Posted on April 20, 2009
3 minutes with…Lewis Hamilton | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

A lot of people are confused by the performance of Lewis Hamilton in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Rain is a great leveller in Formula 1. Talented drivers who do not have the car to compete in normal conditions can shine on a wet track and we have seen plenty of that over the years.

Wet races in the last couple of years seem to have been dominated either by Sebastien Vettel or by Hamilton. Hamilton delivered his masterpiece at Silverstone last July, but in Shanghai this weekend he had a very different kind of race, which showed that having the right car is just as important in the wet as the dry, especially with these 2009 cars.

www.mclaren.com

www.mclaren.com

He started brightly, attacking in the opening laps and making up places. He passed Raikkonen for 6th place on the first racing lap, then Trulli for 5th, then dropped back to 10th. He passed Kovalainen, Raikkonen again and was 4th on lap 24, with pace not too far off Button’s. He pitted on lap 33 and at that time his pace was comparable with drivers who were already on new wet tyres. So the tyres held up quite well in the first stint and all was going well. Perhaps the two safety car periods had given his tyres the right treatment.

But he pushed very hard in the opening laps of the second stint, fuel adjusted he wasn’t far off Vettel’s times. On lap 35 for example, he did a 1m55.153, a second faster than Button despite being significantly heavier and only 1.3 secs slower than Vettel (who was about to pit) despite his fuel weight slowing him by 2 secs/lap.

However he had taken too much out of the tyres. His pace dropped off after lap 44 and a spin on lap 49 lost him fifth place to team mate Heikki Kovalainen.

Here Lewis frankly admits that he didn’t deliver the kind of performance he expects of himself in those conditions. Perhaps the way the tyres held up in the first stint fooled him into thinking they’d be okay in the second. He didn’t think his way through the race..

That wasn’t what people have come to expect from you in the wet
“I love racing in the wet but I would say that was one of my worst wet weather performances. I made lots of mistakes. It was tricky out there, I was pushing hard, had quite good pace early on when I had some grip, but too many mistakes.

“You know me, I generally have good wet races, this one was incredibly tough. It was almost too dangerous to drive, you saw lots of people sliding off. I don’t have enough downforce on this car anyway, so it was a struggle but as least I scored some good points for the team.”

Did you push the car harder than it wanted to be pushed?
“All weekend I’ve been pushing that car beyond its limits and beyond what it is really capable of. Today when the tyres dropped off, I wasn’t able to avoid the oversteer moments.”

Why so many spins?
“There is nothing wrong with the car except the lack of downforce. I guess the guys with more downforce had no such a problem. My tyres were finished quite early so I was struggling with them. It was fun at the beginning when I had some grip. I don’t know if it’s the car or my driving style but it seems to destroy the tyres very early on. I remember I had just come out (of the pits) and they said I had 20 laps to go and my front left tyre was gone after 5 laps.”

What do you think about the performance of Sebastien Vettel?
“Congratulations to him, he did a fantastic job today. They have been very fast all weekend, so clearly they have one of the best cars.”

How long before you have a car which will allow you to race for a win?
“It’s going to be a good four or five races, it’s going to be some time. The guys are doing a fantastic job, so we’ve got to keep pushing.”

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3 minutes with…Lewis Hamilton
83 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Finn
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:06 am 

    When asked about how impressive Martin Brundle thought Lewis had been so far this season, he answered: not really at all. Lewis infers that other teams/drivers didn’t spin because they have more downforce … does that include Kovi? Is Kovi driving for a different team in a different car?

    Lewis really does need to learn how to race … being fast for a couple of laps and then falling back is plain thoughtless. Wish he could harness his undoubted talent to some cool thinking and intelligent driving.

    Think Lewis sounds snide about Vettel’s achievement “so clearly they have one of the best cars” … putting Vettel’s victory down to the car. True in part (as were his performances in 2007/2008 when the car was the real star) … but it misses the fact that Vettel put in a fantastic performance not only in the race, but also in only doing 1 lap to quali in each session. Vettel and Alonso are on another planet when it comes to class driving …. Lewis would do well to learn that and try and emulate it rather than kidding himself that it is all down to the car.

    Was interested to hear Brundle speculate on whether we might see Bruno Senna in F1 this year. He wondered if Senna might take Rubens’ seat at Brawn, but I think it is far more likely he will take Fisi’s seat at Force India (SOON!!)

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  2.   2. Posted By: Peter
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:10 am 

    Downforce, tires etc…always to blame if he makes mistakes. He is just simply not as fantastic as all the hype around him suggests. Everyone says he passed Kimi more times, but why not mention the fact that this weekend he had modified diffusor and Kimi had a rubbish car. “You know me, I generally have good wet races…” this is what you don’t hear from Kimi, Fernando, Kubica or Vettel etc, they just have good races, but they don’t feel that they always need to tell how fantastic they are.

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  3.   3. Posted By: James
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:12 am 

    Dear James Allen,

    This blog is amazing, my favourite place to get F1 inside news.

