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Hamilton gives title rivals something to think about
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Nov 2010   |  3:35 pm GMT  |  164 comments

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in today’s second free practice session in the McLaren to add an interesting twist to the championship finale.

Hamilton: Believes he can win race (Darren Heath)


Last season’s pole sitter at this Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton set a time of 1m 40.888 to finish 3/10ths ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber following on. Webber was just 1/000th of a second slower than the Ferrari.

Hamilton looked quick all day in the McLaren, which has an updated F Duct rear wing this weekend. However he also courted controversy and was called to the stewards for cutting across the front of Bruno Senna and going across the while pit lane entry line. They let him off with a reprimand.

Hamilton believes that after several races where he didn’t have the car to challenge the Red Bulls and Ferraris, he can get in amongst them, “I don’t think I’m fighting for fourth this weekend,” he said with a smile.

The Red Bulls looked like they were sliding on the harder of the Bridgestone tyres. When Vettel went onto the soft tyre later in the session the car looked like it had more bite. But in today’s running Hamilton’s McLaren seemed to have the edge in the final sector of the lap, which features a lot of low speed, off camber corners.

Today’s performance is not necessarily conclusive proof that McLaren will be spoiling the party for Red Bull and Ferrari in qualifying tomorrow; McLaren have been quick on Fridays before then come up short on Saturday in qualifying.

But it would be very interesting of he bumped one of Vettel Webber or Alonso out of the top three on the grid. That would make for a very interesting race on Sunday.

Fernando Alonso, who starts the weekend with an eight point advantage over Mark Webber, complained of oversteer in the low speed corners.

His team mate Felipe Massa stopped out on the track the end of the second session when he ran out of fuel. He radioed this message to the team, which was broadcast to the other teams. It is interesting that he should have been running with low enough fuel levels to run out at that stage of practice.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Friday practice

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m40.888s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m41.145s + 0.257s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m41.314s + 0.426s
4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m41.315s + 0.427s
5. Robert Kubica Renault 1m41.576s + 0.688s
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m41.583s + 0.695s
7. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m42.096s + 1.208s
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m42.132s + 1.244s
9. Tonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1m42.203s + 1.315s
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m42.222s + 1.334s
11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m42.246s + 1.358s
12. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m42.449s + 1.561s
13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m42.535s + 1.647s
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.768s + 1.880s
15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m42.914s + 2.026s
16. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.950s + 2.062s
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m43.128s + 2.240s
18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m43.584s + 2.696s
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1m45.180s + 4.292s
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.259s + 4.371s
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m45.612s + 4.724s
22. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1m46.053s + 5.165s
23. Christian Klien Hispania-Cosworth 1m47.210s + 6.322s
24. Bruno Senna Hispania-Cosworth 1m47.434s + 6.546s

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164 Comments
  1. matt says:

    I think Hamilton might well be Alonso’s best friend this weekend. If he wins, then it will make it v difficult for Webber and Vettel to win the championship.

    That said I also have a funny feeling the the miracle might happen, not beyond the realms of possibility to see alonso and webber knock each other off the track….

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Hamilton might help Alonso if he splits the RedBulls or stay ahead of them. But what if Hamilton slots between the RedBulls and Alonso. The spaniard race will be compromised.

      So, he’d better has his own destiny in his hands.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Sure. Being an Alonso fan, my favourite scenario is he taking the 1st corner on 1 or 2 place, so everything depends on him.

      2. Andy C says:

        There is no love lost between Lewis and Fernando. I suspect if mclaren can help mark webber they will.

        It will come down to the very last lap I’m sure.

        Quali should be great tomorrow.

      3. Tom (London) says:

        I think your out of date on this one, there seems to be a bit of a Lewis – Fernando love in going on at the moment. Lewis says they meet up occasionally and that Fernando is one of the greats and would have no problem losing the world championship to by Fernando 8 points.

        Now if only their fans could forgive and forget as well!

      4. Frenchie says:

        Frankly, I don’t think Lewis cares who becomes WDC.

        I have it from a good source that the only driver he wished to be champion – if not him – was his teammate for the team’s sake.

    2. Frenchie says:

      How silly would Red Bull look for not letting Webber through in Brazil?

      At least Dietrich Mateschitz comments about no manipulation of a race result are starting to make sense. Maybe he knew something we didn’t. ;-)

      PS: James, is their a problem with the website? I don’t seem to be able to post comments using my usual email address.

      1. James Allen says:

        Not that we are aware of. As you see we have hundreds of comments coming in

  2. DK says:

    Hmmm … Maybe Ferrari was testing how they can short fuel Massa so he can be go faster to get into the mix ??

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      I doubt that, he lost a long stint on soft tyres. The soft tyres stint is the crucial one in the race so there’s no way it was done on purpose.

  3. seifenkistler says:

    I really hope the Schuhmacher/Alonso overtake and the green table decision will not be significant for the driver championship – given that FIA admitted that the rules were written in a misleading way.

    So 7 for team order, 1 (or were it 2) points on green table, …

    Alonso has to do more than second place and Webber winning to be an untainted champion

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      You mean Massa/Alonso.

      Your reasoning is wrong because the 7 points handed by Massa to Alonso in Germany modified the championship dynamics. RedBull were put under much more pressure in Korea and Brazil.

      Ferrari would have had to take much more risks without those 7 points which could have led to more errors by the team.

      So no matter the outcome, those 7 points already altered the championship.

