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JA on F1 2012 Mid season Review: Part 2
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Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Aug 2012   |  8:41 am GMT  |  68 comments

Yesterday we looked at the teams who have matched or exceeded expectations so far this year. Part 2 of our mid season review focusses on the teams that have enjoyed some success, but who are left feeling that there should have been a lot more.

This group contains Williams, Sauber and McLaren.


WILLIAMS
Williams is still one of the most popular teams in F1, thanks to its place in the sport’s history, but it has made precious little history of its own in the last seven years and is in transition with Patrick Head retired and Frank Williams handing over more responsibility to Toto Wolff.

After BMW’s departure the squeeze on funding and the hiring of many of their best staff by manufacturer teams meant that Williams suffered a slump. Many feared a repeat of Tyrrell, but this year has seen a return to form with a new technical department led by Mike Coughlan and Prof. Mark Gillan, one of the savviest race operations men around.

The result is Williams’ first win since 2004, when Pastor Maldonado took victory from pole in Barcelona. It was just one of those days when everything came together. But it was no flash in the pan; Maldonado and Williams started stongly by battling for fifth place with Alonso in Melbourne. Unfortunately the Venezuelan threw it into the fence on the final lap, leaving a guaranteed 8 points on the table.

And that has rather characterised their season; Valencia was another race where the forceful Maldonado went home empty handed after colliding with Hamilton in a fight at the end of the race for a podium. In all Maldonado has qualified in the top ten six times, but only had two points scoring finishes.

Bruno Senna has had quite a few off days, but has also been more reliable with six points scoring finishes, showing what is possible if Maldonado could keep it on the island.

The Williams is fast in qualifying and easy on its tyres in the race; the recipe for success is all there. If Alonso had been driving a Williams this year he would have 80+ points on the board.

Gillan and his track ops team have found a way to get the Pirellis to work most of the time. Williams traditionally keep developing to the end of the season, so there will be more opportunities. But the top five teams are throwing some serious resources at development and one fears that the best opportunities this year may lie behind for Williams.

WILLIAMS DRIVER STATS:

Maldonado: 29 points (P11), 1 wins; 1 pole; 9 no-scores; 37 laps led; Average grid slot: P11

Head to head qualifying vs team mate: Maldonado 9-2 Senna

Senna: 24 points (P15); 5 no-scores; Average grid slot: P13


SAUBER

Two podiums for a team like Sauber would normally be considered a fantastic return from a first half of a season. But they have had one of the fastest race cars in the field on several occasions and could have had so much more, including a breakthrough win in Malaysia, where Sergio Perez was faster that Alonso but a combination of cautious strategy and a mistake by the Mexican led to a second place finish instead.

The Sauber was a car others were copying right from the start of the season; its exhaust design has found its way onto several cars. Like the Lotus, it is really good on the Pirelli tyres in the race; able to run longer stints on softer tyres than its rivals, able to make one less pit stop sometimes, which has given the team some great results.

But like Williams they have also seen many points go begging and the inability to qualify in the top 10 consistently is making the task of scoring points much harder. The drivers have not been outstanding, notwithstanding Perez two fine podium drives. Kobayashi has shown some glimpses of the mercurial magic we came to love last season, but now he has a competitive car he should have double the points he has on the board.

If a team like Sauber can fight for podiums then F1 is as it should be; it should not always be just the top four teams dominating everything. However as the big teams hit the spend button in the development arms race, one fears for Sauber that the opportunities for the second half of the season may be fewer.

To hear Sauber boss Monisha Kaltenborn’s assessment of the season so far, on the latest JA on F1 Podcast, click HERE

SAUBER DRIVER STATS:

Perez: 47 points (P9), 2 podiums; 6 no-scores; 7 laps led; Average grid slot: P13

Head to head qualifying vs team mate: Perez 6-5 Kobayashi

Kobayashi: 33 points (P10); 6 no-scores; 0 laps led; Average grid slot: P11


MCLAREN

Three wins, five podiums, two poles, second in the constructor’s points table and fourth and seventh in the drivers’ table. Success or failure?

McLaren can divide their year so far into three parts; they had the fastest car at the start of the season with front row lock outs at the first two races. But they didn’t press home the competitive advantage. Then they lost their way a bit as others got a better handle on the tyres. McLaren found mismatched temperatures front to rear and this threw Button completely, while Hamilton soldiered on.

