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Hamilton: ‘Everything’s better this year’
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Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Apr 2012   |  11:45 pm GMT  |  113 comments

Lewis Hamilton has spoken of his renewed happiness both on and off the race track after a start to the season which has taken him back to the top of the world championship standings for the first time in nearly two years.

The tumultuous nature of Hamilton’s 2011 was well-documented with setbacks in both his racing and his private life contributing to his self-described worst year in Formula 1, but a productive winter allowed him the chance to re-focus and piece back together the ingredients he sees as being key to his personal equilibrium.

Speaking to the British media in China following his third successive third place finish on Sunday, he said: “I think just everything’s better this year. The team are better, the car is better and I’m a lot better. I’ve got my Dad here, you know, and that’s not fake. That’s real, a good bond we’ve got now and on the up. Things are great with my mum, things are great with my girlfriend, so things are great and that’s reflecting in my performances I think.”

The appearance of his dad Anthony in the McLaren garage during track sessions in Shanghai underlined the apparent reconciliation that has taken place between father and son over the winter, the pair having split professionally in 2010 when Lewis opted to take control of his own management decisions.

Although Hamilton has yet to take his first victory of 2012 despite claiming pole position for the first two races, the 27-year-old has been keen to focus on the positives of being the only driver to finish on the podium in every round so far. This is already in stark contract to last season when he failed to string back-to-back top-three finishes together at any point of the campaign despite having the second-fastest car.

McLaren’s step ahead of Red Bull also means he is likely to have his best chance since his first title in 2008 of winning the world championship again, although with just eight months remaining on his five-year deal with the Woking squad, he is insisting he doesn’t plan to rush into agreeing a new deal, even if he “could not be happier” at the team currently. He had said at the launch of its 2012 car in February that “probably after the first couple of races it’s something we will probably want to get out of the way”, but now appears to be putting a longer timeframe on the process.

He said: “I don’t need persuading. When I need to, which can be within any time frame I want so long as it is before next year, then I will decide about my future. But the team are doing fantastic. I could not be happier in the team.”

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113 Comments
  1. Paul Barrass says:

    It’s really good to see. Wonder what would have happened this weekend if it wasn’t for the grid penalty…

    1. Martin says:

      Since Lewis had a compromised stint with six laps on his tyres, I think second was as good as he would have done. Rosberg’s start was good enough to assume that he would have led. Jenson and Lewis were struggling to pressure Michael while Nico got away.

  2. Ash says:

    This type of Lewis Hamilton spells danger…

    1. Stuart Harrison says:

      Danger for everyone else wanting to win the championship, you mean?

      1. Ash says:

        Yes…

    2. Hash says:

      In what way? :)

    3. Dave Deacon says:

      I agree LH is in an unreal place. There is something oddly different about him. I personally do not feel that he knows where he is at. I think we are seeing an emotionally damaged bloke who is going through the motions and mouthings of F1 – the pressure is too much. You all expect too much of him. Back off and leave him alone. I think he should exit F1 for a few years. Maybe come back and be himself. He’s human…

      1. Lewis says:

        Lol, seriously? You don’t think it’s possible Lewis is just in a better place? Seriously, some people read into things too much…

  3. Thestretch says:

    I don’t think Lewis will be at mclaren next season I hope he stays and I want him to stay but I think he will want more of a no.1 status within a team and i think button is more the team favourite I’m not trying to say button has number 1 status like Alonso does but I do think they now design and upgrade the car more from Jensons input than Hamiltons. Not sure where he will end up as most of the top drives are taken next season maybe mercedes ??

    1. Nano says:

      Thats the impression i got from the article aswell. I think from the final comment that the team may also be slightly reluctant to sign him up for a long term contract (with the vast sums of money that will be involved)for a driver who will be up, then down – providing a possible gamble as to which hamilton you will get.

      You rarely see other top drivers suffer the level of problems on track as Hamilton did last year. I think this is because for the other top drivers everything in their lives comes second to F1.

      1. blackmamba says:

        Lewis’s problems started because the McLaren team have failed to provide him with a championship winning car since 2008. In the meanwhile he has seen Vettel sweep the board breaking records along the way, and not because he is a better driver but had a far superior package.
        So to imply that the Team might be reluctant to renew his contract because they are dissatisfied with him is a bit short-sighted on your part seeing as they havent been performing brilliantly at Working themselves.
        Also you forget that Lewis HAS delivered them a world title, while the best Jenson has managed is a very distant second in his best year.

      2. Justin Bieber says:

        Lewis could have won the WDC in 2010 if he had kept his cool in Monza/Singapore.

      3. ReviLO says:

        He could also have won had his wheel rim not failed in Barcelona.

      4. Liam says:

        To be fair… If he’d won the races Jenson won along with the ones he won him self and also took the podiums Jenson had he could’ve won the WDC in 2011 as well.

      5. r0ssj says:

        Yes but he failed to deliver the title in 2007 & 2010 and had a poor 2011. He was also at the centre of liegate saga which led to sacking of long time McLaren employee Dave Ryan.

        He’s often had goes at the team over the radio when things don’t work out and he seems to let problems in his personel life affect his racing.

        Lewis may be a great racer, but he comes with his share problems and has let McLaren down as much as they have let him down with uncompetiive cars.

        Button may not be as good as Lewis, but he’s usually more dependable and unlikely to cause much controversy.

        Either way, I do think Lewis will stay at McLaren. He’s been there most of his life, he might have a hard time adapting to a new team.

