Love him or loathe him, Lewis Hamilton has become a legend

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By Bayden Westerweller, Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    He might not be everybody’s cup of tea, though on the eve of his 200th Grand Prix, there’s no denying that Lewis Hamilton has polarised and transcended Formula One unlike anybody since Ayrton Senna.

    Hamilton will reach the milestone at Belgium this weekend, and for better or worse, is the sport’s greatest drawcard in a time where the category has faced criticism for its relevance and ambivalence in an era of austerity.

    Nobody could have foreseen the impact the Briton would have on the sport on his debut in 2007, yet he rapidly entrenched himself as the modern equivalent of the immortal Brazilian, with fans and critics riding every wave which has ensued.

    As F1’s ‘first black driver’, Hamilton was always going to attract attention, yet this novelty, in tandem with the personality cultivated over the subsequent years, has drawn interest from those outside the sport.

    It didn’t take long for the boy nurtured by McLaren from the age of thirteen to create waves, successfully dismantling Fernando Alonso fresh from successive titles, culminating in the latter’s hasty and acrimonious retreat, whilst Hamilton established himself as team leader.

    While he narrowly missed out on claiming the championship in his debut season amid the ‘Spygate’ controversy, infamously beaching his car on pit entry in the penultimate event at China, he wouldn’t have to wait long to make amends in equally spectacular fashion.

    Passing Timo Glock on the final lap of the 2008 finale at Brazil handed him the crown, in doing so becoming the youngest champion at that stage, and it’s since this point that Hamilton began to carve a unique identity which has never been far removed from the headlines.

    Separating from his father following the 2009 campaign was his first cry for independence, and a 2011 season blighted by collisions and provocative statements suggested his attention was elsewhere, yet it was the decision taken twelve months later which definitively set Hamilton on the road to his current status.

    The momentous call to depart McLaren following six seasons left many bewildered, with many considering both parties as inseparable, yet a rash of reliability issues which cost the Briton a second title convinced him to take a leap of faith which most were sceptical of at best.

    Coinciding with his ex-employer’s downturn, joining Mercedes in 2013 proved to be a masterstroke, as the German marque had fastidiously centred its efforts around the hybrid regulations taking effect the following season, and the outcome was unparalled domination.

    That the successes gleaned from 2014 through 2016 came at the detriment of his personal friendship with team-mate Nico Rosberg provided a spiteful backdrop to the glories which came in such abundance, evoking significant parallels to the Senna-Alain Prost rivalry from a quarter of a century earlier.

    57 victories, 67 pole positions, 110 podiums, 37 fastest laps and most pertinently, three titles, immediately place Hamilton in the echelon of all-time greats, and whether you love or loath him, there’s no denying his contribution to Formula One as a true once in a generation individual. Who knows what the stat sheet will ultimately read when he finally hangs up his helmet.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • August 25th 2017 @ 3:10pm
      steve said | August 25th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

      Loathe him but you are right, he has become a legend of the sport, and will be compounded further should he join the likes of Alain Prost with his 4th drivers title this year.

      • Roar Guru

        August 26th 2017 @ 6:31pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | August 26th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

        It’s impossible to dismiss his credentials, and ultimately he can choose what he wishes to utilise his spare time doing, not that it’s ever going to win yours truly and many others over!

    • August 25th 2017 @ 10:42pm
      Andy said | August 25th 2017 @ 10:42pm | ! Report

      I have watched the careers of Lauda, Mansell, Senna, Prost, Schumacher ,Hakkinen,Piquet,Raikonnen, and now Hamilton and Vettel, and I can say without hesitation or reservation that Lewis Hamilton belongs in this company. I believe that, when all is said and done, his name will be spoken in regularity along with the name Schumacher as the two greatest F1 drivers ever to sit in a car…..and I say this being a die-hard, life long, Senna fan.

      • Roar Guru

        August 26th 2017 @ 6:33pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | August 26th 2017 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

        What would truly separate Hamilton would be if he moved to a third outfit and also propelled them to glory, especially if it doesn’t necessarily coincide with an upturn in form. As it is, his devastating pace is peerless, it’s a pity that his indifferent demeanour any given weekend leaves much to be desired when the pendulum isn’t in his favour.

    • Roar Guru

      August 26th 2017 @ 6:20pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | August 26th 2017 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

      A flawed enigma for sure. You have to sit and ponder how long he will remain in the sport for now, as you sense at times that he could easily drop the ball and retire to pursue other avenues in his life. Though with where he is at performance wise, he could very well see out another 5 years in F1 and if in a winning car – he could be the first to claim a century of wins.

      • Roar Guru

        August 26th 2017 @ 6:35pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | August 26th 2017 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

        He easily has another five seasons if his career runs as long as most, though his ‘business’ and ‘lifestyle’ interests may dictate otherwise, which would be a shame from a spectacle perspective. He certainly carries a lot of baggage, this side wouldn’t be missed, yet it’s part of what gives him the gravitas, whether it wins approval or otherwise.

    • August 27th 2017 @ 4:51pm
      Keith44 said | August 27th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

      Gr8 and fair article. It never ceases to surprise me, when reading comment boards about this man, how so many people project their own personality/standards onto Lewis with the inevitable criticisms that come with such a procedure.

      Of one thing I am sure, the truly ‘greats’ in life go their own way and do not follow the herd. This is the most admirable quality of greatness, to be defined by your own standards of excellence irrespective of the views of others.

      There can be no doubt in any truly objective mind that this man has earned his position as being one of the truly greats in this sport…and also an inspiring force in the hearts and minds of young people.

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