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Ecclestone: Hamilton isn't an arrogant bastard

NEWS STORY
05/11/2008

Lewis Hamilton is the first to admit that he isn't exactly flavour of the month with many of his fellow drivers, however, the fact is that there are also mixed feelings about him out in the grandstands and among the many millions tuning in to watch the F1 circus on their TVs.

While the media concentrates on those 'fans' who populate foreign forums and message boards attacking the McLaren driver for his colour as opposed to his on-track ethics, it should be noted that elsewhere, even in his home country - OK, his country of birth, the UK not Switzerland - Hamilton has the fans divided. While there are many in the UK who idolise the youngster there are many who don't.

In the wake of Sunday's season finale, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has come out in defence of the McLaren driver, the man who has put F1 back on the front pages and in the (TV) news headlines for all the right reasons.

"Hamilton is a young man doing his best and I get upset with people who say he is an arrogant bastard and all this nonsense," Ecclestone told The Times. "Lewis has achieved an awful lot and it would be bloody difficult for any of us to be the same as him. And yet there are so many people out there that want him to lose, so he has to make sure he delivers."

Referring to the arrogant label so many, both within and outside the paddock, attach to Hamilton, Ecclestone continued: "I think he comes over as a bit overconfident but don't forget they said the same things about Michael. I am sure he will grow into the position he has achieved; it just takes time. He has to be careful what he says and how he presents himself, otherwise there are no fears."

According to the critics, Lewis Hamilton has had it easy, firstly there are the claims that his move up the motorsport ladder was funded by McLaren. Then there is the fact that he stepped straight into a winning car, albeit teamed with a back-to-back World Champion. The move to Switzerland didn't help, especially when the youngster claimed that it was merely to avoid being hassled on the streets of London by fans and the media. Then there is the relationship with a Pussycat Doll, sparking claims that Hamilton has designs on he and Nicole becoming the new Posh and Becks.

However, while Hamilton has his critics, Ecclestone will be aware that the Stevenage Rocket will already have brought many new fans to the sport with the promise of many more. For all too long Britain, which still pretty much dominates F1 technically has sought a driver to take up where Hawthorn, Clark, Hill, Surtees, Hunt, Mansell and the Hills left off.

Looking back on Sunday's thriller, Ecclestone adds a little mischievous spice to claims that Glock gifted fifth position, and thereby the World Championship, to Hamilton. "I would think the likelihood of Glock being in league with McLaren is about zero," says the Englishman, before adding; "but you can never say 'no way', can you, because you never know."

However, such a nail-biting finish was clearly very good business for the sport, which, unlike most others, is owned.

"I always say I don't care who wins as long as it's settled on the last corner of the last lap and that's what happened," says Ecclestone, who will need no reminding of the years when the rules had to be changed to stop the Schumacher/Ferrari domination, particularly those seasons when the title was decided with several races remaining.

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