Sun sets on Vettel as Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi day/night race
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Nov 2011   |  4:31 pm GMT  |  230 comments

Lewis Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a close battle with Fernando Alonso, with Jenson Button in third place. It was Alonso’s 73rd podium and his first trophy from this event, so he now has a complete set of trophies from every track he’s raced on in F1.

It was Hamilton’s 17th career victory and his third of this season and although he said he felt “fantastic” he was also pretty humble in his post race statements, saying that one win hadn’t necessarily put him back on track, he felt above all “fortunate not to get into any trouble.”

It was a day when the Red Bull team was less than the flawless outfit we have seen all season; Sebastian Vettel had a puncture which led to a suspension breakage on the way back to the pits on the opening lap and Mark Webber’s first pit stop was very slow and took him out of contention of the battle with Jenson Button for the podium. But he lit up the second half of the race with some bold overtakes as he took on a very ambitious three stop strategy to successfully jump Felipe Massa.

But it was the first time in 20 races that a Red Bull driver has not stood on the podium.

In contrast to last year’s event where there were only 11 on track passes, this race featured plenty of spectacular overtaking throughout the field, although most of it down to DRS. The double DRS zone made things difficult for some drivers who passed their opponents in the first zone and were then repassed in the second.

That said there were a lot of problems with backmarkers costing the leaders time, the stewards looking into several examples with Pastor Maldonado being a leading culprit. He was given a penalty for blocking.

Leaders also lost time behind backmarkers on the way in and out of the pits. Fernando Alonso came into the pits for the second time right behind the HRT of Daniel Ricciardo, which cost him a chance to get close on the exit. Traffic for Hamilton meant that Alonso was around 20 seconds when he went for the pits, with a stop taking 22 seconds.

Paul di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi and Pastor Maldonado all started the on the medium compound tyre, a tactical gamble looking at trying to do a one stop race.

The track temperature was 31 degrees when the race started, similar to the start of qualifying.

At the start Sebastian Vettel, starting form pole, had a failure of the right rear tyre which pitched him into a spin, he returned to the pits but it wasn’t safe to continue.

“I saw immediately something happened to his tyre and I just made sure I didn’t collect him. This is one of my best races against one of the best drivers in the world (Alonso). I feel fantastic,” said Hamilton. “We were very quick and it would have been very close (with Vettel) but every now and then you need a but of bad luck to enjoy the good times. I don’t remember when he last had bad luck.”

Vettel’s retirement left Hamilton out front with Alonso moving impressively from 5th to 2nd on the opening lap, past Webber and Button, who also swapped places a couple of times.

Schumacher and Rosberg had a ferocious scrap on the opening lap, Rosberg getting ahead in the early stages.

Di Resta’s pace on the medium tyre was impressive in the first stint, lapping faster than team mate Sutil on soft tyres by lap 7.

By lap 13 Webber had got close enough to Button to activate the DRS and started attacking. Button was struggling with a KERS problem that meant not only did he lack the power boost it gives, but also his braking was affected.

On lap 17 the three leaders came in, Hamilton, Alonso and Button, while Mark Webber stayed out, but a slow stop spoiled his chances of jumping Button for third place and he fell behind Felipe Massa into 5th place.

Webber and Massa had a double DRS battle on lap 31, the Australian taking advantage of a mistake by Massa to pass in the first zone, but overshooting the braking zone as he tried to stay out of Massa’s way, Massa sailed back past him in the second zone.

The second stops came from lap 36 onwards, with Webber taking a third set of soft tyres, requiring another pit stop to run the medium.

Alonso came into the game when Hamilton lost time behind traffic, but Alonso found Ricciardo coming in ahead of him, it was close as the Spaniard exited the pits but Hamilton stayed in front.

Webber’s bold three stopper called for him to build a 22 second gap over Massa before a final stop at the end. He was helped in this by Massa picking up some debris from a Williams on lap 46 and a spin on lap 50. The Brazilian has yet to register a podium finish in 2011.

“When I was doing the in lap I was thinking this was one of my best wins,” said Hamilton. “With all the doubt that’s been around me. And it’s my Mum’s birthday so that makes it even better.

“This weekend I’ve been clearer in my mind, I’ve had less weighing on me. I was able to drive clearly. In the last race I had that mistake, but here I didn’t make a mistake. I feel fortunate to have finished and not get in any trouble.”

Alonso’s 9th podium of the season means that he is now 10 points behind Button and has a chance to finish second in the world championship.

Meanwhile the only dark cloud on Hamilton’s day is that the gap between him and Button is now down to 28 points, meaning that he will definitely finish behind a team mate for the first time in his F1 career, as there are a maximum 25 points available in the final race in Brazil.

Check out the UBS Strategy Report on Tuesday with a full analysis of how the strategies were decided in today’s race

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Yas Marina Circuit, 55 Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren 1h37:11.886
2. Alonso Ferrari + 8.457
3. Button McLaren + 25.881
4. Webber Red Bull + 35.784
5. Massa Ferrari + 50.578
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 52.317
7. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:15.900
8. Sutil Force India + 1:17.100
9. Di Resta Force India + 1:40.000
10. Kobayashi Sauber + 1 lap
11. Perez Sauber + 1 lap
12. Barrichello Williams + 1 lap
13. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
14. Maldonado Williams + 1 lap
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 1 lap
16. Senna Renault + 1 lap
17. Kovalainen Lotus + 1 lap
18. Trulli Lotus + 2 laps
19. Glock Virgin + 2 laps
20. Liuzzi HRT + 2 laps

Drivers Championship
1. Vettel 374pts
2. Button 255
3. Alonso 245
4. Webber 233
5. Hamilton 227
6. Massa 108
7. Rosberg 83
8. Schumacher 76
9. Petrov 36
10. Sutil 34

Constructors’ championship
1. Red Bull-Renault 607
2. McLaren-Mercedes 482
3. Ferrari 353
4. Mercedes 159
5. Renault 72
6. Force India-Mercedes 57
7. Sauber-Ferrari 42
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 41
9. Williams-Cosworth 5

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Hey guys!

