Friday, 28 September 2012

Will they all live happily ever after?


Lewis Hamilton - racing driver and global superstar (but in which order?)

Once upon a time there were two footballers. Lets call them Paul and David. They were about the same age and both were very good at football. In fact, they were so good that a really big football club signed them up. Although Paul and David were quite young, they both played so well and scored so many goals that soon they were playing every week.

Sarong-gate

Paul and David helped their team win lots of trophies and for a while everyone was very happy. But David and David’s new wife, Victoria, started to get a bit bored. They wanted to go out more with their famous friends and wear silly clothes. This made David’s manager very cross and one day he got so cross that he kicked a boot at David. In the end, David had to leave the club and say goodbye to Paul and all his old friends.

David played for a while in Spain but they didn’t win very much as they had a lot of managers. David then moved to a country where they don’t like football much and he doesn’t play very often now. Paul is still at the same club and has won 9 more big trophies since David left. All of Paul’s team-mates still say he is the best player they have ever played with. Paul doesn’t have any famous friends, he doesn’t have an agent and he doesn’t go out very much. He just plays football.

The moral of the tale? Be careful what you wish for. True sporting greats don’t have distractions or tend to embrace the celebrity scene. But it’s a free choice – you can decide to go down that whole ‘global brand’ route or you can focus 100% on your sport.

Take a bow, EJ. He broke the Lewis to Mercedes story weeks ago!

And so today, it was announced that Lewis Hamilton is leaving McLaren (replacing The Great Michael Schumacher) at the end of the season and moving to Mercedes. Huge kudos to Eddie Jordan who called this weeks ago (and was derided by many when any announcement failed to materialise). He might have a penchant for a loud shirt but he is supremely well-connected in Formula 1. 

The next giant-sized piece in the 2013 jigsaw was an announcement by McLaren that Sergio Perez will be joining McLaren to replace Hamilton. No news (as at the time of writing this piece) on Schumacher’s future. There is speculation linking him to Sauber although I would give ANYTHING to see Schuey have one final year at Ferrari. Surely it has to be worth a punt! P45 and pat on the back for Felipe Massa and bob’s your uncle!

Ah Lewis and Ron in happier times

Apparently Lewis wants a ‘new challenge’ – spawned mentored by Scary Ron Dennis from a very young age, things at McLaren have been going sour for a couple of years. A theory of the husband’s (which I increasingly think is bang on the money) is that Lewis, a fragile lad with a big ego (never a great combination), didn’t cope too well with Jenson coming on board and…er…pretty much matching him point for point. Don’t believe me? Well since they became team-mates, Lewis has scored 609 points and Jenson 603 points. There is no way on earth that Lewis would have expected Jenson to be so close. And to rub a bit more salt into the wounds, lovely, charming Jenson has won the hearts of the team. Compare and contrast to Lewis stomping around and whinging and oh sticking all his confidential telemetry onto Twitter for the whole world to see. The most revealing thing about Telemetry Gate is that it showed that Lewis was prepared to stick two fingers up to his team, who had been his boyhood team since the age of 14.

Sergio Perez

Controversial I know but I think McLaren will be better off without Hamilton. They have supported him through thick and thin (but mainly thin since 2008). I actually think that Perez is a superb signing for McLaren and I’m quite surprised that Ferrari didn’t tie him up for 2013. Did Fernando Alonso veto it? Or maybe they have a ‘Vettel’ shaped iron in the fire for 2014 so they’re biding their time? Anyway the husband will be beyond esctatic as he loves Perez so its pretty much Team McLaren all the way for him next year.

Another big winner in the latest F1 merry-go-round is Jenson Button. He showed big cojones moving to McLaren (when everyone sniggered their head off and predicted huge humiliation at the hands of Lewis). And now he has seen off their long-term protégé and most recent world champion. Jenson is pretty much the perfect team-mate for new-kid-on-the-block Perez (who is a racing driver foetus – still only 22!) with all his years of experience and they both have a similarly smooth Prost-esque driving style.

