Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lewis Hamilton would benefit from someone to lean on when going is tough says David Coulthard

The spat between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa on Sunday was hardly the Thriller in Manila. The only thing missing from the ‘Scrap in Singapore’ was some handbags

I could not imagine a less threatening character than Felipe and I’m sure it will blow over quickly.

Felipe is a nice guy, popular among the drivers, and not the sort to hold a grudge. Believe me, there are some drivers with whom your ties would be forever cut if you received that sort of tap on the shoulder but he is not one of them.

I don’t think Felipe should have done it, certainly not on camera, but I can understand his frustration. He is fighting for his Ferrari seat and the collision during the race, while unfortunate, was certainly Lewis's fault.

But there was no malice at all and it did not need to be blown out of proportion and overshadow what was an interesting race with some fantastic drives from the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta.

What is more interesting is the debate which has developed off the back of that spat, with Lewis’s father, Anthony, stating his view that Formula One drivers need managers who are “personally involved” in their clients’ lives with them at races.

Now, I don’t know the ins and outs of Lewis’s set-up with XIX Entertainment, I can only speak from my own personal experience, but I agree with Anthony’s general point.

In Formula One you are part of a large travelling circus and yet you are often alone. You go from the intense highs and lows of the action on track — the fierce concentration required in the cockpit faced with the ever-present threat of clear and present danger — to the quiet and loneliness of another faceless hotel.

The constant international travel, the different time zones, the length of time you are away, the intensity of the experience; it all adds up.

I employed Martin Brundle as my manager not simply because I’m a Scot and I knew I wouldn’t have to pay him to be at the races because he was there anyway, but because I knew that everything I was going through he had been through as well.

Martin knew how it worked; the engineering side, the media side, who the protagonists were; he understood what I was experiencing on and off the track. We were, and are, friends. That is hugely important.

There are so many distractions in Formula One and it is all about focusing on the bits you need to focus on and relaxing when you can.

Small things can put you off your stride. I spoke with Lewis before the race on Sunday on behalf of a sponsor and he was brilliant; professional, engaging and with that star quality we all know he has.

But beforehand the sponsor wanted to prep me for the interview and tell me which areas to avoid, which areas to mention. I had to stop them and say ‘Don’t worry. I know how this works. I know what he will and will not want to talk about hours before a race.’

If I had been someone who wasn’t well-versed in Formula One, perhaps it would have led to unnecessary tension. I don’t know.

Listen, Lewis’s set-up may well be the best for him and I’m sure he decides how he wants it set up in terms of who accompanies him to races. I’m just saying what worked for me and that was having someone I trusted and knew with me at all times.

It doesn’t have to be a manager necessarily, but for me it must be someone fighting your corner because everyone can be your best friend and do the chest-bumping when the times are good. It is when they aren’t that you need someone to be able to sit down and talk to you with complete honesty. To tell you you’re being an idiot.

Your team are one thing but ultimately their allegiance is to the team. When times are tough what you need is a friend.

Source: The Telegraph

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