Lewis Hamilton is the best driver, so has earned the best car

Lewis Hamilton is the best driver, so has earned the best car… arguing that he wouldn’t win with a weaker team is like saying Steven Gerrard should’ve played for Tranmere to prove he was a good footballer

  • If all the F1 drivers were in 10-year-old Fiestas, Lewis Hamilton would still win 
  • That is why he is in the best car. All sports depend on some extent on equipment
  • READ: We should all love Lewis Hamilton… he’s a true British great 
  • READ: Sport must not ignore the perils of vile initiation ceremonies 

Lewis Hamilton is a brilliant driver, but has the personality of a lettuce. And a true Brit? Really, he hasn’t lived here in years. Johnyson, Middlesbrough.

Well, most of it is encapsulated there if you haven’t time on your hands today for the cut and thrust of keen sporting debate, interspersed with prime British seventies metal. Personality appraisals of a person you’ve never met and the tax exile barb are pretty standard, and all that is missing is the highly original observation that it’s 90 per cent the car anyway. Stayed tuned, though, and there’s plenty more of that because we’re doing the whole shebang on Lewis Hamilton. Oh, and Jonjo Shelvey. And Brexit. And spoons. And the noted Swiss pop artist, David Bowie. But I wasn’t lying about the metal. Here, to get us started, is one very guilty pleasure.


Hamilton would struggle to win Sports Personality of the Year while Andy Murray was nominated. Tennis is on BBC1, whether Wimbledon or the Olympics. Madtony, Leeds.

True, Tony. To be fair I’m no great fan of SPOTY and mention it as seldom as possible. I only used it in this case because I thought it was interesting that two British drivers that had only won a single championship, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell, had landed the SPOTY title twice to Hamilton’s one. I completely take your point, though, terrestrial television exposure brings a sports person closer to the public. Murray certainly has that advantage.

The reason that F1 drivers are not generally well respected compared to other sports is that other athletes have to rely on their own engine, their body, as opposed to an engine built and tuned by someone else. Rational Debate, Barcelona.

Yes, but jockeys rely on trainers and the horse, cyclists need a good bike, while any player of team sport has the wider group to aid his or her talents. And if you do not think F1 drivers are given a physical test, how come you never see a fat one?

All this talk about having the best car. Well, the people with the best car want the best driver and that has been true through racing history. All the greatest F1 champions in history had the best car of that time. Soul Man, United Kingdom.

Yes, but not all the F1 champions, S-Man. In fact, since 1983, it has been won on four occasions by a driver whose car did not also win the constructors prize. Alain Prost (1986), Michael Schumacher (1994), Mika Hakkinen (1999) – and the only driver to do it in the last 19 years? Lewis Hamilton, 2008. Have no doubt that he is special.

Hamilton would only deserve significant respect if his rivals were driving cars of equal potential, or there was a random draw before each race to determine who drove which car. If there’s another sport in which success depends so heavily on the quality of the equipment, I can’t think of it. Hacksaw Hal, Coventry.

Don’t you get it? If they were all driving 10-year-old Ford Fiestas, do you know who would win? Hamilton. That’s why he is in the best car. All sports depend to some extent on the equipment. Every tried playing tennis with an old, wooden racket?

Monaco Grand Prix 2011 is all I need to know about Hamilton. French Fred, Leeds.

Yes, the race where he was penalised twice. That certainly outweighs his 226 other starts, his 132 podium finishes, 71 Grand Prix wins: not to mention the five titles. Not that you are at all bitter.

Hamilton is a legend. He isn’t arrogant, just confident and self-assured. A good way to understand the difficulty of his job is to watch the video of Richard Hammond attempting to drive an F1 car on the old Top Gear. This is a guy who drives super cars for a living but he couldn’t handle an F1 car for one lap, let alone two hours in ridiculous temperatures. Voodoo76, Hull.

I’m with you Voodoo, but I’m not sure Richard Hammond is your go-to example. Given his record behind the wheel, I’m not sure I’d trust him in anything faster than a milk float.

Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his FIFTH world title at the Mexico Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his FIFTH world title at the Mexico Grand Prix

My question is would he win all the races and world titles if he was driving any other cars instead of Mercedes? I don’t think so. Fredb9, Lytham St. Annes.

