Hamilton needs to ride out the storm
McLaren
Hamilton needs to ride out the storm
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jun 2011   |  11:01 am GMT  |  296 comments

As the rain lashed the Montreal circuit yesterday, forcing the race to be stopped, all of the leading drivers knew that this day was an opportunity. Canada often presents them.

Admittedly Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who has dominated the season so far, was in the driving seat at that stage, but with constantly changing conditions, safety cars and chaos, there was a chance to make something happen. As Jenson Button did.

Hamilton: Difficult period (Darren Heath)


But by that stage Lewis Hamilton already had no chance to affect the outcome, having had another messy race in which Emerson Fittipaldi’s verdict that he is “too aggressive when he tries to overtake, he needs to respect the other drivers,” will have been ringing in his ears.

Hamilton was surrounded this weekend by a glamorous crowd in the McLaren hospitality area. Pop stars like Rihanna and Ice T, NBA basketball players towering over other guests, this was like a night at the MTV Awards, more than a race meeting. Ron Dennis looked on quizzically at all the bling.

“That’s where Lewis’ head is at right now,” said one seasoned F1 insider as we stood together surveying the scene.

Who knows where his head is. Certainly he seems to be going about his business in a different way from before, no less intense, but somehow desperate at times, impatient and clearly frustrated. He’s a brilliant entertainer, but he’s fluffing his lines at the moment, unlike the 2009 and 2010 seasons where he took every half chance that was going.

Vettel, having set himself up with for the win with pole positions and then measured performances, has found himself under intense pressure at the end of each of the last four Grands Prix. And yet he’s only won two of them; he is beatable. Hamilton got him in China, Button got him spectacularly yesterday and in Spain Hamilton almost had him in the closing stages, while we were robbed of the attacks of Alonso and Button in Monaco by a red flag.

Vettel has ridden his luck, but has made things happen for himself, as did Button yesterday.

I think Niki Lauda goes too far when he says of Hamilton, “You cannot drive like this any more, someone is going to get killed.” At a time when the poignant movie about Ayrton Senna plays to huge audiences in Europe, that comment seems out of joint, inflammatory, tabloid.

But Hamilton knows that he had the equipment to win three of the last four races; he was clearly the fastest man on the track in the brief period at the start before he crashed out.

He said he had calmed down after the clamour of Monaco. If anything he was even more hyped up in Montreal.

The outcome is he falls to fourth in the championship. Talk is one thing, actions another.

But in the end all that counts is results.

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1

A crucial attribute shared by great Formula One drivers is good judgement. From the beginning, Hamilton has displayed very poor judgement (including his denial of involvement in the spying scandal). There doesn’t seem to be any strategic foundation to his actions, leaving only a gung-ho approach and desperate Hail Marys when the pressure is on. I think he learned this limited and futile approach early on in his F1 career from Alonso when they were team-mates at McLaren.

2

I just wish everyone would stop scrutinizing Hamilton so much. I get that he is a easy target because he is always front page but I think its time we all rise above. Don’t buy into the easy temptation of taking shots at the guys intelligence, skill, or character every moment things go wrong for him. Canada was mostly Buttons fault. Buttons instant “what is he doing?” is a classic response of someone who knows they just screwed up, yet we all jumped on Lewis because of the labels we’ve placed on him.

Contrary to what most think, I believe Hamilton is very intelligent, race savvy, and patient. Believe me, there are way more examples to show that Hamilton is quite brilliant instead of showing that he’s too aggressive or unintelligent. However, most people don’t examine him that way. What they do is focus on a few minor things and blow them out of proportion. It’s so easy to focus on the negative.

3

>>

I think Niki Lauda goes too far when he says of Hamilton, “You cannot drive like this any more, someone is going to get killed.” At a time when the poignant movie about Ayrton Senna plays to huge audiences in Europe, that comment seems out of joint, inflammatory, tabloid.

<<

Speaking about tabloid….

It´s tabloid, and just poor journalism to translate the German:

"So kann man nicht fahren, da kann es Tote geben."

into:

“You cannot drive like this any more, someone is going to get killed.”

when even a brain dead internet translation robot is able to translate the meaning correctly.

