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Hamilton says 'Never give up'
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Hamilton says 'Never give up'
Posted By:   |  31 Mar 2009   |  10:19 am GMT  |  0 comments

Anyone who has read the recent biography I wrote on Michael Schumacher will know that one of his greatest qualities was that he never gave up.

It’s a vitally important quality in a sportsman; the game isn’t over until the final whistle, the chequered flag. It’s something I try to communicate to my own son, look at these guys like Schuey, they never think it’s all over, they try until the last and he’s taken it on board.

Anyway, this is by way of saying that we had a few examples of the value of never giving up on Sunday. Brawn GP wouldn’t even have been there if Ross and his management team had taken the easy option and given up at any one of the many stages during the winter, when a rescue of the team looked hopeless.

It’s become clear to me, incidentally, how vital a part Ron Dennis, Martin Whitmarsh and Norbert Haug played in saving the team. Mercedes didn’t have to come in with an engine, they already had Force India as a customer and to go from no customers to two in a matter of months is quite a logistical challenge.

Another man who didn’t give up was Lewis Hamilton. He went from 18th on the grid to 3rd and got a valuable result in a poor car. A lot of people think he’s overrated and that too much fuss was made in the last couple of years about a driver who was just privileged to be sitting in the best car. Fair enough, that might turn out to be the case so that is why it is vital to see, now that he has a poor car, whether he has Schumacher’s quality of doing the best with what he’s got.. until the bitter end.

I think Sunday was a credit to him. He was lucky that Vettel and Kubica collided, that Trulli was done by the stewards and that Ferrari messed up. Without those things he would have been seventh. But that’s precisely why you never give up, because those things do happen.

Hamilton has posted some reflections on his race on his site and I found resonances of what I’m talking about here.

“It was one of the most unexpected results of my Formula 1 career and, yeah, I think it was one of my best drives too. I’m a fighter, I’ve never given up at any stage of my motorsport career – both on and off the track – and last weekend was the same. I pushed like crazy on every single lap of the race, always looked for the gap and worked with the team over the radio to find every possible way of making us go quicker. This was a fantastic result..maybe on paper not look as strong as our victories, but to come from 18th on the grid to finish third, in a car that we admit is not as good as it should be, is a mega achievement.”

“I learnt to never, ever, ever, give up. We showed in Brazil last year that we would always fight until the very end, and we showed it again in Melbourne.”

It’s a fight now for him and his team to catch the Brawn drivers. At least he is ahead on points of his other likely title rivals, Kubica and the Ferrari drivers.

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  1. PaulL says:

    It was a great drive, I’ll give him that.

    I think Hamilton and Glock also set the passing and defending standard in F1. Some of the other drivers could improve at lot at these two aspects of the game.

  2. Finn says:

    But Ross and Honda did give up last year: they gave up on the 2008 season and focussed on 2009 instead.

    Hamilton got third through some determination and luck (and by his team mate punting Rubens on the first corner and taking out a good proportion of the field). I didn’t get the feeling that it was a Sennaesque rip-the-heart-out-of-the-car-and-thrash-it-mercilessly style drive … but it is true that it is worth pressing on because sometimes circumstances play out in your favour.

    Do wonder though if Macca would be better to concentrate now on getting their 2010 car ready. With the limits on testing and knowing that the car they have is going to need a lot of money spent on it before they get anywhere close to Brawn (and that’s without Brawn developing their own car further!) it would make sense to concentrate on 2010 and use the rest of the season as a platform to test the 2010 car so that they stand a chance of winning next year.

  3. Clive says:

    Take a look at the list of fastest laps and you will see that Hamilton’s best was one of the slowest of all. That means that he had to have been right at the limit through the entire race to have been as high in the finishing order as he was. Few F1 drivers have the stamina and concentration to push hard all the way through a race – most take breaks when not much is happening.

    You can see this if you watch the lap times of a driver who is suddenly gifted with a possibility of points late in the race; his times will improve dramatically. That can only mean that he was taking it easy before, having accepted that points were impossible.

    I believe Lewis when he says that he was flat out racelong and that puts him with an elite who are capable of such a thing.

  4. guy says:

    Is that the biography titled ‘edge of greatness’, published by headline, and available in all good bookshops, James?

  5. Colin says:

    It’s the Churchillian spirit of the Blitz:

    “This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

  6. Peter says:

    My problem is with Hamilton that I hear always the positive comments from himself first and not very often if he makes a mistake he admits it. I have never ever heard Kimi or Alonso saying how fantastic they were driving not even when Kimi won from 17th place at Suzuka (not by being lucky) or when Alonso outclassed Schumi a couple of times. Why he cannot just keep quite and let people judge his driving. In my opinion he is one of the bests, but just one of them and there are couple of others who can race at the same level or better, but they just don’t get that much focus. I think he stayed on the track in Melbourne not making any mistake this time and was lucky to inherit many places. Now, it’s been “one of his best drives”, again. I like the guy otherwise, but I think they just should get rid of these PR messages telling people how great they are.