        And McLaren need someone like Lewis for when the car is not perfect, as Lewis is more likely to get results from an uncompetetive car than Button is.

      6. RodgerT says:

        Okay, so Vettel had a superior package in 2011. Webber had the same car, and Button beat him, yet Hamilton came in fifth behind Alonso in a worse car.

        So last year can’t simply be blamed on the car, and Woking not holding up their end of the deal.

    2. Wayne says:

      I would also imagine that the timeframe on whether and when Lewis resigns will be influenced by the team itself also, rather than simply “which can be within any time frame I want” as he puts it.

      I agree that Button is currently McLaren’s favourity son, Whitmarsh is transparrent in this, no matter how hard he tries to hide it – if he even tries at all. I do not believe that this translates to any unfair play what so ever, other than, perhaps, an emotional disadvantage.

      However, Lewis has to ask himself why. I have been a fan of LH for about seven years and even I can see that a combination of Lewis’ recriminatory outbursts, lifestyle choices and on track results last year might lead many within the team to favour the easy going JB alternative.

      It’s good to see Lewis maturing and considering consistency as his results so far this year show in terms of his standing in the WDC – Personally I think he is modelling himself on FA which is no bad thing. However, all the criticism of LH, both justified comments and fanatical drivle alike, may just have robbed us all of the most exciting driver in a generation – even his critics would have to agree that he brings (or brought) excitment to the track.

    3. Justin Bieber says:

      “they now design and upgrade the car more from Jensons input than Hamiltons”

      That’s pure speculation and a weak attempt at explaining why Jenson has been faster in race trim than Lewis

      1. AndyFov says:

        I would say the present regulations favour Button’s natural smooth driving style. Lewis’ more aggressive and ragged approach does little to conserve tyre wear, and that’s seemingly more important than it ever was.

        I don’t think McLaren are doing anything other than trying to engineer a car that goes as quick as they can get it to go. They won’t be favouring JB over LH.

      2. thestretch says:

        i feel that they go more on buttons input than hamiltons because of how close he is to him in qualy i think most will agree that JB is not one of the fastest drivers on the grid and most people will say hamilton is one of the fastest if not the fastest on the grid yet JB remains so close to him in qualy. I think jb has edged him with race pace yes but in my opinion he would not be able to get so close to lewis unless the car has more of jensons input than lewis.

      3. kbdavies says:

        Jenson has not been faster in race trim. In China, when comparing laps when they were both in clean air, Lewis was on average, faster. Do let the facts get in the way of the posting.

    4. I would put the development leaning towards Jenson down to a response to the demands of the tires more than anything else.

      I have long had the impression that Hamilton comes up short in development work, not because he isn’t “good” at it, but rather because he is so fast. I speculate that his outright speed and ability to make an iron sled go quickly is almost a detriment to his team’s ability to improve their car. Button on the other hand is constantly providing feedback, complaining about lack of grip at the back or too much understeer or this or that. The complaints aren’t a bad thing mind you, just useful feedback to the engineers. Whereas Hamilton just puts his right foot into it and makes the car go. Just speculation from a completely uninformed, but enthusiastic spectator.

  4. Don Farrell says:

    It’s good to see Hamilton ‘back on form’ but will it last?

    How many times have we seen Hamilton has a great few races then he seems to have a few ‘off’ races?

    I’m happy for Hamilton but feel it’s more a case of Button just hasn’t gotten used to the 2012 McLaren yet.

    1. Stephen Hughes says:

      Don’t quite follow that comment… Jenson is only 2 points behind despite a no-score. He’s had a win and a second, Lewis hasn’t got better than third. He’s also quite close to Lewis in qualifying when it is widely believed Lewis is a far faster one-lap driver.

      I think Jenson has a pretty good hold on the car…

      1. blackmamba says:

        Jenson needs to focus on his own racing though. That pitstop error in China was due to him putting pressure on his mechanics due to coming in too early while trying to cover off Lewis.
        He could have run longer on his tyres had he tried to race the guy in front rather than Lewis who was making early stops to try and prevent the undercut from Webber who was pitting ridiculously early.
        Jenson was also trying to get away from Lewis in Malaysia who was right behind him and crashed into Kathykaien.
        I feel he needs to settle down or he is going to raise tensions in the team. Sneaky and oily he is that Jenson!!!

      2. Justin Bieber says:

        “That pitstop error in China was due to him putting pressure on his mechanics due to coming in too early while trying to cover off Lewis.”

        The pitstop error was just that a pitstop error. Jenson did not overshot his box and did not stall the car. Everything else is down to the pit crew. When you have about 3sec to change 4 tyres, mistake happens. To imply that LH is putting pressure on Jenson because of the McLaren pit crew’s mistake is quite amusing.

        Let be honest, LH have had the edge so far in Q3. But on race day, Jenson has outrace Lewis every race so far. Over the season, I think Jenson may very well finish on top.

    2. Ash says:

      @ Don…..Lol!!!

      “hasn’t gotten used to the 2012 McLaren yet” – come on Don….

      From the evidence that we have, Lewis should be further ahead in the WDC IMO.

