Some unfinished business
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Hamilton breaks Red Bull pole stranglehold at Korean Grand Prix
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McLaren
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Oct 2011   |  7:33 am GMT  |  120 comments

Lewis Hamilton rediscovered his form in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix, breaking the stranglehold Red Bull have enjoyed on pole position since November 2010.

It is his 19th career pole position and his first for 27 Grands Prix, stretching back to Canada 2010.

Although Red Bull’s tactics showed that they had accepted they were not going to be able to beat McLaren to pole, Vettel nevertheless managed to fight Hamilton and to split the McLarens on the grid.

Hamilton was on sensational form, setting a time three tenths of a second faster than team mate Jenson Button and squeezing out Sebastian Vettel to second place.

The last non-Red Bull pole was Nico Hulkenberg in Brazil last November.


Despite his scintillating lap, Hamilton was not triumphant, quite the reverse in fact, “I’m happy and very proud of what the team have achieved over the last two races,” said a subdued Hamilton, who was mindful that the race is the important part. He clearly feels that this weekend offers him a chance for redemption after a troubled season and a chance to put right much of what has gone wrong in recent months, particularly his off form performance in Japan last weekend.

Jenson Button had to change chassis on Saturday morning, but still managed to set the fastest time in the final practice session.

Felipe Massa outqualified Fernando Alonso despite using an old front wing, while the Spaniard had a new development wing. He aborted his final run.

In Q1, Red Bull were the only top team to use a set of supersoft tyres, a very unusual tactic, which they used again in Q2, their idea being to save three new sets of soft tyres for the race. Meanwhile McLaren had a good margin at the front.

Williams left it late to go out and it misfired for Barrichello, who had to back out of his final lap and ended up being eliminated.

Kovalainen was the fastest of the new teams, just under a second off Barrichello’s time. Team mate Trulli was well off, blaming the lack of the new power steering system. Ricciardo didn’t set a lap time, he was told that the car was ailing on his out lap with a water leak.

In Q2 Massa had to do a second run using up a set of supersofts. The Brazilian was using the standard front wing while Alonso had a new development wing.

Force India were again on the pace, with both cars making it into Q3, while Michael Schumacher was eliminated after doing a single run with a vibration.

Vitaly Petrov got himself into Q3, but Bruno Senna on his birthday was well off his pace in 15th place.

In Q3 Hamilton had it all under control, narrowly beating Vettel on the first runs and opening up a larger margin in the second runs.

As far as the tactics for the race are concerned, McLaren’s drivers have done five laps on one set of soft tyres, while Red Bull has three new sets of softs for the race, so they have a slight advantage there if they all need to do three stints on softs. It could be a three or four stop strategy tomorrow and clearly with very little dry running on which to base predictions, strategists will be feeling their way in the race.

The first stop will come early to get off the worn supersofts, but from there on stretching out the soft tyre stints will be key.

KOREAN GRAND PRIX, Qualifying
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m35.820s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m36.042s + 0.222
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1m36.126s + 0.306
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m36.468s + 0.648
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m36.831s + 1.011
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m36.980s + 1.160
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m37.754s + 1.934
8. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m38.124s + 2.304
9. Paul di Resta Force India no time
10. Adrian Sutil Force India no time

11. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m38.315s + 1.789
12. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.354s + 1.828
13. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m38.508s + 1.982
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m38.775s + 2.249
15. Bruno Senna Renault 1m38.791s + 2.265
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m39.189s + 2.663
17. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m39.443s + 2.917

18. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m39.538s + 2.013
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m40.522s + 2.997
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m41.101s + 3.576
21. Timo Glock Virgin 1m42.091s + 4.566
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m43.483s + 5.958
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m43.758s + 6.233
24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT no time

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120 Comments
  1. Adam says:

    What is going on with Hamiltons hair in that photo!?

    1. CH1UNDA says:

      “concerned, McLaren has done five laps one set of soft tyres, while” – what are you trying to say here James? It looks like something has been missed out

    2. Ian C. says:

      He needs to talk to Wayne Rooney.

    3. val says:

      is going off

    4. Xman says:

      Signs of stress i think. It happens to the best of us ;)

    5. Yomi says:

      What has Lewis’s hair got to do with this article? This is an F1 website…not the National Equirer

      1. Sinnr says:

        Here, here.

    6. Dave Aston says:

      Vettel’s going bald too… they’re following in the footsteps of Fangio, Moss, Brabham; the bald greats.

      1. Phil says:

        Lewis needs to just shave it all off. He’d look much better with a shaved head than trying to fight the receding hairline.

  2. PaulL says:

    It might just be worth mentioning that Alonso aborted his last Q3 lap.

    1. krishchar says:

      yes it’s hugely disappointing to see alonso aborted his final Q3 run.

