Lewis Hamilton is F1 box office. Hardly a week passes where the Stevenage born F1 driver isn’t either topping the sports headlines or those of the gossip columns. The Brit’s ill-fated relationship with former Pussycat Doll singer seemed to be a roller coaster time for Hamilton, and since the couple separated Lewis appears more emotionally settled.
However, Lewis Hamilton at times still behaves in a petulant or ‘childish’ manner as Martin Brundle observed recently and his mystery illness allegedly responsible for Lewis’ late arrival in Brazil was in fact a triple car pile in the middle of the night following a party.
Damon Hill too has questioned Hamilton’s dedication to his driving both mentally and physically, though the Hamfosi will point to back to back F1 driver titles in response. Speaking to the Sun today, Lewis does admit he’s hoping to “rectify” negative aspects of his life; specifically, “the struggles I’ve had physically and mentally.” Hamilton adds he is hoping to be “stronger” in 2016.
Yet behavioural psychologists will say that to change anything first requires acceptance and it appears Hamilton is not yet in this place. Lewis claims “I had three so-so races at the end [of 2015]. I still drove pretty well and didn’t make any mistakes”.
The fact of the matter is that barring a single mistake by his team mate in Austin and a mechanical failure on the sister Mercedes car, Lewis would have been looking at five straight race defeats by his team mate – not just three. Further, Hamilton did not claim a single pole position after race 12 of the year.
Recently, a senior individual in the Mercedes team revealed Lewis Hamilton believes he is 0.3s a lap quicker than Rosberg and so when his German team mate up’s his game Hamilton is left struggling to find the required setup tweaks to catch up.
Lewis was responsible for one of the most amusing F1 racing driver excuses of all time during 2015. Having dominated practice and qualifying over half a second ahead of P2 in Hungary, Hamilton’s race was a litany of errors. Following a poor start, Lewis was clumsy whilst battling with Rosberg which resulted in an off and a loss of several places. Later in the race he banged wheels with Felipe Nasr and banged into Daniel Ricciardo – something Hamilton was penalised for later by the stewards.
In a post-season interview with BBC Sport’s Lee McKenzie, Lewis gave a quite bizarre explanation for his Sunday in Budapest.
“This is how the Sunday went: It was a really cool Sunday until the race started.
“The night before, I was invited by [legendary film director] Ridley Scott – he said ‘come by the shoot tomorrow morning’. I’m like ‘yes!’ – because he was filming, with Matt Damon, the last scene of The Martian.
“So I went to bed, tossing and turning, and didn’t sleep until like one o’clock and then I woke up at 4am. Time came at eight o’clock, or whatever it was, to leave the hotel. Went to Ridley and, at the time, they were set up for this last scene.
“He said, ‘Matt hasn’t come on yet, why don’t you sit where he is and act out his role?
“I’m getting nervous because this is Ridley Scott asking me to sit and act, and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do, and finally Matt came and sat with Ridley and he’s saying ‘action!’ and I just honestly couldn’t believe it.
“So I just left there, went to the track, and I’m on this high for a minute. And then you start doing engineering [technical meetings and strategy briefings] and [I] started hitting a wall. And I wasn’t able to take a nap either, so I got in the car and those first couple of laps to the grid felt terrible.
“I was like ‘this is not good’. I knew it.
“I’ve now told you a story that I should have put in my book one day. But, anyways…”
Lewis clearly has a great gift for driving quickly and maybe it is worth 0.3s over Nico Rosberg. Yet like Samson of old – believing your natural attributes will see you through regardless – is a dangerous assumption to make.
Most F1 fans will be hoping, Lewis is put under the kind of pressure he was during the last third of the season, whilst the Hamfosi will be praying the ‘Martian’ does not return.