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The real Lewis Hamilton effect

Published: 11 June 2007

Can Lewis Hamilton win the F1 crown at his first attempt? Ben Oliver follows his fortunes

Anybody else having their Sundays ruined by Lewis bloody Hamilton? Just when I’d written off Formula One as an unsporting, processional bore, along comes a British driver who seems to combine raw talent and the naked desire to race, with the ability to make good on the hype and what everyone here who has met him says is genuine humility. Forget what just happened in Canada: did you see him at Monaco, still making the car dance when the win was almost – but not quite – out of the question? The two hours I thought I’d gained every Sunday have been lost again.

The racing this season isn’t any better; there still isn’t much competitive overtaking. But Kubica’s sickening accident was a timely reminder of the fear the drivers must face down just to exit the pit lane. This remains a very high-consequence sport, and that alone demands your attention. As does the endgame of Ron Dennis’s extraordinarily prescient decision to sign a pre-pubescent Hamilton to McLaren a decade ago.

At first I thought I’d just be a Chelsea FC-style glory-hunter, following Lewis until he’d won his first race, then losing interest again. But the way he won in Canada suggests he could win the drivers’ championship at his first attempt, so I suspect I’m stuck with F1 all season. The same thing will be happening to other former Formula One fans across Britain. Gardens will go untended. Cars will go unwashed. Whole sections of the Sunday papers will go unread. And I reckon there’ll be a Brit at the top of the drivers’ standings at the end of the season.

 

By Ben Oliver

Contributing editor, watch connoisseur, purveyor of fine features

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