    BUT

    I WANT YOU BACK IN THE COMMENTARY BOX!!!

    I can’t stand Legard, he is ruining it. He is simply awful at it, and has me shouting at the screen half the time. You and Brundle had amazing chemistry, and you actually knew what you were talking about. Most of the internet agrees that Legard just isn’t cutting it. Please come back!

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: Tim
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:13 am 

    So what did he say for the other 2 minutes?
    ;)

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  5.   5. Posted By: The F1 Blogger
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:28 am 

    I remember Massa was spinning all over the track at last years British grand prix while Hamilton was the master of that race. And yesterday Massa seemed better than Hamilton in similar conditions. So it’s all about the car and the setup and the way the drivers behave to their tires I think. These are the best drivers in the world and they are capable of delivering good results at every condition.

    BTW, Buemi drove a very good race in the rain despite this is his first Chinese grand prix.

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  6.   6. Posted By: Caan
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:42 am 

    Hamilton is a good driver in the wet not a great. Last year his car was far superior to the others in wet conditions due the McLaren having the most down force and the ability to retain heat into its tyres. If you look at his races prior to f1 he was average in the wet. Lat year Vettel showed him up in Brazil despite having an inferior car.
    Hamilton reminds me allot of Jacques Villeneuve. Both had the best cars in their first two seasons, won the title in their second. However the moment they had a car that was not the best they failed to compete for race wins.
    The real rain masters of the past such as Schumacher and Senna won races in conditions like China with far inferior cars than the current McLaren; they had the ability to win in inferior cars something that Hamilton can’t do. Races like Donnington 93 and Barcelona 96 are now legendary. People have put far too much pressure on Hamilton comparing him with such greats when he had the best car. I always said having followed f1 for over thirty years that the moment he has car that is the worst, just not best he would struggle and people will start writing him off as a driver. This is unfair as I think he is a really good driver capable of winning races in the best car, just not a great.

    Congratulations to Vettel he is the easily the best driver in the wet I have seen since the legendary Schumacher, I think if he continues as he is he could be the best driver of his generation.

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  7.   7. Posted By: Alan
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:56 am 

    should read

    Considering the spins due to dire tyre wear would it not have been wiser to switch him to a 2-stopper considering his apparent superb pace?

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  8.   8. Posted By: Dave H
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:00 am 

    It’s also worth noting something that was said earlier in the weekend. Lewis had a new front wing design for this weekend, Heikki tried it on Friday and didn’t see any advantage in it so stuck with the old one.
    Heikki’s front tyres lasted the race and he didn’t have any incidents. Lewis’s tyres didn’t and he fell off a few times.
    New doesn’t necessarily mean better…

    Also coupled with Lewis’s attacking driving style (which has constantly destroyed front tyres throughout his career), the last thing he needs is an aero package that puts more on the front end.
    I’m surprised this hasn’t ocurred to Lewis and the team this year.

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  9.   9. Posted By: SiY
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:01 am 

    Maybe I’m reading too much into the semantics here, but you’ve quoted Lewis as saying: “I don’t have enough downforce on this car anyway, so it was a struggle but at least I scored some good points for the team”.

    The Lewis of 2007 and 2008 would probably have said “we don’t have enough downforce [...] but at least we scored some good points.” Is this a little pointer to reinforce the story that relations between Hamilton and McLaren are a little stressed at the moment?

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  10.   10. Posted By: *Paul_W*
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:02 am 

    Hamilton has proven he can win races in the best car in the wet on the gird. The real talent however is the ability to win races when your car isn’t the best on the Grid. Think Schumacher in Spain 96, Vettel at Monza last year, and Senna at Donnington in 93. Lewis had the chance to join that group yesterday and didn’t do so.

    I’m still waiting to see Hamilton show the talent that the media say he has, because it’s easy to say how great someone is when they have the best motor, but the true greats shine with shoddy cars also, and Lewis has yet to do that.

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  11.   11. Posted By: adrian
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:07 am 

    “”Champions have to be hard as nails, but Lewis is different because he also has this humanity and that gets misunderstood sometimes.” (Whitmarsh)

    OK, so the problem with Lewis is his ‘humanity’ and that he’s ‘misunderstood’… not that he lies and passes the buck elsewhere…

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  12.   12. Posted By: Caan
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:09 am 

    I am really looking forward to the next race, to see how the Red Bull drivers deal with faster Brawn under normal dry conditions

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  13.   13. Posted By: The Kitchen Cynic
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:13 am 

    Am I the only pedant who can’t stand references to making the car do more than it is capable of? I know what the phrase means, but it’s literally impossible! Ultimately. 99% of drivers are making their cars do less than they are capable of…perhaps even 100%.

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  14.   14. Posted By: Myles
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 12:27 pm 

    Why do you give 3 minutes to Lewis Hamilton, but not to Dave Ryan? Why have we not heard his side of the story, or are you afraid of the truth – the real truth? Does 34 years in the business mean nothing?