      1) The safety car in Australia which cost Lewis 2nd place – which was unlucky. (points lost)

      2) He was leading the Malaysian GP and was ahead of Jenson by 2.357 sec before the saftey car came out due to the rain, followed by a poor pit stop whilst in the lead of the race. (very unlucky and more points lost)

      3) The 5 place grid penalty in China, after finishing 2nd in quali compared to Jenson’s 5th place, still finishing 3rd (more points lost)

      I would say from the evidence we have, he’s been a very unlucky boy as Mr Hamilton…

      Lewis has been the most consistent driver so far this season and still isn’t fully firing IMO, he’s dominating is team mate in qali (3-0)….Jenson was soundly beaten in quali (china) by over half a second – which is a big concern, now the Mercs have come into the picture he can’t afford to finish half a second behind his team mate….

      IF this current trend in quali continues, Jenson, is in big trouble this season, I have no doubt about that, but hey what do I know – Lol!!!

      1. Don Farrell says:

        @ Ash… You have some very valid points there. But the season is only 3 races old… the Hamilton of old has been very inconsistent… but if Hamilton can keep up this momentum I’ll happily eat my hat. :)

        Either way 2012 is evolving into a cracker of a season … it’s wide open and who knows maybe Bahrain give us 4th winning team in 4 races?

  5. JB says:

    Hamilton don’t worry. Mclaren needs you more than you need them.

    1. Lewis says:

      That’s very nice of you to say so jenson!

    2. Martin Whitmarsh says:

      Shh Jenson dont let him know that, we’ll have to pay him more!!

      1. Norbert Haug says:

        Our V4 engines will have a warp drive, just saying.

      2. Uncle Bernie says:

        No you won’t…

  6. daphne says:

    Nice positive post. Good for him.

  7. S Taylor says:

    Hamilton is driving very well so far this year. He’s leading the championship and yet he’s encountered problems in every race, none of which have been his fault …

    … he got mugged of 2nd place by the safety car in AUS, lost the lead in MAL thanks to the bad pitstop and now the gearbox penalty in CHI. Despite this he’s kept his cool, no collisions, no visits to the stewards, only driver to be on the podium every race, that’s championship winning form. Come on Lewis!

    1. Simon says:

      Agreed. I dont he has actually been overtaken on track so far either and his overtakes on others have been more calculated and clinical, I was impressed with his in traffic driving ability in China.

      A win in Bahrain could give him the mental edge over everyone this Sunday

      1. Martin says:

        Your point is right, but Webber did get passed him at some point in China on the final stint, only to lose the place again trying to get passed Kimi.

      2. F1JAFan says:

        Webber passed him with the undercut in the pit stop but Hamilton soon rectified :)

  8. kfzmeister says:

    It would sound better if he was in a position to be o.k. without having to have all the things, like his girlfriend, etc.,.. He says that since he has these things, everything is o.k and thus his performance shows. What happens if one of those things goes awry at the wrong moment? Will he be so dependent on having it just right and his performance spiral out of control again??
    Become your own man Lewis, free from bondage like that!!! Best advice to give him.

    1. Methos says:

      I agree totally. He needs to not be bound and dependent on others the way he was last year, but I suppose that’s just the kind of person he is.

  9. Mike J says:

    I would say that most people would have been very disappointed with the 2011 version of Lewis Hamilton, even his fans if they are being honest. However the 2012 version is great. I saw him at the official autograph session in Albert Park and he was happy, relax and only one of very, very few drivers to stay on after the official 15 mins (yes 15) had finished. He won a few more fans that day. He looked happy again.

    Three trophies from 3 races in a mixed up start to the season with three different winners and manufacturers is a solid start. Unfortunately he looks like he will only get better this year which is not good for the others.

    To see his father back in the garage seems to be a steadying influence however at the end of the day it comes down to the person. Good to see him back and hope the 2012 version stays. It can only be good for F1 and the rest of the season

    James, after Albert Park post race you said that Lewis said nothing after the unilateral interview finished, how has he come across in the last two races?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good. Yes he’s getting it together this year and he’s been consistent (3 x front row quali and 3 x 3rd place finish) so I’d agree that he has a good shot at the title. But so does Button.

      There are more trip hazards in the races this year and both are very good at overtaking (which they will need to be as China showed) because the field is close together.

      It’s important to start winning a few races I’d say, but at the moment he seems calm and on course

      1. Alex Daye says:

        Lewis’ speed in qualifying could be the key differentiator this season.

      2. Ryan Eckford says:

        Indeed it could. If Button keeps on getting outqualified by his teammate, he(Button) cannot expect to win world championship with this in mind. Usually(9/10), the fastest driver wins the championship. Hamilton is faster than Button. That is a known fact, everybody knows that.

      3. Andy Mac says:

        If he keeps beating him in qualifying? Like last year?

        It is bizarre how some people only ever seem to focus on the luck, or opposite of just their favourite driver. Personally, I see Jenson as the better all round driver, and that is what is required. As someone said, Jenson has a win, and a second place, and a mistake in Malaysia cost him. Yet he’s just 2 points behind Lewis, who has yet to finish higher than 3rd. Consistency is the key, I agree, but he will have to up his game if he wants to retain the top position.

        I’m not overly a believer in the Hamilton hype, and never have been, to be honest. He seems to get upset too easily, especially last year, and despite people saying he can get the best out of car that is under performing, we have really yet to see that, particularly against a top driver. I wonder how LH would have coped with a few years at BAR?

      4. Alex Daye says:

        Last year McLaren had 1 pole in 19 races while Red Bull had 18. This year Lewis has 2 pole positions in 3 races. Pulling a gap in clear air at the start of the race appears to be the optimum way to win, as Vettel and Rosberg have shown.

