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Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Still I surprise
3) Lewis and ‘The Lord’
Does a vocal expression of religious belief by a competitor and their sport mix?
Well in terms of F1, we are now faced with this question. In modern times and for many F1 fans, this question has not been asked by other drivers.
I cannot recall another driver so outwardly religious before. This is yet another shade of Lewis which confronts us and of all the aspects of Lewis’ life, this is the one now appears to evoke the most negative feelings within me personally.
I find the ‘use’ of religious idioms in sport disingenuous.
Is petitioning God for help or thanking him for granting a personal divine intervention really appropriate where the sport is all about the individual’s skill and focus?
However, many fans appreciate Lewis’ religious comment and again we are forced by Lewis to confront the uncomfortable.
Perhaps Ayrton Senna had a similar effect. He was accused of being dangerous because his religious view appeared to represent a “when you’re time’s up – it’s up” philosophy. It’s not difficult to understand the associated dangers with a world view where your own death is an abdicated responsibility for another to explain.
Senna though existed in an era and from a country where religion was a daily part of daily life.
In the modern incrementally secularised world, in this sense, Lewis is again an F1 pioneer.
4) Lewis the Driver Born at the Will of a Corporation
I think the final challenge that Lewis presents us, that evokes the extreme emotions, is that he was in many ways the first professionally tailored junior talent to rise through the ranks.
Hamilton enjoyed, and made the most of a fully funded path to greatness, whilst being sculpted into a McLaren icon. He was the first to ride the long term wave of a big teams desire to ‘breed’ a driver of unparalleled pedigree, which has primarily been achieved. His 2007 season was the proof of this, as Lewis was adept in interviews at proclaiming the corporate line.
Some feel that this makes him an ‘entitled’ individual and his rhetoric of an underprivileged heritage then reeks of hypocrisy. This being a given, Lewis’ comments on the privilege of Nico Rosberg’s upbringing may not have been the wisest
Yet again, Lewis is unlike any previous Formula One world champion driver. No other before him made this kind of entrance into the sport. None had been plucked from their childhood – age 13 – and ‘developed’ in such a way.
Now this route into top level Formula One is becoming more normative. but Lewis was the pioneer as the first from a corporate driven generation.
Still I ponder
Whatever Lewis is, whatever his personal stance, whatever his underlying motivations, whatever his lifestyle choices are, one thing is for sure; he challenges us. Not least because he is a pioneer in all the aspects I have already discussed, but he forces us to consider religion, race and celebrity status as one.
Hamilton arrests our paradigms, long established by the rich history of the sport, which inevitably evokes extreme feelings. That makes some of us uncomfortable, angry, resentful, inspired, courageous or identify with him – and strangely for a select few, myself included, all of them at once.
In the end, Lewis Hamilton is good for Formula One.
To me, Hamilton is a symbol of an evolving world, and an evolving sport, that at times exists between the archaic and modernity.
Lewis is the proof that we have a world becoming more tolerant, not only to race, but religion, celebrity and alternative lifestyles.
The pace of evolution may be slow at times, but it is indeed a sign we are moving in the right direction.
Do I support Hamilton? No I don’t.
Do I like him as a person, from the public snippets of what we see and hear? Not overly.
Do I want Lewis in F1? Absolutely. Because Lewis is one of the best drivers in the world and he tests us all.
I see the effects of Lewis’ pioneering career as a mirror, with us looking into it, for those wise enough we see the best and worst of ourselves. We see the most desired traits we may want and the least desired traits we dare not admit we have.
Lewis Hamilton is unprecedented in Formula One, which when acknowledged, one can see WHY he evokes such extreme views. It is why some will defend him with their last breath and why some will want to pin him to a metaphorical cross.
In particular, what challenges me is nothing to do with his race, or colour. Nor his entrance into Formula One or even his celebrity lifestyle cross over.
For me the challenge is Lewis’ outspoken religious beliefs and more specifically the way that ‘the lord’ is somehow implied to care about sport and in particular Lewis’ performance over and above other drivers.
Of course Hamilton’s emotional flippancy and his sullenness when he feels maligned or loses, grates on me. Where I come from, when you lose, you say ‘good game’, move on and focus the pure pain of the loss into a furnace within yourself. You create a pure energy so as to unleash it in every training session up until the next game or race where you will see if you were good enough again. And you do it with a smile.
What do I love about Lewis?
His amazing, incredible appetite for driving. His unprecedented impact on F1. His presence as a symbol or proof that we are moving forward in our sport and on this planet, even if this progression is only in rather a small manner.