, they bellow, teach him a lesson, ban him. Why not sharpen a stake and do the job properly?

The 2011 Canadian F1 Grand Prix on June 12 was a wet race featuring numerous mishaps, including a frightening incident in which race marshals were close to being struck by cars.

There were two notable incidents involving Hamilton. The first was a minor contact between Hamilton and Mark Webber, which the race stewards took one look at and deemed not worthy of investigation.

The second incident occurred when Hamilton attempted to overtake his McLaren teammate Jenson Button; there was a collision resulting in Hamilton being knocked out of the race, although Button went on to score an outstanding win. About that contact we were privileged to receive pearls of wisdom from veteran former champion Nikki Lauda. As reported in The Age, Lauda had this to say:

"What Hamilton did there goes beyond all boundaries. He is completely mad. If the FIA does not punish him, I do not understand the world any more."

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It was not reported that Lauda was brandishing a pitchfork, one suspects not.

The race stewards investigated the Hamilton/Button collision and came to a very different conclusion to that reached by Lauda and many others. Here are their words as reported in Autosport:

"The Stewards have concluded that it was reasonable for Hamilton to believe that Button would have seen him and that he could have made the passing maneuver. Further, the Stewards have concluded that it is reasonable to believe that Button was not aware of Hamilton's position to his left. Therefore, the Stewards decide that this was a 'racing incident' and have taken no further action."

So no suggestion of madness, and Lauda must continue to seek understanding of the world.

But will the calm observations of impartial stewards silence the mob? Probably not, for they will say Lewis should not have made such a move on a teammate. But in the real world of F1, his teammate is every driver's greatest rival, the man he most needs to finish in front of.

Among both his supporters and detractors, few would dispute that Lewis Hamilton is impulsively aggressive on the track. Some love him for that, and cheer him on. Others take a different view.

An aggressive driver always wants to get past the man in front of him. He needs to get past, and that makes him more likely to be involved in collisions than more cautious souls. But without overtaking, motor racing is no more than a very noisy and expensive procession, which does suit some drivers, for it is always a safer bet to finish a race behind someone than to risk not finishing at all.

In F1 today, we have some marvelous drivers, all of whom should be appreciated.

We have the clinical precision and sheer pace of Sebastian Vettel, the brooding enigma that is Fernando Alonso and the cheerfully competitive Mark Webber, to name but a few. And we have Lewis Hamilton.

If Hamilton's TV persona can seem cocksure to the point of arrogance, that is a small price to pay for having him in the sport. His contribution, this writer suggests, is massive, and there is a statistic that makes clear how much F1 would lose if the FIA were to misguidedly follow Nikki Lauda's advice. There are 24 drivers on the F1 grid, but so far this season, Lewis Hamilton has made more than 10 percent of the overtakes.

Put down those pitchforks, all you anti-Hamilton F1 fans, and enjoy him while you can. We will not always have him in the sport.

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