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Analysis: How the points, and the title, slipped away for Lewis Hamilton
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Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Nov 2012   |  10:02 am GMT  |  269 comments

If Lewis Hamilton felt that Sebastian Vettel’s had been “lucky” to rescue a third place finish in Abu Dhabi, it was certainly not a word you could apply to the McLaren driver’s own race on Sunday, or indeed his season as a whole.

Although Hamilton has been effectively out of the title running for several races now, confirmation that his wait for a second drivers’ title would stretch into a fifth season, and beyond the end of his McLaren career, officially arrived under the lights at Yas Marina the moment his MP4-27 pulled off the road with a fuel pressure failure on lap 20.

Martin Whitmarsh insisted afterwards that McLaren’s recent reliability problems were “not related or endemic, it’s just one of those things”, yet the evidence suggests they and operational mistakes have nonetheless proved massively costly to Hamilton’s title aspirations.

Abu Dhabi was the third time season that Hamilton could point to a reasonably certain race victory being prised from his grasp through no fault of his own. The other two were in Spain, when he was stripped of what had been a dominant pole for McLaren fuel irregularites and demoted to the back of the grid, and Singapore, when a gearbox failure struck.

Had he duly won on all three of those occasions, then he would currently have 71 points more to his name in the championship (he ultimately did score four points for eighth place in Barcelona). Those additional points alone, combined with the negative knock-on effect for his rivals’ scores, would eradicate much of Hamilton’s current 90-point deficit to Sebastian Vettel and mean he was very much still in the title hunt heading to Austin.

McLaren also paid a big price for its early-season pit stop problems, before new Sporting Director Sam Michael and his group put in place a more reliable and faster pit-stop process.

We’ve done some analysis on Hamilton’s season; it certainly shows how things could have been very different if the team had enjoyed the same reliability and opertional record as Ferrari or Lotus for example.

Although the nature of F1 makes it impossible to quantify exactly how many points have been squandered through car failures and team mistakes, the below list of examples and considered estimations on likely finishing positions and points losses nonetheless serves as an illustration of how Hamilton’s overall points tally has been severely compromised:

China – Qualifies second but started seventh due to gearbox change penalty. Finishes third. Estimated points loss: three

Bahrain – Running third but following two slow pit stops ends up eighth.  Estimated points loss: Eight to ten

Spain – Qualifies on pole but demoted to back of the grid for McLaren fuel infringement. Finishes eighth. Estimated points loss: 21

Monaco – Running third but suffers slow pit stop and loses positions to first Alonso, who stops a lap later, and the even later-stopping Vettel. Finishes fifth. Estimated points loss: Two to five

Europe – Slow pit stop when running third drops him to sixth and behind ultimate race winner Alonso. Spun out on final lap from third after collision with Pastor Maldonado while struggling with tyre wear. Estimated points loss: 15 (based on likely position ahead of Maldonado in closing stages without pit-stop delay)

Singapore – Running first when gearbox fails. Result: DNF. Estimated points loss: 25

Korea – Rear anti-roll bar failure early in race plays havoc with tyre wear. Drops down order from fourth. Result: 10th. Estimated points loss: 11

Abu Dhabi – Leading the race by three seconds when fuel pressure problem grounds car to a halt. Result: DNF. Estimated points loss: 25

Estimated total of lost points: 110 points

Hamilton’s Japanese GP weekend was also hampered by rear suspension problems, although the result he would have achieved with a fully-functioning car is hard to quantity so is left out of the sample. He also had a further DNF in Germany due to puncture damage.

Of course, as in any title battle, Hamilton hasn’t been alone in suffering setbacks and both Vettel (alternator failures in Valencia and Monza) and Alonso (first-corner collisions in Spa and Suzuka) can also both justifiably point to probably more than 30 points being lost through misfortune. Nonetheless, with around a century more points to his name, Hamilton would be well within striking distance of the pair of them with a car capable of winning races.

Even with a more cautious estimate than the one above, a more reliable 2012 McLaren would have put a very different complexion on both driver and team’s final season together.

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I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


I have been playing it and I have enjoyed it but there are a few things I’m not fond of.

Oddly enough, this partcular retailer doesn’t list GTA

5 for PC or Xbox One, though a different retailer did so earlier this month.

It feels aimed more towards the 18 to 49 demographic rather than the disobedient adolescent.

If air travel better suits you, players can now place

an order for the new Vestra luxury jet. Early attempts

to fix the problems damaged save data for the single-player GTA V.


What about pit problems for lh in malaysia that cost him an almost certain victory?


This places him barely into the lead, but doesn’t take into account the fact that had Lewis been winning all the other drivers would have their points tally reduced as the points would have went to Lewis.


My final words to McLaren: IT’S A SHAME!