Did you check what Lewis said after the race in press conference.

“I am able to hold off one of the best drivers in the world throughout the race is something that is very, very tough to do.”

Nowadays these guys just started to respect each other very much.

What’s going on?


Gamesmanship trying to make his win worth more than it was because Vettel retired.

In reality the Ferrari shouldn’t be within 10 secs of the mclaren


I’ll do a post on this


I see a lot of negative arguments against the double DRS zone this past race, but I think it had it’s merit simply because it wasn’t just a push to pass zone, but it was also a tactical tool to use in the race. Were as we hear a lot of complaining that slower cars couldn’t defend like we have seen in races were a single DRS zone was used, but here we had the faster car come up and pass, but the second zone served as a possibility to re-take that position, evening out the playing field somewhat. We got to see some very nice wheel to wheel racing in the corners following the DRS zones because of it. After last years bore fest we demanded more overtaking and we got it. So let’s stop complaining ok. 🙂

I enjoyed this race, I enjoyed the tussle between Nico and Schumi at the beginning. And also kudos to Alonso, he did exceptionally well. I went from hater to fan in this season. Also nice to see Lewis smiling again… Although I would have liked to see him beat Vettel on the track, but we can’t always have everything can we…

Thank you James for a good article yet again and also thank you for some very honest answers in the comments section.


I think the retirement of Vettel from the race the way that it happened could be the symbolic sign of the beginning of the end of the dominance of Red Bull and Vettel.

The Yas Marina Circuit may be a futuristic looking circuit, but it can also tell us about the future. The winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has gone on to win the championship the following year.

2009 ADGPW: S. Vettel

2010 WC: S. Vettel

2010 ADGPW: S. Vettel

2011 WC: S. Vettel

2011 ADGPW: L. Hamilton

2012 WC: L. Hamilton???


I’m sorry to shoot you down; but 2 samples is hardly conclusive…


I have some tea leaves to help with that!!


James – Didn’t Vettel have a similar puncture last year at Silverstone? I know at the time the consensus was that Hamilton had clipped Vettels rear wheel, but when I examined that incident in slow-motion you could see that the tyre’s sidewall was warping very strangely, and it was far from clear if there actually was any contact with Hamilton (although it was extremely close) – essentially it looked like the bead popped off the wheel, which is exactly how today’s deflation appeared. Is there any possibility that Vettel is using such low pressures that it’s marginal at the start of the race when the pressures are lower? I also noted that the grid seemed to be very slow to form-up, so presumably the tyres would be that-much cooler, and so the pressure that much less. (can’t remember if the Silverstone ’10 grid was slow form-up).


I think the tyre probably got cut, the tyre pressure were probably a bit low anyway and as the sidewall buckled, the bead came off the rim – game over


Cut on what? A kerb? unlikely isn’t it? The Mclarens were nowhere near Vettel off the line, watching Lewis’s onboard of the incident he had the pleasure of viewing the whole thing as it happened because he was so far back so I don’t think a front wing endplate cut be the culprit.

I think it’s more likely that the tyre was under pressured and cold, the high speed and high lateral load of the corner in which the incident took place simply made the tyre pop off the rim, which is why we see the tyre move in board, damaging the floor and suspension.

Its no great surprise to see Red Bull going beyond the pale on setup, it’s a hallmark of Neweys’s approach to using racing cars. Benefit outweighs risk mentality and it can be quite dangerous.


Also it would be stupid for them not to put low pressures. Red Bull is very good in the corners; and loads its tyres quite a bit in terms of downforce and traction and braking. This heats the tyres quite a bit. As heat goes up pressure will too. It’s almost a case of the more downforce you generate, the more you must decrease your tyre pressures at the start of the race.

Otherwise, if you end up with over pressured tyres, it would be even more dangerous as there would be less grip


Cut on debris on the kerb from a support race most likely. The tyre would not be cold by the time it reached Turn 2; it would have already had wheel slip off the line; braking for turn 1, lateral loading for turn 1, and slip angles from the traction phase of turn 1


I was very glad to see Hamilton win.

I agree some of the McLaren team didn’t look as ecstastic as usual but I think it’s all tempered by the fact that they’ve been well and truly beaten again this season plus the main danger wasn’t in the race and probably would have won it.

Hopefully Lewis can keep his head in the game and we can not hear about “What’s up with Lewis?” every race weekend next year.

It’s also surprising how close Alonso is to McLaren’s pace for a car that they apparently haven’t been developing but rather experimenting with.


There is something brewing behind the scenes at Mclaren… not many took the Lewis Victory as ecstatically as they took Button’s Victory in Japan.

