Formula 1 news was very scarce in January. Even now, as the new season fast approaches, there has been really nothing to report about, apart from Lewis Hamilton’s silence.
Of course, this has spawned countless conspiracy theories about the Mercedes driver’s future in the sport and all the noise that comes with that.
For the record, for me, it is impossible to believe Lewis will quit at this stage of his career. He is simply too good, in the best team and has $80-million (or whatever) to bank in the next two years. He never intended to walk and he won’t walk.
However, I do believe he had a prolonged sulk which has to end at some point. The ‘coming out’ will be interesting…
Having followed Lewis all, his career one thing I can tell you, he is a sore loser, hates it in fact. Not a bad thing as he is in good company eg. Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Max Verstappen are a few I witnessed first-hand being horrible losers. I admire and love them all.
Perhaps being a sore loser is part of the DNA that makes great race drivers exactly that, Great Race Drivers.
With every reason to be aggrieved at the way in which an eighth F1 Title was denied him, Lewis had no excuse to go off the radar which he has done until now. Until when? Only he knows.
I imagine him as and have described him as ‘brooding‘ which might suggest to some he is sitting around in the stillness of Le Penseur; be sure at the same time Lewis is working out, getting ready to rise to the challenges of the 2022 F1 season.
Probably working out harder than ever, while keeping it all under wraps, even to his loyal fanbase.
And that is his right, however as the King of F1 for almost a decade – with a massive and active social media following – from a media perspective this silence, to be justified, has gone beyond a sulk with some kind of fuzzy endgame now in play.
Has Lewis seriously held F1 to ransom as some suggest? Has he had enough? Is he scared of George? Scared of Max? Until he talks speculation will just ramp up. The silence does Lewis, Mercedes, F1 as a whole including media no favours.
The mysterious Chinese New Year good wishes – that popped up with imagery apparently (subject to confirmation) from a shoot late last year for the purpose of being used this week on social media by the world champion team – inevitably prompt the question:
Why no New Year message to the rest of the world from Lewis a month ago?
Is it the fault of F1 fans, even the die-hard Ham-sters, or the team or media that it all went pear-shaped in Abu Dhabi, prompting the deafening silence from the seven-time F1 World Champion? Of course not.
It is hard to find a sensible pundit who does not agree with Lewis, what happened in Abu Dhabi was a farce and must never happen again. That it did and Max Verstappen is champion is now etched into the record books.
Max deserved a better crowning race but there is no denying he is the worthy 2021 F1 World Champion.
As for Lewis, paradoxically he too deserved it, and most of us were dismayed and aggrieved by the way it was decided. Apart from the haters, everyone who knows sport, let alone F1, felt for Lewis and will always do so
So why take it out on us all? And thus allow gutter speculation to go unchecked. Largely, I blame the teams.
However, do spare a thought for Mercedes F1 Media people with the unenvious task of spin-doctoring their star drivers’ silence amid Toto Wolff’s narrative.
They nevertheless get it and we welcome the “Road to 2022” series that they have on YouTube, providing fresh and insightful build-up which we use and will continue to use. Looking forward to the third instalment already.
Nevertheless, they are the exception, an exciting new season is upon us, perhaps the most important rule changes ever in the history of the sport every day there should be fresh content from F1 teams, hot news, features, interviews to keep the news flowing, relevant and engaging.
But no, media offices of most F1 teams have not been liberal with content during this past month. Apart from announcing sticker changes (aka new sponsors) on their cars, there is very little else to work with from them.
This is odd because, during the season especially Grand Prix weekends, they spew so much stuff that much of it cannot be used. Overkill in other words. While now, when we really need them to drip feed constant information, they’ve clammed up.
Everyone in the media scraping the barrel, heavy hitters, all the F1 outlets we included
We are all guilty of rehashing old stuff, the extent of the desperation clear when the likes of The Independent have to do it too. Believe they are not alone among the heavy hitters of media.
To this day, many publications have milked Verstappen’s single post-title-winning interview, with father Jos, during a CarNext interview with David Coulthard, which was held the day after the Yas Marina race. Yes! Two-month-old quotes are still being used to attract readers, simply repackaged.
Again full blame to the F1 teams for going silent during this crucial period. They need to wake up and realise no sport can afford to go off the radar in this manner. We live in a 365-24-7 world of media, social media waits for no one.
Despite some media outlets publishing exclusive interviews with F1 personnel, as I write no team or driver or team boss has yet given an official interview talking about the incredible season we have in store for us, almost nothing has come out on the new cars, even livery hints, are unknown as the media men of F1 lose the opportunity to feed the frenzy and calm it down with regular offseason content.
This means tearing up the old media schedule that dates back to the beginning of F1, namely a switch off from the last race of a season to the start of the next season’s first race.
This ‘quiet time’ no longer applies in today’s media landscape which never sleeps
Thus the resources spent with the overkill of information during grand prix weekends should be spread to accommodate a livelier, more relevant and topical content supply from teams during the off-season. Adapt-or-die springs to mind.
At the same time, as a media man, I tip my hat to the F1 teams and their hard-working media departments for the priceless information they do provide. Top-notch and top quality fitting of an F1 team.
The off-season news suggestion is just some advice from what we, as an editorial team, learn on this journey and feel could be done better as a collective.
This might be scoffed at by the F1 media brigade, but those who know will know there is an F1 news-hole to be filled at this time of the year, to prevent scraping the barrel as we and our esteemed colleagues at The Independent (and many other reputable outlets) are forced to revert to on this side of the fence.
To the F1 team media: Give us news we can work with. Please.