Like many other Hamilton/ McLaren supporters, I will support Mercedes the next years.

To say it with the words of “Adele”

(Lewis farewellsong for this season & McLaren should be):

*There’s a fire starting in my heart

Reaching a fever pitch and it’s bring me out the dark

Finally I can see you crystal clear

Go ahead and sell me out and I’ll lay your ship bare

See how I’ll leave, with every piece of you Don’t underestimate the things that I will do


The scars of your love remind me of us

They keep me thinking that we almost had it all

The scars of your love, they leave me breathless I can’t help feeling:

We could have had it all!

WDC & WCC was your to lose Mclaren


(*Adele – Rolling In The Deep Lyrics)


Can’t wait to read the next instalment from XIX entertainment. Hopefully David Beckham will get a mention!

Tornillo Amarillo

Excellent post James, yes I think we had the best from Hamilton this year, and maybe the worst from McLaren, bad luck!

And there is no new opportunity next year to try again, because it seems that Lewis thought that enough is enough and he moves to Mercedes. Maybe he will give us fantastic battles in the midfield!


Yeah fantastic battles in the midfield with Jenson probably 🙂


I’m sure someone in JAonF1 land has this data handy.

How many Champions since let’s say 1990 won the first race of the season and went on to win the championship that same year? Just wondering if that statitic holds any truth to seasonal form from the very first race.


But unless I’m mistaken, a far greater percentage of those 17 happened in the first 50% of this 22 year time span than did over the second 50%. Am I right?


Vettel had his own bad luck (Valencia, Abu Dhabi), Alonso too (Spa, Monza where a sure pole is lost due to his rollbar malfunction) and Suzuka. That’s 40 points lost in my opinion.

But you win as a team and you lose as a team. Maybe a more reliable car would be less efficient. Newey’s aero design are well known to put engines and other car parts into more stress, ferrari`s car looks almost like a tank (remember how Barichello crashed into alonso in belgium two years ago and the car was barely damaged) but less performant. That’s the way it is, crying about it is pointless.


Hamilton has driven well all season long, but McLaren can’t deliver, yet again. It is definitely not his fault, and it will be a complete injustice now if he doesn’t finish ahead of Webber and Button in the championship. I think if Mercedes can develop the car better, Hamilton will make McLaren look silly next year.


Lewis is unfortunate with the team letting him down way too many times.

Similar to Michael Schumacher’s 2012 campaign. Michael has been performing way better but getting lots of harsh penalties from running into other drivers had cost him a lot. I mention the 2 penalties because Webber and Rosberg (Abu Dhabi 2012) also had the same accident but no action done to them.

On top of that, Mercedes really ruined Schumacher race too many times.

And lastly, Mercedes announced Hamilton to replace Schumacher before Schumacher announce his retirement. That really puts the final nail to the coffin.

I really feel sorry for Schumacher and Hamilton this year.

finally, I think Hamilton’s comments of calling Vettel lucky is just plain disrespectful and low.


but vettel was lucky, it wasn’t really the drive of the season, no matter what anyone says.

Starts in pitlane so RBR can do work on the car

Passes the slow cars (HRT, Caterham, Marussia)

Safety Car 1

Almost drives into the back of Ricciardo and crashes into a DRS board

Pitstop changes his strategy into a better one which causes him to jump into fourth

Safety Car 2

During SC2 closes in to JB and is able to pass him for third

If that isn’t lucky, then what is?


‘I think Hamilton’s comments of calling Vettel lucky is just plain disrespectful and low.’

It shows Hamilton’s frustration about the fact that Vettel has outraced him for the fourth season in four years.


Can this be justification for calling Vettel lucky? That is, venting his frustration (caused by his team) by disrespecting a fellow competitor and a triple world champion.

Hamilton’s attitude is disrespectful and very low indeed.


I can only imagine life is preparing Lewis for great things. But then again, he is already extremely lucky(conceptually speaking) to be a World Champion in a sport where many capable drivers never become World Champions, despite their talent.


” But then again, he is already extremely lucky(conceptually speaking) to be a World Champion in a sport where many capable drivers never become World Champions” – The only one who was lucky was Kimi Raikonnen, in 2008 the FIA did everything they could to stop Lewis, hance they gave his victory in Spa to Massa remember ?


Despite all of Mclaren’s short comings & mistakes we tend to be frustrated but that doesn’t mean we will ever forget what the team especially what Ron Dennis did for our dude’s career.

So yes, a big thank you to Big Ron & blessings go out to him, his family and the team wishing you all lots of happiness and success in the future.


If but maybe my uncle could have been my aunt! 😉 Ultimately you make your own luck like Valencia he could have conceded the corner on shot tires to Maldo and at least had 12 points. In the end the deserving WDC is the guy who scores the most points – anything else is a subjective wishful exercise.