  7. danf1 says:

    ‘Fighter’ is a label you can give all the greatest drivers- and if Lewis does put in this type of performance all season, his greatness as a driver will be obvious.

    For me, Alonso showed his class last season, Schumi did in ’05 and Hill in ’97.

    A season like this could actually do Lewis some good. It’s hard to argue against a driver who wins a championship and performs brilliantly in a poor car, as all the modern greats have.

  8. Peter Freeman says:

    Don’t be surprised if Hamilton is either the closest to the Brawn pair this season, or if he in fact beats them!

    I expect McLaren to catch up to or pass Redbull, Ferrari, etc with their development soon, but what the really big difference will be, is Hamilton. How people can underrate him after he beat Alonso in his rookie year I just don’t know.

    Also he has no pressure on him this year (expectations are low all round) and he is particularly dangerous without pressure, ask Alonso and look at his drive on Sunday. Maybe I am wrong but so far his results speak quite loudly for themselves.

    Speaking of Alonso: He had a better car than Hamilton on Sunday; he started ahead of Hamilton on Sunday, so what happened to the ‘arguably the best driver on the grid’ then?

  9. Luke Dalton says:

    There’s nothing better than seeing a top driver in a poor car and them having to wring its neck lap after lap. Its more satisfying to see a driver finish 4th in a car which shouldnt have been higher than 10th, than the same driver dominating in the best car.
    Great race at the weekend! We’re in for a belter of a season again!

  10. Mike Ellison says:

    The Hamilton slaggers really annoy me. They just sound like all the Schumacher slaggers. The real test is if a driver is a threat wherever he is on the track. Schumacher was always a threat, Hamilton is proving that he is too. Having said that, he’s not the only one on the grid that keeps on fighting. I would say that the current crop of drivers are almost all battlers. Some like Trulli and Massa have overcome their reputations and become battlers but there are only a couple of drivers in the current crop that I’d accuse of easing off just because the race is currently not going their way.

    Okay Hamilton is arrogant but excuse me while I blaspheme and point out that Senna had a little bit of an ego, so did Prost, and Mansell did especially. Alonso has an ego – publicly badmouthed Renault first time round and badmouthed McLaren but seems to be behaving himself at Renault this time around. JV and Eddie Irvine had big egos beyond their capabilities. Let’s go further back, JYS and Moss aren’t exactly humble either. So, big egos are just part of the game.

  11. lower-case david says:

    … from the same website-posting:

    “It felt like there were four or five times through each corner where the car could snap away from you. And I was pushing so hard, and you knew it was coming, you were waiting for it, worrying about it, knowing that the car was going to break away and you were going to have to wrestle it back under control.

    “That happened in every corner for 58 laps – it was an exhausting race for me.”

    he started and finished beside trulli, the toyota cars mixing it at the top of Q3, the mclarens struggled to get out of Q1, i’d say he put in a fair-old shift.

    [ i note with interest that you are more tolerant of capital letters when they appear in quotation marks, lcd ... moderator ]

  12. James Allen says:

    Good point, Clive.

  13. Charlie says:

    “But Ross and Honda did give up last year: they gave up on the 2008 season and focussed on 2009 instead.”

    That’s semantics, surely. They made a strategic decision to shift focus which has paid off very hansomely despite having the slimmest of probabilities after the unforseen (from the start of 2008) Honda pull out. That’s not quite the same thing as giving up from what I can tell.

    And completely off topic, I have to agree with all the others who have praised this blog, it’s great. James, know that all those who criticised you in the past (and presumably are criticising your successor now) were too quick to judge…

  14. rpaco says:

    I didn’t get the feeling that it was a Sennaesque rip-the-heart-out-of-the-car-and-thrash-it-mercilessly style drive …

    No, you cant do that any more, you need the engine to last at least another race and the gearbox two more. In the good old days the car had to last only until the finish line, then ideally it fell to bits, if it was still in one piece it was over-specified.

  15. Andy Fov says:

    The “let’s skip a year” strategy surely makes more sense when there’s the introduction of a raft of new technical reg’s as there have been this year?

    The 2010 cars are much more likely to be an evolution of the current crop, so McLaren really need to get this car right, pronto!