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  15.   15. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:00 pm 

    Have you seen a single quote from Dave Ryan anywhere?

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  16.   16. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:01 pm 

    Thanks for that, Dave. Good point.

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Conor
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:17 pm 

    Very good point Mr Allen. Loving your insights, been spot on with most predictions etc too. Keep it up

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: raffamuffin
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:21 pm 

    In all fairness to James,

    Dave is probably under contract not to say anything at this present time. I’ll be surprised if he does any interviews until a few months after the FIA hearing.

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: *Paul_W*
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:28 pm 

    OT: I actually like the commentary more so than last year’s McLaren-fest but I’ve got to hand it to James, this is the best F1 site on the web in my opinion. Very up to date, and good articles. Plus I feel that unlike a TV show where the views are very restricted the views given on here really seem to tally with what I’m thinking as a 20+ year F1 fan.

    So back on topic now perhaps ?

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: *Paul_W*
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:30 pm 

    Perhaps I’ve got my cynical head on again here, but perhaps his severance package (he’ll have one surely?) means he’s not allowed to speak to the media at all. Although that just makes people more suspicious in my opinion.

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  21.   21. Posted By: Oliver Drew
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:39 pm 

    @The Kitchen Cynic – I think people are picking into Lewis’ statements here for the sake of it.

    “I got some points for the team” – people have focussed on the “I” bit and ignored the “for the team” bit. Lewis is still as much a team player as he always was.

    As for him not being able to win in a poor car…they’ve had three races for pities sake! Schumacher wasn’t exactly stellar in the 1996 Ferrari but he took the chances when they came along (not very often). People need to give Lewis time before suggesting that he can’t win in a poor car!!!!

    I think that Lewis has made a very very bad error of judgement in lieing to the stewards, but he has apologised and has taken a punishment already, with another one to be doled out at the end of the month. That should be that. Have some people no capacity for forgiveness? Can these people really say that they’ve never lied to anyone about anything?

    … and I hate it when people say things are “literally” impossible – as if something can be figuratively impossible :D

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  22.   22. Posted By: Andrew Gadd
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:46 pm 

    So Hamilton’s results aren’t as good now that he has a distinctly inferior car – is that such a shock? He still seems to be pushing all the time, and if that means a few spins, at least it shows that he’s trying, and I’m sure he’ll learn how to moderate some of the excesses, given time. Personally, I always find it interesting to see drivers learn and improve over their careers – remember, this is only his 3rd season.

    Having said that, Vettel does seem to be fast becoming the star of the current generation. He seems to have talent in every department, and it’s be great if he could challenge for titles with a team outside the ‘grandee’ group – Mclaren, Ferrari, Renault etc.

    And one question – why can some teams (notably Renault, nee Benetton) never ever seem to have two drivers/cars at an equal level of performance?

    Oh, and I add my vote to those calling for JA to be back in the commentary box. JL is good, but…

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  23.   23. Posted By: Tim
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 1:57 pm 

    I suspect Dave Ryan was paid handsomely by McLaren to keep his mouth shut forever. Which is tragic.

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  24.   24. Posted By: Marilyn
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 2:05 pm 

    Myles, I think you have it the wrong way round, it would be Lewis giving James the 3 minutes, if that was the case. It’s clear Lewis does not want to speak to the media, but has too according to regulations. But I think we will find he speaks less and less, which I think is a good thing. Better to just concentrate on his driving I say.
    Dave Ryan – I’m sure he will have ample opportunity to tell his side of the story if he wants too.

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  25.   25. Posted By: Mutt & Jeff
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 2:16 pm 

    Ouch, some real Lewis hammering going on.

    Vettel & Alonso on another planet when it comes to class driving’

    We did see Alonso Vrs Hamilton in the same machinery in Hamilton’s rookie year…were you watching? :-P

    I would say that Lewis has been delivering some great performances in a very poor car this year…probably made better use of his KERS system than any other KERS driver & is certainly using it to enhance his already prodigious overtaking talent!

    By Lewis’ admission he didn’t have a good race in China. He was over-driving, trying to wring everything he could out of his package…I’m not going to knock him for trying….I’d love to know which driver has overtaken more cars than any other this year…I’d bet Lewis is top of the list.

    It’s always difficult/dangerous to compare driver/cars from different generations, you’re better off trying to find some reference points.
    Heikki Vrs. Shumi in race of champions in the same machinery, Heikki won!
    Heikki Vrs. Hamilton in the same machinery last year, Heikki lost!

    Don’t write Lewis off for a bad day at the office, he’ll prove you wrong. ;-)

    Look at the results, if it wasn’t for ‘Liargate’ Lewis would have scored points at every race this season despite having a car that has only once made it through to Q3

    Facts Vrs. Opinion….

    Facts every time!

