A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by the Evening Standard to write something for them to do with the press and Formula 1. They didn’t end up printing it in the end. Maybe I was too cruel. Let me know what you think:
F1 isn’t normally about jingoistic pride. In fact teams only rarely have two drivers of the same nationality – none currently do. Formula 1 is in many ways closer to a global champions league than a World Cup. I am a fan of Formula 1, and I watch all of the races, but I don’t have a team that I favour, I don’t have a driver that I am always gunning for. I’m not unique in this, I want the best man to win on the given day. And sadly for Britain Lewis wasn’t the better man on Sunday.
The press coverage has been downright despicable in both Britain and Spain. McLaren couldn’t be more fair in their treatment of their drivers (they both even finished on the same number of points). And while Britain would like to point their hand at Spain, a large part of the tension was started by journalists here in Britain. When they created the impression that it was Lewis’ God given right to win in Monaco. When he didn’t make it a backlash was started against Ron Dennis, team principle at McLaren, which was simply intended to sell papers. The unintended result was the near wrenching in half of McLaren.
McLaren have always stood for equality, it makes it harder for them to win, but surely it is right. The constant demands for equality from the press here and in Spain forced Alonso’s hand. He stopped supporting McLaren and it may well have lost Lewis the championship. McLaren could have asked Alonso to fall back and help Lewis to win in Brazil, but the relationship had been so soured by the press that there was no hope. Teams in Formula 1 should allow equality up until it is obvious that one of the drivers can’t win. Massa helped Kimi, but Alonso didn’t help Lewis. It wasn’t just a difference in personality it was the bad blood. Who created that? Were the journalists reporting or creating the story?
Lewis made some rookie errors this weekend, but guess what? He’s a rookie. And at least he beat his team mate. Sometimes in Formula 1 that’s all you can do. And nobody expected it at the beginning of the season. They say the press in this country build people up simply so they can tear them down: Lewis is a prime example. Today Mathew Norman says that Lewis has, “quite a bit more to learn than any of us, most of all perhaps himself, had understood”. I think that Lewis knew all too well that the world of Formula 1 is unpredictable and difficult to tame, if anyone had more to learn about the world of Formula 1 it was the press.