More recently they look like they’ve got their act together again and as we head into the second half of the season they look like winning races and coming back at Red Bull in the Constructors’ race, especially with Button’s return to form in Germany.

But how many points have been left on the table in the first 11 races; in contrast to Alonso who has maxxed everything out, except the occasional strategy error, which might conceivably have led to a better outcome?

Pit stop howlers at the start of the season, losing pole due to under fuelling in Barcelona, many points lost in Valencia, bad luck with a puncture in Germany; Hamilton’s season is littered with what might have beens.

But he’s on form, driving very well and two strong victories at his beloved Montreal and Budapest point to a second half of the season where he could rack up a number of wins. Whether it’s enough to claw back the 47 point defect to Alonso in the title race, time will tell.

MCLAREN DRIVER STATS:

Hamilton: 117 points (4th), 2 wins; 3 podiums; 3 poles; 2 no-scores; 115 laps led; Average grid slot: P5

Head to head qualifying vs team mate: Hamilton 10-1 Button

Button: 76 points (P8); 1 win; 2 podiums; 0 poles; 4 no-scores; 61 laps led; Average grid slot: P7

What’s your view? Do you agree with these assessments or do you have a different opinion? Leave your comments below.

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68 Comments
  1. tom adams says:

    What do you think Bruno’s chances are to stay with the team next year?

    1. James Clayton says:

      I think hovering slightly below zero, unfortunately.

      He might find a seat in another team. If Heiki does move, perhaps he’ll get the Caterham seat?

      1. Spider says:

        Hi James

        There might be an article in this. If not for Bruno, who should Williams have hired at the start of this season and then speculate the impact they might/might not have had.

        FYI – I think Kimi was wise/fortunate not to drive for Williams. The speed of Lotus have lifted his price tag for the future.

      2. James Allen says:

        As Murray used to say “If” is “F1″ backwards – whatever that means!

      3. forzaminardi says:

        It occurs to me (admittedly as a die hard Rubens fan) that keeping Barrichello on board would have seen Williams with 40-odd+ points further up the constructor’s championship.

      4. Erik W says:

        forzaminardi: Yeah, that is so true. Rubens might be slower over a lap compared to Maldonado but he makes 100 times less mistakes.

        Maldonado tries to win the championship in every corner fighting with the wrong cars and the wrong teams when it means nothing for the race result. It will never change because he don’t acknowledge those as mistakes, just bad luck.

        Rubens would have brought the points home and that is crucial for Williams(concorde money).
        One rookie is enough for any team. They need a driver who know what he wants in the car and put the development team in the right direction.

  2. Armchair Expert says:

    Williams: “The Williams is fast in qualifying and easy on its tyres in the race; the recipe for success is all there. If Alonso had been driving a Williams this year he would have 80+ points on the board.”

    Sauber: “The drivers have not been outstanding, notwithstanding Perez two fine podium drives. Kobayashi has shown some glimpses of the mercurial magic we came to love last season, but now he has a competitive car he should have double the points he has on the board.”

    So you James are saying their drivers are not good. Fair enough (not that I agree with it, as in my opinion Perez is a future star) but why you didn’t mention how hopeless Button was in HALF of the season so far? If you could say drivers of these 2 teams are not impressive for you except few races, then surely you could say the same about Button, who had only 5 or 6 good races so far? Instead you just said how somehow the team was at fault (“McLaren found mismatched temperatures front to rear and this threw Button completely”) for his slow pace, while of course not mentioning at all how Sauber drivers had 6 problems with their cars (gearbox, suspension, hydraulics) and as many strategy errors, which all contributed to lost chances of scoring more points. Sorry, but for me this is not objective.

    1. Kay says:

      +1 on Button.

      Hamilton had the same car to drive and took everything out of it.

      1. Cliff says:

        You could have made the same comment about Hamilton lasy year, but in truth we knew that he was just having a poor season.

      2. Kay says:

        Yer, Hamilton’s poor season was down to him being more of a celebrity than a driver.
        Button’s poor season down to him not able to drive the car than anything else.

        Like I said, Hamilton had the same car, he had no problems.

        Alonso, we all know too well how he’s performing. JA pointed out Alonso tried a new method in adapting his driving to make the car run better on tyres by pulling his car straight as soon as he is out of the corner, thus both wheels have the same wear.

