Hamilton aims to end season on a high
Hamilton aims to end season on a high
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Oct 2009   |  10:16 pm GMT  |  26 comments

Lewis Hamilton has been in a class of one this weekend and today he looks set to end the season on a real high with a victory at the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Photo: Darren Heath

Photo: Darren Heath

If that happens, it will be his third victory in the second half of the season, to go with three podiums; an outcome few would have predicted when the McLaren was two seconds off the pace in the Barcelona test.

Hamilton was asked this evening whether he feels that with the car he now has, he could have competed for the world championship and his answer was interesting,

“I don’t think so, it’s hard to say. There are some tracks where the car has been quite poor, like Spa. This car, even though it feels quite good here on these low speed corners, is still not the best car, by a fair amount. We still have a lot to improve on. The foundations of the car are what’s not perfect so we need to get that right for next year.

“The faster we go the worse the car gets, in the high speed corners. We have got closer and if we had this car from the beginning we would be a lot closer.

As for this weekend, Hamilton has been the red hot favourite right from first practice, but he seemed to stretch away from the rest during qualifying, rather like Usain Bolt. We’ve grown used to Bolt doing that now in sprint races, but the first time he did it was a surprise and Hamilton says his margin over the field here has come as a surprise,
“I didn’t expect (to be this dominant), it’s a real surprise, the car feels the best it’s felt all year and it’s a surprise to all of us,” he said.

“We are getting no more than we normally get from KERS, It was probably the best lap I’ve done all year. It was near to my perfect lap, maybe a few hundredths here or there but it was good.”

Team mate Heikki Kovalainen, making what is likely to be his last appearance for McLaren, looks set to start from 18th on the grid after a five place penalty for a gearbox change.

Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen has said that it’s McLaren or nothing for him next season as he only wants to drive a car capable of winning races. McLaren have let it be known that there is interest in Jenson Button, to cool Raikkonen’s financial demands and this is not doing Button’s cause with Brawn any harm. Although I get the feeling that there isn’t much movement there and Button is going to struggle to squeeze more money out of the team. He knows that he would be ill advised to go up against Hamilton in a McLaren and Raikkonen knows that too.

The Finn is probably the only driver on the grid who would take on that challenge.

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“A thought occurred to me this morning – has Hamilton ever had a mechanical DNF during a race?”

Do you have any power over outcomes through your thinking? 😉


A thought occurred to me this morning – has Hamilton ever had a mechanical DNF during a race? I think his only exits from races are either from crashes or pit lanes incidents! He’s never had an engine go or a gearbox failure during a race.


For statistics:

This pole moves Hamilton in front of Kimi in regards to numbers of poles taken in total.


…also i would like to add…despite Jenson becoming the wdc this yr he has not particularly impressed me, except for Brazil where he put in an incredible drive…my top 3 drivers for the season are Raikkonen (for his persistence and abililty to wrangle results out of a shitebox of a Ferrari), Lewis for his sheer determination in never giving up on this yrs McLaren and making the most of every development that they have brought to each race, and Rosberg who has matured beyond recognition as the season has progressed.


“The Finn is probably the only driver on the grid who would take on that challenge.”

and rightly so…the last time i remember the F1 fraternity getting so excited about a driver before Lewis came along was when Raikkonen broke the mould by casually skipping F3 and F3000 to become a F1 Driver…we really do have a golden generation in F1 at the minute and for the first time we genuinely have the prospect of them all facing each other in competitive cars (next season).

Jenson and his petty squabbles with the Brawn team will soon be forgotten as Jenson will be yesterdays news as soon as the 2010 season begins and regular service resumes with the best 4 drivers in f1 sitting in the best 4 seats.


Excited in the sens of “outraged” or “astounded” you mean? At least that’s the reactions I remember of Raikkonen entering F1. Same with Hamilton.

In the case of Raikkonen it was mostly safety concerns, but there was quite an uproar that Sauber decided to put Raikkonen in the car. Raikkonen actually had a reasonably unimpressive first year in F1.

With Hamilton people were calling Dennis crazy not to opt for De La Rosa or even Paffet. De La Rosa actually seemed 100% sure he would get that drive.


Button would struggle at Mclaren, the team is built around Hamilton, as we have seen with Kovalainen, they need a development driver to test tyres and strategy. However at brawn he has the chance to build, why does he care about the money now, when he has made a bucketload since starting at Williams?


Hi James
Hamilton is a good driver but not unbeatable, I think JB would be a great team mate for LH as they are both have different racing/driving styles & would make a formidable team.
On JB’s salary from Brawn it has me asking questions about other top drivers salaries. The FIA have announced that it wants the sport to cut down on costs, that must include drivers salaries. If there is a cap on spending imposed how about a salary level being introduced with a capped top salary that would be agreeable to all drivers.

Keep reading that drivers would drive for nothing if they were given a chance for a top spot but so far the only person to take a drop in salary so he could help his team is JB! Yes he wants his salary put back in place who wouldn’t after the year he’s had; especially having to put up with RB’s tantrums & demands. The bottom line here is to give structure back into F1, these drivers are not going to starve if their pay is cut.

It is about time that the archaic rule of only taking a new driver if he brings enough sponsorship to the team is abandoned. It is hard as a new driver trying to get a seat in F1 – if the driver has been asked to drive for an F1 team pay the person a fair wage, make it a fair sport. Do you know of any other professional sport where this happens James as I don’t?