      1. Bayan says:

        I think seifenkistler was referring to Monaco’s last lap when Schumacher passed Alonso in addition to the massa/alonso team orders

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        You’re absolutely wrong about that. The FIA decision was right yet very harsh on Schumacher.

        At that time most drivers asked their teams if the race would be cleared by their engineers told them that even though lights were green no overtaking was allowed. Alonso was informed of that too (we heard the radio afterwards) so he wasn’t going to defend as he didn’t expect any attack.

        The mistake came from the Mercedes team which informed its drivers that the race will restart normally inducing Schumacher into a mistake. The Mercedes team should have done its homework.
        As for Schumacher the 25s penalty was harsh as it put him out of the point. James Allen wrote about it at the time and suggested that the fairest decision was to revert to the original positions but the FIA couldn’t do it under its own rules. You can look into James’s archives for that.

        Anyway, Alonso did nothing wrong and thus he deserved to receive his position back. As for Schumacher the extra points wouldn’t have changed much neither to his season or to his team’s

      3. JR says:

        Then the points lost by Alonso due to the wrong deployment of the safety car in Valencia “altered the championship” as well, what about that?

      4. Jo Torrent says:

        That’s part of the game. Having one’s race compromised by a safety car or because an opponent ran into him (like Vettel did to Button) are part of the game. It’s not about fairness.

      5. Nando says:

        What wrong deployment?

  4. Natalie says:

    Any news from the Stewards about a possible fine/punishment for Lewis?

    1. Paul L says:

      Wouldn’t expect so. The new-style stewards hand out fines rather than penalties.

      Can’t decide if I like this year’s stewarding more. Clearly they have stayed out of the racing more, but I think they have been light on in qualifying where baulking has occurred. I think they’ve been too lenient there.

      1. Natalie says:

        Well, I agree with you for qualifying, but let’s not forget this was only free practice! I think it would be harsh to penalise Hamilton with a grid penalty or something.

        There have been plenty of incidents like this in free practices this season but this is the only one I can remember that has actually been investigated by the stewards. Any penalty other than a fine/reprimand would be unprecidented.

      2. PaulL says:

        As for this morning’s incident, I agree 100%. no further action needed

      3. Natalie says:

        oops, I just realised I read your reply as ‘I think they’ve been to lenient HERE’ instead of ‘there’. Heh. Ignore the rant.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      Only a reprimand ! McLaren versus HRT, what do you expect ?

      1. Dianna says:

        Jenson has been fines £650 Lewis had a reprimand

      2. Damian J says:

        Wishful thinking by some short sighted anti Hamilton critics. No different from the infamous Alonso chop on Massa coming into the pits!

      3. Peter C says:

        This ” My driver did nothing, your driver deserves to be fined & put on the back of the grid” is becoming VERY tiresome.

        I’ll be glad when the race is over, so that things can be discussed without the heat & spite.

      4. Jo Torrent says:

        Since when FIA penalised a driver for compromising a team-mate race or position. The FIA leaves to the team to handle its drivers.

      5. Peter Hermann says:

        Hamilton did the same with Vettel a few laps before.

      6. KRB says:

        Would’ve been super harsh on Hamilton, seeing as his intent was to do a racing-style pit entry, which of course he couldn’t do ‘cos Bruno Senna was there (and also that he’d gone flying off the track). Seeing as BS wasn’t gearing up for a hot lap, and so the dive across him didn’t affect him in any way, it would’ve been highly controversial if any penalty was meted out.

        Especially since one of the stewards this week is an admitted Ferrari lover, with a personal website showing him standing beside many Ferrari’s, etc. Then again, LH grabbing pole and winning the race would benefit FA greatly, as it would totally muck up the Red Bulls’ assumed 1-2 finish (oh, I bet they regret not swapping Webber for Vettel last race now).

      7. Damian J says:

        I guess we might expect Redbull penalties a plenty if there is some covert Ferrari support amongst the FIA ajudicators.

  5. Freddie says:

    “Webber was just 1/000th of a second slower than the Ferrari.” I believe there’s a typo, 1/100th
    second.

    Oh, from the practice session, are we safe to say Alonso is in prime condition to win the WDC?

    1. Galapago555 says:

      No typo IMO:
      - Fernando Alonso 1m 41.314s
      - Mark Webber 1m 41.315s

      So Alonso 1/1000th faster, isn’t he?

      1. Frenchie says:

        Correct. There’s no typo. And no, we can’t assume Alonso is safe. I think he’ll be nursing that last engine.

    2. kowalsky says:

      it’s one 1000th of a second difference. not one hundreth. basicaly the same time. This title could be decided by this tiny margine in one way or the other on saturday. The drivers are going to need any extra bit of performance they can find.

    3. Jo Torrent says:

      Freddie :

      1/1000 = 0,001 that’s why we call 0,001 one thousands of a second.

      1. Rishi says:

        It actually says 1/000th of a second, which is quite funny because you can’t divide by 0. 1/0 is indefinite, so it suggests that Webber was an indefinite amount of time behind Alonso in the session. Sort of implies he only did one hot lap in the session and he’s still completing it now!

      2. Aussie Fan says:

        Cmon, did you really not understand what they were implying anyway? geez……

  6. flip says:

    First signs are encouraging, specially for Alonso. It looks like Red Bull are not going to wipe the floor with everybody else as I was fearing…

    1. Paul L says:

      Not necessarily. The Bulls might be vulnerable down the two straights.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      Disagree with you, RedBull will be hardly catchable in my view. Look at their long stints with the soft tyres at the end of FP2, they were much quicker than Alonso and Hamilton. That’s the crucial stint in a race.