        MSC in Silverstone as pointed out by JA found ways to solve understeer issues, by turning in early and slam down the throttle to force the front skid thus generating heat.

        Button, when car isn’t to his liking, can he find ways to solve it himself? No. That’s how all this ‘Button moaning’ stuff came about.

      3. James Allen says:

        Correction: It was MSC in Germany in the rain.

      4. Scott D says:

        Interesting to note that it is the usual suspects who are quick to post at any Button bashing opportunity (not that there have been very many in recent years). I think James has made an objective assessment and it is clear to anyone who reads this article carefully enough that he thinks Jenson has underperformed this season (and I am sure that JB would be the first to agree).

      5. Kay says:

        Well Scott D, believe it or not I have a huge hate for Vettel but I credit him for his driving, I dislike Schumacher but I’m happy for him that he came to form to stop the criticism through his driving and not his mouth. If you ask me, I’d prefer Massa winning the 2008 WDC than Hamilton due to HAM’s past cockiness with the media and team.

        Button is not in my dislike books, and in fact I quite like him for his character and ability to drive when the car is right, and ONLY when the car is right. In the Forza game I play on XBOX I have quite a few paints that were made in his honour. So when I speak the honest truth about what I think of this guy’s potential, that automatically makes me a hater? Rather than branding me as a Button hater, why don’t the same people just see some sense and admit Jenson is just not on the level of HAM, ALO and VET etc?

        Maybe Jenson can prove me wrong by out-driving the car like how his teammate does, which I do sincerely hope. So far he hasn’t.

    2. TheGreatTeflonso says:

      While I’m not Button’s biggest fan, he’s certainly better than the Williams and Sauber drivers. James didn’t say the Sauber drivers were not good, he said they were not outstanding. Realistically I don’t think even a handful of drivers have been outstanding, which is why there are so many winners, because only one has been truly outstanding and is leading the championship in a 4th placed car.

    3. Andrew Carter says:

      Buttons problems were a combination of his driving style and a suspension system (since been removed, if not exactly identified)that wasnt working like they’d hopped snow balling, Hamilton’s driving style made up for the problem some what. Since Silverstone where this system was removed he’s been on form again. With Sauber it’s a case of the drivers not seemingly getting everything out of the car, particularly in qualy, and letting the points go begging. In Williams case its Maldonado trying to see if he can successfuly hit all 23 drivers on the grid with him and Senna being particualrly off the boil in qualy.

      1. Oliver says:

        I think the suspension system was tried to help him improve and it didn’t work. Not like the suspension system was what caused his slump. Whitmarsh has made too many excuses for Button when he should have just kept quiet.

      2. Andrew Carter says:

        Except that the reports are that the system was added in Barcelona and removed by Valencia, coinciding with Jenson’s slump nicely.

      3. Oliver says:

        I don’t buy into that argument. I had the impression that whatever was tried was only at one race only, hence the “untested”. Button’s problem all season is getting to master the tyres hence they tried that trick to give him a leg up.

    4. futureshock999 says:

      So you are saying JB was “hopeless” in a half of a season in which he had more wins than the vast majority of the field? Granted the car was capable of maybe one more (given teammate results), but the words hopeless show a clear bias. Jenson has the wrong driving style for these tyres, without a doubt – it takes a more aggressive style to get enough heat into them, via turn-in and braking. But now that the revised suspension is more driveable, I expect him to get a lot more points for the Constructor’s championship. People try to compare JB to Lewis, and that is the wrong comparison. Compare him to Massa, Rosberg, Grosjean – respective #2 drivers on a team. I believe most teams would take JB over all of them in their current form and maturity.

      1. Oliver says:

        You can only be compared to your team mate as you both have the same car. But in my opinion, Button’s performance hasn’t changed, the competitive nature of current F1 means if he qualifies just a few tenths off Hamilton, instead of being 2 or 3 places back, he might end up, 6 or further positions behind. There is very little the team can do to help him from that position as using the undercut will only take you one or two positions forward, yet the fragile tyres will have to cover an even greater distance.

      2. Erik W says:

        It is tough for Jenson to be compared to Lewis but as I see it Jensons driving style is a problem since he isn’t capable to change it to maximize current conditions.