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  26.   26. Posted By: George
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 2:27 pm 

    Well in this case Lewis was pushing so hard he a) rogered his tires and b) went off track a few times, so I think it’s fair to say he was pushing more than the car was capable of.

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  27.   27. Posted By: PaulL
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 2:28 pm 

    James, I don’t disagree with yours and Lewis’ reasons for the sub-par performance, but I don’t think it was any different to Massa and Raikkonen’s last year at Silverstone where you and others seemed to come down on them as drivers like a tonne of bricks.

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: George
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 2:41 pm 

    I think this was a reasonably respectable performance from Hamilton but he probably felt that he needed a special result here, which made him push too hard for 4th place. I think it was a slight miss on the strategy side too, as someone said above they should have brought him in for an extra set of tires. It reminds me of ’07 where keeping him out too long then cost him the race.

    Maybe it shows a slight chink in the armour from all the off-track attention too. Personally I think he’s had a very good season so far on-track, consistantly finishing further up the order than his car deserved.

    He’s still one of the fastest drivers and best overtakers on the grid, his strategy calls (or lack thereof) are what let him down as ever.

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  29.   29. Posted By: Caan
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 2:42 pm 

    Hi James

    Let me start by saying you were a great commentator and its not same without you, however you did go on about how great Hamilton was constantly comparing him with Senna which was way over the top. Do you agree that Hamilton has not improved much since his first year in f1? I always thought that he was a good driver but not a great. He has proven he can win in the best car but looks average when his car is not the best.

    Having followed f1 for over thirty years I have seen Schumacher win many races and Senna to a lesser extent in inferior cars. Hamilton has an average teammate and yet struggles to out qualify him (fuel corrected).

    Do you agree that Vettel in future will be regarded as the best driver of his generation?

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  30.   30. Posted By: Spenny
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 2:47 pm 

    Just to change the subject, what of the stewards? How might Kovi have done if Webber had been penalised for the major block of his qualifying?

    Was Trulli doing the right thing struggling back with a crippled car, causing the confusion under the SC that nearly put Vettel out of the race.

    What was the stewards’ view of the serious Kubica collision (no little graphic telling us that the stewards were considering it and then dismissed it as a racing incident).

    Nothing on the FIA site. Have you seen the steward’s report?

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  31.   31. Posted By: MartinWR
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:09 pm 

    Which might tend to give the uninitiated the impression that he’s been gagged by McLaren. I wonder where I got that idea? Surely they can’t have something to hide. Can they?

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  32.   32. Posted By: Howard Hughes
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:12 pm 

    Yeah. He’s working down my local KwitFit now. He gave me a quote last week for new tyres and an MOT.

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  33.   33. Posted By: Sam
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:19 pm 

    Those people talking up Vettel’s performance as being one of the best ever should not forget that the 32 year old ‘F1 journeyman’ Mark Webber finished closely behind him in his best ever result. This clearly shows how far superior the Red Bull was in the conditions and suggests to me that pretty much any driver on the grid could have won in the Red Bull yesterday.

    People talking about Monza should not forget that Vettel’s ridiculed team-mate – Bourdais was very quick as well and qualified 4th in the wet, which pointed to the strength of the Toro Rosso in the wet.

    So the arguments people are putting forward to ‘big up’ Vettel and ‘put down’ Hamilton are hypocritical at best. And by the way – Hamilton lapped his teammate in the wet at Silverstone last year, but don’t let facts get in the way of your biased opinions.

    Vettel is a very promising and talented driver, but some of the comparisons are ridiculous and did he not spin out of the race in the wet last week in Malaysia?

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  34.   34. Posted By: Pete
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:21 pm 

    He must be contracted and paid to remain quiet. Great blog. Thanks.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: Matthew
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:32 pm 

    It’s all well and good looking back to Barcelona 96 or Donnington 93, but those drives were following an opportunity to set the car up for the race day. Drivers don’t get an opportunity now to do much more than stick on a more suitable set of tyres and hope that their pit stops can coincide with the changing conditions.

    More relevant to Lewis, when he won at Silverstone, he only ran with inters. Perhaps his style is fine with that tyre but too tough on full wets (he did destroy the inters at the end of Brazil last year too, but I’d suggest that while he can generate the heat to make them work in the rain, if it isn’t really wet enough as was the case for at least one full lap after his final stop there, he’ll just cook them).

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  36.   36. Posted By: Tim
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:37 pm 

    This is off subject but, why is noone covering the problems Donington have at the moment? They are cancelling races due to saftey issues caused by track changes to create the tunnel. Also, they said they would announce details of their funding by end of March 2009……………

    Nothing………..

    James, could you ask some questions?

    Thanks

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  37.   37. Posted By: Dom Leste
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:52 pm 

    Speaking of downforce doesnt Force India have less and where was Sutil before he crashed? infront of Hamilton!

    Its a combination of things, driver, setup, car. The old days of schumacher changing cars to wet setup is over.

    Senna drove cars alot worse then hamilton and got podiums in the wet. Too early to judge. I dont think Mclaren will catchup perhaps top 5 is the best they will do.