      Ferrari never seems to be improving their car

      Iam more then 100 % confident and sure Alonso would have easily outpaced massa atleast by 5 Tenths

      All this new front or rear things by ferrari is little confusing

      James can you provide more insight on the wing differences used by Ferrari this weekend?

      We are pretty desparate to know why ferrari is very slower through out the qualifying

      A podium for fernando looks like a long shot now, however with all his might we hhope fernando will get to the podium

      All thhis massa out-qualified alonso are simply rubbish, massa is only a third tier driver and cannot be compared against alonso who is a genius and legend in the making

      Good to see lewis back at the top, hope it will be a great fight between lewis and vettel for the win.

      Jenson who is he ? he is simillar to massa surely 4 to 6 tenths slower than lewis

      1. Andrew J says:

        “Jenson who is he? he is simillar to massa surely 4 to 6 tenths slower than lewis”

        Jenson is the one 32 points ahead of Lewis in the championship. slower usually in qualifying, but it’s race results that count

      2. Anthony says:

        yeah he’s had the best 5 races of his career, and hamilton his worst 5 and only 32pt behind.

        still, jenson way slower and too much incidents and bad luck for hamilton. remember he couldnt do his last run in Q3 in the last 2 races and that compromised his race.

      3. Matt says:

        FYI, I seem to remember Jensen winning 6 out of 7 races earlier in his career. I’m guessing his best 5 races would be during that stretch, not the last 5 from his year. Just saying.

      4. Paul says:

        “Jenson who is he ? he is simillar to massa surely 4 to 6 tenths slower than lewis”

        Allow me to help you.

        Hes the guy beating the guy who in his rookie year bet Alonso :-)

        So Lewis beat Jenson by 400th of a second in Qualifying – Jeeze

    2. Seán Craddock says:

      It was mentioned…

    3. wayne says:

      Why? He aborted it because it was not worth finishing anyway.

      In so far as the tyres saved from qualy, James, does this really have an impact on the race? It doesn’t seem to really make a difference when all is said and done on Sunday.

    4. Peter Freeman says:

      Do you perhaps know what happened and why Alonso aborted his lap? Some insight from someone would be good…

      1. James Allen says:

        He said he lost a few tenths at the first corner and decided he wasn’t going to improve so saved the tyres and came in

      2. Left Philangie says:

        Same happened to Webber.

  3. Darren says:

    Thanks for the fast report James.

    We didn’t get to see post qualifying in Australia as Ten and One changed over for MotoGP.

    Could youplease elaborate on Lewis’s state of mind after qualifying? DC commented on the silence on the radio after Lewis’s engineer congratulated him.

    Do you think he was emotional and couldn’t speak? Then reports state he was subdued in his interview. I’m wondering if this his focus on the race tomorrow or is it something else?

    1. Merlinghnd says:

      I am quite sure there is something going on inside Lewis’s head, whether personal or professional.

      His demeanour today was very strange. During qualifying he was throwing his car around the track, exciting to watch but right on the limit. Afterwards and during post qualifying interview, very odd. I feel he was showing some maturity in the later part of this season in his media outputs, but today was very odd.

      I wish Lewis well and feel he has the right to privacy on issues affecting him but there again there is no real privacy in F1, maybe we will find out later in the season what is really going on. Must be hard growing up in the glare and refelection of F1 especially when you feel things are against you.

      Hope the race goes well for him, I think he really needs it.

      1. Curro says:

        He’s angry with himself and with the world, so he goes around all serious and not speaking much. It’s more a repressed tantrum than maturity.

      2. Darren says:

        Yes I’d like to see him win to take some pressure off himself.

      3. Craig says:

        I think he is his worst critic and probably has just said to himself, driving and that’s it. No outside crap to distract him, just focus on his professional job. I would suggest that this season will be the making of him.
        He just needs to get through this time, finish the season and then next year start afresh.
        Lets face it, his ‘problems’ are not too bad problems to have. I would gladly swap.
        The first thing I would do is get rid of that doll singer and then get right on the fone to Jenson’s bird and ask if she’s got a sister.

      4. terryshep says:

        Craig, I think you might be on there. Look at the Suzuka pics, there was a younger version with her.

      5. wayne says:

        I agree and am a ten year fan of Lewis, but he does have to stop feeling sorry for himself and just get the job done. He, for me, is the fastest and most entertaining driver in the world, but all this “i’m not in a good place’ stuff smacks of “love me, love me, i’m vulnerable and that’s why i’m being out driven by Button”. i.e a new yet equally poor drivers’ excuse (of which there are many used by them all). Wonder if there is girlfriend issues? That’s usually the case when you see a young man down in the dumps!

