Autocar

Is Lewis Hamilton the best British sportsman of all time?

What’s extra, there have been quite a few races the place he has received in palpably not the quickest automobile, together with some this yr. Sure, rivals – particularly Ferrari – have made errors, however it’s usually stress that results in errors, and Hamilton has been relentless. After which, in fact, there may be his moist climate prowess to think about.

However what makes Hamilton exceptional will not be solely his success, however that he has been in a position to maintain it for therefore lengthy – 12 years and counting. Contemplate the mountains this nation’s earlier three champions needed to climb to succeed in the summit of F1 – Button, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell – after which ponder that Hamilton has achieved double the sum of their titles, generally seemingly at a canter. It won’t make nice viewing, however it does underline his expertise.

So, the best British sportsman of all time? In some ways it’s a ridiculous query, however in 12 hours after posing the query on social media to this point I’ve solely had five-time Olympic champion rower Sir Steve Redgrave, four-time Tour de France profitable bicycle owner Chris Froome and CB Fry, who represented England at cricket and soccer, set an extended soar world file and had a trial for the England rugby group for good measure, as credible alternate options.

Little doubt some readers will really feel compelled to remark beneath with regard to Hamilton’s unpopularity with a portion of sports activities followers, however that’s not what I’m asking right here; actually, I’m simply making an attempt to establish who this nation’s sporting greats are, and the place he sits amongst them.

Nonetheless, to put my playing cards on the desk, I do suppose Hamilton’s achievements are susceptible to being undermined by a mixture of F1’s relative invisibility on Sky, the truth that the cockpits of at the moment’s automobiles are so enclosed and that the wings and slicks system hides a driver’s expertise, and our odd nationwide obsession with championing underdogs over, nicely, champions.

I think, too, that his earrings, dreadlocks, clothes selections and – sorry to say – pores and skin color alienate among the sport’s conventional white, outdated, male fanbase. So too Hamilton’s want to talk up on a wide range of non-sporting topics, generally seemingly in a opposite method.

All that, although, is to overlook the purpose. Britain has a sportsman it will possibly really acknowledge as one of the best on this planet at the moment – and presumably of all time, not simply in his chosen sport however of any sport. Historical past suggests these skills don’t come alongside usually, too.

Time, certainly, to have a good time?

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