Last year I was full of hope and praise for Lewis Hamilton coming into F1 after having seen him drive in GP2 at Silverstone last year, but his first year in the top formula wasn’t all plain sailing.

From a results point of view, last season would appear to have gone almost as well as it could have, however the history books don’t tell the full story.

Not since Michael Schumacher have we had a driver who has divided opinion into two camps so far apart - the lovers and the haters. For some reason, neither driver has many people who are simply indifferent towards them.

The big difference is that Schumacher produced the goods and over time it will be the record books which speak volumes about the man, so can Hamilton follow his lead and leave a legacy which will drown out any negativity?

Last year I was quite hard on Lewis as he just seemed to rub me up the wrong way at every turn for some reason - no matter what he did in a race or what he said afterwards, it always seemed to be the wrong thing in my eyes. The fact that this new kid on the block was suddenly splashed all over the TV, not just during the F1 programme but also in adverts during other shows as well, meant that pretty soon I was sick of the sight of him. Overexposure to any “celebrity” eventually has a detrimental effect on their popularity in my view but for that to be in their first year of public life doesn’t bode well for the future!

Having had a bit of a break from Lewismania over the winter, apart from the obligatory paparazzi snaps of him holidaying on yachts in the papers, I found myself a lot mellower towards him at the start of the season. How long it will last I can’t tell yet though!

He seems to be a bit quieter this year, whether that’s by design or simply because people aren’t asking for interviews quite as much I don’t know. We’ve certainly not seen as much of his dad/manager on ITV so far that’s for sure - hopefully he has seen sense and knows that things had to be toned down this year and that nobody really benefitted last year in the long run.

Of course, Lewis is still the main feature of ITV’s coverage, in fact sometimes he is the only feature - including the idents into the adbreaks, and then the star of the adverts themselves - but I suppose that is to be expected.

I wish they would be honest though and admit they talk about him so much because he is British, instead of insisting he is one of the F1 greats - he may end up there but nobody knows if they will be an alltime great until late in their career. Imagine Hamilton was Belgian or Swiss, how much would we know about him? Not a lot, that’s how much.

On past performance, ITV would have sent Louise Goodman out to see him in his Swiss chalet, helped him rustle up a small luncheon for his best friend (Ron Dennis) and that would have been about it.

But he is British so we just have to get on with it. As long as he performs well ontrack then I can almost see the justification for the offtrack interest and exposure.

So how has he started this season? Not bad at all in Melbourne, driving a pretty flawless race and taking maximum points. The second race in Malaysia this weekend has been a different story though.

Firstly in qualifying he wasn’t quite on song and even made a fundamentally stupid error by driving too slowly in front of cars travelling at much, much faster speeds which resulted in him being demoted down the grid. His race was always going to be compromised but he managed to get a good start off the line, before being held up behind Mark Webber until his first pitstop.

A podium was still on the cards though until he had a spot of bad luck when the wheelnut seized on the front right wheel - resulting in a lengthy stop which lost him around 12 or 13 seconds. This effectively ruined any chance he had of being among th frontrunners barring incidents, but he battled on as best he could.

Nothing much else really happened to him apart from getting stuck behind Webber yet again, before leapfrogging him finally in the last round of pitstops. Due to some other dramas (Massa throwing his car off the road again), Hamilton managed to come home in 5th place which was a disappointment but not too bad considering the weekend he had had.

Watching these guys on TV you forget that they are human beings with other things going on in their lives. Top sportsmen seem able to blank all these distractions out of their minds and just get on with the job in hand, but if there is some drama in their private lives then it must have an effect at some point.

I’ve just been reading a blog the BBC’s F1 correspondent Maurice Hamilton is keeping over on Top Gear’s website in which he claims Hamilton has some kind of personal drama going on - not something I’d heard tell of anywhere else.

This was not Lewis Hamilton’s weekend. He woke on Saturday morning to an unspecified personal problem ‘I’m not telling you about it but it’s something I’ve learned to deal with’ and his day - and subsequently, his race - went downhill from there. Maurice Hamilton

Of course, he is right to keep this private - I have no interest in finding out what it is that was (or is) wrong, and hopefully people will respect his privacy and leave the matter be.

Speaking of media blogs, Ed Gorman writes some excellent posts on his TimesOnline F1 blog and earlier alluded to something several people have commented on over the last year or so - how Lewis Hamilton measures up against Tiger Woods.

Now, I find it hard enough to think of a way to compare F1 drivers from different eras - is Alonso better than Hakkinen, was Schumacher better than Senna? It’s impossible to compare so we will never know - the cars are different, the rules are different, the tracks are different, and so on.

If it’s hard to compare people in the same sport, how on earth can you compare people from different disciplines?

I don’t think you can - and certainly not someone who has plenty of potential to be good like Hamilton and someone who has already proved himself to be up there with the best ever, like Tiger. I can understand why people may see similarities in their backgrounds and the fact they have both opened up their respective sports to new audiences in one way or another but to me last as far as you can go.

For Lewis to do well, he needs another huge group of people all to do their very best as well. He needs a design team to create an excellent car for him, a group of engineers to build the thing and make sure it’s reliable, then he needs a good pitcrew to make sure that side of things goes smoothly, and he also needs a good team around him to make sure he can concentrate simply on the racing, and so on.

Tiger relies on himself, a caddy and a set of clubs. And if his caddy didn’t turn up one day you have the feeling he could call in anybody just off the street and he would still have the skill and strength of mind to go out there and beat anybody and everybody. I’ve already seen him play a round of golf with a club missing (after his caddy dropped his 8-iron into a lake…), yet this didn’t put him off, he simply played round about it making sure he didn’t need to use that club anywhere.

If a cog in the Hamilton-machine didn’t turn up for work on race weekend I can’t see things going quite so well.

The main difference between the two men is that I don’t know anyone who dislikes Tiger, yet there is a certain amount of animosity towards Hamilton already. Normally success breeds contempt - just ask Steve Davis who dominated snooker for years on end which resulted in him being pretty much hated. Or ask the Chelsea players who were always thought highly of until they actually started winning things, and now are everyone’s favourite football team to hate.

Tiger has won much more than any of these people, so why is he still so well liked? Who knows, but perhaps it’s because everyone can see that he really is the best. Because golf is very much a solo sport, there can be no accusations that it was the equipment or team that won him his tournaments, unlike Hamilton who some people feel has been handed his F1 drive on a plate by Ron Dennis and McLaren.

Tiger has already proven how good he is. The comparisons between Tiger and Lewis Hamilton may prove to be relevant, but not for a good few years yet and only if Hamilton can produce the goods that Tiger has.

Until then, he really has to try and work on regaining the support and respect of those who are currently not on his side, and ensure he retains those supporters he already has.

This is only season two of his F1 career, but it could prove to be a very important one in the grand scheme of things. It’s going to be very interesting to watch.