Thanks so much for taking the time to write this article – I was literally thinking after Sunday that I’d love to know this information and hoped you would do this article!

As a die hard Hamilton fan I completely agree he lost the 2011 championship with silly mistakes, but this year he has been impeccable and McClaren have totally squandered it for him

Ah well – bring on 2014!


Would have, could have, should have.

I think the same applies to other drivers so will we see and “in depth” look at their seasons ?


Since Mika Hakkinens second title in 1999 McLaren have won just one drivers title with Lewis in 2008. Im a huge McLaren fan but it always makes me wonder if with such a poor record does the team really justify their top team billing? Year after year they have one reason after another as to why they could not win the title. McLaren should come out of their PR speak cocoon and face reality with respect to their technical and operational mistakes over the years. It smacks of some fundamental changes that need to happen in the way McLaren operate. It wont be too long before drivers think twice about signing up.


I believe Hamilton would be second in the championship if he, Vettel and Alonso had not had any problems. It is a big loss for the constructors championship only. Other than that he would have missed a trip to India or wherever they have the Championship ceremony. Nothing else. Being a runner up doesn’t make any difference.

As for why he is leaving McLaren, the main reason is problem within the team. He has antagonised many people within the team. So it is a sensible move. Only time will tell if he made the right decision.


I was thinking to put myself in the shoes of McLaren operatives. The situation is: Hamilton is leaving the team next year, but Button stays. So, wouldn’t it be helpful to the 2013-motivation of Button if he — “by any means” –scores more points than Hamilton? Well, ther are still two races left, and JB has a very good chance to snatch enough points and bit LH for two consecutive seasons. McLaren certainly is in trouble!


And they very nearly did it 😉


If you add the 110 points from this analysis to the current point standings it pits Hamilton 20 points ahead of Vettel. I think that’s the biggest reason lewis is diving a Merc next year


Don’t you then need to give back Vettel two wins 50 pts for the two races where Renault Alternator failures caused DNF’s instead of 2 wins and Alonso his wipe out

Ironic that Lewis’s Abu Dhabi failure was a Merc supplied (engine package) fuel pump so not a McLaren failing


You also have to subtract all the points the other drivers wouldnt have scored if lewis hadn’t had problems. made by Mclaren, and so its the suspension, oh, and pit stops too, or are the pit stops.made be a different manufacturer too?


The same would apply to all the other racers had they not had “bad luck”. To play the “IF” game you have to use the same rules for everyone. At the end of the day its all nonsense anyway the official FIA scorings will decide the titles and thats the end of it


What do you think James, how much weight those issues at McLaren had in Lewis decision to leave the team ?

I would really appreciate your opinion here.



Some, but operational things can be fixed

I think he wanted a fresh challenge and more commercial freedom

Tornillo Amarillo

and maybe he wanted also less arrogance from Ron Dennis when the later was talking to journalists about him.


Next year will be interesting for Mclaren when Jenson will be No.1, but there’s no doubt they are gona miss Lewis’s raw pace in qualifying, jenson’s only pole so far for Mclaren has been Spa this year, that tells alot.


James, any idea what Rory Byrne is currently doing ? I ask as he has been the only designer to have beaten Newey in terms of car designs.

Wonder if Ferrari would be wise to lure him back out of retirement.

unF1nnished Business

“What if” – The story of Lewis Hamilton.


Agree, Hamilton is the most unfortunate driver of the season, or even previous couple of season (except last year, he did a lot of mistakes).

Starting the season with the best car and even having the fastest car in 10 or more races (first races, before summer break, Singapore and even now), McLaren is the most disappointing team this year.

Going from Hamilton+Alonso to Button+Perez in 5 years also doesn’t help. I don’t see them fighting for the championship in 2013.


I think 2013 will be tough – but McLaren will be there for much of the championship – they always are


I would agree if Lewis was still there. I’m not convinced they will be there with Jenson but never know.


You could argue that Hamilton could have finished third in Spain, as Vettel has just done, therefore the estimated points loss would have been much reduced.

James, in your analysis of the estimated points loss, have you taken into account those drivers who were ahead of LH in each race and themselves then failed to finish or had problems, thus promoting LH up the order.

If not, the estimated points loss needs to be adjusting downwards because if you assume that LH had not had these problems, then you have to assume that anyone ahead of him doesn’t have problems either. Otherwise it is not a realistic analysis.


I don’t think I fully agree with your analysis James. Jenson always seems to excell in China so Hamilton may well have ended up third anyway. In Bahrain the McLaren just wasn’t very fast so I reckon he lost a fifth place finish instead of a third, which would be six points lost. Same goes for Monaco, the McLaren just wasn’t very quick and Alonso and Vettel jumped him because of superior pace on old tyres, not because of a slow pitstop.