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  38.   38. Posted By: Alan
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:54 pm 

    Peter Lewis CLEARLY stated HE made mistakes and ACKNOWLEDGED that his driving style potentially tore apart the tyres in the post race press conversion! Some people have selective hearing issues me thinks

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  39.   39. Posted By: Alan
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 3:57 pm 

    Paul_W – Vettel last year had a FANTASTIC car last year at Monza. Just look where his team mate Bourdais qualified. In fact Bourdais was unlucky because has one of the only guys to match Vettel’s pace during that race. However if Bourdais had one it would’ve been “its teh car its the car”

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  40.   40. Posted By: Peter Freeman
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:04 pm 

    This ‘real truth’ you talk about, what is that?

    I have seen a lot of people infer that Hamilton alone invented the lies and Dave Ryan decided to go with him and backed up Hamilton’s story and now Hamilton has hung the whole thing on Ryan.

    But the problem with this theory is that the first thing Hamilton did when he climbed out his car was tell the press the real story, so why would he do that if he himself was the originator of the lies?

    In fact the post race candid interview is more evidence against Dave Ryan than against Hamilton. It more indicates that Hamilton was quite happy to tell the true story but was persuaded by Ryan, (with or without the teams approval or knowledge) to go with his version of the events, rather than the other way round.

    I do think Hamilton did wrong here, he told lies. But I don’t think he is hanging Dave Ryan out to dry, Perhaps the team is, but Hamilton is not.

    To infer that Hamilton has invented the whole thing and then hung it on Dave is kind of like accusing James Allen of single handedly suppressing the ‘real truth’ and preventing Dave Ryan from telling his side of the story!

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  41.   41. Posted By: Alan
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:05 pm 

    I would just like to add that Hamilton in a car that could barely get into Q2 at the last race has had 3 points scoring finishes (at the flag) out of three races. At the Barcelona test the car he had was god awful yet we don’t hear anything about him being a fantastic development driver or a hard fighter. No he spins a millions time in a car thats terrible and still gets some points… yet… isn’t as good as people say? HHmm…

    In fact Hamilton is one of only 4 guys on the grid to score (at the flag) in each of the first 3 races. Can anyone after winter testing say they thought that was possible?

    What some seem to not realise is that if Hamilton didn’t drive the nuts of the McLaren he may have been much further down the field. He literally bought some extra time to afford some mistakes. that’s the risk you take. Even with all the spins Heikki only JUST beat him.

    At the moment everyone loves Vettel, which is FAIR enough. he is possibly the best driver on the grid atm. But all this nicey nice friendly BS we have at the front in F1 atm will soon change once we get to the sharpy end of the championship.

    If McLaren can continue to develop as fast as they are and Hamilton starts challenging no doubt everyone will say it’s all the car…. had it been Fernando ’7 tenths’ Alonso the comments would’ve been the complete opposite.

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  42.   42. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:07 pm 

    Caan, that’s a bit unfair. Watch the race again. I made the Senna references at Monaco when he won because I knew that Senna was his idol and that Monaco was the race which most reminded him of Ayrton. So the point I made was how important the win there was for him. I never compared him to Senna on ability or put him in the same bracket. Senna’s sister Vivienne did that, however, at the Autosport Awards 2007.

    Vettel is in the early stages of his career and looks promising, as Hamilton did. Lets not forget Hamilton matched Alonso in equal cars, he deserves some respect. He makes a lot of mistakes, however, I’ll give you that.

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  43.   43. Posted By: driving courses
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:15 pm 

    It must be very tough for Lewis to keep his motivation through the next 4-5 races; especially given his comment, ‘All weekend I’ve been pushing that car beyond its limits and beyond what it is really capable of.’

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  44.   44. Posted By: Francisco
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:35 pm 

    James,
    What is your view on Fernando this race?

    In my view Renault let him down again by sending him to the pits, if only he was able to do 3-4 laps after the safety car I reckon a different picture, by coming P13 or P14 instead of P20.

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  45.   45. Posted By: Andy
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:37 pm 

    Hi James,

    Firstly would like to say how much I miss you commentating with Martin, Legard is just annoying and does not have the insight you have, if I heard vettel from webber from Button from Barichello or from anywhere I am sure I will be going from his commentry and having mute pressed!!

    I never understood how there was plenty of critics ready to attack your commentary, for me I enjoyed your regular “hello everybody”, everyone must agree Legard is just not good…..

    One thing no-one has mentioned very much is why were cars not penalised for blocking heiki in qualifying, last year the mclarens were punished for the same thing?

    I am an avid Mclaren & Lewis fan, but it does seem all is not well, to me Lewis is part to blame so talk of leaving Mclaren seems to me pretty lame to me when they put him where he is.

