GP Betting: Hamilton must live up to favoritism
I'd still be happier if Hamilton was delivering some results to go with his insistence that he's now a happier, more focused, calmer and better driver.
For all of Lewis Hamilton's short odds in this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, Ralph Ellis wants some results from the man who sits favourite at the top of the 2012 Driver's Championship table.
Lewis Hamilton really is a sponsor's delight when it comes to getting words and particularly branded pictures into the papers.
In fact, if anybody should be used as a model to show the painfully shy Ma Qing Hua how to develop his media profile to exploit the billions back home it's Lewis. HRT have just announced they will be giving the rising Chinese driver a chance in July's young driver test at Silverstone, and I suspect he'll find his off track duties tougher than getting behind the wheel.
Anyway, Monaco is now Hamilton's "home" circuit since he moved his tax exile base from Switzerland to the Principality, and before this morning's first practice he was telling the world about the joys of living there.
"There are great restaurants, a gym and a pool where I live, and it's sunny every day." What's more it appears he goes jogging most mornings around the circuit, including a run through the famous tunnel that leads out towards the waterfront stretch of track where the multi million pound yachts are moored.
The cynical part of me remembered driving through the tunnel round Monte Carlo a few years ago and it was like a motorway with nowhere to walk. But a quick glance at somebody's video on YouTube shows there is now a footpath so I've hastily withdrawn any suggestion that Lewis was adding a bit of romance to his accounts of the daily life of an F1 legend.
But I'd still be happier if Hamilton was delivering some results to go with his insistence that he's now a happier, more focused, calmer and better driver. He's currently the Betfair 3.6 favourite to land the Drivers' Championship this year, but after five races has yet to win one, and in the last two Grand Prix hasn't been anywhere near the podium.
Hamilton delivered a fast lap time before first practice was called off early because Heikki Kovalainen's stricken Caterham was blocking the tunnel exit. That, and his optimistic words, have encouraged backers to make him the 4.1 favourite for Sunday's race.
Incredibly, he's as short as 5.1 for the double of pole position and race win.
I know that there have been excuses. Every race seems to have involved a blunder of some sort by somebody at his McLaren team that has cost him. But there is a point when you have to stop blaming bad luck and wonder why these things have kept going wrong. It certainly hints at a problem of some sort, and it doesn't make me want to rush to put money on him either for the title, or for any given race - and especially not one like Monaco where there is no room for the most minute error. This weekend would be a good time to forget about the style and deliver some substance.
Five things you might not know about Ma Qing Hua
1. Born December 1987 in Shanghai where his father runs a Go-Kart track.
2. He was eight when he started racing Karts, and qualified for the Chinese Youth Karting championships a year later, and won them when he was 12.
3. He switched to single seaters in the Asian Formula Renault Series in 2004 and won the championship in his first year, before driving for Team China in the A1 Grand Prix the following season.
4. He moved to Europe to further his career and raced Formula Three in Spain, Britain and Italy for the West-Tec team with little success - he was 18th in the Spanish Formula Three championships in 2008. But he did win the 1600 classification in the China Touring Car championship last year to earn his place on the HRT development programme.
5. He loves playing snooker in his spare time