And Lionel Messi wouldn’t have won all his medals if he wasn’t playing for Barcelona. There is a reason he does, though, and it’s the same reason Hamilton drives for Mercedes. Why do people find that so hard to understand?

I’m absolutely sick of the moaning, jealous Hamilton haters. He came from humble beginnings and is a five-time world champion. We won’t get another Hamilton for a long time. His sporting achievements should be celebrated. Humphrey1985, Fleet.

Agreed. Just as world tennis No 1s are not supposed to come from Dunblane in Scotland, like Murray, so F1 champions do not often come from council houses in Stevenage. It’s a rich man’s game really. Drivers like Ayrton Senna, James Hunt and Nico Rosberg who all came from relatively wealthy backgrounds are more common than Hamilton’s origins. His is a remarkable story.

All drive the same car? Strange how something like Formula Renault hasn’t replaced F1 as a superior sport then. F1 has never been a level playing field and despite the sport apparently doing its best to jettison viewers via pay TV, it still has a large following compared to any competition in which all the cars are the same. Paulusmac, Chester.

Exactly, because those who truly follow and understand the sport, have respect for the constructors’ championship, too. Where would the investment and drive for superiority come from if all the cars were the same? Mercedes and Ferrari are trying to bring their excellence in the field of technology to a wider audience. That is a rivalry every bit as serious as Hamilton’s with Sebastian Vettel.

If it’s not about the machine then place him in one of the minor teams and see how well he does. If he still manages to be world champion then I will tip my hat to him – but I doubt it would come to that. Quinnylad, Liverpool.

Why should he be in a minor team? He’s too good for a minor team. This is like saying Steven Gerrard should have played for Tranmere Rovers to prove he was a good footballer. Anyway, no matter how uncompetitive his car, Hamilton has won a Grand Prix every year he has raced. He won twice in 2009 despite McLaren being 101 points off the pace; three times in 2010 despite his team trailing Red Bull by 44 points; even 153 points behind in 2011 yielded three Grand Prix victories; and four in 2012 while 88 points adrift. And now the drum roll begins. In 2013, despite his team trailing in the Constructors Championship by 236 points, Hamilton still landed the Hungarian Grand Prix. Do you know how many Grands Prix Fernando Alonso has won in a substandard car these last five years? None. And never forget Valtteri Bottas is in the same car as Hamilton this year – and he isn’t winning.

True British great who pays no UK tax contributes nothing to the UK, has a stupid American accent, spends all his time in the United States and lives in Monaco and Switzerland to avoid the tax. British? Don’t make me laugh. Rik Nichol, Leeds.

And yet we never hear this of Jenson Button or Paula Radcliffe, who would also fail Rik’s specific British test. Also not British by this reckoning: David Bowie, Mick Jagger and John Lennon. We seem to have lost a lot of rather good music. I always thought genius was about a little bit more than where your tax return went, Rik, but let’s have it your way as we hail Switzerland’s contribution to modern music, with a noted Swiss visionary, whose singular talent changed the way we look at the world.


Great driver but an unpopular personality. Every single race when he’s on the podium he sounds like he’s reading a script. I’m a proud Englishman but still find it hard to support him. Ranksie, Leicester.

It seems to me some people just search for reasons to dislike Hamilton. Because he’s not a lively public speaker, Ranksie? Seriously?

Oh come on, Martin, you’re experienced enough to notice the elephant in the room regarding Hamilton’s popularity aren’t you? Or maybe you, like the majority of posters here, just can’t seem to get the obvious printed in the Daily Mail. Hamilton is literally trailblazing: we’re evolved enough to have this discussion, I hope. Reddy Leven, United Kingdom.

One of the things we know from the Brexit debate, Reddy, is that people do not like to be called out as racists when they believe they are making wider, more nuanced points. So take Ranksie here. Personally, I find his argument weak – much as I found the majority of arguments for Leave – but I don’t think it is fair to presume a darker emotion at work, just because he takes against Hamilton’s personality. I have had people on here make unfounded insinuations about me on occasions, and it is something I despise. I am not about to start calling people racists because they don’t like Lewis Hamilton. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t click with figures in the public eye, and not all are as easily explained as that. But do I think some of the antipathy towards Hamilton is because he is a successful, flashy, unapologetic black guy? Yes I do. Just as I think some of the Leave vote brought out the worst of people’s motivations. But it’s not the only reason: and it is too serious a subject to just generalise.