Yes, I would like to see Lewis in a Ferrari… Mclaren is fit for ice-like Scandinavian drivers like Hakkinen and Raikkonen… Ferrari is fit Flamboyant drivers like Hamilton… Maybe the new found respect between Alonso and Hamilton might make that possible… Remember Ferrari makes statements like “Fernando is faster than you” while Mclaren makes statements like “We are not racing Kimi, we are racing Alonso”… Two very different worlds… one orders you straight while the other back-stabs you… and it was rather evident today who Mclaren prefers… So, now we have to see which one does Hamilton prefer? a straight shooter or a backstabber? But, we could be over reading the situation at Mclaren… Ah’ and of course there is Redbull… But then out there… there is Vettel… The most clinical performer.

If Lewis is unappreciated at Mclaren or under-favoured… then its time for Lewis to move on… But where is the question.

On the other aspects of the race today… What the hell was Alonso doing in the Ferrari challenging Lewis for the win? He was not suppose to be there… Ferrari is not designed to be there… Wow… a brilliant performance… no wonder he is tagged as the most complete driver in F1.. and rightly so.

Schuey’s race was ordinary… I don’t think Schuey is a fan of these long Mickey Mouse like circuits… Singapore and Abu Dhabi are prime examples of which… but put the man in Monza, Spa, Suzuka or India… he becomes a different animal.

Can’t wait for Kimi to sign for Williams.. the Suspense is killing me 🙂


I am not taking anything away from Lewis’s drive, but it was possible made a little more inevitable by Vettel’s retirement (Alonso’s attempt notwithstanding).

In Japan, McLaren managed to win with the season’s dominant car and driver combination being beaten down to third place. That would be something to cheer about regardless of whether it was Jenson or Lewis driving.


Interesting to see Raikkonen’s managers David and Steve Robertson in the Abu Dhabi paddock at the weekend…


James — did you see the Robertsons in the paddock or is this hearsay? There’s just too much Raikkonen chatter in the web. Will be great if credible journalists like you can provide some insight into where these discussions really are at. Thanks much.


I saw them, shook hands with them. I think it was Saturday afternoon


I do not know whether I agreed with this “In contrast to last year’s event where there were only 11 on track passes, this race featured plenty of spectacular overtaking throughout the field, although most of it down to DRS”.

-For me the race was dull.

-Ferrari got it all wrong.

-Vettel leading start to finish or Vettel DNFs doesn’t make any difference. I hoped he would charged from the back, but…I guess we are yet to see a Senna-style drive from him.

– Webber traditionally screws the start and charges at the end.

– Massa…what he is even doing these days?

– Schumacher outclassed Rosberg. It looks like on new track he is really behind.

– Spectacular infrastructure, but boring race…again.


DRS was a complete failure this weekend.

The double DRS zone was a complete joke, Watching one car sail by in zone 1 only for the car he’d just got by to breeze back past in DRS zone 2 was ridiculously artificial.

Even the BBC crew who have done everything possible to not critisise DRS this season (Including never reading out any Anti-DRS views sent in by fans) actually admitted that DRS is an artificial gimmick.

The sooner DRS gets removed the better, I want to see real & exciting overtaking again & not artificial DRS driven dull passing.


Nah, they just didn’t know how to use it – as shown by Weber with Button. The idea was to use the frist DRS to get close and the second to overtake… Button referred to this indirectly in an interview.


I might also add that other drivers were using the DRS zones to decrease their lap times and so catch other drivers. Typically, these were back markers being overtaken.


Something which is confusing about this circuit is that the F1 races are usually poor yet other races which take place there are usually very good.

We saw 2 brilliant GP2 races this weekend & the previous GP2 races at Abu Dhabi have also been good. They have always featured a fair bit of passing & some great wheel to wheel racing.

Kinda highlights that the track is a decent track in terms of overtaking & that its the F1 cars which create additional difficulty in passing.


Great drive by LH today.Sorry to have to put a negative into it but…..Martin Brundle cannot say a good word about LH.When asked how he thought the race had gone he changed the subject.As for MW, he has to go! I would not let him run a bath let alone a F1 team!!He seams unable to get the best out of LH who is clearly faster than JB.Considering what Lewis has been thro these past races I am astounded that he is only a hand ful of points in front, bring on next season.P.S. Red Bull racing push the boundries of everything and today got caught out.Reckon they know what they did wrong but we will never know!!!


If it hadn’t been for his two non-fault non-finishes this season JB would have been more than a handful of points ahead.

I know Lewis has had a few issues in his private life but we all have those. If I was to do my job poorly because I’d split up with my girlfriend I’d still have to take the flack for it regardless. Why should it be any different for LH?



1) Double DRS zone like Abu Dhabi is ‘useless’. We have seen many re-passes.

2) What are you readers and James think about the DRS usage during lapping a backmarker? I would not allow to use because it is not a battle for position and the lapped driver must let by the faster car anyway.

The real time difference is not <1s between a backmarker and a frontrunner so this is like a non deserved advantage.


You are a hard man ti please.

I bet if everyone were pulling off passes with 1 DRS then you among many others would cry out load for passing too easy.

Not to mention the original idea behind the DRS was to “aid” overtaking, not to help you 100% completely to do the job.


When Mark finally got by Jenson yesterday, he did it without DRS.


Not forgetting a lapped driver can use DRS if he’s within 1-second on the activation point. Brundle seemed to be saying that anything else was too complex in commentary.

This is F1 can it really be that hard to design a system that doesn’t activate DRS for a passed driver for a minimum of one zone after the pass, and can’t be used when lapping?

Seems like a few lines of programming code.


2) As they’re going to get past easily anyway, does it matter ? And it’s simpler like this – one of the leaders after a stop early in the race could easily be confused about who was a lap down and who wasn’t. Let the stewards get on with more imoortant things.