        That is where Alonso excels. The worse the car the larger distance to his teammates. He will drive around the problems as is the archetype of all real top drivers.

        Schumacher was the same when he peaked.

        Jenson cannot drive if the car isn’t perfect.
        It often has to do with a lack of car feel. Doesn’t really understand what to do and how to react in stints when conditions changes.

        That is a must now when tyre conservation and how to work them is a huge issue.

        If rears go off first you need to start with some understeer and finish the stint with oversteer to maximize performance.

        What he has shown this far is that he cannot handle it.

        He’s a nice chap and good at PR. But he needs to score on weekends when everything isn’t to his liking.

  3. Adrian Morse says:

    James,
    Interesting article, though. To me the most mysterious is Sauber’s season so far. On occasion they have had race-winning pace, but they only have two podiums to show for it so far. You seem to suggest it’s for a large part the drivers that need to improve, but without one driver consistently delivering, it’s hard to say whether the problem is car or driver. At Ferrari and McLaren, for instance, it’s clear that Massa and Button have underperformed (on occasion for the latter). For Sauber, to what extent are the engineers to blame for not getting the car to work consistently?

    As for the pace of Williams, I have sometimes wondered what Alonso or Hamilton would have done with it. I don’t think Alonso would have a further 40 points under his belt if he had driven for Williams, though. On a couple of occasions the Williams has been really good, but mostly they have been scraping into Q3. Unless, of course, Maldonado is really not that fast after all. I guess that’s difficult to ascertain.

  4. Spanco says:

    James, I think you’ll find that Hamilton has 3 poles up until now.

  5. Kobifan says:

    > Sauber able to make one less pit stop sometimes

    This is not true anymore. Now they can warm up tires quickly in cost of losing “-1 pit” magic.

  6. gudien says:

    Very nice part 2, James. Subtle. Leaving Jenson Button out of the second half of the season at McLaren says a lot. Telling us the Sauber drivers Kamui and Sergio haven’t been outstanding is accurate. And mentioning Mark Gillan at Williams, along with Mike Coughlan let’s us know there’s more to F-1 than drivers pushing on the loud pedal.

    We all look forward to your part 3.

    PS; Does your son still like Force India’s colors?

  7. goferet says:

    Whether it’s enough to claw back the
    47 point defect to Alonso in the title race, time will tell.
    ————————————————-

    If Mclaren can keep on winning, sure, Lewis has a shot at crawling that deficit back.

    Interestingly, each time Mclaren has won a race in 2012, Alonso has finished 5th.

    Also another good sign in Lewis’ favour is whoever has won Abu-Dhabi the previous year has not only gone on to have the fastest car the following year but has also gone on to clinch the WDC title.

    So yeah, am fairly confident the stars are in Lewis’ favour however, regards the constructors’ title — That’s a different story all together for that story has always has a sad ending.

    Now regards Sauber & Williams, I agree with the assessments above and yes those two teams have been a welcome surprise for 2012 in that they’re strong midfield runners to the point of giving the front runners a run for their money in the race trim and thus if any of the big teams mess up, these teams will take full advantage = Great for competition.

    All in all, it hasn’t been a perfect first half for Williams, Sauber & Mclaren but this is the reason why the F1 calendar was stretched out from the 1950s calendars i.e. To give teams a chance to atone for previous errors.

    1. Andrew M says:

      I think the second half of the season will be very similar to 2005 and 2009 – Hamilton and the Red Bulls will come back at Alonso but lack the consistency to take it from him, with Alonso pulling out the results as he needs to to stall them just enough.

      I hope I’m wrong…

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      Was it not you in “previewing” Canada, suggested that history proves that the winner of the Canadian GP usually doesn’t win the WDC??
      Just asking…

      1. goferet says:

        @ hero was Senna

        Yeah it was me!

        But the law of averages states that it’s about time the Canada winner goes ahead to break the spell.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        You remind me of my EX wife, an answer for everything!!!

    3. KRB says:

      Well, before the season started, I said that if LH was going to do it, that he’d have to win more races than he’s ever done before (5* in 2008). I still think six race wins, in a 20-race season, will be the minimum needed to take the title. Winning four of the next nine races? That would be tough for any driver, but as in 2005, it can be done. What McLaren and Lewis need is for Lotus to be good, but not that good, so that LH can take the wins, but that JB, KR, and RG take points places away from FA and RBR.