The car is the biggest part of the team. I agree that comparing Hamilton to Bottas is an insult, but put a decent driver next to him, even a half decent one like Rosberg, and it’s game on. Richard Forster, Scunthorpe.

No, it isn’t, because Rosberg could have been next to Hamilton, but retired after winning the 2016 drivers’ championship. His last race of that season, in Abu Dhabi, was spent panicking and moaning about Hamilton’s tactics, which were designed to back Rosberg into the pack and overtake him in the championship. Rosberg retired five days later, which suggests he didn’t fancy ‘game on’ at all. Alonso didn’t seem to like it much, either, when he was with Hamilton at McLaren. There are reasons teams seem to have a principal driver.

I can’t warm to someone who is so bothered by his appearance that he hides behind a towel before putting on a hat to be interviewed. This is not real man to me. I am in my fifties and maybe it’s a generational thing. Ethna, Paris.

No, it’s a sweat thing, Ethna. F1 drivers lose 4kg in weight and three litres of water during a race, because of the heat and intensity. That explains the towel. Lucrative sponsorships explain the hat. And I’m not saying a careful driver cannot be a real man, but I don’t think F1’s protagonists are lacking testosterone.

It’s all down to the machine and technology. Charles Leclerc has no wins and no podiums under his belt, but is moving to Ferrari next year. Then we’ll see. Mlittledale, Godalming.

Yes, but the reason he gets the move is impressive finishes with Alfa Romeo Sauber, including sixth in Azerbaijan and two seventh places. So if he is now in a better car with a greater chance of winning, it is because he deserves it, as Hamilton deserves his berth with Mercedes. Now let’s say Leclerc drives for Ferrari and they become the best team. Will the same fools who decry Hamilton then say of Leclerc that is the car, not the driver. Of course, a good car is essential – but you don’t get to race in one without being among the best drivers, too.

Hamilton has chalked up 132 podium finishes and 71 Grand Prix wins since his debut

Hamilton has chalked up 132 podium finishes and 71 Grand Prix wins since his debut

Hamilton is not revered because it is F1. A rich man’s playground that doesn’t appeal to the common man. Maxi Hadda, London.

You ever been to one, Max? I’d say the crowd is more blue collar than the majority of sports – certainly at the British Grand Prix.

F1? Not like a real race. How about the under appreciated British motorcycle riders in Moto GP, World Superbikes and speedway. You need skill to pilot those things, especially when you are cornering at God knows what speed and holding the machine up using knee and sometimes elbow. Try going hell for leather around a cinder track on a bike with no brakes and only your left foot and throttle control to get you to the end of the race. Come to grief on a racing motorcycle and all you have is your inflatable leathers and helmet to protect you. These are the under appreciated ones. David, Reading.

I don’t disagree that the motorcycle riders are underappreciated, David. I just don’t understand why you can’t speak in praise of one sport without denigrating another.

What Hamilton needs to remember is without McLaren subsidising him from the age of 13 he would not be racing in F1. Turpin, Teignmouth.

And who says he doesn’t remember that? I can remember talking with him when he could remember the brand and flavour of ready-mix soup they used to take to karting tracks when he was still a schoolboy. I am quite sure he hasn’t forgotten McLaren’s patronage – just as they haven’t forgotten who won their last drivers’ championship. I think both sides got their money’s worth. And don’t forget, unless he was a karting protege, McLaren wouldn’t have got involved. He wasn’t there out of charity.

The driver feedback to the team of engineers and designers is a key element in improving the car’s performance. When Hamilton moved to Mercedes, many thought he had made a mistake, but since then the Mercedes has gone on to become the dominant car. His, and Rosberg’s, involvement was instrumental. Normal human being, United Kingdom.

Absolutely correct. The driver’s role is so much more integral than what is seen in the race. Mercedes were nowhere in Hamilton’s first season, since then they have grown into monster competitors. What do people think? That he switches the engine off and goes down the pub, job done.