As for the dark cloud of Lewis being beaten in the championship by a team mate for the first time, he just needs to think that he has the same amount of wins as Button when he has had a poor season by his standards and Button has had a good season. I think the McLaren car is being designed to suit Jenson’s style – more understeery than oversteery.


McLaren will be making mistake if they do that, look Jenson is a nice guy, but I seriously doubt he can go up against Alonso in a fully fit Ferrari. If Jenson is now no1 at Mclaren then I think its more to do with Whitmarsh’s inclination towards Button than Mclaren’s making the most of the most talented driver in F1. How foolish would that be?

So what Lewis has had a bad season, Mclaren have not done their part either by not giving him a car to challenge for for the championship since 2008! The Pirelli tyre hasn’t helped neither.


If that’s true (and I’m not sure it is) surely it’s a measure of the fantastic professional job Jenson has done these last two years. Lewis can deny it all he likes, but one of his problems is surely that he never imagined it would be like this.


I thought the same thing, then remembered that Button would have had a lot more points had it not been the technical problems that he’s had this year.


i think most cars are going that way with set up tho and its too pretect the delicate year tyres this year. of course i may be completly wrong but thats my opinion and its deffo favouring button over lewis. but lewis is much more adaptable than button and will overcome it sooner or later.


After viewing nearly the full season, I have come to the conclusion (my opinion so not necessarily everyone else’s) VET is phenomenal, I think he has outdriven that RB all season to a “T” until today, which is giving everyone the false impression that it is a better car than it really is. People are saying WEB is having a howler of season, I would say more just an average one, I think the RB car is as good as WEB drives it but somehow VET manages to get so much more out of it, just like ALO in the ferrari. Let’s be honest it’s a dog but the way he drove it this season shows his class, just like HAM today and BUT in previous races they have all at some point pulled out a performance that is way above par for the car they driving. All in all 4 worthy world champions all showing us this season why they are world champions!


I’m not feeling your comment.

Vettel was faltless this season and has taken the oportunity the team and car gave him..and run away with the championship. Good for him.

But to say that the RB7 is not as good as it is..please!


just re-read my comment and probably not the best of wording, of course it’s a great car, all I’m saying is because Vettel was so good this season that he flattered the car slightly the same as Alonso has did with Ferrari. It is still the best car on the grid but he made it look even better, you only have to compare the quali’s this season, he was spanking webber by tenths who was in the same car. To me that is outdriving the car. My comment was meant to just be a compliment to the several drivers who are outperforming their cars, not slagging the cars.



From what I watched the race, the commentators were almost using the word “pathetic” in describing him. He went off on first lap, when he came back in the way BE, CH and others comforted him made him look like a baby, something which the commentators thought it’s a huge joke. It’s a man’s sport, not a kid’s.

The way he went off is how I feel for him.


18 races, he’s had 11 wins and 4 2nd place, one 3rd, one 4th and 1 DNF. If he is just a kid in the sport what does it say for the men??? I’m sure he’s looking at his 2 world championship thinking “pathetic”???!!!! BTW I am anti-Vettel, never liked him since turkey last season but I feel I have defend his record against that daft comment you made!


I think Sebastian has matured beyond the “kid” stage. After such a drastic failure, he stuck around, checking telemetry and even joining the pitwall. I’ve seen some other drivers storm off and sulk, some even going home early.

Seb needs to be given some credit. Please, no more, he can’t overtake. The guy has won 11 GPs and has 14 poles. What more does he have to do, start from the back?

Mark in the same car, is looking extremely mediocre. Sebastian is a very quick and intelligent driver. His formula simple: 1. Stick it on pole. 2. Get a good start and lead into the first corner. 3. Build a gap (~10 seconds) 4. Maintain that gap 5. Control the race (cruise so you don’t wear out the tyres) – giving you the option to push if the guy behind pushes, thus demoralising him 6. Pit a lap behind driver behind you. 7. Win the race.

Yes it’s simple. But he still needs to get pole position and make a good start. Something not many drivers have done this year.

A team principal comforting his driver is not a new thing. Bernie coming over to say hello… well let’s just say Seb has some powerful friends. I don’t think BE does that to many drivers. Seb has all areas covered.


Great win, and well controlled race by Lewis.

He couldn’t have given his mom a better birthday present, and good to see that smile on his face again today.


Great performance by Hamilton, thoroughly deserved.

I have to make a comment on Alonso’s performances this season. In my opinion he’s been nothing short of sensational. In a car which is the third fastest and regularly half a second off the ultimate pace, he’s managed 1 win, 10 podiums, and one fastest lap. He has 245 points and if he gets 10 points in the next race he will have scored more points than 2010 when his car was much more competitive. Great driver.


Good post. I agree 100%.

Becoming a clear No 1 is obviously the magic ingredient for Fernando; since that happened he has kept the toys in the pram, made friends with everyone, and really just let his driving make the statements this year.

I used to dislike him intensely but I am now a big fan! Who wouldn’t be on his present form!?!

Lost count of how many races he has just quietly stayed off-camera and got on with the task of dragging his car onto the podium!

He’s a strong natural leader; arguably stronger than Stefano if we’re being honest!

He’s also turning the once laid-back and affable Massa into an insecure paranoid madman.

Vamos Fernando!


loving the madman quote, totally agree on Alonso.



It would be a bold call to give driver of the season to anyone but SV but if you factor in relative car performance, I think he’s been outstanding.

I think it’s unfair to say anyone has been better than him anyway.


I was watching Kovi on the live timing. He’s doing a brilliant season.