      6. TheBestPoint> says:

        The only other time Lewis had this kind of body language was in Turkey last year when he thought the team had shafted him. Go figure….
        The fact that some are criticising is ignorable but David and Chandok claiming that it is because he is emotional is soo MediaPsycoAnalysisRubbish to be unbelievable and reinforces my belief that even when so called experts have no idea whatsoever what is going on with him, they make it all up.

      7. JF says:

        He’s behaving like a child: would have used the term “sucky baby” 35 years ago

      8. terryshep says:

        I think you were seeing a Lewis who now realises that all the media are not necessarily his friends and that some of them are actively hoping to break him down. Today, he went out with steely determination, to stuff it to all his critics. Today wasn’t for fun anymore, this was Lewis being serious.

        When you consider the level of concentration and commitment needed to four-wheel drift an F1 car with half a ton or more of downforce keying those tyres to the track, you can forgive him a bit of 1000 yard staring afterwards. He’s just come back from another place.

      9. James Allen says:

        I think he realised that in 2007!

      10. Chris Mellish says:

        So true. And I’d rather that understated reaction from Lewis than the overly fake whooping, catch phrases and finger we get from Vettel. At least it’s a genuine reflection of his mood.

        Away from the cockpit Vettel seems like a nice kid, but someone really has to tell him that the “that’s what I’m talking about” and so on are a real turn off and make him look insincere.

    2. Yomi says:

      I think 2011 has been a very good year for Lewis. Before you all think I’m talking nonsense, the reason is that he is now FULLY aware that absolute focus (less talking), total domination of your team mate (being ruthless), and having your options open at all times is what is required to be WDC again. Look at what Seb did to Webber this season!!! Practically ended his F1 career. Seb was severely tested in 2010 by Webber…crashing into everything that moved. The boy took stock, re-focused and became VERY ruthless (Japanese chop on Jenson is the latest example). All this chummy nonsense between Lewis and Jenson has to stop (you can already see that they are not shaking hands or giving each other eye contact in Korea). Jenson only has one thing on his mind…beating Lewis.

      I believe 2011 will be the making of Lewis Hamilton…it can’t get any worse than this…some people have gone as far as to call him mentally retarded. He is growing up, fast. His pole today was sensational, he is doing his talking on the track and keeping his bloody mouth shut! He means business. Nothing wrong with that, and will be a great attitude to take into 2012 (Remember, his Dad is now at every race with Paul D, so he does have some support).

      I firmly believe he will be leaving McLaren at the end of 2012, the fallout is clear to see. A change will be good for him and Macca – 6 years is long enough. Only time will tell if Whitmarsh has backed the right horse.

      1. adi says:

        Macca had a better horse in 2007. A spanish champion that left after 1 season due to Rons love for a young english sprinter.

      2. terryshep says:

        Adi, If you go into work on Monday, try taking the Managing Director on one side and threatening to report him to the Police for stealing unless he promotes you over your present boss. See what that does for your end of year bonus and your long term prospects.

        Some horses aren’t worth having around even though they can run fast. You can’t be sure they won’t bite you someday.

      3. adi says:

        Terry mate, what if i was sick of doing a lot more work than my fellow employee who was getting most of the credit? What if that employee and his dad were slagging me off to the board at every opportunity? What if most people (like you) only had 1 persons view on things? That would still make me wrong and you right yeah??

      4. Doobs says:

        Button is slowly wearing Lewis down, doing to him what Lewis did to Alonso in ’07.

        Except Jense is working for it and achieving it by sheer graft, not having it handed to him by Ron Dennise. Poor Hamilton has no reply and can’t jump team to Ferrari or RB. No wonder he’s sulking.

      5. Craig says:

        Yomi, I agree with your comments. Time will tell but I think Hamilton will look back and take more experience from the last few months than in his last seasons put together.
        I share your view that Hamilton will be in a new Team 2012. I think he knows that right now and this could be playing on his mind too.
        Change is as good as a rest and everyone needs a new employer/team to help gain all round experience.
        I think he wrongly [naively] feels Button has out flanked him with the Team etc but in my view, Button is only doing what’s right for him.
        Should Hamilton move Team, he will do exactly what Button has done at McLaren and Alonso at Ferrari.
        That’s called experience.

        In the short term, the only and best way to change any of that is stick the motor on pole and put in an excellent drive.

      6. Craig says:

        Correction ‘end of’ 2012 with regard to Hamilton in new Team.

  4. F1Fan4Life says:

    James, how did Red Bulls tactics show they weren’t aiming for pole? They both went on supersofts twice like everyone else so it seems to me they were trying their hardest for pole. I’m not even a Hamilton fan but I’m overjoyed to see no Red Bull on pole. Put that finger somewhere else Seb.

