Lewis Hamilton: is he now more celeb than sports star?

Lewis Hamilton is a superstar.

Lewis Hamilton is a superstar. There is no denying that the young man from Stevenage has gone from a quiet, talented racing driver cruising around in GP2 to an almost global name in just a few short years. However, as time as passed, questions have been raised over his profile, after bagging himself a former Pussycat Doll girlfriend and taking the decision to hire a manager known for his big music clients, Simon Fuller. Is he a celebrity, who cares more about his image off the track and making friends with Pharrell Williams, or is he a sports star, who does his talking on the track? Recently, the waters have been muddied and Hamilton’s public image has taken a battering.

Hamilton started his Formula 1 career in 2007 at McLaren, a team which had spotted his talent early on and groomed him from a young age, before deciding to take a risk and put him in their car alongside champion Fernando Alonso. Believing Hamilton would take time to grow accustomed to Formula 1, the team never imagined the problems which would follow. He took to the sport like a duck to water and was already winning races by the sixth race. Alonso, who had come into the team believing he would backed all the way to the championship, was suddenly having to deal with a very fast and capable rookie teammate. Tensions between the two rose and eventually boiled over, leading to Alonso leaving the team at the end of the season. Hamilton has remained at McLaren ever since, wowing fans with his audacious overtaking manoeuvres and natural driving skills.

For many, Lewis Hamilton is perhaps better known as being Nicole Scherzinger, former Pussycat Doll and now X Factor UK judge’s other half. The two have had a fairly on again, off again relationship for the past few years, something the celebrity press has lapped up. He was recently in the news for having a late night party with some girls who weren’t Nicole, something she reportedly was very unhappy about, and at various Grands Prix we have seen Hamilton hanging out with several big name rappers who have come to see him race. This makes him very different to most of the other drivers in F1, who tend to remain out of the media limelight outside of the sport. None of them have a globally recognised girlfriend, nor do they have Simon Fuller, known as manager of the Spice Girls, to be their representative.

Many are starting to question whether Hamilton is becoming better known for his off track behaviour, rather than his race wins and talent. He has become known for occasionally shooting his mouth off and letting his emotions get to him at moments of difficulty. Just last weekend at Spa, instead of doing his talking on track, Hamilton released a tweet with an image of the team’s telemetry – gold dust to rival teams – because he had struggled in qualifying while his teammate got pole position. This has led many to wonder about his mindset, and whether he really has his head in the right place. As has been pointed out, most people would be sacked for leaking such important data, however, thanks to his position in the team, he avoids this punishment. We have to wonder now, though, if his relationship with other members of the team has been soured slightly by this incident.

Stories are also now surfacing claiming that Hamilton is planning on moving to Mercedes next year, as Michael Schumacher may be retiring (again). While there is not real proof as of yet to substantiate these claims, there are some sources saying this is a plan by Simon Fuller to make Lewis part of a more globally recognised brand and make him a global star, like David Beckham.

If true, this would almost cement Lewis Hamilton’s position as a celebrity, not a sports star. For someone with so much talent and skill, who many enjoy watching on screen, it would be a terrible shame to see money and worldwide fame become his raison d’etre, instead of the sport he loves.