Will Buxton asks:
Lewis Hamilton. 2008 Formula 1 World Champion.
Is that how the history books will record the career of one of the greatest enigmas of the modern era of our sport? It is a question being asked for the first time not in hushed tones, but in open conversation in the Formula 1 paddock. Was that one season as good as it is ever going to get for him?
We’re a cynical lot, and we always look for a story. But this isn’t one that brings along any sense of satisfaction. Because the guy looks lost. He looks dejected, desolate…destroyed.
Lewis is out of contract with McLaren at the end of 2012. This is Lewis Hamilton we’re talking about here. Hamilton IS McLaren. At least, he was. By extending Jenson Button’s contract, he now has the longer term future at the team. In the war of F1 psychology that is huge. By signing that contract, McLaren has essentially said that Button is their man. And you can bet that hit Hamilton where it hurts.
Meanwhile, another journalist, Gerard Hetman — who is only a relatively recent F1 fan, dating just to 2007 — nails the paradox that is Lewis Hamilton today. Incredible talent, incredible skill, incredible ego.
It may have taken a few years, but the transformation of Lewis Hamilton from golden boy to bad boy may very well be underway…. [O]ver the course of the 2011 Formula 1 season, I have noticed many fans and longtime observers getting fed up with what they perceive as an arrogant and selfish attitude from Hamilton. When I have asked several such fans if they think he has reached the level of arrogance that Michael Schumacher was often associated with during his glory years in the early 2000s, they tell me that Hamilton is even more arrogant…. Honestly, I am beginning to think that may be more and more true.
We hope for Lewis’ sake that McLaren improves the MP4-26. Otherwise, who knows what will happen in 2012.