    1. dan Orsino says:

      yes. But seb only missed it by a tiny margin – it shows the absolute precision that he can find just when it matters, a bit like lewis who I hope will now be ok and let the last few weeks off his mind.
      Incidentally, Seb is now free to make his starts as spectacular as he likes and LH will have to be on top form to stay ahead into turn one: its going to be one hell of a start

    2. wayne says:

      Short answer. they do not. Like you said, Vettel and Hamilton both ran new supersofts for their shot at pole positiion. Both teams wanted pole. RBR want one more pole to break a record for goodness sake and no-one is going to tell me that they do not care about that. The RBR is not suddenly 3 tenths slower than the McLaren so it was a great lap by Hamilton. I wonder if Hamilton is subdued because he knows that tyre wear means that Button has the better shot at the win tomorrow…..

      1. Chris Mellish says:

        Lewis has been quoted elsewhere saying that he’s gone a totally different route with the setup of the car to Japan that should give him much better tyre wear. So hopefully we’ll have a good scrap between the two of them.

  5. Bevan says:

    Congratulations Lewis,now you’ll just have to beat the judiciary,don’t look sideways though,you’ll get a drive through for sure.
    [This slipped through first time but we picked it up now. Don't bother sending in comments like this which add nothing whatsoever to the debate - thanks Mod]

    1. Andrew J says:

      surely not looking sideways has been what’s earned him drive-throughs, isn’t it?

    2. Paul says:

      “,”let the Button set his own car up,I tire of assisting him”.There come’s a time when the team has to come 2nd to ones own future stock.”

      Your having a laugh surely?

      Rumours around the paddock is its the other way round mate. In addition Paddy Lowe said only a fortnight ago that Jenson is “CRITICAL” to there car development.

    3. adi says:

      Lewis setting up buttons car??? Thats gold……The same Lewis that thought Massa broke his front wing last week because he had understeer after the saftey car. Nevermind he hit massa half way up his side pod and was no way near the front wing, Lewis must have forgotten the fact that tyre pressures normally drop after running behind a safety car!! Maybe he doesnt work on Jensons tyre evaluations…….

    4. captainj84 says:

      That’s a lot of negativity towards JB is it not? He is a very competent driver and a respectable sportsman and well liked within the paddock and team. As for “9 previous years of mediocrity pre DD diffuser team mate” are you suggesting he is not a worthy world champion because his team were at a far more advanced stage with car development right from the start of the season?

  6. Richard says:

    Got the impression that Whitmarsh was not overjoyed to see Hamilton fairly conclusively beat Button to Pole. Hamilton will always be faster than Button, but the race is a different matter, and I suspect it will be won by tyre strategy rather than anything else. I hope Hamilton can win that too which will go a long way to help his return to form.

    1. efi says:

      it’s obvious who MW supports.Mclaren team sinking in my eyes quiet rapidly,i was their fan since i started watching f1 but no more

    2. Paul says:

      Unfortunately been faster but crashing out doesn’t get points or a constructor / driver championship.

      Yep tyres will rule so expect either Vettel, Jenson or Alonso to win :-)

    3. For sure says:

      Not to take anything away from Button, he is a fine driver and he does deliver. But Lewis is expected to beat him in those races where Button did well and win more races. He had the car and talent to do that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out which is why Button stock has risen. If we had 2007 Lewis it would have been very different.

      1. Richard says:

        Yes fair play to Jenson he has got his head down and worked at it, but I also think these tyres help him. There are quite a few races Lewis could and should have won only to be defeated by team mistakes – Monaco was one of them.

  7. Red5 says:

    That’s the look of determination.

    Don’t see so much of it around the paddock these days.

    1. Ginolino says:

      LOL.

    2. adi says:

      3 reasons for the ‘look of quiet resignation’.

      1/ Hes going bald…..
      2/ Nicole broke up with him
      3/ Knowing whatever he does from now on is futile, its Jensons team.

  8. Adam Tate says:

    Great to see both Lewis and Felipe outqualify their team mates, it’s a good start to addressing the media storm that has recently engulfed them.

    Here’s to a great race tomorrow!

  9. Kevsuths says:

    What is going on with Hamilton??

    I’m a big fan of his but I’m starting to get a bit fed up with him lately.

    Maybe I’m being harsh because I don’t know what he is going through.

    If he wins tommorrow I hope he gets back to how used to be because I don’t think I can watch much more of him like this.

    1. EffWon says:

      Let me get this straight…

      You’re fed up of him because, despite putting in a committed, aggressive lap, qualifying on pole ahead of pole-specialist Vettel in his pole-specialist Red Bull, AND his ever-impressive teammate Button, he didn’t give a nice shiny smile?

      Just enjoy the man’s driving, that’s what we’re here to see.