However it is clear he has lost an inordinate amount of points through team mistakes and mechanical failures, to the point where he should be leading the championship but isnt.


Sorry Andrew but the Monaco race is a classic Mclaren failure. It is the little details that make the difference:

Detail 1) Slow tyre change (agreed by the text in JA’s report) that costs Hamilton his place to Fernando

Detail 2) Vettel pits as the gap was just enough to get him out in front of Hamilton. Hamilton was furious ‘you should have kept me updated man’ was his immediate response to his engineer because at that point he was managing his tyres and was not following Alonso closely because he was not told of Vettel.


And yet Alonso came out further ahead than the amount of time lost in the pits. Hamilton also said he didn’t think the tyres were going to last at that pace. Bottom line is Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all had faster cars that day.


Great post James.

I had almost forgotten how many instances there have been. A real shame for both team and driver.

Regardless of the championship i believe this season has confirmed in Hamilton’s own mind how good he can be and I’m very excited for the next 3 years with Ross Brawn and the Merc team.

Enjoy your tour of the factory; see if you can peek at next year’s car!


All the above comments demonstrates that f1 is full of competitive people. From Ecclestone to the pitlane mechanics. I remember an incident during the 2007 season when Ecclestone was asked to appologise to Hamilton for something he said, many were outraged and Coulthard expressed how odd that was by saying, Ecclestone makes it possible for all involved in F1 to make their money so he doesn’t see why Ecclestone should appologise to Hamilton. I also remember a journalist asking ecclestone about Hamilton’s sudden rise to fame soon after Schumaker’s retirement and he responded,”it could have been any one of them, Massa or Vettel if Hamilton wasn’t involved in F1. I wonder if Ecclestone was angered by the prospect of him appologising to Hamilton because the next season, 2008 hamilton recieved the strangest penalties, giving Massa a better cance. Vettel moved to Red Bull and we have all witnessed the outcome. The joungest back to back tripple champion of all time!


why exactly was Bernie asked to apologise to Hamilton? Any links?


James, one can understand why Lewis is looking for a change. I feel that he missed a trick though…

What do you think Red Bull’s response would’ve been if Lewis had come to them with the famous “race-for-free” deal Senna offered to Williams in the 90s?!


What if Red Bull’s next car is awful? Or the car after that?

While his record is very good, Newey hasn’t *always* delivered championship winning cars. Periods of dominance also generally only last for periods of a few years before either somebody else takes over, or there are a few mixed seasons.

Even in the Schumacher/Ferrari days there were only 5 championships won in a row (Red Bull are on their way to their 3rd), before that McLaren had a couple of years, before that Williams had a couple, Benneton a couple before that. Then before that there was some swinging to and fro from McLaren and Williams.


All ifs, buts any maybes but still very interesting reading.

Any chance of similar analysis of Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher and Grosjean? From the comfort of my sofa would be interesting to see which team has performed well compared to driver. Ie. I’d expect RG to have cost his team more points than the team.

Ps. Para 4 reads oddly to me.


How do you figure that Hamilton had a “reasonably certain race victory” at Barcelona simply because he sat on pole? Your analysis is usually spot on, but this pro-Hamilton puff piece is short on logic and long on speculation. Hamilton is not the only driver who would have scored more points if things were different. But they are *not* different. They are what they are and Hamilton is welcome to take his selfish attitude to Mercedes next year and see if he can make an improvement. Frankly, I hope he does, just for the competition, but please do not paint him as merely the unlucky would-be should-be champion.


Where Bob does have a point is that this article fails to live up to the usual standard of James (IMO) as the analysis ignores the poor luck of other contenders (such as Vettel, who has lost a bag of points due to Renault alternators for example).

Lewis has had a rough go, but to look at it in a vacuum does not yield a true picture either.


Virtual Bob, no offense, but your post is short on logic, not James’s (who in my experiance of this great site has never favoured any driver or team).

As for Lewis’s attitude, it’s been spot on this year, I respectfully suggest yours isn’t.


I don’t think the artical was trying to say “Oh poor lewis”, more a reflection of the mclaren problems. Another point is that if mclaren had only cashed in on 50% of the points you mention, 55, then that would be 55 less for everyone else. Making the title race closer still.


Well what else do you call it then, Virtual Bob? Lucky? Your ‘selfish attitude’ comment speaks more about your inability to form an objective opinion than it does about Lewis’s motivation for leaving McLaren.

Perhaps you could enlighten us all as to which other championship contenders have had to endure even a fraction of the crap & misfortune that Lewis has this year, or have lost anywhere near the volume of points through no fault of their own?

