Is the tide starting to turn against Lewis Hamilton?

Everyone is amazed at how well he has driven since he started the season in Formula 1, and Ron Dennis was shown beaming away with pride on more than one occasion after a successful race or qualifying session.

Until now, the press have kept away from any real kind of intrusion into his life other than to talk about the things they should be talking about, ie the races and his driving ability - albeit that this side of things has tended to be a bit overhyped, but they just can’t help themselves there.

Ron was quoted as saying that Hamilton doesn’t have an arrogant side therefore implying that the cleancut nice-guy image which was portrayed in the media was exactly how he was all the time, even in “real life”.  Going on past experience, it seemed unlikely that the best driver in the world was not going to be a little arrogant - history has shown that the ones who succeed most are rarely nice 100% of the time, especially not when in the car and out on the track.

Senna, Prost, Schumacher and currently Alonso have all shown a darker side in their quest to be the best but McLaren seemed happy for the media to portray Hamilton as different to them, a nice guy who can also win, and win big.  The British press were happy to have a new darling to behold and build up, a World Champion in the making, so they didn’t argue - but have they now reached the point where they will start to knock him back down?

Everyone seemed happy to jump on the Hamilton bandwagon and offer their help in hyping him up, even ITV bowed down and agreed to not interview him on the grid prior to races - presumably in the hope that this would help him concentrate on the race, win more and therefore elevate their ratings.  Plenty of other drivers would probably rather not talk to Martin Brundle before they start racing, but they simply have to put up with it - or at the very least, he tries to talk to them and they refuse but Lewis doesn’t even get asked he is so carefully handled.

Last weekend’s incidents at the Hungarian Grand Prix may have changed all that.

The British tabloids who are well known for building up hysteria around sporting celebrities, inititally reported the qualifying incident rather unfairly by deciding not to mention the fact Lewis had done anything wrong at all - instead portraying Alonso as the pantomime villain of the piece.  Newspapers like The Times were less biased, and subsequent reports in The Sun, etc have since given a fuller version of events including the full run down of the alleged radio conversation Lewis had with Ron Dennis after qualifying.

This doesn’t really show Hamilton in a good light, though in the highly charged atmosphere of qualifying I suppose it is understandable that he be a little worked up about not getting things his own way.

The hype surrounding Lewis Hamilton hasn’t just come from those outside the sport, several ex-drivers have been more than willing to get on TV to talk about how good they think he is.  Last weekend could also be the turning point in this too, with Eddie Irvine coming out this week to say that what Lewis did was out of order - although Irvine has been known in the past to be a little controvertial just for the sake of it, but more often than not he just says what he thinks unlike so many.

The Sun today carries a story which takes up most of a page which shows Lewis on holiday with a female companion, the first story I’ve seen of this type, but if he continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons then I doubt it will be the last we see either.

I don’t know if he has any advisors which help him handle the media and it’s perception of him as a person as well as a driver, but if he does then I think they need to nip this in the bud and try to salvage his nice guy image as soon as possible.

As Jenson Button has found to his cost, negative media reports can dog you your whole career.  He was once pictured at a few parties, and now the general consensus is that he is more interested in his social life than he is in winning races which I’m sure isn’t true - the simple fact is that he hasn’t been World Champion because the car and driver combination hasn’t been good enough compared to those of his competitors.

If Lewis doesn’t want to head down the same route as Jenson as far as the media and the general public are concerned then I think he needs to do some repair work - what’s the bets that he is on Parky or Jonathon Ross sometime soon, all big smiles and politeness?