Brand Hamilton coming to a billboard near you soon

But back to Mercedes. The Lewis apologists (mentioning no names!) will come out with a whole load of reasons why Lewis is right to move:
  1.  He needs a fresh challenge – Well he’s sure going to get that at Mercedes.
  2. Ross Brawn – Undoubted genius but in 3 years, Mercedes have done sweet FA. One win and the odd podium is scant return for the gazillion pounds of investment they have made.
  3. The huge change in regulations for 2014 (ie. teams will need to develop brand new engines) – Mercedes might be good at making engines but their chassis is rubbish, their aerodynamics are crud and different bits of the car seem to break down at every race. They have a very long way to go before they can even think of challenging for the title.
But I think there are deeper reasons for the move (that won’t ever feature on any official statement). Money is one of them – clearly a $100million salary (brain implodes while trying to calculate monthly take home pay) is not to be sniffed at – but more importantly, Lewis and his advisors wanted much greater control over personal sponsorships and endorsements. These days in sport that is where the seriously BIG money is made. So in a way it is about money. The driving force behind all of this? Simon Fuller naturally. The man behind Brand Beckham is now turning his attention to Brand Hamilton. God help us all.

Global megastardom may await Lewis Hamilton but time will tell whether any more titles shall come his way.

I suspect along with Perez, the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are feeling pretty chipper today. But the smiliest of them all has to be Bernie. As ever. In 2013, we will have 5 world champions at 5 different teams. But will we still have 6 world champions racing? The suspense is KILLING me.

9 comments:

  1. So many facts ignored to continue the anti-lewis agenda that you have inexplicably taken upon yourself. ;-)

    Lewis being affected by Button matching him ? Well firstly, Lewis shared a team with a far better driver in Alonson and bested him so seriously doubt Jensen was going to get under his skin, particularly as they clearly get on very well (not that you will believe that as apparently anything that shows Lewis in a good light cannot be believed)

    Secondly, when Lewis (and this was his own fault no doubt, I am no Lewis-apologist !) was letting emotion affect him particularly last season he was as expected dropping points and had no one to blame but himself. Meanwhile Jensen had a solid season so of course gained through consistency and maturity.

    This season the only time Jensen has been his equal has been when Lewis has lost out thanks to others on the track taking him off, losing points thanks to inept mechanics during pit stops or stewards deeming the car illegal. Lewis has been far better when on the track and unlike last year he has been a victim rather than the cause of his accidents and that is just bad luck that can happen to anyone. Doesn't change the fact that he has been superior to Jensen this season when all things have been equal though.

    Despite having to suffer idiots taking him off, mechanics not doing the basics properly etc Lewis has been far more calm and accepting of his fate rather than the admittedly petulant child we saw all too often last year. Strangely, his maturity both on and off the track has seemingly passed you by completely, must be something in the beeb's coverage I guess. Presumably they keep cutting back to last year's races due to cutbacks/lack of coverage ;-)

    Is Lewis looking to be more global ? Possibly, maybe, probably. Take your pick, none of us know and in truth what does it matter anyway ?

    I seriously doubt you were complaining when Schuey grabbed the money to become a global brand with Ferrari so not sure why Lewis gets castigated and he doesn't (favouritism presumably ?) but then your bias for Schuey knows no bounds as despite loving Damon you clearly forgave Schuey his cheating to steal a title from him :-)

    If Lewis ever cheats you will probably demand a public flogging for him lol

    As to the future car, all things are relative as we all know as no team stays dominant forever and we simply can't know which changes will help or hinder a team (just look at the titles the likes of Jensen and Seb have gained through dubious interpretations of the rules, who is to say Mercedes won't do the same in the future ?!!).

    The problem with McLaren is they always give the impression of being on the verge of losing any dominating position they gain as other teams seem to react quicker than they do to adversity or dropping behind.