    So what do you think the FIA will do to Mclaren and with Ron leaving Mclaren, surely there must be something behind the scenes so by Ron leaving it will mean the punishment would be less, has something been agreed? otherwise would Ron really give up his beloved Mclaren for possibly nothing if the FIA punish them really hard anyway?

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: Carlos
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:57 pm 

    I’ve never seen rain as a leveler or an equalizer… I see it as a randomizer. Especially when it comes to aquaplaning, which I’m not convinced can be prevented just by being skilled.

    Hamilton’s great at passing people no matter what the grip levels are, being bad or good in the wet has nothing to do with it. Back when Massa was weak in the wet, he was weak in the dry. Now he’s improved, and again it doesn’t matter what the conditions are. I think everyone’s love for rain is overblown.

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  47.   47. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 4:58 pm 

    Andy, take a look at the post on Ron’s departure from last week. As for the block on Heikki, it was an out lap.

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  48.   48. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:00 pm 

    Francisco, Pat Symonds knows what he’s doing. The timing was horrendous for Renault with the safety car at the start. It seemed to be out a long time. I don’t think they had much choice. Alonso also lost out on points because of a spin at Turn 13 later in the race.

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  49.   49. Posted By: Matthew
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:12 pm 

    He’s a great driver, let him be. I can’t help but feel the people that criticise him, wouldn’t do any better themselves. I know I couldn’t, and I probably wouldn’t handle the media well either.

    He’s one of the best talents I’ve seen since the Mansell era.

    People love to bash other people, but for what reason? He’s having a tough time, leave the boy alone.

    Vettel did amazingly well, Kovi was sensible, so was Button and Bar. Good to see Webber do well.

    Can’t we all just get along? :) Be positive! Spread the love, maybe we’ll see better racing insted of bad mouthing ruining the feeling, and the spectacle.

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  50.   50. Posted By: Matthew
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:16 pm 

    I think time will tell.

    Personally if I had gone through the things he’s gone through, lets not forget the racism he experiances from some quarters, my heart wouldn’t be 100% in it.

    Great drivers, rarely start f1 as great drivers, they become that over time. Let see what happens.

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  51.   51. Posted By: Matthew
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:23 pm 

    He’s a great racer to watch though. One of the best races I’ve ever seen, is the GP2 race when he fell off the track and ended up right at the back, and over took everyone bar Piquet to finish second. Some of the moves he pulled that day were amazing. I wish people could watch the highlights of that race, because I haven’t seen overtaking like that in f1 for generations.

    Hopefully he’ll learn to keep it on the track. I feel for him with the racism issue, and the hard time he gets. I wouldn’t treat him that way, it’s a shame people feel that way towards him. Must affect him.

    [Reply]


  52.   52. Posted By: Stephen Kellett
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:36 pm 

    I think Senna should take Piquet’s seat at Renault. Piquet clearly isn’t up to the job and lots of folk think Senna is.

    [Reply]


  53.   53. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:49 pm 

    So are you saying that the McLaren was as good as the Red Bull? It seems so, so that you can knock Lewis. We know he is good in the wet we have seen it before. Maybe you think tyres and downforce do not matter.
    Lewis said that maybe its his driving style that wears the tyres so quickly, that was the difference between his tyres going off and Kovi’s lasting, he is very much more aggressive and slides the car a lot and he does need to learn to manage his tyres better.

    If Vettel can do as well as Hamilton last year by the end of this season he will have achieved something, in what is possibly the best car in the wet but remains to be seen in the dry.

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  54.   54. Posted By: Spenny
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:51 pm 

    … so it was an out lap – but the final corner of the outlap is critical to the full lap. I didn’t think there was anything in the rules that explicitly said that penalties only applied to the timed lap itself – the two cars blocked his run into turn 16, which is fundamental to getting the speed down the pit straight. One could argue it was poor timing, but they aren’t supposed to potter back to the pits any more.

    [Reply]


  55.   55. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:51 pm 

    Doesn’t matter what he says you will find fault with it.

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  56.   56. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:54 pm 

    Maybe Ron would have seen that, but it seem so very obvious that there must be other reasons why they set the car up that way.

    [Reply]


  57.   57. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:55 pm 

    He did say we scored points for the team if you watched the interview.

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  58.   58. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 5:57 pm 

    If you can set it up I am sure James will give Dave half an hour never mind 3 minutes!

    [Reply]


  59.   59. Posted By: Peter
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 6:06 pm 

    Alan. Calm down, and don’t worry my hearing is OK.

    [Reply]


  60.   60. Posted By: rpaco
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 6:11 pm 

    It was said to be a leveler in the old days when some cars had a LOT more power than others, but in the wet it was unuseable, now however, they are all supposedly power limited. At least rev limited.
    The current supposed equality will go out the window when KERS becomes free (when they have overcome the enormous heat dissipation problems arising from it)

    [Reply]


  61.   61. Posted By: Peter
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 6:15 pm 

    Sam,

    with all respect I don’t think Webber was that close, also Vettel was told to slow down in the last laps. I would not compare the Malaysian rain where there was deep water on the track with the chinese conditions. Not to spin at Malaysia in the last laps was down to luck. Vettel was racing karts many times on slicks in wet when he was a kid because they can’t afford to pay for extra wet tires, probably it is not the main reason he is great in wet, though. He has extreme good feel for the car and is a very intelligent guy, still just 21!