      As for qualies, unless they manage to blow up they’ll lock the front of the grid as usual. Besides, there are a couple of attempts in the Q3.

      I think that Alonso will have to dig deep, but Ferrari improves on Saturdays so nobody knows and there’s the pressure on Webber tomorrow.

      1. Regis says:

        Well put, Webber will crack under pressure, its his only chance at a title.

        Vettel and Hamilton got a lot of year ahead of them as for Alonso he already won twice and will be at Ferrari for ever, so not as much stress as Webber.

  7. Guillermo Daumen says:

    Hello James,
    This is the first time I post, but I´ve been reading all your articles during the season…and now that is coming to an end I would like to thank you for all the insight you have giving us during the year.
    I´m from Venezuela and have to say that I know more about F1 than the TV comentators that we have down here thanks to this blog.

    1. Jack says:

      yeah i agree, this site has been awesome all season, cheers James. As for your knowledge Guillermo, I can almost guarantee that every reader of this blog knows more about F1 than one of the British commentators! And I think we all know which one i’m referring to…

      1. James Allen says:

        The coverage doesn’t end on Sunday. We’ll be going right through the winter with lots of new stuff.

      2. Andy C says:

        I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone.

        After Sunday, the dreaded break. Should be interesting to see how the driver pairings end up over the winter!

      3. tank says:

        Yehaa! Thanks James for putting all the effort in to such a great quality site and connecting with the fans. Due to buy your book for this season too, hope you haven’t been too harsh on the Schu ;).

        Off topic, but any idea why he skipped the photo op this evening?

      4. James Allen says:

        No. Senna missed it because he was with stewards

      5. TIKO PAVONI says:

        Thank you for your fabulous work James…top F1 site!
        Best of luck Lewis Hamilton, there is faith!

      6. Dianna says:

        That is good news.I like this blog too,the “contributions” are constructive not destructive.

      7. StallionGP F1 says:

        And also thank God for grand turismo 5 release later should help with the times I wont be here

      8. Shane Tabaka says:

        Thank god for F1 2010 by Codemasters. I think it’s fantastic with minor glitches. GT5 is almost a rumor at this point with no release date in site lol.

    2. Christos Pallis says:

      That goes for the BBC crew too………..

      James can’t you go kick Legard in the happy sacks and take over his mic in the comentary box, we’d all love that :)

      1. Jack says:

        seconded

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        Indeed James why you didn’t move to BBC with Brundle ?
        On the other hand it resulted in the blog, so am happy about it.

      3. Paul says:

        Thirded

      4. monktonnik says:

        thirded

      5. Dianna says:

        Double seconded after Interlagos shambles.I think the BBC commentators get too confused too often,and it is annoying when they overtalk each other.

      6. Lojen says:

        On 5 Live today we Had Brundle in the commentary box with Crofty & Ant for about 30 mins. I thought I had died and gone to heaven :)

        Can’t expect James to comment on this kind of thing but sadly JL has been a bit of a Blot on what has otherwise been a beautiful BBC landscape.

        A real travesty that James didn’t get picked up by the BBC and JL got the gig :(

      7. Andy C says:

        I sometimes think Jonathan is watching a different race to me. Unless they don’t see what we do on the screen :-)

      8. neil m says:

        He doesn’t see a different race, he just spams all over the action with endless pointless open ended questions. For me it feels like I don’t have space to think for myself.

        Maybe it works for radio (where he was before), but, for me, his comments have so much less value than Martins stuff he should ALWAYS concede the mic when Brundle speaks

      9. neil m says:

        I’ve noticed that lately he also has a tendency to miss what’s going on because he obviously spams over his own ability to watch the action.

        He has good journalistic skills and background knowledge, but lead race commentator is not his best gig.

      10. Jack Semmence says:

        Legard almost ruins all the good work that every other part of the BBC coverage does. After the restart at korea he was commentating and got every single driver wrong, he hasn’t even been bothered to learn the helmets, even the Mercedes drivers he got wrong! And he had no idea who he was looking at so he started wildy guessing, got it completely wrong and started announcing moves that hadn’t happened, commentating on replays as if they were live, and bellowing everything for no reason!

        Sorry about the rant but i cannot for the life of me understand why he is still employed, Brundle next to him is so good and so knowledgeable, and calls things spot on before they even happen, but that’s ruined by Legard shouting nonsense over the top of him, so Martin’s role is reduced to wearily correcting the shouting idiot.

      11. Galapago555 says:

        It’s funny how all people from UK talk here about BBC coverage, especially about that Mr Legard.

        I have to say I’ve never heard him, as I live in Spain and we can’t from here. So I do not have an opinion.

        But you SHOULD hear Spanish telly coverage, in “La Sexta”. Known as I am for my Spanish partisanism, even I get ashamed for the extreme pro-Alonso attitude of the host.

        Sometimes I dream of a world-wide TV broadcast for F1, where you could chose between your own language or English, lead by “our” James. I would pay for that.

      12. Jo Torrent says:

        I don’t leave in UK either. I download the BBC coverage after the race and it’s great really. The Abu Dhabi Sport 2 coverage isn’t bad either. But I used to follow F1 on French TV (TF1) and their coverage is really very poor. They put long advertising cuts (6mn) where you usually miss leaders pit stops and their local Martin Brundle is called Jacques Laffite (former F1 driver but race winner) and his analysis is absolutely rubbish. All he says is what a great driver, what a great champion !