    Lewis can't be criticised for going for the money (although apparently the money wasn't different depending on sources and only the sponsorship side of things was different and even there McLaren had relaxed their rules for him already) but to say it is purely about the money is probably unfair as aside from anything else he probably needs a fresh challenge as it is very easy to get stale in any company when you have been there as long as he has been.

    Will he have as much success in the future ? Short term, odds are against it no doubt. But things change quickly and predicting more than a year in F1 is futile as so many rules etc change that any of a few teams can become strong and lead the field.

    Wondeful blogs as always and great fun to read, even when you are carrying out the anti-Lewis agenda ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow thanks (genuinely!) for your very interesting and thought provoking comments! Very well structured – you sure you don’t want to retrain as a lawyer?!! There’s not much point in writing a blog and sitting on the fence so I try to nail my colours to the mast. A bit scary at times as the social media world can be a bit vicious and troll-like (not to me thankfully, so far!). The Mercedes twitter/facebook pages were getting some serious abuse today apparently. Hmmmmm.

    I guess you have drivers who you love, who you’re indifferent to, who you vaguely dislike and perhaps who you might hate. All opinion is subjective and I freely admit that my comments on various different drivers are coloured by my feelings towards them, whether rational or irrational.

    The Hamilton/Alonso year at McLaren was a disaster – one of those drivers should have won the title but the fight within scuppered their chances. Both of them behaved like immature cretins though more excusable for Hamilton being a rookie. I fully accept that Hamilton is a much faster, better driver than Jenson but while he could accept Alonso matching him (immature spats aside!), and then he easily bossed Kovalainen, I honestly think he thought Jenson would be more of a Heikki team-mate than a Fernando one. I think it did freak him out a bit as well that Jenson did so much better than him last year.

    Agree totally with your comments on Lewis’s bad luck this year (the pitstops have been an abomination). He has handled it way better than I would have expected and I have heaped praise on him in my blogs as to how well he has driven in some races. But all the stuff that went down at Spa was pretty bad and over that weekend, he was venting a lot on twitter. But for the record, I like Lewis and think he is brilliant for the sport. He is passionate, unpredictable, a racer (much more so than Button) but I’m not sure he is being managed well. I just don’t see Simon Fuller as a force for good, Nicole ‘look at me’ Scherzinger just seems ridiculously high maintenance and all this bling, celeb hanging out with rap stars just seems so un-F1 so I fear for him a bit.

    Now Schuey’s move to Ferrari…funnily enough I nearly commented on that in my blog as it is a similar move on paper (ie. leaving winning team for a rubbish sleeping giant one). But I honestly truly believe (what do I know, never met any of the relevant people etc etc!) it wasn’t about the money (though I'm sure Schuey got paid shedloads), or to build a global brand. Ferrari is Ferrari and all drivers on the planet would give their right arm to drive for Ferrari. Schuey’s reputation was shot to pieces after Adelaide and all the continual disqualifications/cheating allegations at Benetton in his two title winning years. I think he saw a move to Ferrari as a chance at redemption and liked the challenge of not just jumping into the best car. Adelaide was appalling and I was absolutely gutted, incandescent etc on Damon’s behalf. But I am a woman and therefore allowed to change my mind and be perverse ☺ Schuey’s commitment, fantastic team-player attitude and awesome drives (especially Barca and Spa in 1996) and long haul to become a Ferrari world champion eventually won me over to Team Schuey.

    The great thing is none of us really have a clue what will happen and that’s what is so brilliant! Blimey, I’ve probably waffled on enough!! I’ll quit while I’m behind… Thanks again for posting your comments!

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  5. he is brilliant for the sport. He is passionate, unpredictable, a racer (much more so than Button) but I’m not sure he is being managed well. I just don’t see Simon Fuller as a force for good, Nicole ‘look at me’ Scherzinger just seems ridiculously high maintenance and all this bling, celeb hanging out with rap stars just seems so un-F1 so I fear for him a bit. guild wars 2 gold
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