Johnny Herbert: Lewis Hamilton unfairly targeted…but not for Qatar track cross

Thomas Maher
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton looks on at his crashed Q14 during the Qatar Grand Prix.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton looks on at his crashed W14 during the Qatar Grand Prix.

Grand Prix winner and former Sky F1 pundit Johnny Herbert believes Lewis Hamilton has been singled out for unfair criticism.

Hamilton has found himself dominating headlines since the Qatar Grand Prix, due to a collision with Mercedes teammate George Russell as well as the FIA investigating him for walking across the track during the race while under Safety Car following the accident.

The track walk, under the initial investigation, netted Hamilton a €50,000 fine (€25,000 suspended) and a reprimand – before the governing body decided to revisit the investigation citing Hamilton’s role model status, the result of which is still unknown.

Johnny Herbert: Walking across the track was the wrong thing to do

While there has been plenty of discussion from various pundits that Hamilton has been unfairly singled out by the FIA, three-time Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert believes Hamilton has been unfairly singled out – but not for the track walk.

Speaking to Lucky Block, Herbert said that the criticism leveled against the seven-time World Champion for his part in the collision with Russell – which Hamilton accepted full responsibility for – has been too heavy-handed.

“Lewis Hamilton is definitely a role model,” he said.

“However, walking across the track was the wrong thing to do. He knows that rule is there.

“The criticisms leveled against him for the accident with Russell going into Turn 1 were not fair. That was part of racing. He only needed to give another six inches for it to be absolutely fine. But his judgment was not quite there.”

While Hamilton might have been the offending party in this particular incident, Herbert said his general clean racing etiquette means that mistakes like that are easily forgiven.

“That goes back to my point about the human element,” he said.

“Even a seven-time World Champion makes mistakes. Even the best have made mistakes. And Lewis has made very few mistakes in his career. I’d struggle to count them on the fingers of one hand.

“Sometimes I just think the sport should just let the drivers race, let them get on with it without making so many rules which interfere with the race itself.” recommends

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Johnny Herbert: Lewis Hamilton has always had people who knock him

With social media bringing out the worst in the respective fandoms of both Hamilton and Max Verstappen, which is evident with a cursory glance at any social media platform during a Grand Prix weekend, what is it about Hamilton that Herbert believes brings out such negativity about the Mercedes driver?

“Drive to Survive has opened up a door that was previously slammed shut,” he said.

“You never saw the characters come out. The series has drawn people into that world.

“Lewis has always had people who knock him. I remember when he did a little video highlighting the amount of plastic in the seas. He cleared up a little cove and he got slammed for it for virtue signalling.

“I don’t understand it. Is it a form of racism? I don’t just know. He pushes diversity hard. He always supported the women in the W series. He gets criticised so much which I think is unfair.”

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