Lewis vs Nico, Spa 2014 and why I have left the Hamilton fan club #F1

As of last evening, Sunday August 24th, I am no longer a member of the Lewis Hamilton fan club.

Not that I was ever an official member; I have not paid to join or anything of that nature, but I have supported him since the point when it was first mooted that he join Fernando at McLaren. I’ve stuck with him and agreed that it was right for him to move on to Mercedes and despite all of the dumb things that he has done I had stayed loyal. Until yesterday.

Let me now say that I agree with Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda that what Nico did yesterday was unacceptable. Personally I would suspend him from the next race at Monza.

Lewis has a talent for being disingenuous that matches his driving skills and yesterday saw some typical stuff. Amongst other things he said that the other driver needed to be at least half way alongside and Nico wasn’t so he took his normal line. Well the truth was that in the first half of the corner Nico was fully alongside, but backed out for the second half although he held his line. Lewis took his normal line there but there was no way that Nico could have given him more room at that point without driving off the circuit. That was an option, but he didn’t take it and that is what Lewis is claiming as an admission of guilt according to what the team released later. In admitting that he took his normal line Lewis is effectively saying that his actions were also deliberate.

Toto Wolff has confirmed in his clarification (I’ll be back at this in a minute) that Nico had admitted that he had deliberately placed his car there, but Lewis’ statement that he took his normal line is effectively an equal admission of guilt: I accept that he probably could not see precisely where Nico was but it should have been blindingly obvious that he wasn’t too far away, so rather than accept that his teammate was being an idiot and giving him some space Lewis gave him the chop and paid the higher price.

This is classic Lewis because had the boot been on the other foot he would have done exactly the same as Nico given the evidence of his previous record in such circumstances. Look at the incident with Jenson in Turkey after the Red Bulls had taken each other out. There, if Jenson had not given Lewis room, there would have been contact. It is how Lewis is and is always likely to be.

 As I said earlier I agree with the team that Nico should not have tried what he did there on lap two, but it has happened. The result was that Mercedes lost a probable 1-2 result and lost a win. The fall out was inevitable, but there was Lewis with his mouth open and brain in neutral again saying that it was like school and the teachers would do nothing. I admire the bloke’s willingness to speak openly, but slagging off your boss in public before you have had the debrief is stupid as well as disrespectful to the team and their stakeholders.

To then emerge from behind closed doors and reveal part of the conversation, deliberately out of context so as to make his own position appear stronger, just look at how the media lapped that quote up, is misconduct of the first order. Going back to the clarification from Herr Wolff this had to be issued simply because of Lewis leaking a fragment of what should have been a private conversation.

I saw the incident happen, but went out immediately afterwards and missed the rest of the race, but the conclusion that DC came to at the time of it being a racing incident seems, from a purely racing point of view to be valid and the stewards agreed for they took no action. From a team viewpoint it may have been a racing incident with no blame on either side, but it was not acceptable behaviour. Nico started it and Lewis finished it, but if it hadn’t been started it wouldn’t have happened, so Nico is at fault.

But consider this; in Hungary Nico was closing fast and Lewis was told to move over. Nico held back waiting for the move and it didn’t come so he stayed where he was. He could have crowded Lewis or he could have tried to force his way through, but he didn’t. Nico played the long game, held position and banked the points for himself and his team, but was clearly unhappy that he had been denied the chance. Afterwards we had Lewis playing the wide eyed innocent and claiming that he didn’t understand (what part of move over is giving you a problem Lewis?), that Nico wasn’t close enough and implying that if he had been he might of given him room. This time at Spa Nico was close; he was right alongside going into the right hand element of the chicane, and whilst Lewis had not been told to move over he should have had the sense to give him some space, but the testosterone levels were high and Lewis stamped his authority on the left hand part of the corner with the inevitable result.

There were those who were critical of Nigel Mansell for always being the victim, even when he won, and Lewis is taking on that role model perfectly. But Lewis proclaims his role model to be Senna, and there we have someone who drove a competitor off the road at high speed and claimed that he had done it on purpose. I don’t remember anything like the hysteria we have seen in Spa over that incident. (Those who might point out that Senna was taking revenge on Prost for the previous race in Japan might like to consider that what Prost did there was exactly what Senna had done to Mansell at Spa a few years before, an incident that saw Mansell have to be dragged off Senna in the pits later).

I was truly saddened by what happened yesterday at the Belgian GP and in the hours afterwards. I am no longer a fan of Lewis as a result. He may be a quick driver and a hard racer, but I have lost all other respect for him hence my leaving his fan club.

 

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