    2. Mary says:

      He just stuck the car on pole what more do you want?

    3. +1 used to think I was a huge fan, this year I’m more and more impressed by Jenson and his driving. I think Lewis needs to sort himself and management out and come back to the old ways.

    4. Rich_M says:

      Agreed, there is only so much of his sulking the team and his fans can take. I am a big fan but he is starting to annoy me.

      1. Yomi says:

        If he’s annoying you, then i strongly suggest you start supporting someone else…

      2. Rich_M says:

        Indeed, hence my comment.

  10. JohnBt says:

    Why the glump look on Hamilton, he seems rather pissed off. Could he be worried the tyres giving him problems during the race. There were reports that it happened in Suzuka which wasn’t a puncture.

    Will be a fascinating race tomorrow. I want to see them running out of rubber, that’ll be fun.

  11. Craig says:

    Well done Hamilton. Excellent focused performance. Keep the chin up though.

  12. William says:

    I think Hamilton being subdued after getting pole is due to a few things.

    Mainly, another year without a championship while a younger competitor taking his second consecutive. The prospect of being beaten over a season by a teammate for the first time is also playing on his mind no doubt. Maybe he is feeling like the team he grew up with is slipping away from him in favour of Jenson. Also, for someone who doesn’t read what the media says he knows an awful lot about what they are writing. Add onto that his mistakes and bad luck this year and it’s easy to see why he wasn’t cracking out the bubbly.

    I think all of these things have taken the sheen off of what should have been a proud pole position. In fairness though, in light of Vettels acheivements this year, for Lewis, a single pole is not something to be jumping for joy about. And as we all know, the real test comes on race day and I’m sure that’s where his attention switched to after hearing of his pole from his engineer.

    He looks like he means business, he seems fired up, which is good to see.

    He has admitted recently that he is not in a good place right now, and his post quali demeanour fully supports that.

    Judging by the fact that his on-track incidents have been due to starting further back it’ll be interesting to see how his Sunday afternoon turns out.

    1. jeff says:

      Personally, I don’t really care if he’s all chirpy for the cameras. If he wins from pole but needs to stay 24 hours a day focused to do it, then that’s fine with me. A significant section of the media just want to see him explode, and if his closed off demeanour works for him and also annoys those more tabloid factions, even better.

      A few late season victories might be just what he needs to reset his system for next season.

      Jenson starts behind him in the race, and will probably stay behind him for at least the first part of the race (provided Lewis doesn’t muff the start). The question is whether Lewis can keep the tyres in good enough shape to keep him and Seb behind until the finish line. It’s shaping up to be an interesting race.

  13. baghetti says:

    It looks to me as if Hamilton went to see a sports psychologist around mid-season: at that time it was already clear that 2011 was gonna be Vettel’s championship, and in hindsight it looks as if Hamilton deliberatly took a low-key, somewhat uninterested and maybe even clumsy approach for all of the following races up to the point where Vettel actually clinched the WC. Now that Vettel is the 2011 champion, Hamilton probably expects that Vettel and RedBull will somewhat backoff whereas he has decided to take an extremely focused approach for these remaining races. That way, he might want to undermine Vettel’s confidence for 2012 as with four strong results in the final 2011 races under his belt he would look like the favourite for 2012. It would explain a lot of Hamilton’s driving, attitude and behaviour over the last couple of races, and the way he behaved after today’s pole is actually strenghting my impression as in his book this would be the big turning point so he may want people to remember this qualifying if his plan works out.

    These tactics are actually quite commonly applied by top sporters in other sports, in French they have a very nice expression for it: reculer pour mieux attaquer!

    If I remember well then the last time when I say this applied in F1 is back in 1987 when Gerhard Berger did something similar after Piquet clinched the WC, it didn’t work out for him though as 1988 was the year of the unbeatible McLaren. But it did work in the sense that during winter season Berger was seen as the may to beat in 1988.

    I realize this might look very farfetched to some, but I would love to see the question about ‘deliberately backing off during the mid 2011 season’ being asked to Hamilton at the end of next season!

  14. Rob Newman says:

    I don’t think Lewis has rediscovered his form. For the past two weeks McLaren has been the car to beat so there are no surprises. Also, were very fast throughout the weekend. Vettel did a fantastic job by splitting the McLarens and Button did a poor job with a faster car.

    I don’t think McLarens are disadvantaged by any means by using a set of soft tyres. Still they have got two new ones.

    Alonso had some new parts on his car, possibly some 2012 parts and Massa still beat him. That is Fantastic. Tomorrow we can see Massa moving over to let Alonso pass him during the race so that Alonso can become second in the championship. Typical Ferrari!