        People in UK are really lucky with their coverage.

      13. Damian J says:

        Perhaps we should congratulate the BBC for delivering a high quality F1 production.

        We expect nothing but the highest quality in F1 broadcasts in Britain, from the BBC and ITV, so imagine if the we had to rely on a translated version from another country which typically might have a far more biased commentary. There would be a regular deluge of critical comments on this website about the quality of the F1 TV broadcasting. So here’s a cheer to the BBC!

      14. Jack Semmence says:

        I think the general feeling is that the BBC coverage is fantastic, in every single area except Legard, who is AWFUL. I often switch over to the 5Live commentary, although then you don’t get Brundle, who is brilliant.

      15. rafa says:

        if james takes over Lobato´s position in la sexta viewers wouldn´t mind either language barriers and all. A softer touch would be welcome

      16. Galapago555 says:

        Second that! I bet lots of F1 fans would start to study English LOL!

  8. Peter says:

    Realistically as much as I’d love it to happen I doubt Hamilton will win the title this weekend. However I would love a win for the guy because it’s the least he deserves and will send out a warning of what is to come next year. Barring the mistake in Monza he’s been unlucky to an extent this year. Retiring while running 2nd in Spain as well as in Hungary while running in a good position. Looked good for a good haul of point in Australia and Singapore before Webber’s amateur driving denied him the points he deserved. He’s driven better this year than in previous years. Give this man a car like the Red Bull and watch him obliterate the rest of the field. It will be devastating.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Not especially unlucky in Valencia…

      1. SuperOsnola says:

        +1000

      2. SuperOsnola says:

        And with many other FIA decisions:
        -4 directions changes with Petrov
        -two times running at the slow site of the pit lane
        -two amazingly dangerous pit lane entries
        -no-fuel pole position in Canada
        -etc…
        As well as taking 8 free points from Korea, for example, when everybody said that Fernando had been very lucky…

      3. Galapago555 says:

        Actually all that ones you mention were “NO” decissions…

    2. Mark says:

      Couldn’t agree more.

    3. Paul L says:

      I think you’re lost in hopeless dreamland there. He’s had a good season, but not his best. Don’t forget the reason he was scrapping fairly lowdown in Australia was because he underperformed in qualifying.

      He’s coughed up positions in the last two races with mistakes.

      I agree that he’s arguably the best out there – one just has to wonder why he doesn’t seem to make the most of the chances he does have and win more often.

      I’d prefer to see Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, and Massa duking it out in old-style sprint races – not the kind of tyre preservation mediocrity we have to watch today.

      I wouldn’t say, on the basis of the whole season, that Hamilton’s had less an opportunity than Alonso to win this year’s title. Hamilton genuinely could have won in Australia and China where McLaren were up top. It was a poor qualifying performances in both that contributed to the fact that he didn’t. Can’t fault too much about his season, the mistakes were always minor, but he hasn’t been even as showy as I’ve remember him in 2007-2009.

    4. BlackGoldLotus says:

      As Mark Webber has shown this year (and Brawn did last year), the car still makes up for upwards of 70% of the performance.

      There are quite a few drivers on the grid that would be really tough to match if they had a car as good as this year’s Red Bull: Kubica, Rosberg, Button, not to mention Alonso, Vettel and Kimi if he were to return.

      Hamilton is an amazingly outstanding driver, but let’s not get carried away. I rate his performance on the second half of last year as better than this season’s.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        It’s strange that everybody is so focused on the drivers (including me) while as you said the car is the far more important.

        In recent era, only Schumacher’s victory in the Bennetton against Damon Hill was achieved in an inferior car as far as I recall. But Damon Hill was in the other car, it helps !

      2. KRB says:

        Umm, you mean the Benetton B194, the one that ran with banned software and skirted the rules when it came to refueling? That car was clearly a cut above, seeing as it won 6 of the first 7 races.

        The Williams suffered bigtime b/c of the end of traction control in 1994; only halfway thru the season after Williams came out with a spec-B of the car was the Williams as good or better than the B194.

        Schumacher was banned for two races that season, and still won the DWC!

        What’s the recent era? Prost winning with McLaren in 1986 over the two Williams is a case of a clearly inferior car winning. I think you can put 2008 alongside it as well, although of course that car was only slightly inferior to the Ferrari that year.

        Of course the car is paramount in F1. A driver can sometimes turn silver into gold; no driver can turn s–t into gold.

      3. Ben says:

        What? That inferior Benetton which had an illegally modified fuel rig to make their pitstops faster and an illegal traction control system that escaped penalty because they used the “but we didn’t use it” excuse. The Benetton of 94 was like the Brawn of 09, Benetton focussed on their 94 car during 1993 because there were massive rule changes. The only thing that allowed the Williams to get close to it was its superior engine.

        However Hamilton 08 and Raikkonen 07 are recent examples of WDCs in an inferior car. It was a close second though.

      4. Dianna says:

        Hey!! don’t forget the King !! you wait until next year :)

    5. Harv says:

      Australia was admittedly a poor decision from Webber, but throwing Singapore in there just reveals that you aren’t being objective, considering that even the majority of British news sources agreed it was a racing incident – and you can’t deny, that though Webber lives in England, that the Brits wouldn’t prefer Hamilton over Webber!

      1. mtb says:

        I read a report which claimed that Danny Sullivan (race steward in Singapore) said that if Webber’s race had ended and Hamilton’s continued, then he would have recommended penalising Hamilton.

