Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Recently, Lewis Hamilton announced that he was moving to Switzerland because he was fed up with the public intrusion into his personal life. He later admitted it is partly due to tax reasons as well, but his main reason remains the lack of personal space he now gets.
Formula 1 drivers seem to suffer with this problem a lot. Fernando Alonso is notoriously private, very rarely talking about his personal life, despite the Spanish papers wanting all the gossip. Kimi Raikkonen was never out of the media during a particularly wild time in his life, pictures of drinking and partying splashing all over the tabloids.
The problem with becoming a racing driver is that the better you get, the more famous you become. Many of the 22 top drivers in the world who are lucky enough to get a race drive in Formula 1, say that they just want to concentrate on their job, drive well, and not be intruded upon by the media.
Unfortunately, newspapers and gossip blogs don't see it that way. The sport of Formula 1 can only continue as long as there are fans willing to pay for tickets, for merchandise and memorabilia. Therefore, drivers should expect fans to be interested in what they do. That is the gossip columnists point of view.
It's difficult to strike a balance between these two schools of thought. On the one hand, it is only fair for fans to be allowed access to a driver, but at the same time, they are entitled to a private life that is just that, private. Signing a Formula 1 contract does not involved signing away all rights to a personal life, and results in relationships between personalities and the media becoming quite strained.
David Coulthard recently did an interview where he questioned the journalists lack of communication over recent headlines. Alonso's next move was rumoured to be Red Bull, and as a member of the team, Coulthard was surprised that no one had come to ask him firsthand. He said that the media should at least try and do some research and get some quotes from himself and other members of the team. This appears to be a driver actively encouraging communication with the media. But is that because they would ask questions about the sport rather than about his love life?
I don't believe there is an easy answer to this. Many fans of F1 do want to know what makes a driver tick, who he has supporting him, and what motivates him to do what he does. But at the same time, if media intrusion is pushing people out of their homes, it must be going too far.