Amongst an internet awash with memes and inspirational quotes, even at times a lot of negativity, there sits a fairly common retort that one may find across a number for platforms.
A rather self-aggrandising assertion, recycled from a Tywin Lannister quote in Game of Thrones that goes - ‘A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of sheep’.
Not that he would, but if ever there was a figure in the British public eye who could use that phrase without irony, it’s Lewis Hamilton - the most successful formula driver in Britain’s history.
Despite his clear and undeniable status as the best driver in the world, for whatever reason; be it the curious British trait to deny excellence, a more understandable (if a little misjudged applied to Lewis’s case) aversion to a lack of humility in a person, or just plain old spite, it seems unlikely he’ll ever be the people’s champion.
Us Brits prefer to celebrate the underdog it seems.
Meanwhile, in the last decade, Lewis has put together one of the finest careers in the history of the sport, to practically no mass fanfare or excitement, or even in some cases, a grudging respect.
Among profligate online commentary, it won’t be too difficult to find hundreds of people armed with reasons or knocks that place his greatness in doubt, and although Hamilton has conducted himself admirably whenever questioned about his popularity (or perhaps lack of it) among the British public, this line of questioning and the existence of such vitriol would surely grate - if the purpose of it all was to simply earn the admiration of the naysayers. If only.
But, Hamilton has always given the air of one with little time to indulge anything that distracts from his vision to be the very best, and has rightly dismissed its relevance, ensuring the narrative remained about the work, the measurables - achievements.
A dignified silence in effect gave credence to the idea, as novel a thought as it may seem, that for him it’s never been about the attention; the noise means nothing.
But, for once, the Mercedes man has opted not to deflect and has opened up about what he thinks of this continued negativity, giving a simple yet eloquent response to his so called ‘haters’. In perhaps further insult to the detractors, he’s confirmed the suspicion. Hamilton couldn’t care less.
In an interview with BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek, Hamilton addressed the issue with the certainty becoming of a champion
“I don't really feel anything," he said.
"I know what my values are, I know what I've achieved and I know where me and my family have come from. I don't rely on acceptance from any source other than my family and myself so honestly I couldn't care if [popularity] was more or less.
"There is a lot of positivity when I go to the British Grand Prix and I get a great amount of support around the world, with British flags all over the place. I only notice the positives. There may be negative people out there or those with negative things to say but that has no relevance in my life."
This level headed and focused approach is precisely what has urged his rise to the top of the sport, one which will no doubt continue to drive him in his pursuit of overhauling the previously untouchable record of seven Drivers' Championships, held by the legendary Michael Schumacher.
Another who perhaps was not appreciated fully during his active days on track. Another clearly unfazed by the criticism.
It will be next year at the earliest before we see any further progress for Hamilton in this goal, as Valtteri Bottas, his Mercedes teammate, took the chequered flag at Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the final race of the 2017 season.
Though Hamilton will be disappointed in the way this season has petered out for him since he captured his fourth world title in Mexico, he’ll be more than ready when he retakes the grid in Melbourne next March.
Until then, his critics may point a third consecutive Grand Prix without a win, but beware, and whisper it quietly – they’re just wasting their time!
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