The German "kann" is equal to the English "can"

Therefore, the correct meaning of his statement is

"You (just) can´t drive like this, someone can get killed" or as he used the plural

"You (just) can´t drive like this, people could get killed".

He (Lauda) never made the statement that, as a matter of fact, this is going to happen.

Now, you can think about this whatever you like, fair enough, but it is not such an ridiculous statement.

I think some people forget, that even considering the high safety standards of todays cars and tracks, F1 (motor racing in general) is a dangerous sport, where death is a very real possibility, if it´s not "your day".

Monaco and LeMans should remind people about this.

I find it really sad, to see that kind of journalism on this side too, and hope that some due diligence is done in the future, before quotes from other outlets get reused.

On the topic of Lewis Hamiltions current driving.

Does anyone know if he (or/and McLaren) is still working together with Dr. Kerry Spackman?

If not, it would be interesting to know, since when, this is the case.

4

All Lewis needs to do is simply be more patient/conservative when overtaking. Just wait a lap or two longer for a better run on the car ahead doesn’t seem particularly difficult to do. F1 cars are not designed to touch so you need to avoid it at almost all costs especially in a wet race like Canada where anything can happen as long as you’re actually still running!

Alonso has got the perfect balance going between aggressive overtaking and patience something Lewis needs to replicate.

It just seems he trying too hard, attempting to have a career defining performance every race. He needs to except this is F1 not touring cars. Just because he thinks constant attempts and creative attempts at overtaking should be rewarded won’t make it happen. Problem with surprise moves is the other driver isn’t expecting it and so collisions will happen. The championship is about risk analysis and endurance it’s not a sprint. I personally dislike the fact any slight touches result in DNFs and drivers have to nurse the car around managing the tyres but these are the rules!

People love watching Lewis’ overtakes etc. but ultimately he will be judged based more on how many championships he has won and not how!

People criticising Lewis’ showbiz lifestyle are off the mark there’s no clear evidence to suggest it’s affecting him. The pop stars/sports stars etc. probably asked to see him and he’s out of the race anyway. So what is the harm? I’m sure a lot of the drivers are envious about this ‘showbiz’ lifestyle, ‘earning potential’ and attention he gets.

People need to get off his back and start achieving themselves instead of sitting at their desk criticising every public figure around. I’m sure if you were his father or mother or knew him personally you would be very proud. How many of you have reached an elite level in your field and have 50m in the bank at 26 and certainly have 100m+ by 30!

5

I’ve been thinking something similar for a while, where has the Hamilton that arrived in 2007 gone. That Hamilton was only interested in racing, going flat out late on the brakes making calculated ballsy overtaking. Now he has got rid of his Dad who seemed to very much keep his feet on the ground and we have this RnB style both ears pierced Mr Fuller managed person with loads of hangers on constantly publicly criticising his team. I think he needs to remember where he came from and what he is here today – drive cars fast, then hopefully we’ll have the Hamilton from 2007/8 back.

6

Further to my last point, (sorry forgot to post it together..) I think that Hamilton is starting to get a bit chastised the sameway that Marco Simoncelli has been in MotoGP where certain people have another agenda and his reputation and the ‘label of crasher’ comes before what has actually happened.

7

Well, there is usually only one thing that gets you a reputation as a crasher and that’s crashing. I think it’s fair to say that Hamilton has created his own incidents this year and the sooner he realises it the better. All this talk about passion is all very nice but how long before it’s just an excuse? It’s not really carrying any water these days.

Also, I think his “let me through or we’re both going to crash” approach could be running out of steam. Perhaps the other drivers are on to him and why shouldn’t his opponents adopt an “if you try to come through there we’re both going to crash” attitude in order to disarm him of his technique?

His swashbuckling moves are very entertaining and he’s produced magnificent feats of cunning and bravery thus far in his short career but perhaps the racing culture has moved on. There is no profit in wistfully persisting with a “Sennaesque” approach if that approach has become the square peg that you’re trying to fit into a round hole.

You have to adapt to sustain a career through a succession of racing era’s and Hamilton finds himself in a new one already. This coupled with being easily distracted by the trappings of fame and fortune is possibly conspiring to defeat Hamilton before he straps into the car.

It’s an old adage but success at the top apparently requires total focus, determination and dedication to the exclusion of all other pursuits and this is currently being proven by Hamilton.

