Renowned F1 photographer, Kym Illman, has come to the defense of Lewis Hamilton amid a wave of criticism sparked by an image from the Belgian Grand Prix.
The photo captured Mercedes’ press officer, Charlotte Davies, holding an umbrella over Hamilton’s head.
Illman took to his Instagram page on Friday, capturing a candid moment between the two as they braved the rain on their way back to the TV and media pen in the paddock at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Among Illman’s impressive Instagram audience of over 200,000 followers, this particular post sparked a special level of curiosity. The image garnered an impressive response, accumulating over 40,000 likes and more than 450 comments, a significant surge compared to the usual few dozen comments on the account’s other posts.
Kym Illman revealed that nearly a third of the comments on the controversial image were fiercely critical of Lewis Hamilton.
Some fans directed harsh criticism at the 38-year-old, questioning why he wasn’t holding his own umbrella during the rainy walk back to the TV and media pen at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Explaining the whole ordeal that transpired, he said: “Who is holding the umbrella? Well, that’s Charlotte Davies,” he explained.
“And her role is press officer at Mercedes, so she has to accompany Lewis to a lot of the media commitments. Do you think this is people not liking Lewis, or is that people just don’t like women holding umbrellas for men?”
Illman astutely pointed out the apparent hypocrisy in the attitudes of F1 fans toward the image of Hamilton and Davies.
To shed light on the matter, he shared a series of photographs depicting various other F1 drivers receiving similar assistance with umbrellas from their respective press officers. This visual comparison exposed the double standards within the F1 community’s perceptions of such moments.
“Now all of these women I’ve featured here are working for the team,” Illman continued. “It’s their job to accompany the driver. They are paid money to do this.”
In a powerful conclusion to his defense of Hamilton, the beloved F1 photographer shared compelling evidence with his followers.
He showcased an image of the legendary Brit returning the favor by holding up an umbrella to shield his former trainer and close friend, Angela Cullen, from the rain.
“Is this the first time a woman’s held his umbrella? No. Angela used to do it quite often, but would he ever carry an umbrella for a woman? Yes. Here he is (image shown of Hamilton and Cullen) in Turkey, holding the umbrella for Angela.”