    Lewis should behave in a professional way, at least in front of the cameras. He has taken pole and there is no need to be grumpy and behave as if he has lost a family member. He need to work on his attitude. His father is the only person who can sort him out.

    1. HansB says:

      Yeah, typical Ferrari. They moved Massa openly aside. Other teams did the same… in a sneaky way.
      And for your information, for that very reason this year team orders are allowed.

    2. Doobs says:

      Team orders? Maccas should be more worried that their No.1 driver can’t even keep up with their No.2 driver lately!

  15. Steve Mc says:

    James, is there anything going on in the background that we punters don’t know about?

    Lewis’s demeanour getting out of the car, during the chummmy top 3 photo, the top 3 press conference and also the post quali interview with the BBC was subdued (to put it very mildly). Has he had an almighty bust up with the team?

    It struck me as the sort of body language of someone seething (whilst trying to keep it looking professional) – almost as if he went out to get pole to show them all. It seems incredibly unlikely but I wonder if he has been told that the team won’t be requiring his services after his contract runs out on 2012 perhaps?

    Do I smell a conspiracy, James, or am I simply doing the traditional internet fan thing of looking way too far in to something?

    1. James b says:

      I’m with you. The body language with jenson was awkward as they did the traditional photo in the pit lane. He also wasn’t at the photo after his win in Japan. He also mentions the team first and I wonder if there is a hint of irony? Maybe I’m an Internet fan reading too much into it too but something is wrong!

      1. TheBestPoint> says:

        He was at the photo shoot the camera showed him arriving and shaking johnbuttons hand.

      2. Stephen Craig says:

        Lewis was in the team photo shoot after Japan, he was about five places to Jenson’s right. Tsk, internet fans.

      3. Cliff says:

        Not sure if he still gets on with Jenson Button, but Lewis Hamilton was definately at the photshoot. He was sitting to the right of John Button, complete with Rocket Red T-Shirt and Vodafone Cap. Check out the BBC coverage or the web.

      4. LT says:

        Check the photos again, Lewis was there.

  16. Julian says:

    First it was careless race incidents, then qualifying woes, and now looking ‘glum’. There just always has to be some criticism directed at Lewis!

    Back to the racing itself… great pole from Lewis, should have had pole the last race as well. Vettel and Lewis are by far the fastest drivers over a single lap.

    Alonso admitted he made a mistake in his final lap and aborted it – so not really a big deal Massa outqualifying him. The race is an entirely different matter as shown in Suzuka…

  17. McLaren78 says:

    I think Lewis is just really focusing, taking nothing for granted. Tyres do worry him and only a win would put a smile on his face (albeit small). He wants to deliver big in all 4 remaining races. Otherwise don’t expect the good old big grin anytime soon. The boy’s determined!

    1. Ginolino says:

      LOL LOL.

  18. Rob says:

    Vettel escaped penalty for cutting the track in Q3, we can only wonder what would have happened if that was Lewis…

    1. audifan says:

      well we all know the answer to that , don’t we !

      apparently he was let off as he didn’t gain anything ….I don’t see that as if he was forced to turn round and exit in the approved place he might well have missed his pole lap

      and now it seems that you can do what you like as long as you don’t damage anyone else or gain an advantage ; strange rule

    2. Joe S says:

      Nothing, it was on an out-lap, and it was done as Vettel’s engineer said on the radio, as we heard on the BBC, they needed to be in and out for a final run as quick as possible.

      1. Rob says:

        It was on an in lap and it meant he gained time coming back to the pits (for his second run)
        Im convinced Lewis would have got a penatly/reprimand for that

    3. adi says:

      Lewis would have crashed into something (probably Massa) while cutting that particular corner……..

    4. jeff says:

      It was a minor infraction at best.

      The usual punishment for such an infraction is to have that particular lap discounted. Since it wasn’t a lap which qualified, the result was appropriate.

      His chop-job on Jenson at the last race, however, should have been punished, and I note with interest the new rule implemented from this race onwards that drivers making a defensive move must leave at least 1 car width gap to the track edge. That’s going to be a difficult one to enforce fairly and, with Lewis on the front, guess who’s most likely to fall foul of it.

  19. I loved the description by DC of Hamilton “appearing to steer the car by the rear axle”. Brilliant way of describing Hamilton’s driving style when he’s on form.

  20. Mr Squiggle says:

    Might just be some personal stuff for Lewis, not something to comment on.

    I found myself wondering whether the internal tensions in McLaren, RB and Ferrari would change shape, now that the driver’s championship is won.

    What if a Friday morning practice was given over to a reserve driver in one of the top three teams? Say Massa for example….

  21. Nando says:

    First step on a long-road to being 2012 WDC, very realistic response from Hamilton.