The bottom line is, were in not for McLarens seemingly endless f*ckups, mistakes, questionable calls and whole heap of bad luck, Lewis would be be leading the championship.

Worthy of note: Spa isn’t included in James’s analysis, Mclarens idiotic decision to give upgrades to Jenson but not to Lewis resulted in Lewis qualifying out of position (which is the only reason he was taken out in the Grosjean carnage).

Had McLaren given Lewis the same upgrades it’s highly likely Lewis would have been on pole and won the race – so there’s another 25 points to add to James’s 110.


So, you reckong Maldonado was going to be faster?


Virtual Bob! Obviously it’s a speculative piece; if the JA team had an alternate reality device to see how the season could’ve unfolded under many different permutations, I’m sure we would’ve heard about it at some point by now…

Things aren’t different, or this article would be redundant. What it does is suggest quite how many operational errors have impacted Hamilton’s season, and suggest how the championship could’ve been different but for a more competent team. Feel free to provide your own list of how many times other drivers have been let down by their teams this season; I’d bet only Scumacher comes anywhere near as close.

Final point – is Hamilton’s “selfish attitude” speculation or fact? I can’t find it written anywhere other than here…


*Schumacher! Innocent typo, not a schoolyard dig… :S


Excellent article James, cold hard facts, thanks!


First of all it is a pointless exercise.

Then if you are doing it atleast do it right. In Valencia, without “misfortune” Vettel and Grosjean would have finished ahead of Hamilton. So Hamilton would have finished nowhere near third with his fading tyres. Also if Hamilton lost points in Spain, so did Vettel in Abu Dhabi. Also deduct all point which Hamilton has gained because of the misfortune of others.

So whichever way it is spun Vettel would be ahead in the championship.


You don’t get it. It’s not about trying to crown Hamilton as a champion etc but to show just how much the team and the car has let him down. And why this article is on Lewis and not Kimi, Jenson or somebody else is because they couldn’t have won the title regardless of all of their respective misfortunes but Lewis could yet ended up only 2 points in front of Jenson and in 4th place. A lot of fans just simply don’t even realise that the team has dropped the ball very badly and now they might even agree with Lewis’ move to Mercedes after all.


nothing new for the mclaren team

same happened to kimi in 2003 and 2005, schumacher and alonso won those titles respectively

happened to vettel in 2010 and alonso nearly won the title

it happens and is a part of motorsport but curiously mclaren has been affected most


Amazing. WDC table would look different if Lewis was not gifting all these points to other contenders. Obviously we knew Lewis had his share of bad suck this year, but this summary shows how ridiculous it had been.

You may not like Vettel’s hair Wayne, but I can see now why you’ve been pulling yours out all season long.


Yes, Lewis is better but much unfortunate driver than Seb Vettel. What an amazing discovery huh 😉


I don’t know if he’s better. Clearly Lewis is driving a fast machine. Simply the rest of the package is not there. Be it reliability, team performance, strategy, etc.

You need all the pieces.

I stand by my opinion that Vettel, Lewis, Alonso are on par and 0.0XX seconds seperates team at best.


This is exactly what some other fans don’t seem to understand: It’s a team sport! The final points the drivers have at the end of the season shows how good the whole package of team + car + driver was. It’s not a simple measurement of just the driver alone although some claim the team performance and car speed is purely down to the driver as well which is ludicrous. The driver has some effect on both but it’s small…


Conspiracy theories from the usual crowd – but you have to pity poor Lewis, he’s ditching a poor mclaren to get into schumachers seat – who’s had worse luck with car failures this year than even Lewis!

If Lewis gets into the mercedes next year and it still has the same failure rate I hope Martin whitmarsh and jenson button get a few apologies from the raving nutters on these forums. (wait, that’ll never happen will it? – no doubt it will somehow still be buttons dastardly connections to his former brawn seat pulling the strings with his charm offensive to destroy Hamilton or something)


I simply can’t understand who (beside Martin Whitmarsh) would choose JB over Lewis in the title hunt… That is probably part of the reason why Lewis is leaving and I can’t blame him for doing that. Last couple seasons he hasn’t been appreciated and didn’t get the recognision he deserves, he was mighty this season and I believ he would have won the title this year had they not have those pit stop and reliability problems. He has clearly outperformed Jenson in almost every single race this season. Spa springs to mind, wonder what happened there behind the closed doors…


+1 x1000 🙂


I’ll put it out there now, I don’t like the man, but I do admire his talent. Hamilton’s a natural talent which makes him a pleasure to watch.

Some fantastic drives this weekend. Everyone on the podium worked hard and deserved their place. If Vettel couldn’t do it in the Newey car and Alonso couldn’t do it with all the might of Ferrari behind him then Raikkonen showed why and how he gets away with being a PR headache.

