Congratulations Lewis

Congratulations, Champ. As happy as YOU are, believe it or not, tons of us are almost as happy. Double world champion. Insane.

I’m not a sports blogger, and I’m not going to start writing about stuff I don’t master. But right now, I feel the need to put into words some of why people are just so happy you won the World Championship.

How about an anecdote first? Sid and I were both following your karting exploits with a lot of interest. We’d both decided that you were well on your way to being a World Champion even then. Anyway, we’re at the Nurburgring, and they’re racing (the race Johnny Herbert won), and it’s bucketing down with rain. Cars are skating off left and right. I can feel Sid is on edge, and I’m as sure as hell we’re gonna have to go out at some point, for something.

Herbie comes on the radio. He says Max is on the phone, and needs to talk to Sid. Could we please park below race control, and could Sid please come upstairs and take the call.

Talk about a WTF moment.

We get to the tower using the internal roads. I tell Sid (I’d only just started working with him) sorry, Dude, but if there’s an accident while you’re talking to Max, I’m going to it without you.

Sid comes back downstairs and gets in the car, shaking his head. You, Lewis, were racing somewhere in France (as I remember, this was 17 years ago I think), and were wearing a wrist brace. Some turd of a French Chief Medical Officer had (for obvious political reasons – this was an important race for the karting championship, and I think a French kid was in with a shot) decided you couldn’t drive. Max, also clearly concerned about French treachery, got in touch with Sid. Who promptly read the riot act to the CMO. This has NOTHING to do with my point, but I love the story.

Long story short, Champ – it’s your humanity that I love, and it’s precisely that humanity that makes me think that you’re unstoppable now.

Let’s forget about your driving. What has fascinated me, and what I think makes you so special to so many of us, has been watching you struggle. With the celebrity. And the wealth. But not just that of course. Watching how powerfully your inner struggles impacted your driving. Questions about who you were, how to live. Who are your friends. All the stuff that NORMAL young adults struggle with.

This is not voyeurism, Lewis. I guess because of the racing, because of WHY you’re in our lives, we’re INTERESTED. You should know that for me, it’s been a privilege.

And now, this season, it’s come to a head. We could SEE it – see you struggle with how to deal with things. Not on track. Off. Of course.

You’ve hashtagged a lot of your tweets this season with “#blessed”. I thought it interesting, and now I realise it was the first clue of what was going on.

Then, before the race Sunday, just a snippet of conversation with Gaëtan, the Belgian TV commentator. You said that it was a joy to be there, that it was “the coolest thing ever”. Right there, I knew that barring mechanical failures you’d already won.

Lewis, to be able to face that kind of challenge, and that kind of pressure, and still FEEL the joy of being there, is a staggering achievement. It’s not “maturity” in the usual sense of the word. For me, it’s an example of where your personal path has taken you. You have learned, despite the temptations and the work, a lesson that many men never learn.

With your talent, Lewis, and the strength of really feeling #blessed, you’ve harnessed something incredibly powerful. Lewis the driver has impressed me for almost 20 years. Now you’ve given me a curiously fatherly joy at watching you become the person you’ve become. Congratulations, Champ.

29 thoughts on “Congratulations Lewis

  1. Lewis Hamilton won the British Sports Personality of the Year (and he is certainly a personality). There a significant minority that he claim Hamilton was underserving as a sportsman – claiming he was not the best in his field – just the best of two – Him & Rosberg.

    I think what these people fail to recognise is the extraordinary talent required even to get into formula one. The talented rise as does the cream in milk. If Hamilton lacked talent he wouldn’t have even made it out of junior go-carts,

  2. Those that had followed Mr Hamilton from the start had a sense he was denied previous race points, race wins and a championship by strange penalties that seemed to accrue to him rather than others. In a period characterised by procession “racing” he was overtaking – but it was deemed to be dangerous driving by those in smoke filled rooms. It seemed that attempts were made to smother his natural talent and drive in a “conventional” manner and to know his “place” in the field.