Not brilliant enough worthy of a seat at McLaren or any front-running team.


I agree. Kobi was running very competitive times to the Williams, and Renault’s when on similar tire wear. And that was without KERS!


I’ve noticed that Kovi does well on the first stint on new tyres, but starts to struggle a bit relatively when on used tyres in the middle stint.

They’re about 3s off the pace in the race – but still over 1s from the pace to get a point. Last few races have been good.


I kinda feel bad for saying it given his accident 2 years ago but has Massa’s eyesight been checked recently? I’m guessing it has as it’s a vital component of what he does but he’s been hitting a lot of things recently. Kerbs, bollards, bits of wing, McLarens.

He’s looking a but dangerous out there.


Are you joking right?

When did Massa hit anyone?

1. The kerbs he hit because he was cutting the turn short and I am pretty sure he saw the kerbs.

2. The bollard was hit because when you’re in a race you look for the apex and not for bollards and other things on the track. Racing drivers don’t expect to find debris on the track, therefore they’re not looking for it in every corner.

3. Bits of wings..see #2 above.

4. McLarens? I understand that you refer to the incidents between Massa and Lewis, but please open your eyes and see who hit who first.

I find it ridiculous to take Lewis’s defence when Lewis himself said he could not see Kobayashi(Spa) or Massa(Japan) in his mirrors.


Not joking, just asking a question. However in response to your points.

1. If he saw the kerbs he should have avoided them as they broke the car twice.

2. and 3. Plausible but I’m sure given the damage they can cause he’d rather avoid them

4. Massa is as guilty as Lewis over the season of these shunts. Lewis has stuck his hand up and admitted his transgressions but Ferarri’s number two seems not to be able to see where he could have done better


i agree to an extent with your comments, but as i posted earlier i really think that massa is having a slightly below average season but it appears so much worse because alonso is outdriving that poor attempt of a ferrari week in week out, he is getting that car in the top three when it isn’t good enough to be there, a sign of an awesome world champion!


Hamilton should really be careful y’know. This whole ‘where is Lewis’ head at’ has long since turned into a soap opera, and it’s doing him no favours. It seems like every race now every interviewer and commentator fusses around trying to analyse his mood, and the causes, and whether he’s in a better mood this weekend, and when his mood might lift, and just as Kimi eventually gained an unshakeable reputation and image as a less-than-committed driver who only turned it on when he could be bothered (despite the hard evidence arguably suggesting otherwise) so too Lewis has now firmly depicted himself as an erratic character who can no longer be relied upon to deliver 100% during a season if various factors aren’t in place.

This is a very bad development for him. All his talk of how Jenson can currently perform better because he has his dad, friends, girlfriend, manager etc around him is only sending the signal to the rest of the piranha club that this guy now apparently needs to be mollycoddled in order to drive at his best.

We don’t see Alonso needing a ‘happy place’. We didn’t see Schumacher (who raced and won on the morning his mother died for god’s sake while Ralf came 4th!) Senna didn’t need an entourage, nor Alan Jones or any of the other hard b*stards who ever dominated F1.

Rather than keep his head down and get on with it Lewis has turned his 2011 dip in form into a media circus, with every speculating on what his next smile or frown might mean, and he’s fed it with constant self-depracating references and endless alluding to how badly he’s performing, how his head’s not in the right place, how he’s having a nightmare season etc etc. This will stay in peoples’ memories long after next year’s racing begins, and it will only hurt him in years to come when he attempts to move teams.

Mark my words, I think he’s going to bitterly regret being so open about his feelings (as David Coulthard remarked upon today with surprise)


For Lewis to have to deal with the death of two friends, a relationship breakup that hurt (we’re not talking an already dead or dying relationship) and snide nasty back swipes from BBC/Jackie Stewart and others – post a race win but still get criticised for being open about his emotional upheavals is ridiculous.

It is time you lot, Brundle and Co accept that Lewis was brought up in a different culture to your “acceptable behaviour” one. Yes I accept some of the comments about the life experiences of racing drivers but that applies to ALL the racing drivers.

If you and the BBC can ignore Vettel’s reference to male genitalia on live TV then begin to pick on Lewis for being open and honest about his emotional tribulations then i’ll take Lewis’ life values over yours anytime of the day!


what 2 friends?


+1 We don’t see Alonso needing a ‘happy place’. We didn’t see Schumacher (who raced and won on the morning his mother died for god’s sake while Ralf came 4th!) Senna didn’t need an entourage, nor Alan Jones or any of the other hard b*stards who ever dominated F1.

You don’t see it in MotoGP either. Rossi lost one of his closest friends, Simoncelli, and the media was saying he’d retire, yet there he was 2 weeks later racing in honour.

I have no doubt that all these guys have feelings and emotions, but wasn’t it Senna who famously said, when that visor comes down, you block everything out.

I often wonder if Lewis is being advised by people who look at the image and what they can sell through it.

Everyone goes through difficult times, whether it’s a partner or under-performing but for the majority of us, problems exist because of house hold bills, job security etc etc. I really find this quite nauseating.


He was in a dark place in late 2007, that’s for sure. He has his little gang at races, manager, wife and a mate of hers sometimes. His Dad is less visible these days. But he’s very self contained, Fernando, like Vettel


James, I just want to ask, is Fernando and Ferrari a happier working enviroment than Schumacher and Ferrari?

Does the fact that Fernando speaks Italian fluently make a difference to the team dynamic?

I know you have written The Edge of Greatness but I am curious if Fernando brings a different feel to the team, or is the difference because of Domenicalli and Todt’s differences?