8

Hamilton needs to take himself back to China where he won, that was the true Hamilton for winning this year. If he follows this than more wins will come to Hamilton. He drove fantastically in Spain. The frustration spiral is from Monaco and now Canada…..lets hope he puts theses issues in the past and continue from his China GP win and win Valencia and so on…..he can get out of this situation by concentrating on the job on hand.

9

He needs to concentrate and focus only on one thing Racing!!!

10

I am a big fan of Hamilton’s driving and so much resembles Senna’s driving style. At the moment he is driving with too much frustration and with no rhythm. He needs to get rid of this frustration and I am sure we will see the true racer.

This was the race I felt Hamilton could have shown his true talent like Senna did in Donington GP 1993. Hamilton should go back and watch this race, see how Senna executed his overtaking manoeuvres and was leading the race.

His first tangle with Webber was too deep, he needed patience and I am sure he would have got him without any contact. But he did well to overtake his team mate (Glimpse of the true Hamilton) before he messed up with Schumacher on the harpin and went too wide and hence losing a place to Button. This was the second key mistake by Hamilton trying to overtake Schumacher on the outside, he would have easily got him on the straight or on the start of the first straight before the wall of the champions. He should have waited and did the overtaking like he has done in the early part of 2010. The last mistake is shared with Button and Hamilton, Button clearly knew Hamilton was on the side, as he made a mistake on the corner towards the wall of champions, like Istanbul and like in China. But Button had to take his line and did not realise that Hmailton was there. Bad luck for Hamilton, but he and Button will learn from this.

11

I would wager that Hamilton’s performances would improve if he stopped inviting his entourage of the beautiful people to watch him race. He must feel under pressure to impress them and it just shows his arrogance that he asks them to attend to watch him, clearly in the expectation that he will perform and then receive adulation from the people that until a few years ago were nothing more than posters on his bedroom wall.

I fear he is being sucked into that rather naff “Hippety Hop” bling culture where outward displays of wealth hold sway over ones ability to attain status amongst ones peers. Why he feels the need to show the world how famous and successful he is by wheeling out his equally famous chums for us to gasp in awe at is something of an irrelevance to the business of racing and it appears to be proving to be an unnecessary distraction to the lad.

Having Scherzinger at the races is one thing, but half of the NBA and Def Jam records is a bit OTT. Earth calling Lewis, please come back down.

12

The chav factor was getting a bit high. However we as observers also have to separate our opinions of his personal style from what may be actually distracting him. The Hip-Hop culture has certainly been detrimental to the NBA.

13

I agree in part with you guys too, but don’t forget, Bernie expects each team to bring in its quota of celebrities to each race. With Lewis McLaren are now tapping a whole new social/commercial environment and a wealthy one at that – and its almost exclusively American.

14

I agree with you on this one. 100%

15

As others have stated above he has this sense of entitlement about him. As for the entourage on Sunday, I can’t imagine that being allowed when Ron Dennis was in charge. He’s undoubtedly a great driver, but just lately his ability to race, more specifically overtake in anything other than a gung-ho “coming through!!!” fashion seems to have evapourated. Montoya-esque….and look where he is now.

As for the comments that Jenson should be penalised for running him into the wall. I don’t believe he should. Hamilton was overtaking into a fast disapearing wedge of available track as Jenson stayed on the racing line. A racer would have taken Jenson down his right side. With the additional speed Hamilton had at that point he would have made it without incident.

16

I think there is definitely a bit of Senna-esque ‘let me through or we both crash’. Some may not agree with that mindset. But this is F1, and when competition is this fierce you have to drive on the very edge of whats fair and whats not fair to achieve greatness. It’s not a question of being great, its a question of trying to be THE greatest. Not many drivers have achieved true greatness without some controversy along the way. I feel that whether he achieves greatness or nor will be dependent on having the right car only. This is why even as a McLaren fan, i would support a move to Red Bull if they are still competitive.

17

I think the point most seem to overlook is that in monaco Hamilton’s ‘errors’ actually gained him two places – had he not made the moves he would have finished 8th. Therefore surely he has only had one bad race given results are all that matter and as such – why is everyone getting so cross?

18

so making up places at the expense of other drivers is something we should be happy or encourage?? I don’t think so.

