So Lewis Hamilton has started to show his true colours. Underneath that smiley exterior lurks a young man of deep desire, ambition and extremely strong will.
And I, for one, am extraordinarily pleased. For years, British sportsmen have been plagued by the public’s need to see them as “nice guys” and, consequently, we love the “plucky loser”. So the likes of Tim Henman and Frank Bruno have somehow been seen as failures, despite reaching the upper reaches of disciplines that require an enormous amount of dedication, training and talent.
Now, though, in the guise of such luminaries as Lewis Hamilton and Andy Murray, Britain seems to be producing young, talented, driven sportsmen, who aren’t afraid to show their nasty, or should I say, competitive side.
Hamilton’s spat with co-driver Fernando Alonso has been made slightly easier, because of McLaren boss Ron Dennis’ policy of not favouring either driver, even though the Spaniard is the reigning world champion. This means that Hamilton has a licence to go for it and prove that he is no-one’s patsy.
Meanwhile, Murray, after almost three months out of action with a wrist injury, makes his comeback today. He has already cultivated a reputation for being cynical, critical and, most of all, keen to do things on his own terms.
The obvious question is, why shouldn’t either of these two act ruthlessly, if it means they have more chance of achieving their ultimate aims? You often only get one chance at things and they are taking theirs wholeheartedly.
Murray has a very real chance of becoming the first British Grand Slam singles winner in decades, while Hamilton is on course to become the first driver ever to win the Formula One Championship in his first season.
Even if Hamilton misses out this year, it will not be a failure – after all, how many others have achieved what he already has? Answer: none.
Similarly, if Murray doesn’t score that victory for another couple of years, it will not be for lack of talent, dedication or drive. He is not a failure and definitely not a plucky loser.
You only have to look at another former British sporting champion who hasn’t always enjoyed the greatest reputation: Nick Faldo. Fortunately, recently Nick has revealed that, off the course, in the commentary box, he’s a funny, likeable fellow – it’s just that he’s very single-minded when it comes to the playing of golf.
Both Hamilton and Murray are on the up at the moment and it remains to be seen how the public and press will react when things don’t go so well for them. But will they lose sleep, if people start to castigate them for being too ruthless? Probably not and we should applaud them for it!