    One race into the season, I think it’s a folly to write off McLaren’s chances completely. That said, the current pecking order must be massively embarrassing and awkward for McLaren, what with Merc using Brawn to say “well, there’s nothing wrong with our engine.”

  16. VonSpeeX says:

    We shall fight then in the pits,We shall fight them on the track,We shall never surrender!!

  17. Finn says:

    Alonso got pushed off the track on the first corner incident (which allowed the late starting Hamilton, Glock and Trulli to sweep past). He then regained track position and was the first of the “pushed off the track drivers” to finish the race. Hamilton, Glock and Trulli got a better break than Alonso, but Alonso had bad luck and had to fight back from a worse position than the others.

    Alonso was hamstrung by Macca all season, and but for the farce in Hungary he would have been WDC. Hamilton did well, but he wasn’t as good as Alonso.

  18. Marilyn says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more Mr Freeman. I love your phase ” particularly dangerous without pressure” you are so right. When everyone is writing off Lewis Hamilton, he is slowly creeping up on them. Remember the tortoise and the hare!

  19. Finn says:

    Well, they chose to give up on 2008 and concentrate on 2009. It was a good move.

    I’m all for persistence and trying hard, etc … I was making the point (or trying to) that it is sensible to pick and choose the battles you’re going to fight. There is always hope (even against all the odds), but sometimes – like Brawn in 2008 – it is better to refocus your efforts on another goal.

    Macca aren’t going to catch Brawn in 2009 and whilst it is good for the team/drivers to still have an interest in this season’s races, it would make more sense to focus on 2010 rather than flogging a dead horse and wasting time on 2009 (especially as testing is now so limited).

    Alonso has pointed out that it isn’t just the diffuser that needs to be changed for other teams to catch the Brawns …. much better to shift focus and be ready to fight next year’s battles than to waste time and money losing this year’s war.

  20. Frenchie says:

    I’ll second that. The Renault looked painfully slow…

  21. Peter Freeman says:

    I think the ‘faster’ driver in the superior car over the entire race should have done better than the ‘slower’ driver in the lesser car. Just my opinion. Even if Alonso was unlucky to be overtaken on the first lap…

    The notion that McLaren were slowing Alonso down all season is quite frankly ridiculous. They hired the double world champion for the exclusive purpose of making their rookie look good, by underhandedly slowing him down? This was their PLAN?

    Now imagine if Renault did the same thing last year… There just may be a subtle risk of a plan like this not working out.

    The again if you have MAJOR sponsors like Mercedes, Vodaphone, Mobil, Siemens, Santander etc, naturally you say ‘Go ahead. Stick some diesel in the double world champions car. Whats to loose boys.’

  22. PaulL says:

    Hamilton romantic alert!

    The McLaren seemed to have poor traction, the Renault poor direction change and stability under braking. Saying one was better than the other is mere speculation. If anything if you looked at the times in Free Practice, Slowvalainen was faster than Renault.

    I hope Button is the top British driver this year. He won’t have to sing his own praises like Lewis, because most people appreciate his hard work, commitment, and skill when he’s at his best – and are happy to say it. There’s little entitlement in his story.

  23. Peter Freeman says:

    Q1 times:

    Alonso 1:26.026

    Hamilton 1:26.454

    From where I am standing on the same track at the same time under the same conditions, that makes Alonso 4ths faster. This is about what was seen in testing as well I think, if not more.

    4ths is a mile in F1 by any standards, so I ask again what happened to ‘the best driver’ Alonso? 58 laps with 4ths in hand really should have been enough.

    I think the time for ‘romance’ has come and gone, there is plenty now to look at objectively and admire. In his first year he beat his double world champion team mate. In his second year he beat everyone including the stewards. Australia simply revealed what is actually already known: Hamilton is a special talent and even in a bad car you can see that!

  24. Finn says:

    I agree that drivers have to drive to different regs … which must impact on the style of driving … I was inarticulately trying to say that Hamilton’s drive, though commendable in itself, didn’t (to me) look as if it had anything exceptional about it. Yes, he kept going and drove consistently to the very end, but that’s what I would expect of any driver.

    James started off comparing Lewis to Schumi – but I didn’t see anything on Sunday in Lewis’s driving to that was really worthy of that comparison. If the cars had all got round the first corner and if we hadn’t had the safety car periods, I doubt Lewis would have finished in the top 10 (whereas Schumi probably would have).

  25. Clive says:

    Copy and paste job, Moderator. ;)

  26. Colin says:

    Possibly… I see there’s a 20% discount on a similarly titled paperback book here:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Schumacher-Greatness-James-Allen/dp/0755316509

    I must ask my local library to order it while the Pound Stirling is so low against other currencies.

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