There always seems to be a debate around the level of popularity of Lewis Hamilton, with some people 'demanding' he deserves more popularity. I'm not so sure, I think popularity is earned rather than demanded, and the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix summed it up for me...
There were a few images from the race weekend that showed the source of the debate, with one post race photo in particular catching my eye. Hamilton wasn't even in it, and that's the problem.
It was a photo of the Mercedes team, celebrating their success of scoring two podium positions in both the drivers and constructors championships. Nico Rosberg was there, having won the race, but Hamilton who came third, was nowhere to be seen.
In fact he had left the circuit, with permission from the team it must be said, but he had left nonetheless. The reason for his strop, and the reason the team had not stopped him leaving, was that he had the race win all but secured, until a tactical error by the team saw him make an unnecessary pit stop which allowed both Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel to pass him, relegating Hamilton to that third place finish.
Hamilton was fuming. The team bosses were fuming too, and wasted no time in issuing a full public admission of the mistake, and an apology to Hamilton. All done and dusted, right? Well, maybe not.
I think Hamilton needs to stop sulking. Really.
The man's won two World Championships, with a very real prospect of a third this season, he's just signed a 3 year deal worth a purported $100 million, and he's having the time of his life.
Some people say he should be given more respect due to his achievements, and some people enjoy the fact that he wears his heart on his sleeve - driving flamboyantly when needed, celebrating enthusiastically, and being equally as demonstrable when he's unhappy.
That's where I beg to differ, and it's why I find myself falling into the *other* camp.
The other camp that says he's sometimes not as gracious as he could be when he wins, is not above bending things to his own way, both on and off the track, and he's certainly not above throwing his toys out of his pram when things don't go his way.
That's what happened in Monaco, with a surly attitude on the podium, almost going out of his way to show he was *not* taking part, and then clearing off altogether without fulfilling his media obligations.
Some might point to Michael Schumacher, seven time world champion, who was equally as demonstrative in both victory and defeat, who also was not above some moves on the track which some might call shady at best.
I think the Schumacher comparison works well for both sides of the debate. Yes, Schumacher won seven titles, and did it by dragging his teams up to his level, and doing whatever it took to win, using the smallest advantage.
He also had a big following, but that was countered with a big 'anti' following who would reel off the Schumacher negatives at the drop of a hat.
It's worth saying that when he's in a good mood, Hamilton comes across really well, having fun and taking full part in media activities. Personally I just don't enjoy the other side to that personality coin.
Maybe Hamilton is quite happy to go down the Schumacher route on the popularity front, I suspect he probably is , but it's well known that Hamilton is interested in how his 'legacy' is seen, and in my opinion he'd be much more popular if he eased up a little with the strops, and maybe took his foot off the pedal a bit when it comes to the sulking.
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