      5. StallionGP F1 says:

        I would agree with your last paragraph James as looking at the standings Rosberg is 20 pts behind Lewis despite 2 non score races so another win for Nico and Lewis finishes 3rd means hes just 10pts ahead also the redbull finishing just behind him while trying to sort their car out is not good news for him as he is just 9 pts clear of Webber.

      6. Glennb says:

        Let’s see. If he can pull off 20 x 3rd place results he would wind up with 300 points. I think that would be ample this season just quietly ;)

      7. Ash says:

        James,

        Do you think that Jenson’s quali performances this year will be the key to him winning the WDC?

      8. Nathan Jones says:

        I’d agree that Lewis doesn’t look pin-sharp in race trim. He’s just not as snappy as he used to be. Could be that it is because he wants to be super-cautious in order to guarantee he still makes a podium, but he’s just not quite ‘on it’.

        HOWEVER, I don’t think that will stop him from winning the WDC. If he keeps his qualifying superiority vs the rest (especially Button, let’s face it, he’s miles ahead of his team mate in quali) then he’ll still be in for podiums on the very quick, open races, and he’ll be pretty much unbeatable on the slower circuits. ie. the tracks where it is super-tough to overtake. Monaco, Hungary, Valencia, Singapore. Even Barcelona, it’s hard to overtake on these tracks, and as long as he can put himself on pole or the front row then he’ll finish ahead of Button and the Red Bulls.

        Play for a result on the fast races. Go for the wins on the tighter circuits. Lewis, keep it tight and you’ll win the championship.

  10. Pat Guillon says:

    Hamilton seems to have toned down his aggresiveness and looks far more consistant this year, taking a leaf from Button’s book. This is going to be a super team mate battle as the year progresses & may well determine the WDC.

  11. Thomas in Canada says:

    I think it is great to see Lewis back on his game. He’s got a great shot at WDC this year.

    What’s the betting he is keeping an eye on Mercedes? If Schumi were to retire for good at season’s end I think we could see him there next year….

    …and then Alonso can move back to McLaren!!

    1. Kevin Green says:

      You wont ever see Alonso back at Mclaren i don’t think, you would prob find his disgust for them as a team and Ron Dennis is greater than it is or even was for Hamilton.

      1. Bob Smith says:

        Ron Dennis spoke at the Oxford Union a few years ago. The words he used to describe Alonso indicate the “disgust” seems to at least be mutual…

      2. SP says:

        I guess thats because he ‘tore ‘em a new hole’ during spygate ;)

        Watched the 2007 review recently. I think it was the Spa weekend where the final hearing took place. Alonso didnt attend and when he was in front of cameras/reporters, he expressed himself with a cheeky and smug grin.

      3. blackmamba says:

        @Thomas in Canada
        How can you hire somebody who tried to blackmail you? He then proceeded to throw the team to the wolves while he struck a deal for immunity for himself.
        This is it for Alonso, he has got to make it work at Ferrari if he wants more WDCs, because realistically there is nowhere else for him to go!

      4. LT says:

        If Schuey retires and Alonso has a performance clause in his Ferrari contract, then he could wind up at Merc. More chance of this than Alonso back at McLaren IMO.

  12. Roo F1 says:

    Speaking fully impartially, there is ONLY bad luck (or penalties etc.) that will stop Hamilton from being WDC this year. He has the car, Button is not fully comfy with the set-up yet and Lewis looks to have the car 100% comfy for Quali (and has out-qualified JB 3/3 times). Only weird race events or luck will change that. No other team has a car good enough for consistency this year.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      That Bad luck also a Mercedes team progressively getting better and better at a fearsome rate And Rosberg pretty much walking away win after win in the latter half of the season???? come on its only race 3 just passed sit and have a think!.

      1. Richard says:

        While Mercedes are working to understand how the tyres perform on their car, the vastly increased temperatures in Bahrain may well pull them back in the race after good qualifying. McLaren need another good step forward ASAp to keep ahead of the game.

      2. al says:

        In the past 5 years Mclaren have constantly outdeveloped every team in f1 during the season, I’d expect a lot more excitement if I was you.

    2. Heartworm says:

      I wouldn’t describe the fact JB clearly got away from him at Austrailia as a weird race event, or luck.

      Nice to see him back on form though, and he has to be challenging this year.

      1. Richard says:

        Neither would I! More to do with set up issues with Lewis’s car. Lewis’s has said that his car did not have great race pace, and the Engineers have said why. Personally I think Jenson is very confident, Lewis on the other hand is still re-building his, but it’s coming, within the constraints of high degradation tyres that is. Kimi Raikkenon ably demonstrated what spirited driving does to these tyres. Given durable tyres Jenson would be someway behind, but all drivers have to live in the world as it is regardless of the impact it has on driving style.

  13. Craig says:

    Well done to Lewis. I suggest last season will be the making of him as a person and a driver.
    It’s taken a long time for the penny to drop with regards to Jenson’s legitimate manoeuvres inside the team.
    Also, not a bad thing being cagey with regard to contract talks.
    My suggestion which maybe connected would be to drop the management firm.
    Get yer old man back on board.
    Yer dad knows what’s best even though you don’t always agree at the time.

    1. James Allen says:

      He was very much back in evidence in China

  14. t3x says:

    So if Hamilton doesn’t renew his contract for next season where would he go? RedBull instead of Webber and Webber to Ferrari?

    Could he even consider a move to Ferrari? i know Alonso said that Hamilton wasn’t the problem at McLaren but Ron Dennis was.