Hamilton is a great driver, but he won nothing when Red Bull were dominating, so it must have something to do with the car. He has certainly made some very fortunate career choices, no doubt there. But Mercedes have been so far in front for the past four years, he’s only had to beat his teammate. Only this year has Ferrari actually started to match them. MC, London.

Won nothing? In the four years when Red Bull dominated, Hamilton still won 11 Grands Prix despite being in a markedly inferior car. And his career choices are not fortunate. They are all part of having an innate understanding of his sport.

Martin Samuel writes of the ‘respect he deserves’. While someone’s achievements may deserve respect, no person deserves respect. Respect has to be earned. Finman4, Pontefract.

This old chestnut? Semantics, nothing more. Hamilton’s career is deserving of respect, and the achievements and the person are symbiotic.

Why does it always come back to where Hamilton lives? Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button, the Beckham clan, Wayne Rooney, Gary Barlow – just about every celebrity avoids paying tax one way or another yet it’s always Hamilton that gets called on it. Rob1234567, Essex.

But that’s what happens, Rob, we find one target and pile all our frustration on him. You would think Hamilton is Britain’s only tax exile, or that we treat all tax exiles the same. Yet you never hear it mentioned when Paula Radcliffe is discussed, or Jenson Button. It’s simply another excuse to justify antipathy towards Hamilton. By the way, I’m fascinated that we would appear to have 1,234,566 readers already called Rob in Essex. Why don’t we ever hear from the rest of them?

He’s definitely a legend in his sport, I think the wider issues are twofold. The sport is too boring for the millennial to watch, because there’s not enough instant excitement to grab their interest. Yet his image and behaviour is aimed at the millennial – very Instagram flashy – and this turns off the older sports fan who is more likely to be interested in the sport. This leaves a good chunk of the public alienated, and detracts from his legacy. I think he’s one of those sportsmen who will be more fondly looked at in 10 years time after he’s retired, when his achievements alone are considered and people will say, ‘He must have been quite a driver. That is what will stand when the flashy behaviour and the boring races are forgotten. Jake29, Midlands.

Good points, Jake. I do think Hamilton is destined to be one of those guys that a section of the British public only appreciates when he is gone. Andy Murray will be the same.

Hamilton is regarded by many in the same way as Andy Murray

Hamilton is regarded by many in the same way as Andy Murray

I will only take this sport seriously when the playing field is level. How can you praise the driver when his car is vastly superior to the others? Would he still win these races race in a Sauber or Force India car? Would Roger Federer have won so many Grand Slams with a frying pan? Davehk, Hong Kong.

Let’s take Jonjo Shelvey as our sporting example, Dave. His champions will tell you that he doesn’t make sufficient assists because he’s playing with dud strikers at Newcastle. If he made those passes to, say, Liverpool’s forward line, he’d have assists off the chart. But Shelvey had his chance at Liverpool, and they didn’t think he was good enough; that’s why he’s ended up at Newcastle. F1 is the same. Hamilton had his chance, as a young driver at McLaren, and took it. He had his chance in ordinary McLaren cars, and proved himself there, too. And that’s why he’s with Mercedes. Shelvey got the same opportunity that Gerrard did at Liverpool. One ended up playing passes to Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez, the other didn’t. There’s a reason for that.

No doubting his ability, but he’s such a spoon. Gladtobeback, United Kingdom.

A spoon? Are you sure? Where I come from a spoon is a posh boy – from ‘born with a silver spoon’. There are plenty of spoons in and around F1, but Hamilton isn’t among them.

I burned Hamilton off at a set of lights in London once. He’s not that great. Ned Kelly, Australia.

He told me once that the bane of his life is that if a taxi driver picks him up for an airport run, or someone spots him driving in a private capacity, they immediately start throwing the car around like lunatics as if to prove something. Don’t worry, Ned. I’m sure he didn’t mean you.

I think Hamilton is tremendous and by far our best sports person at the moment. Oldbean, Bedfordshire.

Sorry Oldbean, you obviously haven’t heard of Jonathan Rae? Harley Mike, France.

And neither have you, by the sounds of it. If it is the Superbike world champion for the last four years, you are talking about, his name’s Jonathan Rea. Still, let’s make the poor soul feel better in his anonymity, eh? Until next time.





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