Lewis Hamilton - McLaren’s rookie racerThe whole Lewis Hamilton hooplah has me in a bit of a quandry.

Last year, I saw him race in GP2 and was excited at the prospect of him stepping up to Formula 1 - and in a McLaren to boot. It seemed too good to be true, a young and obviously talented British driver being given a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream and race in the pinnacle series of motorsport with a top team, hopefully giving him a chance to shine and challenge for points from the very start.

Four races in and not only has he started very well, but he is actually leading the Driver’s Championship!

I should be happy, pleased and proud of his achievments - we all should be - and I do feel that way to a certain extent, but there’s something holding me back from being 100% supportive.

First of all, let me state that I have nothing against the guy as a person or as a driver. I think he has a lot of talent and ability which he has shown throughout his career to date, and in any interviews I’ve seen he has come across as a pleasant and intelligent person.

So far so good - as I say, I have nothing against him as such, instead it’s what is around him which annoys me. There has been the inevitable media frenzy in both the national press and also in the specialist motorsport press who should really know better than to hype up people so early in their careers. It’s not the first time however, magazines such as F1 Racing have a bit of a habit of building people up a little prematurely - this time last year it was Nico Rosberg who was the new kid on the bloke to be worshipped.

This is far from unique to F1 however, the media are forever hyping up sportsmen and women just to see them crumble away under the pressure.

So far Hamilton has resisted this pressure and continues to perform at a level higher than could be assumed of a novice. Why is this? Well, for one he has been handled very well by McLaren in the leadup to his entering F1 - a leadup which has been planned and prepared for many years now. This has allowed both him and the team to lay the foundations of what to expect and plan how they would deal with it.

There is no doubt - in my mind at least - that if he hadn’t been groomed by Ron Dennis and the McLaren team, then even in a car of the equal of this year’s McLaren he wouldn’t have handled the step up to F1 quite as well as he has done. The preparatory work in the simulator and gym have certainly paid off.

Having a good car has allowed Hamilton to use his skills to qualify up near the front of the grid, thereby allowing him to avoid having to dice it out in the midfield where there is a much higher risk of a first corner collision. Although the car is fast, I am not doubting that Hamilton has still had to go out and put in a decent lap to qualify the car in it’s rightful place on the grid - it’s not all down to the machinery, although it has helped.

It’s hard to compare drivers like with like, as no two cars or teams are the same. If Jenson Button had come into the sport in a McLaren the equal of this year’s car then would he have won his first 4 races if they had all panned out exactly as they have done? There are way too many variables to even begin to think that one through - and the same question could be asked of Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber, Heikki Kavalainen and pretty much all the drivers right down the grid.

At the end of the day, there can only be one driver in each car at a time and Lewis Hamilton has been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time - having said that he has also had enough talent and the wherewithall to grasp the nettle and make the most of the opportunities that have come his way.

If Lewis was left alone to quietly get on with his business - as I’m sure he probably wants anyway, and I’m certain Ron would prefer it that way as well though he wouldn’t tell his sponsors that - then I would feel a lot more encouragingly towards him. The whole hyping thing ends up turning people against the person at the centre of the hype even though in most cases they have no control over the hyping in the first place.

The printed media are easily ignored, you can just skip that page in your newspaper or magazine but if you are a Formula 1 fan then you have no choice but to watch ITV’s coverage. It’s been bad enough so far, and I’m glad I will be at the British Grand Prix rather than watching on TV as it will be then that ITV’s LewisMania hits it’s peak.

There’s an interesting recent article on this blog about ITV’s coverage amongst other things - and there are many more where that comes from, mainly calling for James Allen to be replaced with someone better. Not many people are willing to name someone who would actually be better though - Ben Edwards seems to be the only name put forward I have seen.

Lewis Hamilton is a talented driver, and seems a nice guy. My hope is that no matter what he achieves in his career, the general public still think the same at the end of that career and haven’t had their thoughts of him sullied by the media’s intense spotlight.

Give the guy a break and let him prove just how good he is before reporting him as the greatest living sportsman ever in the history of the world, people will respect both him and the media in general if that were allowed to happen.