No doubt, but my point was more that other drivers who hit raw patches manage to grind on without it turning into some kind of therapy session every time a micrphone gets shoved under their noses… I’m not a particular fan of Webber for example, and he’s obviously not the driver Lewis is, but the idea of him moaning and talking about the kind of emotional babble we’ve heard from Hamilton would be unthinkable really…



Could you ever be persuaded to write a book on the goings on in McLaren during that 2007 season ? I know some people there still have a great deal of respect for Fernando.

I really enjoyed that throwback to the Senna/Prost days.I have always maintained amongst my F1 fan friends that despite not being best friends both Hamilton and Alonso shared a mutual respect. I m glad those comments came out this week. Hopefully their respective teams can give them a car to challenge next year !

Lastly, a close friend of mine met Eddie Jordan in TCD last week. Eddie told him that he does not rate Alonso very highly ! Eddie’s top 3 of all time in order were Senna, Mansell, Schumacher. I d be interested to hear your thoughts on that !

Keep up the great work, looking forward to the yearbook.


Excellent summary of Lewis Howard Hughes, I share your sentiments 100%. You will see Vettel and Alonso also don’t have high profile entourages.

Being no.1 is about being willing to work harder than anybody else and sheer bloody minded determination. Traits we see in Schumi still, and I see more and more in Vettel all the time.

When he got back to the pits he looked at the data trying to analyse what went wrong, he then spent the race on the pitwall trying to learn more there. Vettel’s appetite for learning is voracious, and why I can see him being World Champ for many years to come.

Theres also the story about him being the only driver to visit Pirelli in the winter to find out what kind of tyres they were looking to produce for 2011.

In my opinion, he’s mentally way ahead of almost everyone else with his attitude and willingness to work.


haven’t been here in a while. In part as the season hasn’t been so riveting. Interesting contribution. I would add though it isn’t just Lewis fault though. Crucially, the whole speculation circus F1 like so much fans the flames to a quite annoying degree. Folk will say all kinds of things on forums but I have to say at times I’ve found Brundle (who I thought really would know a lot better) and Coulthard guilty of overstepping the mark. It’s all just a bit bloody tabloid, if you ask me – it goes in hand with those magazine style features they do – like hang-gliding with the Mclaren guys, or Vettel makes a curry for Jake (whatever).

I didn’t see a “different Lewis” today or the “real Hamilton” today. It was the same driver who has been mostly easily outqaulifying his team-mate only to find he is unable to translate that pace into the race. It’s more about technique, driving style, than head space. He can go a fair bit quicker than Jenson only to find then his tyres are shot. Tyre deg is so important this season it’s reduced Lewis as a driver. He’s still fast and providing he doesn’t find himself behind Massa etc he still has the pace to beat Button. But nothing like the kind of margin he should have – something like 30 seconds. If you look at Lewis’ quali pace he should have even been up there in the mix with Vettel. When was the last great over take he did? That early one on Vettel when Mclaren went for the extra stop…I can’t wait personally to see the tyre regulations change and see Lewis really where he belongs, fighting with Vettel. This season, in spite of the drs, kers etc has been a season as bad as the one Mansell walked away with.


+1. Well said, its becoming a bit of tired subject already. As you mentioned, there is many drivers, past and present, who wouldnt be seen going on like this. For me its a question of maturity, which will come with more time.


Let’s face it, Lewis came second today. Because but fr a rapid tyre deflation Vettel would have won. Sure, we can all speculate and hypothesise, but it’s 99.99% sure the outcome would have been as it’s been for 14 or so races this year. So rather than Lewis beaming at his ‘win’ he should be thanking Lady Luck that someone else’s misfortune gifted him the lead.

That is meant with no element of nastiness by the way, merely realism. If I was a track runner and I won a race solely as a result of the champion having flu that week and dropping out after 30 metres, I’d know full well as I stood receiving my gold medal that I hadn’t really ‘won’ it.


Let’s face it, this opinion is a bit silly isn’t it? LH came first, FA came second and JB came third. These are the facts. If you apply your flawed logic on down the field and into past races the whole thing would turn into an utter fiasco.


This opinion is neither flawed nor silly. Two factors make my appraisal different from any other time someone wins as a result of an incident further up the track.

1) Virtually every other time a leading driving crashed out and the 2nd placed guy on the track wins, it’s still a truism to say ‘oh well, he might have won anyway, there’s no way of knowing if would have eventually overtaken or not’. But in this case it’s pretty much impossible to say that Lewis would have won regardless of Vettel’s puncture, since the very definition of the 2011 season has been the record-breaking, metronomic consistency with which the Red Bull driver has sprinted off into an unassailable lead and retained it effortlessly, despite the efforts of those behind (with the sole exception of Jenson’s win during a weekend where the Red Bull didn’t enjoy much of a speed advantage, unlike in Abu Dhabi.

Therefore do we think it’s likely or even remotely possible that Lewis would have hauled Sebastian in and won on speed and merit? No we do not.

2) Lewis didn’t win because any other driver / car combination happened to be eliminated ahead of him on the track. He crossed the line first because the virtually guaranteed favourite was eliminated ahead of him on the track. Just as someone else has used the anology of Usain Bolt – Vettel and his car are this year’s Usain Bolt. They just are. So if Mr Number 2 Runner in the World turns up to race the 100 metre, and Bolt trips over his shoelace and falls by the track after 15 metres, and the Number 2 Runner guy crosses the line first, he’s deluding himself if he runs about high-fiving everyone claiming that he ‘won’. Last year Lewis would have been entitled to rejoice in such a win. Who knows, maybe Vettel and his car may not enjoy quite the dominance in 2012 and Lewis will be entitled to again in similar circumstances. But this year, at this race, no – he lucked into a win and that’s that.


