Lewis Hamilton: Hero or Villain?

After yet another phenomenal weekend of racing, with Audi taking victory at Le Mans and Jenson Button snatching the top step of the podium from Sebastian Vettel’s tight grasp; there lies only one question in most motor-racing fans’ minds:

What does Lewis Hamilton think he is doing? The 26 year old had a cracking start to his career, winning the 2009 world championship; his aggressive driving style boasting his talent on track. But this year seems to have shown a different side to the British driver; an uncontrolled, almost amateur class of racing.

This season has uncovered a lack of awareness from Lewis Hamilton, who throughout the calendar has made mistakes on – and off track. Reckless driving in several races has led to his attendance to the stewards’ office in 6 of 7 Grand Prix’s. However his post-race attitude doesn’t do him any good either; in particular the Monaco GP where shunts ending Maldonado and Massa’s races saw him slating stewards with the infamous quote “Maybe it’s because I’m black?”. Perhaps not appropriate coming from a world-class driver, even if it was a light-hearted Ali G reference.

Sunday’s race at Montreal didn’t pan out smoothly for Lewis either, following two collisions in the span of just three laps after a safety car start. The first, with Red Bull driver Mark Webber, came about when Hamilton dived into the corner – a typical move in the confident driver’s inventory- spinning the Australian off to re-join at the back of the pack.

Two laps later Hamilton attempted to undertake – not overtake – his own teammate Jenson Button on the racing line. In no better words than Jenson himself; “What is he doing!?” was the response from Hamilton’s teammate. This was evidently a basic racing error from Lewis’ part, but Button could be partially responsible (even if only for turning into the line) because it was clear that he was aware of Hamilton’s proximity. Martin Brundle also expressed this view: “In his collision with Button, I feel Hamilton is a bit of a wronged man – the incident is 50-50 blame in my view”.

Without a doubt, Jenson Button definitely had the best race on Sunday, out-performing even the Red Bull team; however it would be unwise to say that he is a hero, especially after contact with Fernando Alonso and a drive through penalty. Nor could we say that Lewis Hamilton is the villain in the McLaren garage, because he is backed by his teammate who regarding their collision, stated that “We spoke about it and he was very good actually. He was one of the first people to congratulate me after the race, which was really nice to see.”

Maybe Lewis Hamilton is taking too much for granted this season, with high-risk strategies and aggressive driving – seizing every opportunity to go for gaps. Whatever the reason, there lies a dark shadow over the McLaren team, with whispers of Lewis talking with Red Bull principle Christian Horner at this weekend’s Grand Prix. Will Hamilton’s loyalties remain with McLaren after the duration of his current contract, or could we see a change in colours for the Brit? Well, we will just have to wait and see.