Warning, the following article contains acronyms.
No sooner had we pressed the button to launch yesterday’s quick response on qualifying, noting the possibility or even probability of some action at Le Source, what with Pastor Maldonado lining up in the three slot, than this year’s favourite F1 villain got another yellow card. A three place demotion for blocking Nico Hulkenberg in Q1. When will the stewards find their red card?
And then it really kicked off with a series of tweets from Lewis Hamilton, one of which contained the acronym ‘WTF?’, the other ‘H.A.M”. Lewis urged readers to “look ‘em up on Google”. McLaren (or someone) urged Lewis to delete them, which he did.
Uh-oh. F1 ‘scandal’.
F1 drivers, as you know, must not only double up as billboards, but as corporate spokespeople too, or as they call them, ‘Ambassadors’. And that’s how they are obliged to act: charming, vanilla-to-the-point-of-bland and handy at arranging vast pyramids of Ferrero Rocher. Yawn.
It’s bad enough that F1 communications people act as if they’d never read any of the many Nike biographies. Had they done so they would have learnt how Phil Knight actively sort out maverick geniuses like John McEnroe, knowing that as human beings, we find it easier to engage with personalities we regard as authentic. That is, people with the same flaws as us. Worse is that the comms people’s raw materials are F1 drivers. Sexy, carefree, quick and happy to put their lives on the line for the sake of the rush. Cool, no?
Sunday Afternoon Club, while putting off working on its half-term team grades, started doodling on a cool league for drivers. It went like this, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, er…, um….. You see our point? F1 drivers are, to paraphrase Lewis, ‘C.A.M’ and yet those who run them think we’d rather have a PR man in corporate casual polo. And so the balloon went up yesterday when Lewis took to Twitter (which he currently seems to enjoy more than his McLaren MP4-27).
You can make up your own mind on the language he implied. It didn’t bother us. No more than the third in line to the throne getting naked with some Vegas party girls. We like Lewis on Twitter and on Instagram. We like Heikki Kovalianen and we like Fernando Alonso too. Jenson and Mark Webber have their moments, but they’re so darn healthy it makes us feel unwell, The rest are mostly so-so. But Twitter is giving racing drivers a chance to be, well, racing drivers again, and we like that.
Best of all, it’s given us an insight in to the amazing mind games going on at McLaren, and just how apparent a driver’s state-of-mind is to his performance. Lewis has bounced back from his dark place last year and has seemed quite incredibly, almost uncharacteristically resilient to McLaren’s failings this year. The kind of strength of character we’ve come to expect from JB to be honest. Until this year, when Jenson’s has struggled not to hang his head.
Which of course puts yesterday’s events in to context. Button’s come back from the break on fire and that’s really what rattled Lewis. We are set for the most fantastic race today, especially if, as some are saying Button’s MP4-27 was optimised for qualifying. Kobayashi and Raikkonen have cars that are easier on their tyres and then of course there is Lewis, down in eighth (just behind the demoted Maldonado). He’s promised he’s ‘gonna go H.A.M’ today.
Look it up. Just address your complaints to @LewisHamilton.