      I still think the DWC table will need a no-score from FA to make it interesting, though just read about James Hunt being effectively 35 points back of Lauda with only 7 races left (though of course Lauda missed two races after his crash), back in the 9-6-4-3-2-1 scoring days! Almost 4 races wins behind, equivalent to a say 99 pt deficit today. Jenson Button have hope!!

      On a side note, if Alonso scores next race, he’ll equal Schumi’s points-finish streak record, though he does have a 9th place in there (Bahrain this year), which wouldn’t have garnered points back when Schumi did it. Always hard to do those comparisons, as if we were using 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 then Alonso would’ve been pushing to make that 9th an 8th, etc.

      Similar streak dilemma’s were the Detroit Red Wings’ home winning streak this past season, in an era where games can no longer end in a tie, or the 2002 “Moneyball” Oakland A’s win streak that was only an American League best, when the 1916 NY Giants had a tie-game in their streak, etc. Gotta love sports … nothing is straitforward cut-and-dried!!

  8. Pranav Haldea says:

    While it is true that Alonso has maxxed out everything this year, he has also by far been the luckiest of the front running drivers in the championship…Not only has he been incredibly lucky with reliability (think Vettels retirement in Valencia, Hamiltons gearbox penalty etc.), he has also been lucky in the sense that whenever he has won/scored loads of points, his closest rivals have had DNFs…Its hard to believe that after Canada, Hamilton was the championship leader by 2 points and in just 3 races, Alonso turned a ‘-2′ deficit into a 62 point gap!! Thats 64 points extra over Ham in 3 races or 22 points per race…Incredible…

    I, for one, am hoping to see a few DNFs from Alonso in the next few races…I think Maldonaldo needs to make him his next target..:-)

    1. AlexD says:

      Whatever you with to other people, I hope it will happen to you:-)

    2. r0ssj says:

      Well the cars aren’t supposed to break down, so the fact the Ferrari has been more reliable than other cars isn’t really Alonso being lucky.

      Ferrari have just done a better job up to now providing their driver with a reliable car. Given the work and attention to detail this likely involves the Ferrari mechanics and workers putting in, I wouldn’t call it luck.

      1. futureshock999 says:

        I disagree – the history of Formula 1 has been written by fast, leading-edge machines built to the very razor’s edge of tolerances and reliability. In years past the championship was routinely influenced by blown engines, failed gearboxes, etc. It has only been since the introduction of the 18,000 rpm engine limits that we have seen near bullet-proof reliability become the norm, and last few years gearbox reliability has been fairly consistent as well. Of course, as James has written, the gearboxes THIS year have failed at much higher rate, so now we see the _traditional_ F1 engineering battle playing a role. If we think that F1 is as much about engineering as driving, then we should welcome that race as well…

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      Personally I find that quite sad, wishing I’ll fortune upon others.
      Myself, when Vettel was dominating last year, not once did I wish his car to breakdown, all I prayed for was some competition. Ideally Ferrari but I celebrated when Mclaren or Webber won also.
      It’s not just Alonso who has had great reliability this year, massa has as well it’s just that incidents in races gave made it look a very different landscape.
      Are you also hoping that Kimi has un reliability, as I don’t remember him breaking down this year either…

  9. Davej says:

    Hi James, great blog! Lewis has 5 podiums and Jenson has 3.

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t count the wins in the podiums, Its x wins plus y other podiums, if you look at the style in which we’ve done the others

      1. Davej says:

        Gotcha..Thanks!

  10. Irish Con says:

    Just imagine what alonso would of done in that 08 Ferrari. Hamilton wouldn’t have a world title if Ferrari had of got him after he left McLaren but I don’t think McLaren would of let him join Ferrari directly. I think he would of won the 08 and 10 titles if he had of joined Ferrari in 2008.

    1. Spinodontosaurus says:

      If Ferrari had developed the car towards Raikkonen and not Massa, Raikkonen would have won the 2008 championship.
      If Schumi had stayed on through to 2007, and thus Ferrari build another oversteery car, then it would have been a toss up between those 2 for the 2007 title and 2008 one too.
      All of these ‘what iffs’… If Massa had better reliability and a car that wasnt aquaphobic, he WOULD have won in 2008..
      I don’t see the point in all the what iff speculation.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        I disagree, Raikonen started 2008 far stronger than Massa, yet Massa got stronger and stronger as the season went on.
        If the car developed in a direction that suited Massa more, then it is to with the team focusing on the stronger driver. In the same way that the Ferrari has focused on Alonso more over the last 3 seasons.
        Whatever period in history you care to choose, the stronger personality always drives the teams attention.