  3. Great piece.What is wonderful is that Ham was people champion this year.He was cheered and encouraged from Australia to Abu Dhabi as never a contender before.Keep it up Ham.

  4. Gary,

    You put into words what I have been thinking about Lewis for some time. It’s more than “maturity” in the traditional sense, it’s a sense of “being”. Self-awareness. And you are right, having this sorted out will propel him going forward.

    I also liked your story about Sid – he is missed.

  5. Hey Doc – Thanks for so aptly saying what I’ve been feeling all this year, watching Lewis mature before my eyes and reading his well-composed tweets. They’ve changed; his body language has changed and all for the better. Lewis’ message to his fans after the race was fabulous and your column enhances and confirms that more than he, we’ve been #blessed by being able to watch him become a Man.

  6. Nice post Gary,

    Lewis took a risk and left McLaren for Mercedes. Well done to Lewis for winning the World F1 Championship.

    If it hadn’t been for the bad weather here in the UK on Sunday, I wouldn’t have seen the finish and the interview on the podium. Did you see the effect of that ‘weight on Lewis’s shoulders’ when Lewis sat down with his head in his hands after the race?

    Although it didn’t appear to me, that Ross Brawn was there, well done to Ross Brawn as well. Even though Ross Brawn has left Mercedes, his impact has been immense as well.

  7. You talk about Lewis growing & this is SO true. He is a total inspiration to how folk should use life lessons to refining themselves, a process of real living that should run the full course of your life. I am absolutely over the moon for Lewis, he really is an absolute legend of a racer and most of all person. He’s the finest of good examples & inspiration to all of us and especially youngsters feeling their way in life. Never give up! You can achieve things you wouldn’t believe but you must believe in yourself & always come back fighting having taken stock of the lessons you’ve learned and making valuable use of that information. If you do this repeatedly through your life you can only grow stronger & stronger in every aspect. Lewis is a very caring person & shares his life experience by doing what comes patently naturally to him in wearing his heart on his sleeve.

  8. ‘Fatherly’ I know exactly what you mean. only motherly. My son races in karting and I have the same feeling watching Lewis as I do watching him. (Through hands covering my eyes!) This year Lewis has really matured and I think that this year he really deserved to win.

  9. Really nice post Gary. Somehow captures the mood on Sunday – I just felt happy for Lewis and I don’t even particularly like him (thought he had been behaving like a spoilt brat and overindulged by the media and fame). But he was somehow so pleased to win and his interview with Martin Brundle seemed so sincere that it felt like he had come of age. He said it meant so much more to him the second time than the first time and I felt that he meant it.

    • Exactly! I mean, a early 20s guy gets fabulously wealthy, and everyone on earth is his friend. It’s a distraction, and this young man has worked and struggled through that, and come through to here as you say “sincere” and having “come of age”. So true.

      • But still has a celebrity girlfriend. Why not the girl next door? Gary, they are all the same. Love the limelight, love the glory, love the women throwing themselves at them. All cut from the same cloth IMO. Sorry…..

      • Well we certainly can’t hold that AGAINST him can we? Of course public figures have reward pathways in their brains that go off with some mix of limelight and glory etc. But again, we can’t hold that against them can we? What I love is that here, we’re also watching someone work through all that, figuring out what’s real and what’s bullshit. And the way he seems to have decided what’s what, at least for now, is not only seriously efficient, but fascinating given how hard he’s worked for this, personally. If I was Vettel, Nando, Nico, I’d be pretty sure Lewis is the man to beat for quite a number of years to come now.

  10. “fatherly” … you hit the nail on the head here. I saw Lewis on breakfast TV this morning and I was so proud of him too. Vettel and Alonso just seemed to appear as fully formed World Champions, born to it. We have all watched Lewis grow up as he became this.

  11. I had tears in my eyes for him, even more than the first time … Have always had a gut feel that Lewis does better on the track when his father’s at the GP though… I also saluted Nico – loved that he both stayed on the track to finish and got upstairs to congratulate him (wondered if those two might be linked). Thank you as always for the article

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