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FEATURE BY MIKE LAWRENCE
29/05/2007

The press box at Thruxton is a Portakabin. It is basic and, most of the time, is fairly quiet. Come the final round of the 1980 Vandervell British F3 Championship and it was Spanish in stereo with the volume turned up. It felt as though our little hut could shake apart.

Three drivers could take the title: Stefan Johansson, Kenny Acheson and Roberto Guerrero; Roberto had won five of the races.

Guerrero was the first Colombian to achieve anything in European racing so there were two Colombian radio stations in the Portakabin, it was one cramped space. Roberto's Mum went to one side of the hut to say her piece, then walked to the other side to reprise. So it went on, friends and relations, anyone with a Guerrero link.

The final placings were Johansson, 97 pts, Acheson 95 pts, Guerrero 95 pts; it had been a tight series.

We Thruxton hands were bemused by the Colombian broadcasters, so much excitement over Formula Three. There weren't Swedish or British radio stations trailing Johansson and Acheson, but they were right to be excited.

Sports journalists in the national media of any country have to compete for space. Spanish F1 correspondents thought all their birthdays had come at Christmas when Fernando Alonso appeared. Their stock rose, they received more column inches, they became part of the Alonso story.

Lewis Hamilton is hot news in Britain and part of the reason is that every F1 journalist in the national media is promoting him. It raises the profile of the journos and it promotes the sport.

I suspect that the same is going on in Brazil around Felipe Massa. British enthusiasts I speak to are knocked out by Felipe, but our media is interested only in Hamilton. One of the great things about motor sport is that enthusiasts tend not to be jingoistic. Fans are jingoistic, enthusiasts are not. The popular media is aimed at fans and is missing what some of us would regard as the real story, which is that the 2007 season is shaping to be the most fascinating for years.

We have rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso and Massa and Raikkonen. Down the grid there are similar stories. Ole Man Coulthard has been a revelation at Red Bull and one wonders if Mark Webber has a response over the season. Perhaps the ITV crew should be reminded that DC has won a few Grands Prix in his time. On the current grid only Alonso has won more.

The grid is filled with riches. There is Heidfeld and Kubica at BMW, Kovalainen and Fisichella at Renault, Button and Barrichello, and so on.

The fact that Lewis is doing so well, raises my profile. I recall when, at a party, I was asked what I did for a living I would mumble about writing about motor racing and people backed away. I switched to saying. 'I do the three card trick on a unicycle'. That got everyone's interest.

I have to live with my national media and Hamilton has put Formula One on the news agenda. On the morning of the Spanish GP, The Sunday Times had a superficial interview with Lewis in the Sport section. It was by Jane Nottage (avoid) and was as inept a piece of journalism as you are likely to read but, in case anyone missed it, a digest appeared in the News section. The article came down to three points. Lewis does not go out on the razzle, he prefers the company of family and friends.

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