So, the race angle. Is Hamilton disdained or divisive because he’s black? My short response: Probably not? Look, I know for a fact there’s a lot of people who are quietly racist between their own four walls (My own parents included), and very smartly keep that to themselves where they can get away with it, but I honestly think that there are far more obvious reasons.
And let’s talk about his barometer of popularity, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. There were comparisons made to other black athletes, like Mo Farah, and Jessica Ennis. It’s a poor example, not because of their colour, but because of the fact that track and field and athletics just aren’t on the same level in terms of popularity and has been on a bit of a downwards trend, UNLESS its an Olympic year. Me personally, have never heard a bad word ever, when it comes to Farah and Ennis, unless it comes from silly issues such as immigration and whether Sheffield United hiring rapists is a bad idea or a terrible idea.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally agree that Mo Farah should have at least made the Top 3 in 2012, but y’know who was the last track and fielder to win the SPOTY? Oh yeah, Kelly Holmes, 2004. There’s definitely validity to Hamilton NOT winning in 2008, considering Chris Hoy was incredible in Beijing in an Olympic year as well. And if it was really down to race, wouldn’t Jenson Button had won in 2009 instead? Because he was a runner-up too. The last F1 winner was Damon Hill in 1996. Maybe it’s just F1 itself isn’t as popular on a large scale, as many think it is. We ain’t soccer, let’s not pretend like we are here.
Harker does point out a lot of truly viable reasons that people might dislike Hamilton though, even if he spends his time in the article, picking them apart subjectively.
The sulking and the media handling. Now, in Lewis’ credit, on the whole, tends to make for an good interview, but despite the Monaco 2011 Ali G impression, he still had flashes where he let it slip. Monaco this year, he denounced his friendship with Rosberg out of sheer petulance for what was at worst, a questionable mistake in Qualifying, that indirectly ruined his shot at pole position.
And at Spa, obviously being frustrated, he accused Rosberg of crashing into him on purpose. Obviously the smart call when you’re leading the Championship to put your car at risk, right? Remember, this was Lewis leaking the details of a private meeting to the print media, and putting his own team in a PR spin trying to fan the flames down, Toto refuting what Lewis had said hours later.
As much as I agree that we as fans need to choose a side in terms of “Playing the PR game” and “Honesty is the best policy”, Lewis definitely came off the worst and this season proved he can still put his foot in it. Remember his “He’s not really German” comments? I suspect Nico’s birth certificate says otherwise. Little things like this, don’t help, but are ultimately minor in the grand scheme of things.
So, the culture difference? Meh. We British are an incredibly patriotic and proud bunch, especially when Sir Sterling Moss chips in, who’s about as British as tea and scones in Hyde Park. Hamilton likes the finer things in life, has the high class superstar girlfriend, likes his jewelry and bling, lives in Monaco now, etc. My answer is…so? Who wouldn’t if they were given such an opportunity?
Jenson Button had the same playboy lifestyle, until he started winning and now, he might be the universally liked driver in Formula 1 now. Not to mention countless other Brits like Paul Di Resta, JB, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell live off-shores. Because in the eyes of many, British people have gotta pay British taxes,