      2. Sebastian says:

        Had hamilton not taken kimi out in the pit lane in canada the season would have turned out very differently….

    2. W Johnson says:

      One could also dream up scenarios in which Alonso did not win any WDC titles….

      It is a fact that Lewis was clearly the best driver in 2008 and was also arguably denied the 2007 WDC by the Ferrari International Assistance.

      1. Irish con says:

        [mod] Massa was the better driver in 2008. He made less mistakes than hamilton. He only lost the title that year due to the engine blowing in Hungary, the pit lane incident in Singapore and the safety car costing him points in Germany and Canada and Monaco. That’s a fact and people will say lewis lost points in spa. Do the maths who lost most. And also massa got a point in fuji which he shouldn’t of got. Very unlucky that year was massa.

      2. Oliver says:

        How about Massa inheriting a win he didn’t deserve in Belgium for an unwritten rule.
        How about all the penalties Hamilton received in 2008 for ridiculous things, that cost him lots of points. Massa got Assistance from Kimi relinquishing a win. Hamilton didn’t get that luxury.
        Both drivers drove well, the FIA was a bit heavy handed on Mclaren back then, hence the disparity.

      3. David C says:

        You’ve forgotten Massa’s mistakes at Silverstone (where he spun his Ferrari on 5 occasions), and at Singapore (where he drove out of this pits with his refueling rig still attached). It was these critical errors that cost Massa the championship in 2008, even despite Ferrari International Assistance gifting Massa victory at Spa.

      4. W Johnson says:

        Some bad strategy calls from Ferrari perhaps BUT Massa did indeed make mistakes so perhaps one should look to these failings as this made the difference betweeen Lewis and Massa winning the WDC in 2008!

        Fuji – Massa knocked Hamilton sending Hamilton to the back of the field! Although Massa was penalized, FIA’s bizarre reaction to another Massa collision, this time with Bourdais was illuminating as it was Bourdais that was penalized for the incident by FIA. This received widespead heavy criticism within the media and ex drivers. Bourdais hit he nail on the head with his bemused post race comment, “What was I supposed to do”…lay out a red carpet for Massa?

        I believe James Allen commenting for ITV said the Bourdais penalty was “ridiculous”. Needless to say that Massa again profited from another FIA decision that year!

        At Spa, Hamilton lost points but more importantly, who gained at his expense and unfairly given that he was 20 seconds behind? 6 free points to Massa courtesy of Massa’s friend, FIA.

        Hamilton also had his fair share of being unlucky, retiring in Canada after the pit lane incident and then heavily penalized by FIA at the French grand prix enabling Massa to win more points at Lewis’s expense!

        And despite the ban on team orders Kimi Raikkonen gave up his place to Massa in China -Another 4 easy points in the 2008 WDC to Massa!

        It would appear that some teams are sometimes more equal than others! Lewis fully deserved the title in 2008 after some strange FIA decisions.

      5. hero_was_senna says:

        Amazing everyone commenting on different points of Massa znd Hamilton.
        So Kimi gave up a place in China for him, what about Heikki moving aside for Hammy in Germ ny after Mckaren told him Lewis is faster than you? Funny how that didn’t call up a cheating storm like Ferrari in 2010.
        Everyone speaks of Monaco and points lost, who’s forgotten that Hamilton hit the barrier there, puncturing his tyre and practically losing there and then until circumstances brought the win to him.
        If. If. If….. If my auntie had balls she’d be my uncle!!!

      6. KRB says:

        hero_was_senna, I don’t recall McLaren radio’ing that to Heikki? He moved over, for sure, but I’m not sure how much Lewis knew about it beforehand. If you watch the onboard of him coming up behind Heikki at the hairpin, to my mind he hangs in behind him far too long, longer than he otherwise would have if he knew the pass was to happen then and there. Of course he figured it out quite quickly, what was going on, and took the place.

