x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Hamilton puts his foot in it

We should turn a blind eye when the former world champion lets off steam and acts his shoe size - UK one, of course

In recent days, we have witnessed the Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton's immaturity.
In recent days, we have witnessed the Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton's immaturity.

"Act your age, not your shoe size" must be a confusing phrase to an international jet-setter like Lewis Hamilton. In the UK, where the F1 wunderkind grew up, let's assume he would wear a size seven shoe (not huge, I know, but you can't drive a racing car with a galumphing pair of Michael Phelps-style clodhoppers).

In Switzerland, however, where Hamilton now lives to enjoy the clean air and lakes - it also happens to be a tax haven, coincidentally - that would be a size 40. So when accused of "acting his shoe size", his first question must be: "Which one? Are you calling me an immature brat or an old fuddy duddy?" His case is doubly confusing, because the answer could conceivably be: "Both." In recent days, we have witnessed Hamilton's immaturity. After failing to gain a podium place in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, he gave a petulant interview in which he blamed the McLaren team tactics.

You could almost see his bottom lip tremble and hear the stamp of his size seven/size 40 foot as he declared: "I deserved better." Days earlier, Hamilton was arrested in Melbourne for performing daft stunts in a Mercedes C63. Acting like a callow 17-year-old who has just swiped the keys to his mum's VW Golf, he tried to impress onlookers with a "burnout" followed by some "fishtailing". For the benefit of readers who no longer have acne or wear baseball caps indoors, a burnout means a stationary wheel-spin and fishtailing means causing the car's rear to sway from side to side.

Not only did Hamilton pull these stunts on a public road, which is a strange decision by a man with daily access to a private race track, he also did it in front of a police car. Oh dear. It sounds like somebody was in the tiny feet queue when they were handing out common sense. At other times, however, Hamilton appears old beyond his years. He has never embraced the playboy lifestyle of, say, a Jenson Button. He chooses to live in Switzerland, when there are many more exciting tax havens (sorry, I mean places with clean air and lakes) to choose from. Even his pop singer girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger, is seven years his senior. At 32, her biological clock will be ticking louder than the bass lines to one of her dreadful songs, and she will surely be planning to swap that PVC basque for a nice maternity frock in the near future.

Most importantly, Hamilton had the maturity to become the youngest F1 champion ever. Indeed it was his caution, rather than any youthful exuberance, which nearly cost him that title to Felipe Massa in 2008. We should remember this before leaping to condemn him for occasional fits of pique. Groomed for stardom from a young age, Hamilton did not get much chance to grow up. He was always expected to act his Swiss shoe size, not his age. If acting his UK shoe size occasionally allows him to let off steam and avoid the spectacular implosions of similar sporting fairy tales - yes, I mean Tiger Woods - then perhaps we should look the other way. Incidentally, to avoid future confusion, Hamilton could simply move to Japan, where his shoe size is 25.5 - the same as his real age.

Speaking of immaturity, did you see the fracas between Roberto Mancini and David Moyes at the Manchester City-Everton match? It started when Davy (46!) refused to give Bobby (45!) his ball back. Instead of asking nicely, or telling a teacher, Bobby barged into Davy. Before anyone could form a ring and chant "Fight! Fight! Fight!", head prefect Howard Webb intervened and both boys were sent to the headmaster's office. Remarkably, they appear to have forgiven each other and are fast becoming NBFs (ask your kids). Moyes even requested that Mancini receives no punishment. Compared to the ancient feuds between other managers - Ferguson-Benitez, Ferguson-Wenger, Ferguson...well, you get the picture - this seems positively healthy. So perhaps the time has come for a Fight Club between football managers. No more sniping in the media or snubbed handshakes. Just two men, one basement, no rules - and a shedload of TV cameras. To keep things fair, I've drawn up a basic seeding. Let's start with the assumption that home-grown managers will be tougher than the overseas contingent. This is based on the fact that British people enjoy fighting, and practise most weekends. Next, I have removed all Englishmen from the list, as Celtic Brits fight just as much as the English, but in colder weather. This leaves a shortlist of Sir Alex Ferguson, Martin O'Neill, David Moyes, Alex McLeish, Tony Pulis and Owen Coyle. At 68, Fergie is too old. Next, we remove those who did not play in defence. Goodbye O'Neill (midfield) and Coyle (striker). The remaining three are well-matched: all Celtic, all young-ish, and all ex-defenders. So, we resort to physical appearance. David Moyes's wiry physique, fiery red hair and scary eyes combine to make him the perfect fighting machine, and top seed. No wonder Mancini was keen to make friends.

Will Batchelor is a writer, broadcaster and self-confessed cynical sports fan. @Email:sports@thenational.ae