In July 2017, Lewis Hamilton surprised young patients at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital by joining them for a special pre-release screening of the film Cars 3.

Upon leaving the cinema, he headed to the hospital itself to visit those unable to leave their beds. His manner with the patients, his humility, and his time spent that day was widely praised by nursing staff and family members alike.

The following week he chose to miss the ‘spectacular’ F1 Show in London, which served as a pre-cursor to that season’s Silverstone Grand Prix. Citing the need to prepare adequately for a race he would later win en route to a fourth World Championship, he opted for a two day break in quieter surroundings.

One story became widely circulated and dominated subsequent press conferences. The other was deemed futile. The British public and media again had ammunition to fire at the arrogant outcast clearly disconnected with the modern world.

So in those mere few days, there you had it. The misguided perceptions that have always plagued Lewis Hamilton. An all-time sporting great whose Formula One achievements are seemingly tainted by personal failings.

Such failings, that are often flagged up with inaccuracy and brazen hypocrisy by those reluctant to recognise his greatness.

Anyone dubious about the latter term doesn’t have to research hard. Sunday’s second place finish in Austin secured Hamilton a sixth World Drivers' Championship, further cementing a legacy that’s now well into its second decade.

He stands as the second most successful driver of all time, and overhauling Michael Schumacher’s tally of seven titles is far from beyond him. His 83 victories leave him just eight behind the German, although Hamilton has reached there in 60 less races and with a higher success percentage. Add to that the record of the most all-time career points (3399), and the most pole positions (87), and it’s safe to assume the 22-year-old who debuted in Formula 1 with McLaren in 2007 as a prestigious talent has fulfilled potential.

A talent accompanied by mental strength and ruthless desire. Hamilton’s initial all-out attack philosophy brought about majestic manoeuvres and brashness in equal measures. It’s a combination that arguably cost him a World Championship in his debut season when in the penultimate race in China, he went into the gravel pushing needlessly to extend his lead.

But it was a style that thrilled - and has since been coupled with a more disciplined and controlled approach. At 34, his latest campaign has arguably represented his most dominant.

The plaudits have risen this week. Social media has by in large acknowledged the achievement. Pundits have praised his longevity at the very top. And yet, you sense the feelings of the British public towards a man who has won twice the amount of World titles than cult heroes Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, and Jenson Button put together remain lukewarm at best.

In 2015, shortly after World title number three, the Daily Telegraph opted to mark Hamilton’s achievement by publishing an article titled ‘The champion it is mathematically impossible to like’. Among the reasons fuelling the non-sensical agenda were an ‘irritatingly glamourous life’, ‘his questionable musical aspirations’, and his ‘apparent lack of grace’.

It was as painfully cringeworthy to read as it was unnecessary to publish.

Martin Samuel, Chief Sport writer for the Daily Mail, last month wrote over a 1000 words on Hamilton’s double standards in promoting veganism and the environment. Yesterday, the driver’s historic title win served as barely more than a footnote on his customary double page spread.

Calls on Twitter for him to be knighted were savaged by those pointing out he doesn’t live in the UK. For reference, Sir Nick Faldo has resided in America since 1995.

Perhaps to understand the resentment towards Hamilton, we should scrutinise his past misdemeanours. He once had his licence suspended for a month after being clocked speeding at 122mph. He once shared a video on Instagram where he joked with his nephew that boys don’t wear princess dresses. He once talked on live television about being able to get out of the slums before correcting himself. Most notably, he was once accused of establishing a tax avoidance scheme in relation to his Challenger 605 private jet.

Although here’s what he hasn’t done.

He hasn’t failed a doping test and blamed it on contaminated boar. Or denounced abortion and homosexuality. Or said a woman’s best place is in the kitchen.

But then again, Tyson Fury apologised. And he fought back from cocaine addiction. And he rose from the canvas twice in his draw with Deontay Wilder. And he’s a character. So let’s overlook all that.

He hasn’t been arrested and charged with affray. Or been banned for bringing his sport into disrepute. Or been pictured grabbing his partner by the neck.

But then again, Ben Stokes was found not guilty. And was man of the match for England in a World Cup final. And was heroic in the third Ashes test at Headingly. And explained he and his wife were only playing. So let’s overlook all that.

He hasn’t been involved in a regime now being investigated for systematic cheating. Or missed drugs tests. Or sought therapeutic use exemptions to gain an additional advantage.

But then again, Sir Mo Farah and Sir Bradley Wiggins are both national heroes. And both come from humble beginnings. And both have been knighted and won Olympic Gold. And both have been named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. So let’s overlook all that.

The examples could go on. As will the apathy towards an individual who is bizarrely afforded less respect and adulation from the British public than any of the above.

And when the publicity from his latest triumph dies down, the indifference will return. Hamilton won’t be receiving first prize at the BBC’s annual bash. He won’t be joining three time World champion Sir Jackie Stewart in having three extra letters before his name anytime soon.


Maybe it’s reflective of the institutionalised racism that still sweeps through British society. Maybe it’s because people aren’t aware of his ongoing work with six different charities. Maybe it’s the lazy assertion that you don’t need talent to win in a fast Formula One car. Maybe it signifies his role in an elitist sport that so many find difficult to engage with.

Perhaps if the greatest driver of his generation does cap his legacy by one day reaching the magic number of eight World titles, he’ll enjoy the curious sensation of universal appreciation from the British public.

Regardless, the man whose career thus far apparently only merits the same Queen’s honour that Paul Collingwood received for scoring seven runs in an Ashes test in 2005 will plough on towards motorsport immortality.

And he’ll do so, with or without the acclaim he deserves.