When Hamilton replaces Schumacher he’ll have a tough year in a dog of a car. There will be highs as there have been for Schumacher but in reality it’s going to be 2014 before we get to see Hamilton running with the front of the pack. Mercedes/Brawn don’t waste another champion and deny us, the fans, the opportunity to see something special.

McLaren have lost out by letting Hamilton get away. Jenson’s not without talent and I feel that he has helped Hamilton grow, but Perez and Button are no match for the potential and viewing enjoyment Hamilton has taken to Mercedes. It’s like the Williams team after Senna died. Hill and Coulthard never matched the Senna potential and they had Newey’s help.


I think only the hamilton [mod] would fail to acknowledge that he has driven almost flawlessly this season without being any slower than before, well enough and in a car fast enough [ even if not always the fastest ] to have a shot at the title
but what has most impressed me is how he has reacted to the almost non stop bad fortune , no hissy fits a la vettel or alonso , ok the odd twitter indiscretion and a little straight faced at times

but maybe this isn’t all bad , life is a learning process and his transfer to MGP shows he is learning to take the long view , he surely has no hopes for the WDC in 2013

few would dispute that there is no faster driver in F1 , that is the bit that experience doesn’t teach , you have it from the beginning , or you don’t ; a friend of mine who coaches golf professionals on the major tours around the world says that being a big hitter is the one thing he can’t teach them , it’s the same thing …you either have it or you don’t

I think hamilton has the potential to be the best driver since jim clark who was acknowledged by his peers to be THE MAN ;to me hamilton has matured massively as a driver during the last 2 seasons and if MGB now have the funds to give him a competitive car we will see if he realises that potential

I look forward to finding out


What does not appear in the analysis is that had Hamilton won the most obvious races and scored more highly in others that would have had the effect of reducing the points scored by the other two contenders so could have been leading the championship. That aside it is clear that McLaren as a team have massively underperformed and cost Lewis a very real stab at the championship. Of course Red Bull have now got their car performing much better so we have been denigned a very close battle between two of the fastest drivers on the grid.



Apologises, you do actually mention the negative effect on his opponents. I missed it the first time, but it would have been nice to see a worked example to show the actual effect.

Regardless of what MW says Mclaren have to work a lot smarter than that, although I suspect it is some things that are simple in essence that require more care, indeed the pit stops are vastly improved, but reliability is either quality or design.


The above is based on the presumption that everyone else still had the same issues though; which is a pipe dream. So unless you do this for all drivers the actual points lost total is somewhat irrelavent.


The analysis is about Lewis Hamilton who lost at least three race victories. The knock on effect of that is to displace the actual winner to second and so forth. As there is 7 points difference between first and second it is not hard to see the effect of reducing the points tally of the other two contenders. In other words they would have been demoted one place from their actual finishing positions. Work it out it’s not hard!!!!!


I thought the Monaco incident with vettel was the worst example of the lot. You could see he was holding a gap to alonso and that vettel had to pit and the team did nothing to warn him. I don’t understand how me at home with my live timing can see this and the team of experienced strategists on the pitfall in the garage and also back at there famous race control could not see it?

People moaned at Hamilton for criticising the team but I thought he was calm in comparison to what I would have said!!!

Mclaren don’t do the basics well. To win first we have to finish………….


Shoulda, woulda, coulda. We could all sit down and discuss this for any driver.

The fact of the matter is. The team have failed Hamilton on more than one occassions and the car has as well.


Forgive me for stating the obvious….

When Vettel was disqualified, Red Bull opted to start from the pit lane and in doing so were able to modify the car with higher gears etc to make it go faster and overtake the whole field.

So, if I have got this right, he ended up with a faster car than he qualified with. Yes? No?

So, why is the car not set up in this faster mode in the first place for qualifying? I guess it is something to do with difference in qualifying trim and race trim?

Yes, Vettel had some luck with the safety cars etc, but even so, by the time he would have been allowed to go from the pit lane, he must have been at least 30 seconds behind Hamilton.

Are teams allowed to opt to start from the pit lane if they so choose anyway regardless of their qualifying position? If so, then what is to stop say Hamilton or anyone else just doing one single slow lap in Q1 and not make it to Q2 and Q3 and then opt to start from the pitlane after modifying the car to be faster in the same manner as Vettel did and then in the race carve his way through the field with a complete set of brand new option and prime tyres?

Or am I missing something here?


Yes your missing something.

There is no longer really such a thing as race and qualifying trim anymore with the clampdowns on fueling, tyres engines gearboxes etc over the years as the set-up for the final session has to be carried through to the race and incorporate the strategy the team has decided will be best for them.

