Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Hamilton gives title rivals something to think about
Hamilton gives title rivals something to think about
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Nov 2010   |  3:35 pm GMT  |  164 comments

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

Hamilton: Believes he can win race (Darren Heath)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Friday practice

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

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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

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

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

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

Facts.. if you like it or not 🙂


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

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

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


GAP Alonso Webber 0.133

More astonishing GAP Vettel Webber 0.531

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


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

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

what say you??


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

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



Qualy will be very important -as always- and it will give us a big indication on Sunday’s script.

However, some filmscripts are unpredictable. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a great plot!


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


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


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


Off topic James, I have notice that Redbull are lifting Daniel Ricciardo profile on their website.

Do you think they will promote him when Webber moves on?

Or will they go for a more experienced driver?


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


Maybe Ferrari were sandbagging with the Massa “no fuel” situation!!

Maybe they want everybody to believe that they were on a low fuel load.

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


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

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


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


but it’ll be sooo cool if hamilton…..


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


Gee you brits are tough on Jenson.

Every driver isnt a robot, we need different

drivers with different qualities and likes, dislikes about car setups and circuits.

Every driver at their best with their ideal car setup and track would be a boring race.

They’d all tie first.

Variety is the key, so c’mon let Jenson “feel the love”.

Otherwise lets remove all the drivers and make it “Remote Control F1”, kinda like the drones the air force has !

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

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

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

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


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


Buy his book, the answer is inside.


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


Then wait’till after the race ;}?


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


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



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

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


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


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

Bring on Qualifying!

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Looking forward to next year.


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


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


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


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

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


I am a massive Jenson fan, and when he is comfortable with the car set up he shows his quality but i am concerned he does seem to be developing a mental block when his car is not 100% to his liking.

In Jensosns defence though having three different race engineers this season cant have helped matters.


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

It happens every year.


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


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


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

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

Can you hear the drums, Fernando?


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


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


agree unless problem when refueling the car

Top Tags