    Very interesting that he is delaying the process.

    1. gondokmg says:

      Mercedes is another option, which after China is suddenly more appealing than it ever was. I must say though that as a Hamilton and Mclaren fan, I hope he stays put where he is. If he wins the championship he stays without doubt unless Mercedes have a fast and consistant car.

    2. blackmamba says:

      The only reason Hamilton would go to Redbull would be if the EBD was returned to the sport, otherwise the McLaren is better in every other way, so why would he leave.
      Ferrari is Fernando’s team for the forseeable future so if Hamilton wanted to go there he would have to sign a contract relinquishing any claims to future world titles and demonstrate that he understands what “Alonso is on a different strategy” means, like good boy Massa.

    3. Justin Bieber says:

      Who in their right mind would leave McLaren to go to Ferrari when McLaren has the fastest car on the grid and Ferrari is in shamble.

      LH is playing the waiting game to get more $$.

    4. Sascha says:

      Interesting is that Mergedes have said just a few days before, that nothing is fixed about Michael Schumachers contract now, and it can take quite some time until they make a decission about it.
      Coincidence Lewis says the nearly the same 2 days later?
      “Mercedes: It’s a long way for a new Schumacher contract”
      http://www.motorsport-total.com/f1/news/2012/04/Mercedes_Langer_Weg_zum_Schumacher-Vertrag_12041620.html

  15. Mike J says:

    Maybe not delaying, maybe just taking things in due order (i.e. WDC) before making any choices. He needs to have a strong year after last one and then teams will be coming to him…

    1. Mike J says:

      this was reply to 13.t3x…..

  16. AH Jordan says:

    I think Lewis has realised that the foundation of his almost championship in 2007 was his string of podium finishes.

    I think he’s happy to finish on the podium if it keeps him leading the championship (or thereabouts), though of course he’s a racing driver so still wants to win!!

    As DC said, I’m loving F1 2012..!!

  17. simon mawdsley says:

    Am less convinced of a move to Red Bull than of one to Ferrari as Vettle has more dummy-spitting potential than Alonso. Mercedes is an obvious place to go, but with McLaren now back on the up and a proven in-season development potential where is the incentive to leave? Additionally, while Jenson is proving to be a ferocious competitor his development expertise can only help Lewis…unless he’s having another off-day.

    1. Martin says:

      One thing that came to mind is that both Michael and Fernando learnt Italian and that helped win the Ferrari team over. Does anyone know if Lewis has any aptitude for foreign languages? It wouldn’t stop the move, but could inhibit his success.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Being Italian, watching Italian TV and reading Italian papers, I have a different slant to this.

        Michael did not learn to speak any Italian until Rubens joined in 2000. He realised that Barrichello ahd an advantage with the team and Italian media because he spoke Italian fluently.
        To this day, Schumacher’s Italian is very poor.
        Ferrari respected Schumacher because of his work ethic and ability at the time.

        Alonso speaks fluent Italian. Check out on youtube, an interview with Italian TV whilst driving a 458 around Fiorano.
        I’m not sure if Alonso speaks the language because of Italian grandparents or more likely because he raced karts in Italy. Kubica also speaks fluent Italian.

        To get back to point, Mansell to my knowledge didn’t speak any Italian whereas his team-mate Prost did. Yet Mansell is loved in Italy and Prost hated.
        Seeing as the universal language in F1 is English, I don’t see this as a hindrance.

      2. Martin says:

        Thanks. Being Australian there’s little practical motivation to learn a language unless there is a specific need as which would we pick. Europeans commonly learn another European language.

        I never heard Schumacher speak Italian, and I’m happy to trust you that he wasn’t very good. I think the reason he chose to learn Italian (to negate Rubens) says a fair bit.

        With Prost and Mansell, I’d guess (never having been to Italy) that since Prost had raced against competitive Ferraris in 81-85 & 88-89 regularly beating them would leave negative memories. Mansell’s style of racing was more appealing to watch too.

        I feel that as a highly paid driver it adds to the connection with the guys on workshop floor if driver speaks the native language rather than being a “prima donna” who you have to speak in foreign language too. The staff in the race team will speak to the design and manufacturing staff so the word will get around.

        I’d like to see Hamilton and Vettel race for other teams as it would add to the history of the sport and provide more reference points.

        Cheers,
        Martin

      3. Paul Barrass says:

        I’m pretty sure that Nigel does speak Italian. Saw an interview with him very recently, and he talked about why he chose to do so, which if I remember rightly was so he could speak to people at the factory and in development, as well as the team who all spoke fairly fluent English.

    2. StallionGP F1 says:

      and from where did you get this statement,”Am less convinced of a move to Red Bull than of one to Ferrari as Vettle has more dummy-spitting potential than Alonso.” I do enjoy the way people honestly believe in their mind Lewis would beat Vettel in the same team.
      As I wonder what he would have done differently to Vettel in last years redbull.
      This season mclaren has the fastest car and have not been able to capitalise on it so what are you on about?

      1. Steven says:

        Clearly he can beat Vettel in equal machinery, where did Seb and mark qualify in China?

      2. StallionGP F1 says:

        Like he beat Button, what a joke.two pole positions and not converted any into a win with Mclaren being the fastest irrespective of the results.

      3. simon mawdsley says:

        i got that statement from inside my brain, but i arrived at it from an article i read (could have been here, can’t remember) which suggested that Lewis and Seb at Red Bull would appeal to the Red Bull marketing guys but that Seb would be a very unhappy bunny so not really worth the risk.

