In a trailer for the BBC sports personality of the year awards, David Coultard described Lewis Hamilton as someone who ‘transcended Formula One’ and who was a ‘global megastar’. SPOTY is an annual awards ceremony is traditionally aired the Sunday before Christmas, and serves as a review of the global sporting year as it comes to an end.
This awards ceremony captivates the British sport viewing public in such a manner that the BBC’s main rival ITV, capitulated last night in the battle for the TV ratings by offering the Sound of Music as their alternative.
As was on track, Lewis was defending his 2014 title winning performance at SPOTY having captured the award last year. But the battle for SPOTY was tight in 2014 and Hamilton scored the least votes as a winner since this information was published.
For the 2015 award, prior to the event the bookies top five included Andy Murray (tennis), Tyson Fury (boxing), Kevin Sinfield (rugby league), Jessica Ennis (athletics) and Lewis Hamilton (F1).
In the minds of the F1 intelligentsia, becoming a three times F1 world driver champion affords an individual an almost immortal status, with adjectives like ‘global icon’ and ‘megastar’ regularly banded around. Yet on December 20th 2015, the British sport viewing public delivered a different verdict. Andy Murray won the title of British Sport’s Personality of the year, with a resounding 361,000 votes.
Kevin Sinfield, who captained his side to a treble in the minority sport of Rugby League, was second with 278,000 votes and athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill was third having won the IAAF world athletics title in the Heptathlon for the second time.
Lewis Hamilton came in fifth with just 48,000 votes behind the controversial English boxer Tyson Fury who recently beat Vladimir Klitschko to the world heavyweight title. Fury has been castigated in the British media since his world title win for making homophobic and sexist comments.
Last week, Fury told the media he though that Jessica Ennis-Hill, “slaps up good,” adding, “A woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back – that’s my personal belief.” Tyson Fury also stated he believed homosexuality and abortion were akin to paedophilia claiming this came straight from “the holy scriptures”. His remarks were then placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the British Boxing Board of Control.
Yet Fury polled 50% more votes than Hamilton’s 48,000 which raises some interesting questions.
Lewis Hamilton is adored by his fans, but is often a polarizing character amongst his countrymen and the UK media. The British press hounded Hamilton following his SPOTY win in 2014 for comments he made about loving the British flag, whilst he lives in a tax haven.
Yet despite the pro-against Hamilton that wars that rage on websites across the world, tonight’s SPOTY vote is another indictments of the state of Formula One. To win this award a sportsperson must captivate more than their core fan base, they need the attention of the British sport’s viewing public at large. So despite F1 being the second most recognized category in the history of SPOTY, tonight Lewis was nowhere.
That said, all this could aswell be seen an indictment against the current state of Formula One, where even the CEO of the sport describes it as ‘a shit product.’ The Red Bull – Renault civil war has played badly with the fans too this year along with the Mercedes dominance, set to continue into 2016.
Lewis Hamilton last night may well have been the victim of the impression that Formula One is becoming more and more irrelevant as a sporting event. The British voters made their position clear last night when they said, winning a third F1 drivers’ world title was almost 100% less valuable than Ennis-Hill’s second world title in the Heptathlon.