Greatness Still Beckons For Hamilton

By Frank Malley
Updated: October 22, 2007
BRAZIL — In the end the twists and turns of a phenomenal season proved just too much for Lewis Carl Hamilton.
History was snatched from his grasp at the Brazilian Grand Prix and Formula One was denied its first rookie world champion.
But it is only a matter of time for Hamilton. Genius such as he has portrayed over the course of the past season has a habit of gaining its true reward sooner rather than later.
And the fact is that not since a 21-year-old Tiger Woods became the youngest golfer to win a major, winning the Masters by 12 shots, has a sportsman pushed open the gates to a career in such spectacular fashion.
That is the heady company to which Hamilton deservedly can aspire after a first season in motor racing’s most competitive discipline which was little more than astonishing.
No-one, not even the ‘Grand Master’ Juan Manuel Fangio, the great Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark, Alain Prost, the Brabhams, the Villeneuves or the Laudas won the world title in their first season.
And none came closer than Hamilton.
While the race circuit to sporting immortality requires much more than one brilliant year, there is every chance that in Hamilton Britain possesses a champion who can dominate the sport for a decade. Like Michael Schumacher perhaps.
It is too early, some say, to label Hamilton “the new Schumacher”. The similarities, however, between the Stevenage racer and the imperious German, who won seven world championships, are there for all to see, not least in the clinical manner in which Hamilton approaches the sport.
No question Hamilton has ruthless and selfish blood coursing through icy veins. He is so one-eyed at times that you half-expect him to turn up on the podium, on which he stood in his first nine grands prix, wearing a pirate’s patch.
Such characteristics became apparent throughout a season stained inevitably by the spying affair which saw McLaren stripped of their constructors’ points and which for some will devalue Hamilton’s achievement.

//<![CDATA[ nu003cp>I have reservations, too, about a sport which so cynically can fishtail its nway around chicanery to preserve a cosmetic finale, however exciting, for the nmasses.u003c/p>nu003cp>But that is not down to Hamilton, who is hardly a man for appeasement as nteam-mate Fernando Alonso has learned this season. No bowing to the master, nwhatever his credentials.u003c/p>nu003cp>Instead, when Alonso claimed as a double world champion he should receive npreferential treatment from his team, Hamilton grabbed the steering wheel even nfirmer and effectively stated there was no way he was accepting team orders ngiving the Spaniard right of way.u003c/p>nu003cp>This was the Hamilton, who at the age of 10 walked up to McLaren chief Ron nDennis at an awards ceremony and told him one day he would be the team's top ndriver. Not for him a career with a single day in anyone's slipstream.u003c/p>nu003cp>In that respect he is a clone of Schumacher.u003c/p>nu003cp>No sense of intimidation, either, even when faced down by Dennis, who fielded na stream of Stevenage invective on one occasion when Alonso was perceived to nhave been favoured.u003c/p>nu003cp>Yes, Hamilton can be laidback and courteous, too, and he is gifted with nmaturity way beyond his years and shafts of humility which saw him describe his nfirst season as "beyond anything I could have imagined".u003c/p>nu003cp>But his DNA is that of a future champion.u003c/p>nu003cp>Inevitably, in a sport where life itself is in the balance every time the nstart lights blink, Hamilton has not won over everyone.u003c/p>nu003cp>He was roundly criticised by such as Britain's Jenson Button for his driving nin Japan with Australian Mark Webber also saying: "I think he did a **** job nbehind the safety car."u003c/p>nu003cp>Reckless. No thought for others. Only eyes on victory. Yes, he sounds like nSchumacher all right.u003c/p>nu003cp>Britain, of course, has a distinguished tradition in motor sport, from Mike nHawthorn, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and John Surtees to Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, nNigel Mansell and Damon Hill.u003c/p>nu003cp>And not forgetting the legendary Stirling Moss, still the most enduringly nfamous name in British motor racing, even if he never won a world title.”,1] ); //–> //]]>

I have reservations, too, about a sport which so cynically can fishtail its way around chicanery to preserve a cosmetic finale, however exciting, for the masses.
But that is not down to Hamilton, who is hardly a man for appeasement as team-mate Fernando Alonso has learned this season. No bowing to the master, whatever his credentials.
Instead, when Alonso claimed as a double world champion he should receive preferential treatment from his team, Hamilton grabbed the steering wheel even firmer and effectively stated there was no way he was accepting team orders giving the Spaniard right of way.
This was the Hamilton, who at the age of 10 walked up to McLaren chief Ron Dennis at an awards ceremony and told him one day he would be the team’s top driver. Not for him a career with a single day in anyone’s slipstream.
In that respect he is a clone of Schumacher.
No sense of intimidation, either, even when faced down by Dennis, who fielded a stream of Stevenage invective on one occasion when Alonso was perceived to have been favoured.
Yes, Hamilton can be laidback and courteous, too, and he is gifted with maturity way beyond his years and shafts of humility which saw him describe his first season as “beyond anything I could have imagined”.
But his DNA is that of a future champion.
Inevitably, in a sport where life itself is in the balance every time the start lights blink, Hamilton has not won over everyone.
He was roundly criticised by such as Britain’s Jenson Button for his driving in Japan with Australian Mark Webber also saying: “I think he did a (expletive) job behind the safety car.”
Reckless. No thought for others. Only eyes on victory. Yes, he sounds like Schumacher all right.
Britain, of course, has a distinguished tradition in motor sport, from Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Jim Clark and John Surtees to Jackie Stewart, James Hunt, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill.
And not forgetting the legendary Stirling Moss, still the most enduringly famous name in British motor racing, even if he never won a world title.

//<![CDATA[ nu003cp>To that roll call of fame we can now add Hamilton. Not a champion yet – but npotentially the greatest of them all.u003c/p>u003c/span>nu003cp>u003c/p>u003c/p>u003c/div>n”,0] ); D(["ce"]); //–> //]]>

To that roll call of fame we can now add Hamilton. Not a champion yet — but potentially the greatest of them all.
Frank Alley is the sports editor of the “Sporting Life” newspapers of the United Kingdom.