  22. alexyoong says:

    I wonder whether Lewis’ mood is being engendered by internal team issues- contract negotiations come to mind.

    I can see that Lewis might wish to calm his enthusiasm, knowing that winning the race is what counts, therefore starting him on the road to public opinion redemption.

    But on the other hand ignoring his engineer’s radio comments, and his engineers waiting for him in the winner’s circle , seems personal.

    Something is going on here. James, any insight? Possibly on to something re. contract negotiations?

    1. adi says:

      Maybe McLaren are reminding him of how a team can play mind games with drivers who dont toe the line. Alonso copped it in 2007 and now after talking to much Martin whitmarsh is telling Lewis ‘we can sabotage you at any moment’. His only option atm is a big pay cut at McLaren or move to Merc

      1. Ncedi RSA says:

        This is what I was thinking.Alonso got a lof of flack for example when he didn’t drive to the team on the wall at Monza. Lewis seems to be getting the treatment from Mclaren now.

        I’m an Alonso fan, and its quite amusing to see this.Wonder if everyone still sees it all the same way now.

    2. Ross says:

      I hope this is just a new approach from Lewis to focus on his driving alone, and to disregard anything that doesn’t contribute to simply driving to his and the cars absolute limits – which it looks like he did in qualifying today.

      However I think from his reaction there is something more that we don’t yet know about. This reminds me a bit of last year (was it when he won in Turkey?) when Jenson overtook him when he thought they had both been told to “save fuel”.

      I do wonder if there is something going on within McLaren – possibly regarding his contract like you suggest.

      1. alexyoong says:

        Yup, very reminiscent of Lewis’ mood in Turkey 2010- he won the race, but was annoyed that Jenson had gained when he thought they both had been told to turn their engines down. Best described as appearing like a sulk.

    3. James b says:

      I’m with you on this. Lewis can’t be happy and I think now is out to prove a point. The problem with mclarens strategy with 2 no 1 drivers is that it won’t work unless mclaren build a car that is considerably quicker than everyone else. F1 has changed this season now that team orders are allowed and both red bull and Ferrari have clear no1′s.

      This problem for Lewis is linked to jenson’s new contract that has considerably enhanced his position in the team and lewis obviously doesn’t see this as positive.

  23. Michael S says:

    Great pole by Hamilton. that is the #1 weakness of Button. He is rarely fast in qualy. No reason at all for him to be so far off the qualy pace….

    I think flag to flag win for Hamilton and that is saying something as I am a huge Vettel fan

  24. Richard says:

    Could it be that Hamiltons car was setup specific for trying to get on pole to break RedBull’s winning streak? I find it a bid odd that they suddenly find .3 of a second and Button not finding the same. I guess tomorrow will tell…

    James any thought on a specific strategy that made this possible.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, the points are handed out on Sunday and it’s a win he really wants

    2. Chris says:

      Button has been an average of around 0.25 slower than Lewis in quali this year, so to suggest that something must be wrong for JB to be beaten by 0.3 is madness.

      F1 fans have very short memories, Lewis was on top for the first half of the season, his recent run of formis not representative at all.

  25. Paul says:

    No reason?

    No of course not – I wonder how many Hamilton and Vettel fans would be using ‘NEW CHASSIS” as an excuse if they were 400ths of a second off there team mate four hours after a new car was put together.

    Buttons only weakness is his qualifying, but been third at this track is better than 2nd :-)

    I think Lewis doesnt have a chance, as per Webber hes no good with the tyres.

  26. Schumilewis says:

    I hate to say it but Vettel or Button will win tomorrow as they are the best at conserving tyres. I for one want to watch drivers racing as fast as possible not conserving tyres! Go Lewis !!

    1. Tim says:

      Pulling for Hamilton tomorrow too. No one deserves that much flack. But my boyhood hero (and I may be dating myself here), Jackie Stewart said ‘The secret to winning is going as slow as possible without losing.’ Hope the kid keeps that in mind tomorrow.

      1. Douglas says:

        That’s a great quote; I have loads of time for Jackie. His quote still very much applies in this “tire spec” era, (query) when did he originally say it?

    2. Michael S says:

      I am a Vettel fan but I agree with you…. I want to see drivers drive. I have nothing against Button but he is never as fast as Hamilton over one lap but he does not have to be as the Perilli’s seem made of paper this year… I am not a fan of 4 pit stops and all the saving tires in qualy

  27. richard cummins says:

    LH drove a great qually today. Good on ya Lewis. I have said it before and say it again…..Maclaren are to blame here!!MW has got to wipe that grin/smurk of his face and realise the team are letting LH down.It is so typical of maclaren to miss the point when these circumstances raise there heads.LH is acting like he is because of whatever and the team need to rally round.In return I am sure LH will get the job done.Everyone is differant and respect to LH for dealing with media today.WDCwill be achieved by sacking MW and giving total backing to LH….SIMPLE!ALL THE TOP TEAMS DO IT!

