Some seek fame; oth­ers sim­ply race

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

is one I’ll bet Seb will have used it. It was per­fectly in keep­ing with this rep­u­ta­tion that he got the tim­ing just right in Monaco and bounced, like a year-old puppy, into the end of an un­avoid­ably dour (thanks to Mercedes’ sur­re­al­ist race tac­tics) post-race in­ter­view with my Sky F1 col­league, Martin Brun­dle, and re­minded us all that he was very happy with his sec­ond place, thank you very much. As all good hu­mour should, it dis­pelled the dread and lifted the mo­ment beau­ti­fully. I would say this was good for the show.

The race was, of course, won by that other dis­ap­point­ment to Bernie Ec­cle­stone, Nico Ros­berg. Three times in a row he has deed his de­trac­tors and gone for the home win. The Grimaldis looked any­thing but grim. They could hardly sup­press their de­light as their Monte Carlo boy bagged a hat-trick. His Ger­man na­tion­al­ity might not be enough to save the Ger­man Grand Prix but when you have the Monaco Grand Prix as a fall-back po­si­tion, it’s not so bad. Clearly his fame in this tiny prin­ci­pal­ity is enough for the Mone­gasques and also for Nico.

Present in Monaco were the A-lis­ters, who pre­sum­ably came be­cause they love ‘auto-rac­ing’ as much as they love fame. Hard to tell though, some­times. To some, fame is a thing in and of it­self: a goal, an ob­jec­tive. The means is not im­por­tant. To me, this is like say­ing ‘I don’t care how I win.’ Surely, it mat­ters?

In days of yore, the race was graced by Princess Grace Kelly her­self. Style was very much the thing in Hol­ly­wood in her day. Her co-star in the 1965 French Riviera thriller To Catch a Thief, Cary Grant, epit­o­mised hu­mour and stylish­ness. They also knew all about fame and how to work it. They un­der­stood im­age is im­por­tant. But that is be­cause that was their job; they cre­ated im­ages on screen, and in life.

Rac­ing driv­ers, I would ar­gue, are not too com­fort­able with cre­at­ing an im­age. There are enough peo­ple around do­ing that. Rac­ing is about re­al­ity; some­times, a harsh re­al­ity. There’s no dodg­ing the facts of sport.

I’ve met a few Hol­ly­wood ac­tors in my ca­reer and they are in­vari­ably im­pressed by the fact that we do some­thing real, rather than pre­tend­ing. What they do is real, of course. But it is act­ing re­al­ity. Their fame de­pends on a mix­ture of self-pro­mo­tion, tal­ent and mar­ket­ing. Their value is their fame and is mea­sured nowa­days in Twit­ter fol­low­ers.

But fame is also power, and power cor­rupts. Fame is a pow­er­ful mind-al­ter­ing drug that af­fects not only the ob­ject but the sub­jects, too. When con­fronted by a fa­mous per­son, peo­ple tend to get over-ex­cited. This places huge re­spon­si­bil­ity on the fa­mous to use their fame wisely and not abuse that power.

In Monaco, a group of chil­dren from the char­ity Starlight were on the trip of a life­time to get spe­cial ac­cess to their he­roes. Need­less to say, Lewis did not dis­ap­point, spend­ing a good amount of his time ex­er­cis­ing his fame in his own spe­cial way. He has a gift for this. Like Ayr­ton Senna, he is gen­uinely com­pas­sion­ate and has charisma. The pos­i­tive ef­fect of his fame is pal­pa­ble. It was in­com­pre­hen­si­ble to them that he was de­prived of his win, but Lewis works in a rather less char­i­ta­ble world.

Fame or in­famy, it can be tricky be­ing fa­mous. But as they say, ‘Never ex­plain. Never com­plain.’ There is al­ways the al­ter­na­tive.

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel is happy to pose for photos with his fans in Monaco – but there are oth­ers who shy away from fame

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