        Not sure why you assume that I think Lewis is quicker than Seb, i didn’t suggest that in my previous comment.

    3. jack fiath says:

      sorry, Jenson’s “development expertise”? The same Jenson who had to take his set-up from Barrichello.

      1. Doohan says:

        The same Barrichello who had roughly 15 years more experience?

  18. Sibusiso Nyembe says:

    More podiums will definately create a balance in Hamilton’s life, who would not want a winner.

  19. Richard says:

    Well it’s great to see Lewis in such ebullient mood, and I think his confidence is growing again. Lewis’s driving is on the cautious side, currently more cautious than Button, and I think this is partly to do with tyres, and partly to do with avoiding mistakes. He is quite right to go for consistency, but needs to put together some wins shortly. Button is driving very confidently currently, but overstepped the mark in Malaysia. High degradation tyres do stymie spirited driving as we saw with Kimi Raikkenon in China and it is that scenario Hamilton is trying to avoid, however given durable tyres he would be significantly faster than Button. As it is Hamilton’s confidence is rebuilding, and I suspect he will be able to keep Button at bay by out qualifying him, although even that is a balancing act as too much taken out of the tyres in quali means a short first stint in the race which can impact on strategy. Overall great to see, and with the field being so close and competitive will be a really exciting season.

    1. Andrew Cumbria says:

      Sorry, but the truth and facts cannot be discounted[mod] I would suggest you wait a few more weeks say after Monaco before you try suggesting what Lewis can do or not, because then we can see if he is making progress or not, too me its all up in the air for now.

      Lets just consider what we have seen so far in the 3 completed races…..

      2 poles and one 2nd place in qualification is great, but no points for that. In two of those races he has been beaten by his team mate fair and square no excuses, so what makes you think that his qualifiaction form will give him the right to do better in the races, this has not been born out so far has it, Jenson has had better race pace and race craft.

      In race trim Lewis just doesnt seem to have it quite right to my mind. His overtaking isnt as crisp or decisive and he seems to be lacking something, but what that is I am not sure.

      So having said all that, my money would be on Mercedes and Nico to win the WDC, Lewis and Jenson will get in each others way and he will come between them.

      I would rather a British driver won, but I just dont see it.

      1. Richard says:

        Unfortunately for Jenson that hasn’t translated into points. It is too early to say outright but so far it’s encouraging. In Melbourne there were issues with Lewis’s car resulting in a lack of pace born out by McLaren if you missed it. Pit stops in Malaysia were an additional issue with the same car issues, and of course in China a five place grid penalty did not help. Currently Button does look sharp, but I suspect it’s more to do with car set up and it seems Hamilton is ratcheting up gradually to maintain consistency. Mercedes have performed well in cool conditions, albeit with a two stop strategy, but let’s see if they can make those tyres work in the heat. After that it all depends on which team develops faster which is likely to be McLaren, and of course if/when they have DRS on the front wing too that will even things out even more.

      2. Ash says:

        3 zip to Lewis in quali…….he beat Jenson by over half a second in quali (China)….if this trend continues with the mercs floating around….It’s going be a long season for Jenson.

        Jenson is lucky to be 2 points behind – no doubt about that, for the reasons I’ve explained in an earlier post.

      3. Liam says:

        [mod] Jenson lucky to be two points behind?

        If he’d not crashed into the HRT in Malaysia he’d be well ahead of Lewis.

        He was half a second behind Lewis in China only because he went out when the track temp had come down – Everyone who did that was significantly slower than those who went out straight away.

        The quali margins between Lewis and JB in Australia and Malaysia were small.

        Lewis has some work to do. For sure he’s faster but this will not be a walk in the park for him. If Jenson is more than a race win behind Lewis on points by the end of the year I’ll send you a tenner.

      4. Ash says:

        [mod]

        From the evidence that we have, Lewis should be further ahead in the WDC IMO.

        1) The safety car in Australia which cost Lewis 2nd place – which was unlucky. (points lost)

        2) He was leading the Malaysian GP and was ahead of Jenson by 2.357 sec before the saftey car came out due to the rain, followed by a poor pit stop whilst in the lead of the race. (very unlucky and more points lost)

        3) The 5 place grid penalty in China, after finishing 2nd in quali compared to Jenson’s 5th place, still finishing 3rd (more points lost)

        I would say from the evidence we have, he’s been a very unlucky boy as Mr Hamilton….

        Lewis has been the most consistent driver so far this season and still isn’t fully firing IMO and Jenson’s still behind.

        He’s getting dominating by is team mate in quali(3-0) – Jenson was soundly beaten in quali (China) by over half a second – which is a big concern, weather it’s high temp or low temp or whatever temp, he’s still getting beat by Lewis. Now the Mercs have come into the picture he can’t afford to finish half a second behind his team mate and that’s a fact.

        IF this current trend in quali continues for Jenson, he’s in big trouble this season, I have no doubt about that.

        He’s getting beat by a 2nd rate and unlucky Lewis Hamilton so far – the WDC doesn’t lie.

        Jenson Button – saftey cars/rain/strategy/Whitmarsh won’t save him all the time Liam.

        And thats a fact……

  20. AussieWoZ says:

    Maybe the form change can be partially attributed to those monster sideburns he developed during the break?