      2. Damian J says:

        We can all find “reports” to support our view points.

    6. Jo Torrent says:

      Very objective comment indeed ! Hamilton has a tendency to falter under late season pressure. He did it in GP2 against Piquet Jr and in 2007-08 (respectively in China and Brazil).
      You’re over-evaluating your champion. Webber did absolutely not show amateur driving in Singapore but he was lucky to escape unhurt that day.

      1. KRB says:

        In 2007, perhaps I would agree, although there were many external factors at play there (e.g. Alonso getting to pit first in China even though LH was leading; Alonso’s “brake-test” on LH in Brazil on lap 1).

        In 2008 LH won in China, and was cruising in 4th in Brazil for most of the race, until the rain hit late, and set up a grandstand finish.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        Alonso brake test on LH in Brazil? OMG! When?

    7. Harv says:

      Just to add, though I’m a Webber fan, I do think Hamilton is the best driver in F1; the evidence being: virtually matching Alonso in his rookie year (I say “virtually” because clearly the Mclaren team were behind him, even though he technically finished ahead of Alonso). Compare that to Rosberg, who in his rookie year was blown away by Webber (esp in quali, the best measure of pure speed when you aren’t in a front running team); or Kubica, who was more than matched by Heidfeld at his first two seasons at BMW – the same Heidfeld who was similarly blown away in quali by Webber. Both Rosberg and Kubica are being mentioned by many as the most impressive performers of the whole season this year!

    8. KRB says:

      Yeah, watched that shunt with Webber in Australia on YouTube just recently, and it was bad. Although Alonso braked harder than normal for that corner, trying to kill Hamilton’s momentum for the next straight. Still no excuse for Webber slamming into the back of Lewis as hard as he did.

      Hamilton was on fresher tyres (remember the 2nd stop for tyres that dropped him back after he was running 3rd and hounding RK?). He caught back up to Alonso, and was faster. Webber’s “over-enthusiasm” deprived us of a great wheel-to-wheel battle between LH and FA, the two best drivers out there.

      There hasn’t been enough wheel-to-wheel racing up at the front in this 2010 F1 season. That’s been the only element missing, and it’s a BIG element. 1986 had a lot more of those great exciting battles amongst the big boys (1986 Spanish Grand Prix anyone?) than this year has had, sadly.

      Webber only received a reprimand for that crash. He can count himself lucky for that.

    9. David Turnedge says:

      Webber driving badly? All drivers make mistakes. He’s close second in the WC going into the final race. Amateurish?

  9. Sid says:

    Great article as ever.

    Someone just asked me a question I couldn’t answer:

    So with Lewis possibly leading the race this weekend and his support of Webber and strong “dislike” of Alonso you think he’d ever move over to let Webber past just to deny Alonso the title?

    1. Martin B says:

      I’d love it if he did, but no…he’d want to win I’m sure of that.

    2. JF says:

      I think you underestimate his desire to win the race and finish the season on a positive note. As for his strong “dislike” of Alonso, you are wrong again. Hamilton doesnt dislike Alonso, he said that many times. Most Hamilton fan do have a strong “dislike” for Alonso, that I agree.

      As an Alonso fan, I really enjoy the rivalry between them and I’m sure they will both entertain us for many years to come.

    3. Galapago555 says:

      I can’t believe. He will push like hell, more if he is leading. He will do everything possible to get the WDC.

      Remember any thing can happen even in the last lap. And he knows that for sure, as it happened in Brazil ’08, when he nailed the title in the very last corner, when he overtook a car (Glock?) to be 5th.

    4. Andy C says:

      I suspect if he has no chance of winning the wdc he will not make it difficult for mark to get past. He hinted this week he would rather mark than Fernando won it.

      I just wish it was Sunday!

    5. GP says:

      There is no way he can move over, whatever his feelings for Alonso (although, as others are saying, there is no animosity between the two).

      He is a professional and as such has a responsibility to his employer and all their sponsors to finish in the best possible position.

      And let’s not forget the amount of money involved.

    6. KRB says:

      No chance. LH is probably still stinging from having to retire whilst leading this race last year. He’ll take the win and let the chips fall where they may.

      Seeing LH’s comments about FA the past two weeks, there is no feud between them anymore, and I believe both recognize and admire the other as their greatest rival in terms of pure driving skill.

    7. Nando says:

      Hamilton has said he’d gladly race with Alonso again, don’t confuse Alonso’s feelings with those of Hamilton’s. Webber driving into Hamilton twice, has contributed towards Hamilton being out of contention.

  10. Gubstar says:

    Qualifying should be good tomorrow, I wonder who will crack under the pressure???
    What a race it should be on Sunday……..and what if it rains?!?!?!?!?!?!

    According to my 2020 sports almanac it has Lewis Hamilton as champion in 2010………..now I wonder……….:)

    1. Andy C says:

      Is that you mcfly? ;-)

      1. SuperOsnola says:

        That’s the 2010 one. :)

  11. BRNDLL says:

    I know everyone is a huge Hamilton fan… but you failed to mention that Fernando was leading the timesheets for most of the session on the harder compound and only when they went to softs did the order jumble.

    1. Paul L says:

      It’s true. Problem is they are all going to qualify on softs. And the pattern throughout 2010 is that unless the driver or teams make a blunder, the races are settled pretty much in qualifying. That is to say, there’s no reason you shouldn’t keep your qualifying position in the race given it’s one stop then follow the leader.