        I see nothing nothing wrong with a driver giving up a place for a teammate. Massa moving aside for Kimi in 2007, and Kimi for Massa in 2008, are absolute musts if you’re in a tight DWC fight. The 2010 Alonso-Massa thing smelled bad b/c Massa obviously was reluctant to give up the place, it was a year on exactly from his accident, and the radio messages just left a “how dumb do you think we are?” feeling with F1 fans. Of course, it was a dumb rule to begin with, impossible to police. Also, 2010 Alonso-Massa was total deja vu of 2005 Alonso-Fisichella at Canada (“What do I have to do? I’m faster!”).

        I would’ve loved it if Massa had come back with something like:

        “He is? Wow, he must be, b/c I never even saw him go past!”

        Alonso tried the “I’m faster, let me through” thing with Hamilton at the US Grand Prix, but Dennis didn’t oblige him. Lewis’ race engineer told Lewis about Fernando’s requests after the chequered flag, saying a thanks to Dennis was in order for letting them fight it out.

  11. Andrew Kirk says:

    Hi James, out of the three teams who do you think will be looking back right now at the start of the year with the most amount of pain? Mclaren who didn’t get the results with the fastest car? Sauber for not winning in Malaysia? Williams for Pastor bringing home his car in bits with 1 lap to go?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question – probably Williams, as they’ve had some tough times in last few years.

      McLaren can still turn it around

      1. F1 & Nismo says:

        I can see a Mclaren fighback with Lewis overhauling Fernando. Another factor these tyres require the driver to heat them up i.e. drivers that are generally the harder racer. Look at 2009, Jenson was good in the first half at Brawn. The second half Jenson was unable to warm his tyres unlike Ruben. If you can’t warm your tyres then the go and if heat your tyres too much then game over. The technical side is to balance it out like Lotus.

  12. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Hamilton clash with Maldonado was a big mistake, also pit stop problems, but McLaren has also poles and wins this year.

    If this year is all about “consistency”, so McLaren is not doing the job. Nor Maldonado.

    I think Williams could be happy from where they starts last year.

    Sauber also could be happy being the best of the midfield, and there Perez is the best.

    McLaren cannot be happy at all, but all they need is to keep heads down on work and, I agree, at least 1 DNF from Alonso, because just stay ahead of Alonso it is not enough.

  13. Charlie says:

    Its unlikely to happen, but I hope Williams finds some way of managing without Maldonado’s money.
    They could be so much higher than they are now if only Maldonado had finished more.

    My head says Maldonado and Bottas in 2013, but my heart says Senna and Bottas.

    1. Nathan says:

      My question is- would 2 places higher in the constructors champ cover the money they get from Pastor?

    2. hero_was_senna says:

      I believe Villeneuve once said, that’s its better to have speed within a driver with some rough edges to iron out, than to have a smooth driver and then try to develop the speed in him.
      After Barcelona, so many were praising Maldonado, yet a few incidents later he should be sacked. I think he has more untapped potential in him than Senna.
      Don’t forget, last season, against Narrichello, he was more impressive than Hulkenburg the previous year.

  14. Paul Kirk says:

    Just think where Williams would be if they hadn’t got rid of Rubens!
    PK.

  15. Elie says:

    Williams FW34 has been top3 capable in most races. I think Button is exactly what that team need & he won’t be in a positiion to bargain for top dollars much longer.

    I’m not too sure about Sauber- Yes they been quick at some circuit where one less stop worked but now other teams have found that little bit more pace and managing their tyres also. The driver pairing is excellent for a midfield team and I think only Caterham have a good pairing also.

    Caterham and more so Torro Rosso have to be disappointed & must surely have lost ground in development pace as they should be fighting higher up. Kovalienan has proved his mettle though!

    Force India are just holding ground relative to those around them with some inspired performances by Hulkenburg lately – must be contract neg time lol. Marussia and HRT will progress in the second half of the season. Especially HRT with new headquarters.

  16. J. S. says:

    James, regarding Williams’ improvement, how much of it is related to Renault versus Cosworth engine? Also, please update the standings tables on the right?

  17. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Great analysis James.

    I think this is one of the rare years where midfield drivers are really being reviewed on their pace. Usually they don’t have the hardware to be competitive, but this year they are in with a chance on the right day. I think the underwhelming performance of some of these drivers highlights why Ferrari are in such a predicament with their number 2 spot.