    But seriously, I can’t see him in a Ferrari whilst Fernando is there. Nor at Red Bull whilst Seb is calling it home. If he goes to Mercedes it’ll be interesting to see him vs Nico! Personally I hope he stays at McLaren. Where he said he’d like to drive ‘forever’ if my memory is not mistaken?

  21. SP says:

    At the moment, I’d say Lewis is favourite for the WDC. He’s faster than Button and more comfortable with getting that extra pace out of it.

    Lewis is known to be able to live with a loose rear-end, so I wonder if Jenson is missing the EBD which planted the rear of the car to the track. Having said that, this may prove crucial as Lewis’ style on leaning on the rear axle may reduce tyre life. But he may be far enough ahead of Button to negate that slight disadvantage. Bahrain should give us an indication of this providing both drivers have a trouble-free race.

    Oh and of course, things can change quickly is the Red Bull team can sort out their car. A threat could come from either of the RB drivers.

    The season is still long! :)

  22. Sossoliso says:

    It isn’t that Martin Whitmarsh Likes JB better than LH. Because he signed JB, if he (JB) does not do well, his (MW) judgement gets called into Question for signing him. So its important for MW that JD does Well.

    An Analogy can be seen with Liverpool FC (Football). The manager is at pains to give his signings every opportunity for them to do well to the point where you get Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodgrigez et al being left out.

    If LH signs a new Contract with the team, he too becomes MW’s driver and so both drivers become his signings and so removing any would be tensions.

  23. jack fiath says:

    Wasn’t Lewis only recently saying how Mclaren needed to beef up their race pace? Where are we now? What will the message be in another 7 days?

    He’s clearly got no issues with his quali form but his race pace at best seems to be there or thereabouts with Button’s. It seems pretty clear to me we are exactly where we were last year. IT’S THE TYRES.

    When was the last time Hamilton pulled off a storming overtake?
    When was the last time he overtook his teammate with relative ease?
    When was the last time he was in the running for a JA on F1 driver of the day poll?
    How many times have we heard him concerned about his tyres (vibration, the rear left has gone, can I come in etc etc)?
    When was the last time he was able to translate his quali pace over to the race, without a hitch?

    Don’t get many of the comments posted so far. If Lewis was faster than Jenson he would have been able to close the gap at least in the races we have seen this year. This hasn’t happened. It’s a certainty that Jenson like a seam bowler who depends on accuracy, will have his days where he is off the mark (his qualifying form for instance can be inconsistent) and Lewis will come out on top, like in Abu Dhabi last year.

    I have no doubt that were we to see Lewis race Jenson in a pre-2010 spec Mclaren we would see his superior pace. Indeed it’s worth remembering that in 2010 also, Lewis was the clear victor. I hope he stays at Mclaren, and that he prefers his father’s counsel over a management team better suited to a pop star, and that he can learn to adapt his style to the Pirelli tyres.
    It’s seems such a shame that the very thing that was supposed to improve racing and overtaking has actually rendered it somewhat procedural. F1 fans need to ask themselves what kind of overtaking we’re seeing now (with DRS and kers) compared to classic moves pre-2011 Pirelli. You can take all of 2011 and the races so far in 2012 and find just one race from Lewis on the Bridgestones, and further one breathtaking overtake, that was better than pretty much all of his overtaking moves on Pirellis (one exception was that move on Vettel in China 2011 but then he was on fresh vs old tyres). If Lewis wins the WDC it will be very close and in spite of how much action we see I expect to find much of it slightly depressing.

    1. Richard says:

      Yes I agree high degradation Pirelli tyres have killed proper spirited driving as we saw with Kimi Raikkenon in China. The tyres won’t withstand temperature increases that come about from really pushing hard and as a consequence what we have is a tyre strategy and conservation exercise. A lot of people think it’s really exciting, but what they are watching is false where true racers ability is curtailed by the tyres. – Put simply it’s not a proper race where drivers ponce around like cats on a hot tin roof.

      1. Cookie says:

        +1 agree totally. What do other think? I want to see drivers pushing the car all through the race, wheras now it is ALL about tire management.

      2. Sascha says:

        The tyres are the limiting factor. Whoever leads and runs in clean air has the biggest advantage. Traffic kills the tyres. Pushing kills the tyres. Driving on the limit kills the tyres
        Nico Rosberg said: It’s all about managing the tyres, you can’t push them in the race. Not even for one single lap”

        Once you are slightly out of their marginal operation window, they lose performance, wich never comes back.IMo it’s a silly thing for racing tyres.

        Perez for eg said he drives a different line in racing than in qualifying to conserve the tyres.

        Pirelli has killed racing. It’s now a nursing game.
        We won’t see the old exciting lewis back on those tyres. And we will not see the full speed and potential of the cars & drivers anywhere else than probably in Q3. but even there they have to worry about those things called tyres.

  24. John says:

    I reckon that one of the reasons Lewis is so much happier this year is he knows exactly what Vettel is about to go through. Lewis is out the other end having grown in so many ways. Vettel is just entering his first dark period… and Lewis knows that it is not much fun – especially as it makes it so much easier for the competition!

  25. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Lewis can win the WDC, but also Button, Rosberg or Webber, and maybe Vettel, Kimi or even Alonso.

    The important thing for Lewis is to be in contention until the end, and he is doing an excellent job, with 2 poles and finishing in the points each race. It’s a new experience for Lewis, a step up, even for next championships.

    This year I think poles and good starts will be the key if most of the cars will be in just few tenths in speed. Rosberg showed that in China taking advantage of CLEAN AIR.