I am a huge fan of F1 & this years BBC coverage but am not impressed by Leigh Mackenzie or Jonathan Legard who I would love to see replaced by someone like Suzy Perry who is fun & knows her sport & bring back Murray Walker… Really like Jake, DC & EJ. I absolutely adore getting your tweets James & your insider information, hope you are staying as you are so part of F1!!! Oh yes, forgot Martin Brundle, adore his grid walks, his humour & honesty.

Looking forward to the race tomorrow & your tweets James. Thanks for reading my ramblings. -:)


Didn’t Alonso also take a cut in salary this year at Renault?

Paige Michael-Shetley

James, I’d like to get your thoughts on something:

Lots of people in the past have belittled Hamilton’s setup and development ability. Yet, the progress that McLaren have made with the MP4-24 is undeniable, as is the fact they’ve had to do so relying on the feedback he’s been giving them at race weekends with no testing in the season and thus no ability to use DLR (who many would say is the best development driver on the grid). Surely, the progress the MP4-24 has made over the season would seem to suggest that perhaps Hamilton has become a pretty good development driver.

He’s also had situations like Singapore and Suzuka, in which the car was off in practice and McLaren had to make big changes quickly to improve it. Surely in such situations, Hamilton’s feedback would have to have been spot-on so they could make the right changes quickly.

What are your thoughts in light of how the season has evolved about Hamilton’s setup/development ability? Are you hearing any comments from insiders about it?


I’ll look at that over the winter, Paige.


In terms of outright speed, Hamilton and Raikkonen would probably be the rainbow’s end. Driver relationships would be irrelevent because the Finn doesn’t seem to have them!

Yet would two super-fast but developmentally questionable drivers really be the ultimate solution? Would, say, Button’s tyre management or Alonso (or Barrichello’s) set-up capabilities be a better combination?


I think that this year has shown Hamilton is more than able in the areas of car set-up and tyre managment.

And looking at car development – If Fred is worth 0.7 sec, then Hamilton must surely be worth about 2 sec!


But Lewis lost the team the time they had to make up at the begining of this season. If he wrapped up the 2008 championship earlier, McLaren could have made a good 2009 car instead of being 2 seconds behind.


James, what do you think of the recent rumors linking Heidfeld to McLaren? I’d be absolutely thrilled to see Quick Nick finally get a win.


A good candidate, who could handle being in the team with Hamilton


I think Raikkonen against Hamilton is a fascinating prospect. They both seem to prefer a car with a strong front end and a rear end that can be a little loose. The Ferrari has the opposite characteristics, which is what makes Kimi’s efforts in the second part of the season so impressive.

Next year I think Ferrari will start with an advantage, because they stopped developing this year’s car ages ago to concentrate on 2010.

I don’t know about McLaren. The way they have transformed this year’s car is amazing. I would probably have wagered money after Melbourne that it would never win a race this year, but now look at it. I just hope they, too are working hard on 2010, but they cannot be as advanced as Ferrari.

I think tomorrow Lewis should win comfortably, barring mishaps, and that Kimi may pick up a point or two at best, but that’s a reflection on their cars, not their respective ability.


With the most stable set of regs for a while, a huge amount of development done mid season this year will aid next years car more than in recent seasons.

A with a testing ban – it makes sense to work the development hard given those circumstances

Therefore, stopping the development of the car mid season and banking on your 2010 car is a huge risk and would tend to indicate that Ferrari will abandon completely the concept of the 2009 chassis and aero


James, it’s been great to see Hamilton and the team really develop this season. I was wondering if you have any insider info on next years car though?

Throughout the back end of the season we’ve constantly keep hearing the patented ‘Ferrari line’ of “we haven’t been developing the car….” which carries with it the implication that the guys at Marenello thought this was the best way to go for 2010. Although this was clearly of huge benefit for Brawn this season, McLaren clearly did not agree and did not follow suit.

Given the minimal aero changes and the lack of track testing going forward do you think the data from these parts will be useful for McLaren next yr on the MP4-25 or have they potentially been wasting valuable time?


No one driver is that much better than another driver (i.e. half a second fuel corrected). The difference this weekend is the car. The McLaren is the best car on tracks that don’t feature an abundance of high speed bends (where Red Bull dominate). That’s why Hamilton has become so competitive in recent times.

McLarens in season development is frankly amazing and the fact they expected Lewis and Heikki to be 1-2 says it all.

I’m still half expecting Kovalinen to get on the podium given the car under him (edit with the gearbox change and Heikki’s overtaking skills that’s unlikely), it’s like the Red Bull at Silverstone, a good half second faster than any machine on track.

Big up the driver all you want, but it’s 95% car, 5% Lewis. I’d love to see Kimi go back to McLaren, see how he’d take Lewis on, but equally I think Kimi has lost a fair bit of his passion and wonder if his speed has gone too?


Wrong!!!! Kovalainen was struggling to get out of the first stage of Q1. He was clearly over half a second off the pace. Lets not even mention the situation at Ferrari.

I think a driver can make that difference


I remember Senna putting 1.5s between himself and Andretti in qualifying. In Andretti’s car even!


Yeah but 5% is more than the difference between first and last car on the grid.

Hence the driver matters.


5% driver? tell that to ferrari and luca badoer…


He knows that he would be ill advised to go up against Hamilton in a McLaren and Raikkonen knows that too.

The Finn is probably the only driver on the grid who would take on that challenge

Say that loud to shush the Kimi nay-sayers questioning his motivation! – that was a nice compliment to Kimi.


I love that line too and its a fact. I am hoping for that epic year in 2010!!!

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