      1. MAS says:

        The races are settled in qualifying? Tell that to Red Bull.

        And unless you stretch the definition of “blunder” to include common racing incidents, reliability issues, first-corner overtakes, track conditions and pit-strategy, that has little to do with it either.

        That said, qualifying (and therefore pace on the super-softs) is still hugely important. That (besides the obvious fact it’s only Friday) is indeed why the significance of Alonso’s pace on the hard tyres should not be overstated.

      2. PaulL says:

        Well I don’t know what you mean by pit strategy. Unless you want to go for the manifestly wrong strategy by bucking the trend ie Button in Japan or Webber in Canada, there’s no decision to make.

        I would call those other things blunders and Red Bull have been masters of it’s arts in 2010.

        Where the uncertainty in races came in was where someone could use their pace with fuel strategy to change the complexion of the race at the front. But F1 decided that unpredictability was too expensive for this year so we’ve gone with the proforma format from this year and beyond.

      3. MAS says:

        Paul,
        there was nothing unpredictable about refuelling: everybody knew when everybody else was coming in. The race turned into a spreadsheet and until the last 10 laps or so nobody was racing the guy in front but was instead trying to cover the pit-stop of someone 40 seconds down the road. On track overtakes before the last stint were almost always irrelevant. It was a bean counter’s dream.

        Anyway, that’s not very relevant for the matter at hand. The main difference is that qualifying was not really indicative of race-pace while it is now. As for the “blunders” I can only say that in 2010, races just don’t go according to any one team’s plan any more and that is a good thing. And a winning strategy is never wrong, it is a gamble at worst.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      The soft are more critical than the hard ones. The hard are used in the last part of the race and to overtake you’ve got to be a lot quicker.

      By the way, I’m the furthest to being Hamilton fan.

      1. Peter C says:

        Yes,we know that already. Perhaps you said it for new readers?

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        I hope I convinced you

    3. Carlos E. Del Valle says:

      The re is also the fuel factor. The Bulls can easily do some sandbagging by putting more 5-10 laps-worth of fuel.

  12. Mr G says:

    Hi James,
    did Alonso car had a turn down engine in this session.
    I will not read too much on this free practise, Ferrari has a problem with engine allocation, they cannot afford a blow before Sunday, I won’t be surprised if they turn the engine down a little.
    I am surprised about Massa, he should be able to help Alonso in this race.
    Hamilton could be the winner on sunday, “giving” Alonso the title, what a really interesting story.
    James, have you wrote this finale as well for the book ?

    1. James Allen says:

      Anything is possible

      1. Voyager says:

        I’d like it if we knew what engine the drivers were on and the running it has had. Would add a little frisson to the mix wouldn’t it?

      2. KRB says:

        I heard that FA was using the same engine as at Monza and Brazil. But maybe that was just for FP today. I thought he had an engine that was taken out during parc ferme early on this year, under Art. 34.1.

        If so, I believe that engine would’ve been in the possession of the FIA since that race ’til now (only allowed to use that engine again for the final event). Could be wrong of course!

  13. Mark says:

    Do both Mclarens have the updated wing for Friday practices. I thought I heard Gary Paffett say the other one was arriving later today?

    1. Jack says:

      yeah they tried out the old spec and the new one in practise.

      1. Mark says:

        They also had Jenson run as the “test mule” for Lewis, running low downforce config’s. Higher downforce way to go, it transpires then!

  14. lebesset says:

    although massa said he was out of fuel it doesn’t mean that he was a correct …could have been a feed problem

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      agree unless problem when refueling the car

    2. Peter C says:

      Could have been sandbagging. I can’t imagine many drivers, in P or Q radioing in to say “Out of fuel”, when every other team is hanging on every word. Then they compute it all to see what Ferrari are up to.

      A mistake to fuel it so light,or what? Perhaps they wanted a really quick lap so that he can support Alonso better. Well, it didn’t work, did it?

      Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

      1. sledge_hammer says:

        What if Ferrari are playing mind-games with the other teams? They could have asked Massa to stop on track and say “out-of-fuel” just to throw the other teams off the fact that they are sandbagging. That could possibly drive Red Bull/McLaren to a slightly different setup in qualifying which goes in Alonso’s favour. With as close as things are I wouldn’t rule it out.

      2. drums says:

        May be Massa/Ferrari were just testing what amount of fuel is needed just do a fixed number of laps. Thinking not only in Massa’s Q3.

    3. Andy C says:

      They did have some telemetry problems on felippes car in practice today.

  15. Paul L says:

    I know I criticise Button, but when are we ever not going to hear this from him:

    “The car didn’t feel very good this afternoon, I struggled with balance. Every corner I do it feels as though the car has a different balance.”

    1. Peter C says:

      When you look at the McLaren closely, it’s lifting front wheels all over the place. I’m not surprised they have wheel-locking under braking, the front end must be far too stiff which has been happening most of the season.

      Jenson is a really nice guy, more natural than many of the drivers, but he lets himself down with the constant wingeing about the same bloody problem.

      He’d be far better to keep quiet & apply himself with some advice, from Hamilton maybe, on how to drive round a problem.

      With a perfect car, Button is great. Let’s hope McLaren get it right next year, it will be much more interesting!

      1. monktonnik says:

        They were making the same point on the 5live commentary about the pit to car radio.

        I must admit, at that point I thought it was fair enough. A driver is supposed to communicate set up problems to the team over the radio. If he is going on about it, it is because the problem isn’t sorted.

