Friday, 22 March 2013

Can the real Lewis Hamilton, please stand up?

By Stuart Neo - 23 March 2013

This editorial is written in response to F1Plus article: "Lewis Hamilton fans may not like this." It balances out the debate and gives a positive spin on the "boy who actually actually showing signs of becoming a man" - Lewis Hamilton.

Can Lewis be excused for his behaviour? We think he can.

For one, Lewis did not have what you could call a normal up bringing. Lewis's parents divorced when he was two. He was raised by his single mum then later his father. The divorce had an impact on Lewis's perspective on relationships. Without two parents as role model, this shaped Lewis as a person.

In elementary school, Lewis admitted he was bullied and wanted to take up karate in order to defend himself. Bullying takes it toll on a person's self-esteem. It also gives children the idea that the world is not so safe.

"I was about five and being bullied at school," he says. "It was a horrible time. I told Dad I wanted to learn karate so I could protect myself. The bullying stopped. Karate also gave me real self-confidence" recalls Lewis.

His early success karting meant his was the subject of racial taunts. "In the past years, I've had racist names being called to me. The first time it happened, I felt really upset. I told my mum and dad and I felt like I needed to get revenge on them. Lately, if anyone said anything to me, I would just get them back on the track." says a young Lewis.

Spending his most of his teenage years focused on racing and winning took away opportunities for Lewis to 'just be a teenager.' To do silly things and just have fun. To fool around with girls, go night clubbing and just to be a hoon. Lewis was constantly under the weight of his father's expectations. Anthony Hamilton, accompanied Lewis to all the races and even managed his son when Lewis entered Formula 1. Also, having signed with McLaren since the age of 13, he was perpetually under the watchful gaze of 'Uncle Ron.' We could agree that Lewis did not receive the "socialization" you get from "just being a kid." This is known as the Peter Pan Syndrome - as suffered by Michael Jackson who just never grew up.

Teenagers usually enter a phase of independence in their teens, becoming more distant from their parents, becoming rebellious and even embarrassed by being seen in public with their parents. Lewis didn't have this because this whole life was driven by adults. But it was time Lewis found his independence. This came in 2011 when Lewis faced his darkest hour.

In 2011, Lewis started feeling suffocated by his father and the contractual obligations of the team. He yearned for his independence. This led to Lewis sacking his father - this was inevitable. Lewis went looking for the fun that had alluded him for all those years. Lewis found another manager in Simon Fuller who gave him access to something only people dream of - Hollywood.

Lewis was now hanging with Hollywood's coolest rappers and pop stars, sipping spirits at the best Hollywood night clubs. This was a dream come true. No wonder he was distracted. As a result he started crashing into Felipe Massa. The two collided numerous times on the track ending in a public spat in the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix. Lewis was sent to the Principal's office (FIA stewards) more than once and he was not happy about it - retaliating that it was because he was "black" - the racial taunts he experienced as a kid was coming back to haunt him.

He was also charged for "hooning" around the streets of Melbourne in 2010 - as he deliberately loss control of his Mercedes-AMG C63, performing 'burn outs' as he tried to attract attention. Perhaps if he had done this when he was in his teens, he might not have felt the urge to 'hoon around' in his mid twenties.

And what of Nicole Scherzinger? Lewis started dating Nicole in 2007. Nicole was a internationally know pop star - his idea of a dream girlfriend. When their rocky relationship ended in a break up in 2011, this sent him spiraling into a mild state of melancholy which had an adverse affect on his driving. In 2012, they reunited and Lewis found his mojo again - more on this later.

There was also Twitter-gate. Not having many close friends (apart from racing friends), Lewis craved friends. And twitter gave them to him - all one million plus of them. So Lewis became obsessed with twitter - posting constantly, sometimes hourly. Having this many friends was all new to him. Eventually, over-twittering led him to post Jenson's telemetry to the world. Jenson feigned disappointment to escalate the issue in order to break the bond between Lewis and "Lewis's team". Lewis didn't feel at home anymore and wanted to move out.

Now he had one more thing he needed to jettison. And that was McLaren. Uncle Ron, who was also Lewis's father figure, had watched over Lewis from a young age. He was contractually obligated to McLaren, so in effect according to Lewis, they held the deed on his soul. It was time to get it back. Along with Jenson's devious plan to move the team around him, it all came to a head with Lewis announcing he was cutting the umbilical chord with McLaren, despite them offering Lewis more money than his new team, Mercedes.

Has Lewis matured of late? Yes. The lad is growing up. He has made some difficult yet crucial decisions. He was able to split with his father and McLaren both of whom had way too much control over his life. Lewis tweets less often now, sometimes there are days between tweets. His driving is more mature as he understands that going hell for leather like he used to is not effective with these new Pirelli tyres. In the most recent race in the Melbourne 2013, Lewis drove a controlled race making his high degradation tyres last through a long stint and finishing 5th.

In a recent interview, we see Lewis is starting to mellow out as he finds 'his' way in this world.

"One of the key ways I like to approach my life is to keep things as simple as possible because when it's not simple, it can be stressful, and when you're stressed you're not working at your best."

Should Lewis be excused for his behaviour? Sure. He, like all of us, is just a product of his environment. We haven't lived the life Lewis has lived and could not truly say that we would behave any differently.

For those who want to see Lewis as a human, watch the following Youtube clip Young Lewis.


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