The Renault ehgine is considered to be less powerful than either the Mercedes or Ferrari so RB have to rely more upon their chassis and aero attributes fora fast time

RB;s strategy is generally to set up their cars for a front row qualifying and then try to scamper away and build up a lead before DRS comes into force and hopefully at least 1 second so that those following cannot then use it. This set up usually gives them a car that accelerates quickly but a relatively modest top speed in the DRS straights

If they get out of postion through poor qualifying, start or penalty then they may in a position where they find it difficult to

overtake because of the modest top speed but hopefully fast enough to defend

Normally this works for them but if not they may be in a position that in the DRS overtaking straights they aren’t quite fast enough to overtake some of the other cars but hopefully just fast enough to defend against those behind.

When Webber had his poor start he had little chance of getting into the DRS or overtaking and was struggling to defend until his accident.

If Vettel had started from the back with the original set up he would have been behind a number of cars that whilst slow over a lap were as quick or quicker in the crucial ~DRS overtaking zones making things very difficult for him as he would be forced to try and overtake on corners or riskier parts of the circuit.

By opting for a pit lane start RB were able to lower downforce and change gear ratios giving a higher top speed. Although this adversely affected their overall lap time Vettel was fast enough in the twisty and non DRS bits to catch those in front relatively easily and then overtake in the DRS zones. He still managed to break a wing in an overtake outside the DRS zones but thanks to the change in settings, his skills and a fair bit of luck got an excellent result

Craig in Singapore

Entirely correct except for one thing – the car is considered to be in parc ferme the moment it leaves the garage in Q1, not the final session.


Due to the infringement on fuel sample RB are deemed not to have set a time and have freedom to make changes. Neither the stewards nor the FIA had any reaction at the time, during the race or subsequently and no competing teams have made any comment or appeal so I can only assume they ar satisfied that the actions of RB fall entirely within the rules


Red Bull run their setup based on getting pole and getting out the DRS Zone before it kicks in, thus they optimise their car for lap time, not top speed.

What that means is that the gear ratios are better suited for when the car isn’t using DRS, because in the lead you rarely get to use it (thus over a race distance if your leading you want gear ratios suited to non-DRS racing). When you do use it you run into the revlimiter which means your top speed is low. In the race you mention Mark and Seb had the 23rd and 24th fastest cars in the speed trap. To overtake in those would be incredibly difficult (think back to Alonso vs Petrov in AD for what that looks like).

Red Bull chose to comprimise their race start and start from the pits (taking the car out of parc ferme), that’s probably about a 7 or 8s penalty on just starting from the back of the grid. That enabled them to change the gear ratios, wing angles and suspension.

Take away the 2nd safety car in AD and Vettel would have finished 4th, some 25s off the lead.

The Red Bull of Vettels was probably slower in race trim than his qually car (by slower I mean in lap time), but with regards top speed the car will be faster in a straightline (which facilitates overtaking) and he loses more in the corners.


The set up for qualifying relies on the open use of DRS and getting a clean run at the track – ideal gearing/set up for the race (where overtaking is needed) is less downforce and more straight line attack to pull ahead. It’s a very different car – vettel is normally set up to blitz the corners but not have much straight-line advantage – his team plan on him leading from pole and not needing to do much overtaking.


Also it’s a risk to start from the pitlane, vettel drove very well but if he’d had more resistance a’la Button from others and there hadn’t been the safety cars he wouldn’t have been anywhere near 3rd. He still benefits most from starting on pole – as most drivers would. I expect a run up the field from last place is more fun and definitely more entertaining but I can’t see many wanting to risk points for the sheer love of racing.


if you knew that you would get 2 safety cars at exactly the right time you would want to start from the pit lane

otherwise it is a disaster


It seems to me that had McLaren given Hamilton a more reliable car and he therefore had the season he has deserved then perhaps when it came to renegotiating his contract then maybe he wouldn’t be now heading to Mercedes and McLaren wouldn’t be losing one of the best drivers on the grid…


One can only but wonder, whether this is indeed the case.


Thanks for the post James. I started this season thinking Mclaren were going to win and this analysis highlights their missed opportunities. Even with 90 points Hamilton would be tied with Vettel I know that’s a big if but as you said there are even another 5-10 more in your estimate of 110.

I will always look back and think of my two greatest drivers in F1 since 2000 lost titles at Mclaren rather won them. Every time I see Raikkonen I feel like im looking at a triple world champion. & each time I see Hamilton I see a double. It’s a very tell tale sign for the management of Mclaren. I only hope both drivers have a chance to fight for one each in the next two years. The beauty of this is that we get to see these two guys fight (fairly) in what Im guessing will be comparable equipment by this time next year. Hoping Mercedes improve through 2013.


