Damon Hill has come out and warned that Lewis Hamilton has a lot to learn and needs to focus on being a race driver as opposed to nurturing his image David Beckham style, but concedes that the 2008 world champion’s move away from McLaren to Mercedes was well judged.
Interviewed by the London Evening Standard, Hill said, “Lewis, nurtured as a prodigy by his father, Anthony, and Ron Dennis [of McLaren] has a great story to tell. The question is how will the story turn out? Where is Lewis’s career going?”
“He is mercurial, got all this talent but somehow it’s squandered and lost. When is he going to get it back? Will he maximise his opportunity? He’s moved to Mercedes. He’s not 30 but he’s getting close. The clock is ticking for Lewis.’ Hamilton is 28 years old.
“I don’t want to say [that] Lewis is naive but he has a lot to learn. He genuinely wants to pursue his career in his own way. But the sport that he’s in is a very Machiavellian place. To succeed in Formula 1 you have to be a bit ruthless, have a focus, and almost a business mindset. Maybe he doesn’t want to have that. He wants to get in his car and show what he can do.”
“For people like Lewis, there are two career paths: the Beckham model -he’s managed by the same management group. That model has shown that some people can transcend their sport. Lewis’s management seem to be suggesting that he should follow the Beckham model. Lewis has clearly a lot going for him in the personality area. His girlfriend is a famous singer. But what is the measure of someone’s success? Is it fame or is it actual success?
“The difficulty for Lewis is [that] F1 doesn’t regards its own drivers as celebrities. They’re stars because they perform. If you’re a footballer, you win if your team wins. When you’re a racing driver it’s not like that, it’s your own performances that count. At the end of the day they don’t look back at your career and go: Well, you were with a team that won. They look back at your results and go: How many races or championships did you win?”
“When Lewis decided [to leave McLaren] it looked like a bit of a reckless move. But, over the winter, Mercedes have been more competitive than they were before, so Lewis made the right move. Lewis hasn’t blown his chances of winning [the championship] this year. He has the car to win the British Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel will be tough to beat but not impossible,” concluded Hill who was world champion with Williams in 1996, winning 22 grands prix during the course of his career. (GMM)