        Watching some of the in car stuff, JB was sawing on the wheel through the apex and exit of the corners. That isn’t his style at all, so he clearly is struggling with some sort of issue.

        But yes, even a die hard Jenson fan such as myself has to conclude that his speed is far too dependent on having the perfect car. The frustrating thing is that I don’t think this is a set up issue but perhaps a tyre or front suspension issue that seems to give a more oversteery characteristic to the car, particularly here.

      2. neil m says:

        It seems to me that when your car doesn’t have enough d/force, the only way to get more is to get as low as you can with very stiff suspension (better ground effect). Hence the lock ups and wheel lifting.

        The RBs have much more d/force, they can run softer suspension, get better traction, better kerb riding, better tyre wear.

        It happens every year.

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      That’s Button : he needs a car to his liking to deliver, he can’t work around the car’s mishandling. Remember last year.

      Once Schumacher said. It’s impossible to have a car perfectly balanced for a given track and some drivers are more sensitive than others.

    3. Serrated Edge says:

      I am a massive Jenson fan, and when he is comfortable with the car set up he shows his quality but i am concerned he does seem to be developing a mental block when his car is not 100% to his liking.
      In Jensosns defence though having three different race engineers this season cant have helped matters.

      1. Peter C says:

        Absolutely, I’d forgotten the changes of race engineers. In his first season in a new team with all those changes he hasn’t done at all badly. The points show that, but it makes it all the more annoying that he was harpooned by Vettel at Spa. Plenty of lost points there plus the Monaco farce.

        Perhaps he can return the compliment with Vettel on Sunday, so that AussieGrit can have his day in the sun.

  16. Debb says:

    I am really looking forward to the race this weekend although I am not looking forward to when it finishes and waiting for the 2011 season to start. Those few months always seem to drag! I think that all four drivers in their own way deserve to be champion. But personally I have my fingers crossed for Hamilton and Webber!

  17. michael blane says:

    it does look very close for qualy and the race, james has the top 4 all shown there cards and whos got a few tenths up there sleeve?

  18. Pierre says:

    Hamilton was leading last year race before retiring… He probably won’t win the championship but he will play a key role, for one side or for the other one, and that’s also why RBR made a huge mistake in Brazil.

  19. Jo Torrent says:

    Schumacher seems really to start to get the measure of Nico Rosberg. In Brazil the team spoiled his race with an ill-judged timing of the pitstop. Even me could’ve avoided to put him behind Sutil.

    Today, he was quicker even though it’s his first outing on this track but he has always been a fast learner of tracks.

    Looking forward to next year.

  20. Ben says:

    I think it would be great for Hamilton to redeem the second half of his season with a win, especially one that was robbed on him last year (his brake problem affected him from the start of the race as McLaren had found it and were refused permission from the FIA to change it without a grid penalty)

    Although I would love to see him win the championship, I think that while it would be a spectacular achievement to overhaul a 24 point gap in the final race, it does require poor luck to befall Alonso and for Webber to have a patchy race.

    Of course, bad luck denied Hamilton the title at Brazil in 2007, so people might see it as karma if the boot was on the other foot, however the narrative of the second half of this season has been all about Alonso’s comeback and I feel that is the way it is likely to go.

    Incidentally, Hamilton has said he would like Webber to win and that Alonso would deserve a third WDC, and with him winning the race it all but guarantees the title to one of those two drivers.

    1. irish con says:

      explain the comment bad luck robbed lewis in 07. he had one mechanical problem all year and he made terrible mistake in china really very amateur mistake that if massa made he would have been laughed outa town by all the brits. kimi retired in spain and germany with mechanical problems when he was a cert for the podium. then he didnt have a mechanical problem all year in 08 just sticky wheel in malaysia that cost him very few points. massa had blown engine in hungary and the singapore mess plus losing points with safety car in germany and canada. lewis first mechanical race ending failure was after 51 races. pretty outstanding luck i think

      1. Ben says:

        Woah, calm down! I am not talking about the year,I am talking about the final race. It wasn’t a comment about who deserved to be WDC, it was comparing the similar situations going in to the final race of 2007 to this year.

        In 2007, Raikkonen needed bad luck to hit Hamilton in the race as unless he finished 6th or lower he could not be WDC, just as Hamilton needs Alonso to finish out of the points. Hamilton promptly suffered a gearbox problem that dropped him back to 18th and he was only able to recover to 7th.

        It was not a comment on the year as a whole, on who deserved to be WDC in 2007, and I was explicit in that as I said ‘bad luck in Brazil’ – I also did not say it would be karma, I said ‘some people would see it as karma’ based on the similarities in the two situations going in to the race.

        Personally, all the incidents, both the one I described in my post and the ones you commented on, are part of the sport. Even with Crashgate, Massa would have won the WDC had Ferrari not have released him with his fuel pipe attached. These incidents are part of F1, the cars, the drivers and the crew are all on the limit and from time to time one will fail/ make a mistake.

  21. Chris R says:

    Great to see the cat amongst the pigeons, even if it is only practice. And because it’s only practice i really dont feel like second guessing what will be such a tense race, i cant wait!

    Bring on Qualifying!

    On a side note, seeing Helmut Marko side by side with Vettel, it almost looked like father and son.

  22. Andy C says:

    James

    Is mclaren running a different brake bias system on buttons car to hamiltons? I heard it was a development for next year.