    1. AlexD says:

      Are you serious? Hamilton is letting McLaren down…

  28. Richard says:

    Perhaps McLaren have said something like we made you and we can also break you. – but they already did that by providing uncompetitive cars which is why Lewis has been so demoralised. Jonathan Neale said Lewis had some things to learn. – We can only guess at those, but he must be absolutely pissed at the constant media battering.

    1. Daniel says:

      If second or third best car is uncompetitive, the whole F1 grid must be in the midst of depression.

  29. Douglas says:

    I don’t mind what mood he is in, doesn’t bother me at all – I just want to see him hanging the back of the car out like he did in quali yesterday. Brings back good memories.

  30. AlexD says:

    I do not know what others think about QUALIFYING these days. Last year we had boring races and super qualifying sessions. This year we have entertaining races, but I was very disappointed to pay money for qualifying that is really dull with no actions. 2 laps in Q3 at maximum…why to waste full hour for this?

    1. Mike J says:

      Agreed Alex. Paying for a Saturday entrance fee is not worth it. Years gone by and saturdays was the time to see all the cars at their quickest and for two sessions. Then it got down to having only one session on Sat. now just bad value. Hopefully with a little ‘tuning’ Q3 can be made value again by letting the top 10 have an extra set for the session only….or something to give the fans better value

  31. For sure says:

    I think it is very worrying that F1 driver isn’t exactly happy when he put his car on pole and beat a guy like Vettel in RB.
    I am not a fan but I don’t wish him bad life either. James could you help us explaining what on earth is going on with him?
    He clearly looked miserable as usual.

  32. brooksy007 says:

    It looked to me as if hamilton set the car up the way he has wanted it set up all year! Thrilling stuff to watch!!

    Let’s hope his setup doesn’t cost him in the race with excessive tyre wear!

    Bring back refuelling!!! I want to watch f1 cars flat out on the limit from the green to the end, not just the last couple of laps (if they have any fuel left?)

  33. mo kahn says:

    Improved Temperament was shown by Hamilton today. No one ever doubted his sheer pace, but his temperament was often debated. A lovely lap by Hamilton today… Lets hope he manages to keep up this new temperament for keeps.

  34. captainj84 says:

    I think it’s easy to forget that lewis is still a young guy, he’s not a robotic driving machine. It must be so hard for a young guy who is still maturing and trying to become comfortable in himself to read all these negative headlines about his on and off track misgivings. I’m a mclaren fan, JB is my no 1 but i still really like LH and rate him as one of the top three drivers on the grid. But I fear that the constant negativity in the media (and some drivers jumping on that bandwagon), the slightly unfair treatment by the stewards and the rest of the carry on will drive him away from f1, and I fear we might lose him to NASCAR possibly at end of 2012 which I think would be a big loss to the sport.

  35. paul says:

    Guys.. could i suggest that perhaps a few races back, Mclaren made a call that Jensen was lead driver due to hus standing in the points table, and theoretically being the only one who could beat seb to the title if the planets aligned. Perhaps Lewis was told to be jensens wingman and didnt like that hense his demeanor the last few races. Perhaps now its back on as to who can take second in the championship, we might see the lewis of old. Personally, i think this must have occurred, I think Jensen was given the preferential treatment that Lewis has had for many years, and Lewis didnt like it a bit…

  36. Methusalem says:

    What’s going on with N. Rosberg? Why are folks mute on his poor form this year?

  37. Methusalem says:

    Button is warm with Vettel, he even started quoting him. Anyways, why was Vettel inspecting Hamilton’s car after Q3?

  38. LH did look a bit morbid at the end of qualifying; Holly Samos said on her twitter it was for personal reasons though. OK, I can accept that, maybe it’s something to do with pressures of fame but he was doing a full Cobain impersonation in front of TV cameras, let’s hope there won’t be any smashing going on tomorrow!

    It’s funny most people (here and not only here) don’t regard Button as top F1 driver, recently Darren Heath did a post on Jenson where he stated JB was not in the same league as HAM or ALO or VET. I don’t agree with such statements, it’s rubbish. Jenson got into f1 when things were a bit different and he steadily built his career over the years, which is a lot better than – let’s say – doing a Villeneuve, win it all in your second year only to fade away from the scene after a couple of disappointing seasons. Jenson is top act and has his own style, it’s great we have so many different drivers in F1. Generally speaking, it comes down to “I hate your favourite driver”/”my favourite driver is better than yours”/”the new F1 champion is not worthy” forums stuff where people with overactive imagination normally dwell. Horses for courses, that’s whay I’m saying.

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