He got 6th place in Monaco but how many points PM and Williams lost because of that? How many points did Massa and Ferarri lost?

You should be ashamed of yourself with such a comment..

19

sigh – your point would be much better made without the emotive final paragraph. The comments on this site are usually more responsible and contructive leading to healthy debate.

20

You are right and I am sorry. At the time I wrote the comment I was furious at what Guy posted in his attempt to make Lewis look better.

Cheers!

21

Webber, Button and Alonso need to sit Hamilton down and tell him to calm down, they are all going to need each other to finish every race well, if anyone of them are going to have a chance against Vettel.

22

Nice article – I was hoping to see something on this topic.

My question: If races are started under safety car conditions in the interest of safety, at which point do those same interests reach the threshold that will see drivers removed from races? 4 incidents in 2 race weekends suggests to me there is quite a major safety risk in Hamilton. If this continues is there any chance of a ban/suspension?

23

Hamilton needs to take a look in the mirror more often. He blames his team, his team mate, other drivers, stewards and is now rumoured to be in talks with Red Bull.

If McLaren is such a bad team, how come his team mate has managed to fight for and win in the last two races? Oh that’s right, because he didn’t lose his head and then blame his screw up’s on “passion” or “entertaining his fans”.

The McLaren has proven itself to be a good race car, if not over one lap. The problem is Hamilton can’t manage more than a few laps in the pack before he’s making contact with other cars – I don’t think all the incidents are totally his fault, but no other driver has had as many collisions or visits to the stewards this year.

24

James, I agree with your comment on Nikki Lauda, I have a high regard for his achievements in Formula One, however he never seems to let a bit of hyperbole go to waste. Yesterday’s television race coverage showed Ron Dennis a few times, and his body langage said all that you needed to know about Lewis’ moment with Jensen. Flubbing one’s lines is a good way of putting it, unless one performs in some way at this level it is difficult to express what a fine line there is between pushing hard and pushing too hard. Lewis often speaks of passion, but in my opinion what a driver needs as much or more is cool clear headed calm, and I think that’s the edge that Button had over Hamilton Sunday. Showing off his freshly broken car to the posse wasn’t such a good idea, even if it was during the Red Flag when many of the drivers were getting a cup of tea anyway.

25

I can’t figure out why Hamilton wasn’t given a grid penalty for the accident with Button. When two cars run into each other on a straight, surely this is an “avoidable accident”?

26

I cringed when I saw the entourage in the Mclaren garage. Lewis needs to ditch the skulking faux American (“frickin'”)’gangsta’ persona and focus on the racing. The guy has huge speed, but he cant RACE to save his life. A few have mentioned his problem – his sense of entitlement. I believe this has plagued him throughout his career (remember his ‘monkeys at the back of the grid’ jibe?)He thinks he is the new Senna. Im sorry Lewis – you are nowhere near. Classless, arrogant popstar wannabe is my summation.

Personally, I hope JB goes on to win more and lead the team through the year. That was the most self assured, consistent piece of driving Ive seen in years, and always, always he is a true gent and an exemplary team player. Mclaren must be delighted with him – he really is an asset to the team.

27

One thing which strikes me is Hamilton appears to have some misguided belief,the recent “new” managemnent ie Fuller and co have done little to enhance his reputation,he is supposed to be a racing driver not a pop star. Hamiltons father i,m not a fan of but he seemed to keep his sons feet firmly on the ground,and his very public dismissal was in my view unforgiveable,he must have felt completely destroyed by his sons actions.

28

I don’t think there is anything wrong with his head. He was trying to pass his team mate and he puts him into the wall. An action which Schumacher almost got black flagged for last year.

29

That’s a nonsense comment. Watching the footage from Hamilton’s on board camera, by the time Hamilton has decided to attempt the move the 2 cars are so far over to the left (pit wall) that he had to put his left wheels on the grass in order to do so. In the wet that’s just stupid. All the way down the pit straight in Jenson’s tow he had the box seats to see where the lead Mclaren was going and it wasn’t going anywhere unusual, merely taking the racing line as is the lead cars prerogative and duty. Hamilton had ample opportunity to exercise some circumspection and lift out of the throttle momentarily and live to fight another day. This was his failure, nothing to do with Button. If you’re ahead you defend your line, end of and Hamilton tried to make 2 go into one in a gap that was never going to be there in a million years.