    [Reply]


  62.   62. Posted By: Craig
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 6:23 pm 

    Hi James,

    A little bit off the point but relevant to this weekend. Why do you think Ferrari (and BMW) seemed to be able to match the pace of the Toyotas with there double deck diffuser at the Bahrain test but now are so much slower? Were Toyota hiding there performance until closer to the season start to give the other teams less time to copy them? or do you think Ferrari will be quicker this weekend?

    [Reply]


  63.   63. Posted By: Peter
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 7:17 pm 

    Not wanting to rain on your parade but im pretty sure Vettel spun and stalled it at the last race in malaysia a little while before the final safety car came out.

    Vettel had a great race but as shown by Webber and indeed Buemi in the similar torro rosso, the red bull is now the best car in the rain.

    [Reply]


  64.   64. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 8:29 pm 

    There’ just been so much development, for one thing. Also Toyota were doing reliability work, long runs. Seems to have worked, they are dead reliable so far

    [Reply]


  65.   65. Posted By: sean
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 8:30 pm 

    did lewis say 4-5 races from now or 4-5 from start of season whats the point thats 8 races in. How could these teams have got it so wrong all the slow teams must have known at preseason there were major problems yet only now are they moving could be a long year for lewis at least he,s got the chick from the pussycat dolls shoulder to cry on.

    [Reply]


  66.   66. Posted By: Jason
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 8:59 pm 

    I must say that I entirely agree here. It seems like people just want to kick the guy when he is down. If he wasn’t a fantastic driver, then why has he won practically every series he has been in within the first two years. He didnt have a 97/98 spec McLaren in all the lower formulae.

    Yes, he spun off the track twice and went wide a few other times. It was a tough drive for anyone and he admits it was the worst wet drive of his career. Get over your trips people and stop salivating like rabid wolves because Hamilton has been taken down a notch by the media. What you hear about Vettel now, is exactly what you heard about HAM back in ’97 – are you going to do this to him in a couple years time when something happens negatively for him?

    [Reply]


  67.   67. Posted By: Grabyrdy
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 9:01 pm 

    Seems to me that what is holding Lewis back is not his skill but his bigheadedness, which McL should have done more about. But this interview shows he may be starting to get the message – he acknowledges he’s too hard on his tyres. Could this be the start of the mature Lewis he needs to become ?

    [Reply]


  68.   68. Posted By: Peter Freeman
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 9:48 pm 

    Your point about Hamilton’s results so far this year relative to the ability of the car is quite correct. He is in fact doing very well, better, so far this this season and in a worse car than ‘the best driver on the grid’ Alonso. (At the flag as you say)

    And considering McLaren were slower than EVERYONE during the winter testing, I agree that their development rate is very promising and as has always been the case in F1, driver feed-back is an integral part of development. Of course Hamilton has nothing to do with it though…!

    Good post Alan

    [Reply]


  69.   69. Posted By: Lee Gilbert
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 9:54 pm 

    Bottom line – by his own admission he was pushing the car all weekend beyond its limits – that is why he span and went off the circuit as much.

    I call that racing impatience…..

    [Reply]


  70.   70. Posted By: Peter Freeman
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 9:54 pm 

    You don’t think McLaren will catch up? Top 5 is the best they will do?

    As opposed to being the No.4 they are now?

    [Reply]


  71.   71. Posted By: Malcolm46
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:39 pm 

    Tim, good point. I seem to remember seeing something a few weeks ago on Autosport website about this problem, but that the Debenture system was going to be announced well, any time now!! So we see. The Moto GP race there also hasnt been approved. I’d like to think everything is going ok….

    [Reply]


  72.   72. Posted By: Malcolm46
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:42 pm 

    James, considering that BMW gave up on the 08 car after Kubica won in Canada last year. Do you think that their performace is even worse, considering how much time they had for it, and that maybe they should have continued with the 08 car and seen where they fininshed in the Championship?

    [Reply]


  73.   73. Posted By: Malcolm46
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 10:46 pm 

    Yeah that was my initial reaction that the stewards may get involved with that, but I can only assume they didnt take any action due to the conditions, the fact Trulli was going so slow anyway, and the fact it wasnt a Mclaren (sorry being cynical at the end there….!)

    [Reply]


  74.   74. Posted By: Carlos
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:16 pm 

    That makes sense, thanks for the explanation. I haven’t been a fan for long, and never even thought about racing series with big differences in power across cars.