    Usually a midfield driver will be outperforming their car, but this year, its the reverse.

    It would be great if you could provide some insight as to what developments teams have brought about that have brought them back into contention. I would also be interested to hear who are the guns in the garages who are behind some of these developments. They are the true genii of the sport!

  18. greg says:

    to mention Mclaren in the same breath as sauber and williams is almost sacrilegious.

    Mclaren has been fighting consistently at the front for last 2 decades. The same can not br said about the other teams.

  19. Koby Fan says:

    I agree with Williams, Sauber and McLaren being in James’ group 2.

    Williams should easily be P5 in the constructors – their engineering and strategy have been excellent this year but they have leaked points from driver errors or over aggression. I actually like Pastor, unfortunately he has lost a bucket of pts by being more selective in his overtaking moves. For me, the jury is out on Bruno – he is carrying the weight of his uncle’s name and is not helped by having Bottas driving in free practice, but his midfield racecraft (like Filipe’s) is suspect.

    Sauber and McLaren on the other hand, have suffered from both driver and strategy errors. I agree that Koby needs to take his first podium this season using a conventional strategy. Valencia was a lost opportunity.

    One thing for sure is that Lewis’ form can’t be faulted this year.

  20. Rayz says:

    I think its fair to say that neither of the Sauber drivers have been outstanding. However, Perez has shown that he can be very, very quick when given the opportunity and with more experience, he will surely be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
    Kamui on the other hand, though he is very close in terms of speed to Perez, appears to be lacking something, he has more experience than Sergio but cannot put it to any use.
    Sauber on the whole tough have made a massive leap forward this year and I for one am delighted for Peter Sauber. Frank Williams gets a lot of credit (deservedly) for his efforts and it staggers me that Peter Sauber is left behind. What a great individual for the sport.

    McLaren have had a very unusual season for them. Its very rare that they get outdeveloped during a season, perhaps the fact that they started with the fastest car allowed them to slack off in the development race. Whatever the reason, it hit home at Silverstone when they had no pace and the upgrades brought to Hockenhim have worked a treat. Hamilton has driven superbly thus far, and for me, his final stint in Hungary, making those tyres last the bones of 30 laps is an ominous sign.
    Jenson has surprised me this season, but not in a good way. I thought he had turned the corner in his career last year when he found some proper pace and started out-racing Lewis. However, his attitude when things are not all rosy is questionable. I cant help but feel annoyed at his lack of fight when the car is not to his liking. Alonso typifies a true champion, when the car is not there for him, he grabs it around the neck and produces amazing performances. Jenson does not appear to have any damage limitation mode. When things are good, for sure he is very quick and capable of wins but when things are bad, thats where the difference is. That and the fact that Hamilton is a good half second quicker at most tracks must have the McLaren bosses worried. I think Jenson still has much to prove.

    1. Chris Chong says:

      It’s worth pointing out that generally, when one Sauber driver does well, so does the other (i.e. they’re either both in the points or not).

      It’s also worth noting that in the two instances where Perez got a podium, the team had split strategies – with Kobayashi getting the short end of the stick.

      Plus Kamui’s had a run of bad luck lately. His crash with Massa was a rare misstep considering the number of overtaking attempts he’s been making, his crash in Monaco was REALLY bad luck too, while various other engine/mechanical failures have also put a dent in his results.

    2. Oliver says:

      Jenson is still racing the same way as he has always done. It was only through team race strategy he got ahead of Hamilton last year. Mclaren tried the same tactics they used last year in Malyasia, china, Hungary, it didn’t work for Button anymore. The field is closer now and his poor qualifying is magnified even more by the competitive nature of the field.
      Withmarsh always talks about his intelligence, but I don’t see him being able to apply that in managing this years tyres.
      Withmarsh’s constant over hyping of Button is even drawing attention to his weakness.

  21. Sascha says:

    I fear McLaren will look like fools at the end of the season, due to the loads of points they have thrown away with pit stop errors and other blunders. Hamilton driving on highest level saved them from looking completely pathetic for quite a few races, but it might not be enough at the end of the day.
    Bridesmaid again like they have been at so many years. I hope I’m wrong with my pessimistic preview for Lewis Hamiltons sake, he deserves the WDC, McLaren not the WCC

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