Crowned a four-time World Champion in Mexico with 2 races to spare, Lewis Hamilton sits at the top of the charts in terms of successful British drivers in Formula 1. Unbeatable on his day, Hamilton possesses skills that I think are underappreciated when hidden away in the car. A great British sportsman that has written his name into the history books; so why does he have to make it so hard to actually like him?
I was 16 when Hamilton won his first World Championship in 2008, and my memories of that day are all positive. A young kid who had fulfilled his childhood dream by becoming World Champion in extraordinary circumstances. He was one of my favourite sportsman.
A lot has happened in his life since then, and this has distanced him from many of the jubilant fans he had in 2008.
The Hamilton Brand
There is no denying that Lewis Hamilton has fans all around the world. He sells more branded merchandise than any other driver on the grid and always brings attraction and fanfare. A combination of Hamilton, and the team around him, have cleverly constructed a brand that generates interest wherever he goes; but it is important to make the distinction between interest and popularity.
It would be fascinating to conduct a poll on Hamilton’s 5.4 million Instagram followers as to whether they like him. If asked today, I would be more likely to say no – my reason for following him does not stem from likeability, it is purely based on an interest in his extravagant lifestyle.
There is no doubting that Hamilton is an extremely marketable character, and as Bernie Ecclestone said in an interview with Eddie Jordan, he has been the most important figure in Formula 1 for many years – even more of a shame that he has become less and less likeable over the years.
The Hamilton Lifestyle
There are two types of people in this world – those who post photos of their food on their social feeds, and normal people. To be fair to old Lewis, he doesn’t fall into the former category; generally, when he posts, it is eye catching – like when he vlogged a journey on his private jet and had clearly had a few too many. However, he has certainly been a culprit of attracting negativity when feeling the need to continually remind people of his lavish ways; this isn’t entirely necessary.
If I had the opportunity to travel by private jet, play with tame lions, and drive the most expensive cars in the world, there is no doubt in my mind I would take it, but I do not understand the need to make sure everyone knows about it. This is a strange one, because I still follow him, and all this does is feed my resentment.
The Hamilton Grump
Every now and then Hamilton appears in an interview and gives off the impression that everything is wrong in the world. This doesn’t go hand in hand with the lifestyle he portrays and he needs to look at the bigger picture. Yes, sport can be disappointing, but there are more important things in life, as portrayed by Daniel Ricciardo who lives life with a smile on his face.
Although respected by his fellow drivers, it has never seemed that Hamilton is very close with any of them. His issues with likeability extend to those closer to him as well. Whether this is down to his competitiveness, his arrogance or his attitude remains to be seen.
The Hamilton Holiness
Hamilton is clearly in a very fortunate position. The deal he has with Mercedes is worth millions and I don’t think he will have to worry about getting a job down the local pub when he retires.
You can tell he is genuinely grateful for this, but there is something about the way in which he presents this gratefulness that is really infuriating. There is an air of righteousness about it that gives off an impression of self-importance.
Are sportspeople like Hamilton allowed to be arrogant?
Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona, Jose Mourinho, Floyd Mayweather and Kevin Pietersen are all examples of other sportsmen who are also full of self-importance. There is an ongoing argument that these people can be arrogant because of the skills they possess and the money they have. To some extent I can agree with this –being named the best footballer in the word four times is bound to give you some confidence (Ronaldo). Hamilton has officially also been the best driver in the world four times. Both at the top of their fields, both advertise lavish lifestyles – who should I prefer – Hamilton, he is British. Who do I prefer – Ronaldo, every day of the week.