    [Reply]


  75.   75. Posted By: Steve
        Date: April 20th, 2009 @ 11:17 pm 

    The McLaren at the moment lacks downforce, so I think Lewis was trying to get more from the car than it had in China. In his great wet weather drives in the past like Fuji and Silverstone, he had the best car, and with good downforce, so was less likely to acquaplane and therefore could push that bit harder.. Now hes got to learn to adapt to getting the best out of a car that has inferior downforce. There’s probably a bit of frustration showing in his driving too, similar to Alonso last year when he made a lot of mistakes overdriving an uncompetitive car.

    Vettel on the other hand now has a car that is the class of the field in the wet, so that is giving him the confidence to drive so well in those conditions.

    [Reply]


  76.   76. Posted By: LT
        Date: April 21st, 2009 @ 12:06 am 

    You seem to contradict yourself here. You say that car factors such as downforce and tires should not be an excuse for a poor performance, yet you justify Kimis performance down to having a “rubbish car” To me that just seems like double standards.

    [Reply]


  77.   77. Posted By: Finn
        Date: April 21st, 2009 @ 1:17 pm 

    No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that he needs to learn the full race craft of driving for a whole race. Anyone can thrash a car for XX laps and post top times and make some on-track moves, but if the result of that is to leave you spinning and losing places later on then you’re not driving well. Hamilton has long had a problem managing tyre wear and it doesn’t reflect on him very well if after 3 years in F1 he hasn’t learnt how to get more out of the tyres over a full racing stint.

    I think Vettel’s performance over the weekend was better than anything else I’ve seen for years. Yes, the car was good, but given how he qualified and then raced, it showed a driver with great race craft.

    I would love for Lewis to be as good as Vettel as it would improve the spectacle for all of us, but if Lewis isn’t able to learn how to drive for a full race rather than a handful of laps, then he’s going to spend the rest of his career as an also ran behind drivers like Vettel and Alonso.

    Vettel and Alonso get more out of their cars over a whole race distance than any of the other drivers. Lewis doesn’t. Driving a race winning car can flatter a driver’s real potential. But when a driver can take a sub-standard car and out perform it, then he is a real racer. I want Lewis to be able to do that, but so far he hasn’t shown he has the ability to do it.

    [Reply]


  78.   78. Posted By: Rob
        Date: April 21st, 2009 @ 1:30 pm 

    There is nothing wrong with the car except the lack of downforce. I guess the guys with more downforce had no such a problem.

    Poor little dear…. I guess the trick diffuser was why he did so badly – I guess that’s why the red bulls ran away with the race :shrug: :)

    [Reply]


  79.   79. Posted By: RichyF
        Date: April 21st, 2009 @ 4:48 pm 

    Knowing the limits sometimes involves going past them, this is certainly the case in an ever changing enviroment.

    Lewis is extremely motivated, no doubt he was constantly trying keep at the limit which in the rain is a very difficult thing to do. His tyres didnt degrade in the same way in the first stint so it would have been a complete surprise that his second set did so.

    Maybe he had a turn of wing at the stop or that those tyres needed to be brought in slower as they where with the safety car from the start.

    [Reply]


  80.   80. Posted By: Mick
        Date: April 21st, 2009 @ 6:59 pm 

    Hi Finn,

    You obviously haven’t been watching the GP’s so far this year which is a shame ‘cos you’re missing some good stuff.

    At Melbourne Hamilton got up to third, before he and the team spectacularly imploded. But in terms of driving, that was the best he could have possibly hoped for, and he finished higher than many drivers in much better equipment. I know Seb and kubica crashed out, but hey, they were only required to do a bit of motor racing, but failed.

    At Sepang Hamilton got up to fifth (from 13th) and would probably have finished higher had the rave run full course.

    Malaysia wasn’t great, but nobody ever wins them all. So i’m afraid your opinions on Hamiltons performances go quite against the facts so i presume you haven’t been able to see the races.

    Vettel has done a spectacular job so far. It was a shame that the first time he came under pressure at melbourne he blew it, and i’ll never understand the apology thing – he did nothing wrong but got himself a 10 spot penalty.

    However, its a long season and i’m hoping for more Hamilton v Vettel stuff. I’m loving seeing Hamilton in a crap car though, and loved the fact that his very first drive in a crap car saw him finish ahead of so many.

    [Reply]


  81.   81. Posted By: Antonis
        Date: April 21st, 2009 @ 8:48 pm 

    Well, as some people have already said above, great “rainmasters” like Senna and Schumacher used to win in hard conditions with inferior cars. LH did not produce such a drive…

    [Reply]


  82.   82. Posted By: Ruben
        Date: April 22nd, 2009 @ 12:09 am 

    Matthew – so now Lewis’s poor performance is down to racism? Wow. That’s gotta been one of the most insane comments I’ve ever heard. But hey – keep spreading the love.

    [Reply]


  83.   83. Posted By: Ace
        Date: April 22nd, 2009 @ 1:25 am 

    It was Vettel who held up Kovi in qualifying, not Webber.

    I was pleased that Vettel didn’t get a penalty, but curious as to why not.

    [Reply]

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