Nope that is not that, not even close. Your[mod] logic does not take into account all the other factors that can and do contribute to winning in sport whether it is a championship or an individual event.

Let us also not forget that many people were saying that LH was the man to beat this weekend. Let us further not forget that you have absolutely no idea, none, zipola (despite what you claim) that SV would have won this race even if he had stayed on the track.

Your bolt analogy is just as flawed. If Bolt trips and falls over his shoelace it is because he was not concentrating when he tied his shoes, i.e. his preparation stuffed up his race. And the guy who crossed the line first did indeed win (without the inverted commas).



just look at it as payback for 2009 then maybe it will be more bearable for you. eh


Well Vettel has his own luck to thank to be in RBR + have a genius of a designer to make him look more outstanding than he should be.

As it’s been said throughout the entire season, put any of the current top 4 or 5 drivers in the same car and see if Vettel is so special? Not necessarily saying he’ll be crap but it’s almost a guarantee that Vettel will be matched neck to neck.


So by that merit vettel should be thanking lady lucky that his car is designed by newey otherwise he’d be lucky to be on the podium? A win’s a win end of.


Luck is a part of sport, all the front runners have had their share of bad luck. A victory is worth its weight in gold.


I’m sure that what all the top 100meters runners say when a very “fast” competitor (say for example, Usain Bolt) is eliminated for a false start.


Sour grapes! LOL Everybody touts Vettels 1st win in the TR, but he only won that race cause he got lucky with a wet qualy, and a wet race. ANd then he got lucky that he got the best car in the field, by far!

Man! Some people have to rain in everybodys parade, sad…


I’m sorry, but no-one in F1 – and I mean real experts – thinks Vettel got “lucky” in Monza in the Toro Rosso.


Wasn’t he at least abit lucky before the race started though, as the various other teams, by degrees, made a hash of qualy? There was no luck involved after the lights went out but before….?

I Suppose it’s irrelevant really anyway, they all get good luck and bad luck it’s what they do with it that counts. He was ‘given’ an opportunity and he took it, not possible to do any more than that.


I recall that Mclaren stuffed up Hamilton’s qualofying (sound fammiliar?) by sending him out on the wrong tires when the track was at its best, dropping out in Q2 with Raikkonen.

Kovaleinen was nowhere all season, and Massa struggled in that cat of a Ferrari (poor in wet for those still sleepy).

Had Hamilton been where he should have, I doubt Vettel would have one. That constitutes as lucky to me.


LOL a win is still a win though


Nice to see Lewis back on form, but can’t help thinking it would have meant more if Seb was still in the race and he’d won on merit instead of a DNF. Alonso did a great job to keep Lewis on his toes.


Great drive by Alonso, continues to out perform his car. Vettel was unlucky to go out at the start, but Hamilton drove a clean, consistent race and was kept honest by Alonso.


Great drive by Hamilton, helped in no small part by Vettel’s mis-fortune.

Webber on the other hand, although let down by his pitstop had another underwhelming day. In a better car he still couldn’t make an impression on Button despite the latter’s Kers problems.

Time for the Aussie to call it a day, I think.


I am quietly a Webber fan, but this has to be one of the main stories from this race. Webber struggled to get past JB on softs, with KERS and DRS, never mind pull a convincing gap. He’s just not been at the same races this season as his team mate. And that feels like a bit of a shame, as he drove some incredible races last season.


I’m a Webber fan and that about sums up his season nicely. Definately doing it tough is our Mark.


I think the Red Bull’s use the short gearing primarily to secure decent grid positions in qualifying. Webber didn’t even manage that!


Rarely one to come to Mark’s defence, but in this case he was short geared and you could clearly hear him on the limiter when he was using DRS so there was nothing left for him. His problem is that he cannot make use of the speed the gearing allows him in the cornering, unlike Sebs, not that he cannot overtake even with the DRS.


yes. The damning thing for both Mark & Massa is that they’re giving it their very best shot. It’s not a matter of going off the boil or being too bored to try, etc. I’m not expecting to see either in place at the end of next year regardless what the contracts say. F1 is a brutal business with no charitable status.


Is the Mark you refer to the same one that kept peeling off fastest lap times in the race last night?


Yes, that Mark which set the fastest times on soft tyres while everybody else was on medium..

Seriously, I have nothing against Mark, but your comment is not going to do Mark any favour. He needs to understand these tyres and up his game.


Yes, although Mark was on the option tyre while everyone else in top ten was on the prime so this is expected!


That’s right, the very same Mark that was on the option tyres when every other front-runner was on the primes. In a Red Bull. On low fuel.


There’s going to be a lot of good seats going for 2013, aren’t there ? Massa’s, Schumacher’s, probably Mark’s. Kubica, if he can come back, would be a cert for one of them, but who else is the pick of the rest ? Perez ? di Resta ? Alguersuari ? Kobayashi ? Have I missed anyone ? All to play for in 2012.


Yes, I missed the Hulk.


Hi James,

Great to see Lewis win again. However, couldn’t help but notice that Martin Whitmarsh was hardly ecstatic to see Lewis win. Is there tension between these two?


Hi James. I’ve been reading your site for years and it’s excellent and one of the first places I turn to for F1 insight, but for some reason, I’ve never posted.

