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The real threat to Hamilton?

FEATURE BY CHRIS BALFE
18/04/2007

One only has to take the most fleeting of glimpses at the various F1 forums and message boards to realise that some people are already sick to death of the words "Lewis" and "Hamilton".

No offence to the youngster who has taken Formula One by storm in just three races, but there are already signs of a backlash from fans tired of the (British) media's reaction to this 'new kid on the block'.

Writing in the Daily Mail on Monday, Alan Fraser, who concentrates on televised sport in his 'Screen Test' column, wrote: "Alonso looked as if he had a piece of chorizo stuck in his craw when, in a post race interview, Louise Goodman said "Another great race for our man Lewis?"

Previously, interviewing Jenson Button, just minutes after his race ended in the first complex of corners, Goodman, somewhat insensitively said: "At least you can watch the race in comfort".

"Drive of the day?" race commentator James Allen asked of (Martin) Brundle, adding: "As if I need to ask."

He wished he hadn't, observes Fraser. "For me, Felipe Massa," Brundle replied. Allen did well to hide his surprise.

Fraser best sums up how bad things were with the following: "back at the hub of ITV's F1 coverage, Steve Rider was breaking all records for the number of times he could mention a single sportsman's name in one broadcast.

"He is going to wake up in the middle of the night screaming "Lewis Hamilton" if he is not careful," warned Fraser.

A brilliant, and most accurate observation. However, it is not only the TV people going overboard. The mainstream media has been similarly OTT, with the Daily Telegraph, in particular, and The Times leading the way. Reading the gushing, somewhat flowery, eulogies, one feels almost embarrassed, indeed the phrase "get a room" regularly comes to mind.

It was only a couple of years ago, when Schumacher - the other one - was dominating Formula One, that much of the mainstream British media came close to turning its back on F1. After all, why send a journalist all over the world following a sport in which Britain/England is not leading the way - though that hasn't stopped them covering football, cricket, rugby, etc, for much of that time.

Jenson Button was out there but the media was clearly tired of waiting for that first win, especially as the Englishman was now into triple figures in terms of the races he'd contested.

Today, one would have to have a heart of stone not to feel sympathy for Jenson, who has largely been deserted by the (British) media, along with Coulthard and Davidson, in favour of young Lewis.

The most worrying aspect of all this however, isn't the fact that people will turn against the McLaren driver, they won't, however, they will probably watch the races with the sound off - though many do already - and avoid reading about F1 in those places prone to Hamilton hyperbole.

No, the most worrying thing is that one day the press will turn, and then God help poor Lewis.

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