    And for the contract, Lewis can emulate Webber and take one year at a time to evaluate car performances, let Button with his multiyear contract because it is the end of his career.

  26. hero_was_senna says:

    I’m not convinced by “this” Lewis. I accept that we all mature differently but I have sensed a feeling of restraint in him this season. It doesn’t look natural, just as though he’s thinking about his actions too much.

    I just wonder what will happen when things aren’t working out the way he wants, will he sulk once more?

    It’s remarkable to think that we’re still discussing this sporting individual and pandering to his fragile ego.

    Maybe that’s why I have so much respect for Alonso, properly old school.

    Alonso was going through a marriage breakup last year, yet still performed brilliantly.

    Schumacher raced the day after his mother had died in hospital and won.

    Prost and Mansell lost members of family during race weekends and nobody knew about it

    Lauda raced again 6 weeks after being given the last rites!

    In MotoGP, Rossi was involved in the accident that claimed the life of one his best friends.
    All commentators reasoned that he would retire, yet there he was at the funeral and a week later racing once more.

    It’s nice that Lewis is “happier” but I really struggle to understand how an individual that is paid in 8 figure sums, lives a rock star life style and is pandered to practically by everyone he meets, can be unhappy…

    James, as a general question, I know you wrote a Mansell biography, I was wondering, is there any similarites between Mansell and Lewis?

    1. James Allen says:

      Some in the way they drive and provide excitement yes. As people not at all!!

  27. Vinola says:

    Great article James

    Question about qualifying set up vis a vis Lewis/Jenson. We’ve had 3 race weekends so far with Lewis seemingly finding the “right” set up for speed thus outperforming Jenson on 2 of the 3 Fridays ( I believe). For instance Jenson struggled finding the right set up until the actual qualifying this past weekend. Is lewis better at unlocking the speed in the car or Jenson just experiments more until the last minute? Any insights?? I believe the pattern is true BTW for most of last years’s races

  28. HFEVO2 says:

    James, when can we have a dedicated McLaren section on your excellent Website ?

  29. Matt B says:

    I think it’s safe to say if they were still runing on Bridgestones Hamilton would be faster in both qualifying and race trim.

    The big differential is tyres.

    Button can’t get heat into them over a couple of laps, Lewis puts too much heat into them over a race distance.

    Makes for a fascinating contrast in driving styles.

  30. pallys says:

    Lewis has lost his pace advantage over Button.

    I put it down to no longer being able to race on the edge of adhesion. He is no longer allowed to dance the car on the track because the Pirelli’s can’t handle it. So he’s had to change his style, whereas its played right into Button’s hand. No wonder Button keeps trouting the line “F1 is in a great place right now”.

    James, listen to Calado’s GP2 win at Malaysia on the pirelli rubber (26m +):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsbAWH1rU1k

    It doesn’t sound good at all, not pusing for 3 quarters of the race because afraid of damaging the tyres!?!

    Far too much dependency on tyres now.

  31. Mark says:

    It’s great that LH has got his act together again. It’s good for F1. Having denied it to myself for that long, I am now very much a JB fan too. He has been well impressive in 2012 and has had the upper hand over LH in every race. Pity he collected the cucumber in race 2. Now if he could just up his quali pace a bit…

    Webber to Ferrari or anywhere else? Let’s get real. Webber is a journeyman as David Coulthard was. Flashes of brilliance sure, but ultimately his flawed racecraft and tendency towards a sort of persecution complex lets down himself – and his team.

    1. Rick says:

      The ‘journeyman’ is beating the ‘modern day Fangio’ so far this year. If Vettel really is that good, why isn’t he able to get a grip of a RedBull without EBD ?

  32. Paul Barrass says:

    I think what we can all agree on, is that over the last three years, the only driver to really cement his position as Outstanding driver of his generation, is neither Vettel, Button, or Hamilton, and is instead Mr F. Alonso.

    If I had a team and had my pick of drivers he would be top of the list, even if i can’t stand him, and I have no idea why, he simply demands respect with his driving ability. I think Lewis and Seb might well be faster than him on any given day given the right equipment, but he has shown in his mettle in the red corner superbly, unless anyone wants to argue that Massa is now simply so bad that he is making Alonso look that good.

  33. ROBERTO MARQUEZ says:

    If an allien watched the first 3 races he would had got to the next conclusion:they have a sport on planet earth that consists on changing round rubbery appendixes to vehicles in movement,the object of the game is to make as many or as few changes to allow vehicle to go round as many laps as posible in least time.We do not undesrstand why the “pit crews “do not go to receive the prizes.The drivers will to race fast ,according to our scanners, are secondary to keeping the rubery appendixes in one piece. We will observe other planets to see similarities.My wish :PUT REAL TYRES ON

  34. KRB says:

    It’s been a decent start for LH this year. Only in 2007 and 2011 did he have better results for the first three rounds, although in 2011 Vettel was already 21 pts ahead (even after LH’s win in China)! In 2007 after 3 rds he was tied on pts with FA and KR, but 3rd on countback.

    He needs a win now, though I don’t think Bahrain’s been his favourite track. He’s done ok there. The four straights could help Mercedes to again get pole.

    Have to find the last season where three different constructors, nevermind drivers, took the flag at the first three races in a season. It was 2010 actually, though that was helped thru Vettel’s retirements in Bahrain and Australia that year. Last time before that was 1990!

  35. JB says:

    If anyhow Hamilton continues this consistency.. he will be impossible to beat. No weakness. The complete specimen.

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