30

Lewis is an immense talent and in Canada as always was willing him on. I don’t think anyone can doubt his capabilities but seems to be making very rash decisions at the moment and does not appear to be as measured as previously seen. The loss of his dad as manager i think is still affecting him and is missing the calming influence which helped so much at the beginning of his career in F1. I don’t doubt that before long Lewis will be back to his best and overall he has been a breath of fresh air since he joined F1. Slightly different subject, I don’t think his chats with Red Bull can be helping and believe there is some truth in the rumours but my advise to Lewis would be to stick out for another few years with Mclaren as I am sure there are more championships to be won with them. In terms of Red Bull the day Adrian Newey leaves I cannot see things being as they are now so there you are Lewis, my probably useless bit of advise to you!

31

Comment from button:

“But we spoke about it and he was very good actually. He was one of the first people to congratulate me after the race, which was really nice to see.”

Hamilton was summoned to speak to the stewards but escaped punishment.

However, the 26-year-old declined to speak to the British media, not out of any anger at his collision with Button, but believing that his fellow Englishman deserved the limelight.

“He’s a racer, a fighter,” said Button. “For me that is the reason why I wanted to be here [at McLaren], against and with a driver that is super talented, one of the best drivers Formula 1 has ever seen.

“It’s good challenging him on the circuit. We have a lot of respect for each other.

“We’ve raced each other a lot this year and last year, and we’ve never touched. We’ve always given each other room. For me that’s a great position to be in.”

32

I suggest it would be only fair for you to credit the BBC when you lift that much from their post!

33

“And I beat him”.

J. Button, team leader, McLaren.

34

I get the impression that Hamilton might be preoccupied with creating his own legend and also being compared favourably with the legends (& myths) – ie. ‘if i go from x to x position in the first few laps they’ll talk about me like they talked about Senna – rather that racing in the here and now. No point trying to stamp the mark of history on every single race.

35

As we all did when we fled our parental homes, Hamilton is pushing the envelope of freedom and expresson. It always takes a while for the truth of our parents’ wisdom to sink in.

From my limited knowledge of Simon Fuller, it seems to me that his lucrative niche is largely the management of fashionable and tinselly but minor talents in the exploitation of their probably brief celebrity, the rewards being increased celebrity and financial wealth.

F1, however, is not about tinsel and minor talents; nor is it about celebrity. It is about the intense application of major talent and any celebrity is borne out of success. Unlike the pop world, notoriety and celebrity are not good bedfellows.

Hamilton is a major talent, potentially one of the greatest, and he needs to concentrate on developing it to its best advantage. The peripherals will come later, if he still wants them.

As for the future, perhaps Red Bull could be seen as a perfect home, its Adrian Newey-designed winners and rock’n’roll image being ideal partners for the Hamilton brand of cool.

Comparisons with Senna are futile. Sure, both are linked by remarkable speed and raw talent but, as is so often the case, the eras are very different. In today’s world, Senna would have been in front of the stewards possibly even more often than Hamilton has this year. His greatness, like every other drivers, derives from the rules and conventions of its time.

If Hamilton seeks true greatness, he needs the results and a mindset that thinks of little else. The seemingly unassuming, dedicated young man who took his position as a role model (not an icon of cool) se seriously needs to return.

36

Then maybe he should have left the nest sooner.

By the time I was 26 I had done four years in the Marines, gone back to school and had a son.

Hamilton is too old, and been in this business too long for his impetuousness to be blamed on his youth.

37

At last, it had to be said, thanks. A fabulous driver, quick and talented but…..so very immature and maybe a little unworldly having been bought up in a motor racing bubble.

38

Your love of anything Lewis is showing James. Too bad. Because Nikki Lauda, one of the best drivers of any generation has it right. Lewis’ driving right now is very, very dangerous. And the comments themselves are not inflammatory but cautionary. Maybe if they are used as such, they will prevent something tragic from occurring.

Look, we all recognize Lewis Hamilton’s talent. He does not have to prove anything to anyone, he has already won a WDC. But if he indeed is trying to make-up for the shortcomings of the car by over-driving it, then he is doing the sport and himself harm. I don’t see Jensen or Alonso doing this.

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