I have to reply to this though. I didn’t see that in Martin Whitmarsh AT ALL. He actually seemed to be rather moved as heard in his vocal tone on the BBC Forum and was happy for Lewis. I think people are trying to read things into situations that aren’t there.

I reckon McLaren and Martin Whitmarsh individually are very happy with their two excellent drivers, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.


Not really. I agree some of the team people looked underwhelmed, but a win’s a win and in a season like this they are all special


I think McLaren managed Lewis and the race from lap 1 when he took the lead. Lewis did a nice clean job and then won the race. team pleased but not ecstatic. But if through some clever strategy combined with a hot drive from Lewis and they overtook Vettel on the last corner to win the race they would have been jumping for joy and letting everyone know how pleased they were.

Therefore I see nothing in their “muted” support, Martin Whitmarsh seemed pretty pleased when speaking to Ted Kravitz on the BBC post race.


It was just a bitter sweet scenario. On paper they looked good for a one two finish but all the head scratching on the pitwall to try and help JB set his sky plus box to record the race would have been frustrating. It’s bound to take the edge of it for a team that is pretty used to winning grand prix.


I imagine most of the paddock (with the exception of Red Bull) are exhausted and wishing that this was the last race of the season. It’s been a long one.

How do they find the time to get some really decent Christmas shopping done this year?


Duty Free shops, I expect..


Maybe they do it while on the move lol =) Pretty cool if u ask me, u get to buy stuff elsewhere in the world where you don’t find in their local countries.


Wish I had this sort of Christmas shopping problem! I’m already starting to get withdrawal symptoms. Good race today, great to see Lewis win and happy, Jenson did a great job with his problematic Kers. Will be watching half the races on RTL next year, so not happy, but watching the races even without sound is better than not seeing them, but will listen to Radio 5 live commentary. Noticed the Beeb team have gone very quiet on the subject!


Well that’s diplomatic James, but there more afoot at McLaren than is visible. I think Jenson has become favourite there, and a few were not that happy at seeing him beaten today by Lewis. I also get the feeling there was something disadvatageous about Lewis’s second Q3 qualifying run like being released into traffic. Whitmarsh has said a couple of slightly negative things about Lewis which would have been best left unsaid in the curent climate. I hope Lewis also wins in Brazil!


Seems like McLaren have found their new golden boy =)

McLaren: Speed? Pfff forget it, we just want a nice jolly driver to team up with us 😀


It’s a pity Vettel went out so early. He had a very good start and was already building a good gap. His tyre failure made some other drivers look like heroes today.

I don’t think DRS was that effective. The double DRS was not a success. What’s the point if you overtake a driver only to be overtaken on the second zone?

Overall it was not a thrilling race. Hamilton was not challenged by anyone at all. The cars were spread out evenly on the track with hardly any challenges.

I wonder what happened to Massa. He was in front of Webber who made an extra pit stop. At the end of the race, Massa was miles behind Webber. He just can’t do a full race distance anymore.


“I don’t think DRS was that effective. The double DRS was not a success. What’s the point if you overtake a driver only to be overtaken on the second zone?”

The original idea of DRS is to “aid” overtaking, not to guarantee a complete overtake. The drivers still have to do the work.


Agreed with Rob, for me Lewis been gifted the win and its less valuable as not racing against the best – The flying Seb


With about 20 laps to go, Webber pitted for the soft tyres. Massa went for hard tyres. Ferrari is weak on the hard tyres, and the normal delta between hard and soft compunds was significant at Yas Marina, meaning that Webber found it relatively easy to gain over 1 second per lap to cancel out the 20 second pitlane delta.

It would have been much closer if Massa hadn’t muffed it and spun out trying to keep within the 20 second window. He’s lucky Nico didn’t get him. On initial review, it looks like Mercedes got their tactics wrong today (not a common occurrence with Ross Brawn’s leadership). Had Nico pitted about 10 laps earlier than he did to take on his last set of tyres, he would have beaten Massa by some margin.

James – did Nico run hard / hard / soft, and pit to meet the two compound rule, or did he start on soft tyres and pit the last time because of problems? It didn’t look like he ran long enough to maximise the last set of tyres.


The softs are faster than the mediums, so you want to be on them as much as possible. The optimum race time comes when the slowest (fuel-corrected) the tyre gets is the same in each stint. The Mercedes have had very good wear on the softs recently, and so were able to maintain the pace on the softs for longer.

Rosberg made two stops (to clarify James’ comment) with just the last one on the mediums (so he had to stop – if it was a third stop I would agree with you). The lateness of the second stop is actually a strength as it means that they thought they were still as fast at that point than on 10 lap old mediums. Hope this makes sense.

Great drive by Rosberg. Has the high ground in the team again.


I must have had a bit of colour blindness when I saw the video feed with about 15 laps to go, because it looked like he had silver tyres on before his final stop. The last stop doesn’t make sense otherwise.


He ran Soft used, soft new, medium new, with a short stint on mediums


Thanks James.

If I remember correctly, there was less than 10 laps to go when he pitted the last time.

Was there really so little left on his medium tyres that they thought he would lose 2 seconds per lap compared to fresh medium tyres?

It seems like a strange tactical decision to come in with so little time left. If he pitted because of another problem, why didn’t they put soft tyres on to maximise the speed in the last stint? What am I missing here?


What a great race, a great win for Lewis. Hopefully another win in Brazil will give out a statement of intent of what he’ll do in 2012, given McLaren gives him and Jenson a fast good car straight out of the box.

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