07 July 2007
He's kind of a big deal.
Lewis Hamilton just started racing in F1 this year... and is dominating. Dominating in a way that shames his two-time World Champion teammate, Fernando Alonso, whom he leads by 14 points. Hamilton's been on the podium 8 out of 8 races this season (with 2 wins), and snagged the pole position today for his home race in Great Britain.
I think he may just be the best thing to happen to F1 since fuel injection. Let me break it down like a fraction for you...
At the risk of stating the obvious, he's black. He is, in fact, the first black driver in F1 ever. Conquering the "norm" and F1 bureaucracy is a feat in and of itself.
He's British, which means 2 things: firstly, the British love him and they control most F1 media coverage, so it means more exposure of the sport through the "vehicle" of Hamilton, if you will; secondly, he is quickly becoming accepted by Americans. This is probably because they love an underdog... and this kid is taking out the Eurotrash.
He's young- 22 years-old- and who doesn't love a prodigy? He's new to the game, so he's free of the dents and dings and chips-on-the-shoulder that only accumulate with the bitter taste of defeat and spending one too many evenings with the "Formula Unas Girls." Also, he's cute, has a great smile, and he's is charming. Listen to any race commentator, and they'll go on and on about what about what an delightfully upstanding young chap he is... or some such. He talks to fans, signs autographs, and does the media dance without compromising himself. His dad and wheelchair-bound younger brother go to every race, which is endearing in a fashion that has never existed in F1.
In short, he's good. It's easy to like him. He doesn't have to become what people want him to be, because he already is.
And F1 needs a face other than Michael Schumacher's lopsided grin or Alonso's... Alonsoness. Alonso has won the World Championship the past 2 years and you would never know... he has a relatively small fanbase and very little media coverage- because he's a douche. No one likes him- he's like a surly Jacques Villeneuve. He sneers, he jibes, and he avoids all the fun folderol that makes F1 F1. Schumacher was a bit of a diva, but did the "Champion thing" very well- and still does. But this guy can't carry the torch forever- he's retired- let him go home. Kimi Raikkonen- great driver- but not personable. He's Finnish, which means he's a cute and shy mumbler... who drinks. Other than that, no one else is really consistently good enough to even be a contender. (Though crazy Vitantonio Liuzzi would be amaaaazing. Bringing back the soul patch- Italian style.)
So for the new face of F1, I nominate Lewis Hamilton. But he probably won when I wasn't looking...
...did I mention he has a black belt in karate?