Lewis Hamilton copped a lot of flack for his no show at the F1 Live in London – admittedly from this site too – ahead of the British Grand Prix, but when it mattered he was imperious on his way to yet another historic victory on home soil.
The Mercedes driver finds a little bit extra each time he does his business at Silverstone, it’s clearly a case of ‘home track’ advantage, where racing on the soil of his birth he just finds something extra special that elevates him above us mere mortals.
He looked beatable during the early part of qualifying, but then he delivered an astounding flying lap that nailed pole by a whopping half a second. He signaled his intent in the finest manner.
Then 24 hours later he simply drove into the distance as he stormed to another famous victory unchallenged. He controlled the pace, saved those fragile tyres, dialed down the Mercedes power and with the chequered flag in sight he popped the fastest lap of the race. Message clear: Guys I had it under control with plenty in reserve.
It was Lewis at his very best. What followed was pure joy and adulation from the fans that gathered to hail their hero. Crowd surfing at Silverstone is now a tradition and if his current form is anything to go by, it won’t be the last time he enjoys the ritual.
Granted he was the only one of the 20 drivers who did not show up in London a few days earlier for a mega road show organised by the new owners of these port. He was at Mykonos chilling with his pals. It was bad form from a guy who relishes his fans and from the outside his no show was inexplicable.
Credit to him he was unrepentant. He saw no fault in his actions and of course at Silverstone he made up for it by doing it his way. Hosting young Billy Monger all weekend, engaging with him on a regular basis in the Silver Arrows garage was a genuine gesture of a guy who really cares.
His appreciation for all those who pitched up at Silverstone for three days – and let’s face it the majority were his fans – was genuine and from the heart. You can’t fake that.
Alas Lewis polarises Formula 1 aficionados. You are either a fan of his or not. There is no middle ground, very much like his hero Ayrton Senna as well as Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher before him. Great drivers of the past two or three decades of the sport have tended to divide the affections of fans. It is the nature of the beast these days.
Like Senna after his first F1 world title, Hamilton is now racing at the highest level firmly on his terms. For example the great Brazilian was no fan of testing during an era when testing was a week-in and week-out undertaking by teams.
Prying Ayrton away from his haven at Angra dos Reis, in his homeland, was always a tough ask. That’s where he chilled and recharged. No one ever knew when he would decide to pitch up for pre-season testing when he was there enjoying the sunshine and his family. Sounds familiar?
As a result of Ayrton’s foibles McLaren were among the first to establish a dedicated test team with a variety of drivers employed to do the hard graft of developing their race cars, with Senna popping-up at his convenience to tweak things to his liking and then deliver 110%.
Times have changed, but Hamilton’s approach is similar. When he is at the race track he gives 110%, but away from it he is his own man and does as he pleases. But this is his right.
He is rewriting the F1 history books, his success warrants him special treatment – and rightfully so. With him it is a clear case of when the ‘green flag drops the b@llshit stops’ and ultimately that’s why we follow this sport: to see great race drivers in action.
As long as he delivers on track as he does then so be it. You cannot fault him for his behaviour and decisions, because on the day 100,000 people were treated to a masterclass that they will never forget. He has nailed the formula that works for him.
In the light of my criticism (and that of many others) of his absence from the F1 Live London event, we have to chomp on a large chunk of humble pie and concede: Lewis does it his way and who are we to argue!
Big Question: Lewis does it his way and who are we to argue?