An interesting story from the British Grand Prix (and bearing in mind it is only Thursday) is a challenge from Jenson Button to fellow British driver Lewis Hamilton. Apparently Hamilton recently found out about Button’s triathlon endeavors and was impressed with his rival’s placing – Jenson finished 117th out of 1700 participants in last month’s Windsor event. An exchange of words in today’s press conference ahead of the race on Sunday led to a challenge being put forward by Jenson, and initially it was agreed by Lewis.
Hamilton believes he is fitter than his fellow-countryman and Jenson invited Lewis to take part in a triathlon later this month. As an incentive, Button offered £10,000 to a charity of Lewis’s choice should he finish behind the McLaren driver. Hamilton agreed.
The biggest incentive is, if I do beat you, then you’ve got some money for a charity which is great. However, you do have an advantage as you’ve already done one, and I already know that by doing one you’re better the next time. But man, I’m up for it, I’m up for it… It’s a date. Lewis Hamilton.
However, a short time later Lewis’s manager and father stated that he would not allow the contest and withdrew Hamilton from the challenge.
Lewis accepted the challenge like the good sport he is, and in the spirit with which he accepts things. Unfortunately for Lewis, we are withdrawing him from this. We are in the middle of a championship and that is the focus of our attention. Anthony Hamilton.
In my honest opinion, Anthony Hamilton has made a pretty poor decision. I certainly understand the need to protect his son, primarily as his son and secondly as a professional sportsman in the middle of his season. If Lewis suffered an injury, the championship could very easily be over. However, two points come immediately to the fore.
Firstly, Button has introduced a substantial charitable donation into the deal and without wanting to shallow the challenge, the PR bonus points could prove invaluable to both drivers. Secondly, the deal was made in public and in boyish good humour. The challenge also relates to the sport (as we’re discussing the fitness of each driver) and it would be great fun to see the pair pitched against each other away from the race track. As David Coulthard remarked in the same conference (and was pipped to be the bottle-holder):
He’s throwing down a man challenge, you can’t turn down a man challenge. David Coulthard.
Considering Hamilton’s recent PR hasn’t exactly been the best, this could have been a shining redemption after being suspended above a stage for Vodafone. It is a shame that Anthony Hamilton cannot see good PR when it presents itself in front of his very eyes, and I fear that for as long as Anthony manages his son’s affairs, Lewis will become a stale and muted puppet being pulled around the sport and sponsors without care or thought.
Go on Anthony, let him go for a swim, ride and run with Button. What’s the worst that could happen?
Image © HondaF1. Story source: Autosport.
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