    Thanks again for another great year of posts. Not sure my wife holds this website in quite as high regard :-) she’s sick of me on my iPhone !

    1. irish con says:

      i read i think it was in autosport or maybe on andrew bensons blog that button is running 2011 brakes since korea and that button and lewis run a different make of brakes anyway

  23. Michael S says:

    Never trust Friday times……. However, I am sure Webbo will mess up tomorrow and find row 2

    1. Baktru says:

      Row 3 even… And I didn’t look as much as a mess-up, rather a just can’t go fast enough.

  24. Serrated Edge says:

    James, who do you think will be crowned World Champion on Sunday?

    1. James Allen says:

      So many variables at this stage. Let’s wait until after qualifying

      1. neil m says:

        Then wait’till after the race ;}?

    2. Jo Torrent says:

      Buy his book, the answer is inside.

  25. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    If Hamilton does end up being in a winning position this weekend, then why should McLaren look to do Alonso any favours?

    His sudden burst of morality and alleged ensuing blackmail led them to a $100m fine.

    In any case, isn’t the FIA supposedly utmostly concerned about teams assisting eachother a la Jerez 1997?

  26. Dufus says:

    Gee you brits are tough on Jenson.
    Every driver isnt a robot, we need different
    drivers with different qualities and likes, dislikes about car setups and circuits.
    Every driver at their best with their ideal car setup and track would be a boring race.
    They’d all tie first.
    Variety is the key, so c’mon let Jenson “feel the love”.
    Otherwise lets remove all the drivers and make it “Remote Control F1″, kinda like the drones the air force has !

  27. alexander says:

    so what? hamilton always wins one of fp’s but hasn’t one race or even qualifying for quite a long time

  28. jmv says:

    why do people think mclaren or hamilton are here to help anyone?

    1. jmv says:

      but it’ll be sooo cool if hamilton…..

  29. Edd says:

    What about some other potential tactics from Vettel? Imagine Vettel leading, Alonso second, and Webber third. Do you think Vettel will slow up and back Alonso into Webber, potentially allowing the overtake? It could all go horribly wrong, but would Vettel really care?

    Alternatively, Webber in front, Vettel second. Would Vettel have a go, potentially taking Webber out to prevent him winning the championship, even to his own detriment?

  30. Fausto Cunha says:

    Maybe Ferrari were sandbagging with the Massa “no fuel” situation!!
    Maybe they want everybody to believe that they were on a low fuel load.

    I don´t think we saw the real pace of Red Bull today.

  31. BMG says:

    Off topic James, I have notice that Redbull are lifting Daniel Ricciardo profile on their website.
    Do you think they will promote him when Webber moves on?
    Or will they go for a more experienced driver?

    1. James Allen says:

      He will test here next week and then race GP2, as I understand it. He has serious backing from Red Bull and there isn’t necessarily a need to pass through Toro Rosso, I’m told. It’s possible he could go straight in, if he’s quick enough, but RBR are Constructors Champions and need to be able to fight for that every year. If one driver isn’t scoring (like Massa at Ferrari) then you can’t fight for it. So it would be a risk possibly, to run a rookie

  32. Jo Torrent says:

    Today Adam Parr (Williams) announced that “the team was in healthy financial situation”. He forgot to add “thanks to Malondonado”

  33. James H. says:

    Abu Dhabi is an incredible facility, (that I will never see), but is there any way to modify the existing track to give a superior driver an edge? Run offs are excessive, and paved. Maybe install track sprinklers that are programmed randomly to make the race a lot more interesting? Anyway, will Lewis let Webber by if it denies Alonso a WDC?

    1. Aussie Fan says:

      Are you the guy from the FIA that suggested adjustable rear wings for the car following by any chance? :-(

  34. JohnBt says:

    Even after quali result come raceday…..the script will be changed.

    That’s the best part…it’s still unpredictable.

    ENJOY!

    1. Sammy says:

      Qualy will be very important -as always- and it will give us a big indication on Sunday’s script.
      However, some filmscripts are unpredictable. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a great plot!

  35. veeru says:

    James, I was thinking may be you can have a column like Ask James and have users write to you and you can pick the top 5 questions daily/bi-daily and answer them during the winter and 2011 beyond??

    I am sure you might have thought about it, but I think it will be a super hit

    what say you??

  36. Jo Torrent says:

    GAP Alonso Webber 0.133

    More astonishing GAP Vettel Webber 0.531

    That’s a big blow for the Aussie ! Either Alonso or Vettel are world champions. I was sure Webber would clinch it at the end but he was absolutely nowhere today. The pressure got to him.

  37. Jo Torrent says:

    Hamilton will win the race. When someone is as close to the RedBulls in qualies, he usually has a much better race pace.

    If Alonso’s engine withstands the pressure, he’s world champion, if not it’s Vettel’s. Today Webber showed why he’s not a world champion material. Great fighter though !

    Hamilton needs too much casualties and the 1st corner here isn’t the most complicated so lady luck has to pull something special for him.

  38. mo kahn says:

    I refuse to comment on this. This is purely British driven. To be fair, do you seriously think Webber and Alonso will be thinking of Hamilton? I think they already have a lot to think about in terms of each other.

    It was no Hamilton on this.. It was Mclaren delivering for its drivers.. the proof of which is Button starts from P4.

    Since, we are on the topic of Brits, the only driver in the current field personifies The British is Button.. With his Vintage British Conduct.

    Rest are Immigrants and by no means it makes them True Renaissance British.

    Facts.. if you like it or not :)

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