James, you forgot to include Germany, where he got a puncture, and I don’t know if the Safety Car in Australia counts to your calculations, where he lost a further 3 points.


The Oz SC, though unfortunate, was just pure luck. It wasn’t a reliability or operational error. If we did the ifs and buts game we could probably make 3 or 4 drivers world champion!!!


No, we mention that!


Even more than the loss of the Drivers’ Championship, the fact that McLaren has lost the Constructors’ Cup (again) is a disastrous result for the team that has generally had the fastest car outright on most occasions this year.

It’s true that, over a 20 year period, McLaren has consistently been the second-best team to any other at a given time (Williams, Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull), and while others’ fortunes have risen and fallen more dramatically, McLaren is always there or thereabouts. But somehow they never quite get it together over a season. Operational errors and reliability problems have been a feature of almost every McLaren year since the late 1990s. Amazingly, despite its consistent winning, McLaren has actually won fewer championships since the start of the century (2008 drivers’ title) than Hamilton’s new team in all its guises (2009 drivers’ and constructors’ titles), despite the general mediocrity of BAR/Honda/Mercedes every other year!


I totally agree with this comment from Ross.

I’m not an Alonso fan either but it would be a travesty for him to lose the championship after putting in so many exceptional performances with at best the third best car on the grid.

We know he needs the cossetted No 1 status he gets at Ferrari to feel really comfortable and many would say that’s a weakness, but he has gone up greatly in my estimations this year.

Lewis runs Fernando a close second as he has put in so many outstanding drives this year almost without error.

The difference is that the McLaren has had the outright speed that has enabled Lewis to very clearly demonstrate where he should now be in the WDC. As the article shows, had he not been so badly let down by early season pit stop errors and reliability problems, he would be in contention.

Seb Vettel is undoubtedly a very good driver but to a far greater extent than with Lewis or Fernando, he has others to thank for his two World Championships : namely Adrian Newey and Christian Horner.

The latter pairing seem to be the key to the success at Red Bull and, in particular I think Christian’s contribution has been under-rated.

Turning to next season, with Lewis very likely to be struggling with at best the fourth fastest car, 2013 will surely be Jenson’s best chance at a second WDC.

McLaren can have to deliver a fast and reliable car designed more with Jenson’s driving skills in mind and Perez will not have the experience to beat Jenson in race strategy, even if he ultimately proves to have better outright pace.( But this is by no means certain – after all, nobody is predicting he is as fast as Lewis ).

A fascinating prospect before the lottery that will be the 2014 season !


Mclaren are unreliable, thats why Kimi Left the team.


Makes for depressing reading. It’s one thing for a team and driver to do all that is possible, but to just fall short b/c of a fundamental performance gap (Alonso’s situation). There’s no shame in being beaten having given 100%.

What is a shame is having a good car, having a top driver on form, and still screwing it up!

Could also put the Belgian DNF in there as well, though circumstances (Friday weather) out of the team’s control hurt Lewis there. If he’d been on Button’s set-up, he would’ve qualified 2nd at least, been away from the fray, and would’ve ended up with another 18 pts.

The puncture in Germany was also a “it’s not gonna be his year” moment … six other cars ran through that debris on lap 2 w/o getting a puncture, but Lewis did. I still think there should’ve been a Safety Car right away there, and that it wasn’t called b/c of Vettel and Marko’s comments after Valencia. Conservatively he would’ve finished 5th there, which would’ve been promoted to 4th after Vettel’s penalty.

2007 was a case of the team letting Lewis down at one crucial moment; 2010 was Lewis being unlucky but also not helping himself in two crucial races; 2012 was the team frittering away the great opportunity they had.


What comments were those? I must have missed them or forgotten. Would be interested to know.


Marko and Vettel both said that Charlie Whiting brought out the Safety Car unnecessarily in Valencia when Vettel was already near 20 sec’s ahead, to “break our neck”. As usual with Marko (and Vettel to a lesser extent), the remarks were puerile … there was pieces of carbon fibre from Kobayashi’s car all over the track, and was clearly enough hazard to warrant a Safety Car.


Mclaren have done a very poor job on the quality of their engineering work this year. I have been wondering how many of their engineers have changed to the road car business in the last few years. Could this have played a role?


I disagree, they have done some excellent work. They have had ups and downs and lost their way a bit in late Spring, early summer.

But the car has been the fastest on three separate phases of the season. Only Red Bull has also had a fastest car


But James doesnt that sum it up that with the fastest car in 3 different phases of the season they have still squandered the championship?


I dont mean the technical level of the car (the car has been the quickest relatve to the competition since 2008). I mean that their quality control / prevention have been poor. The fact that there have been so many different issues suggests that is an issue with their internal processes.


James, may I put in a suggestion? I’m wondering if it’s poss to provide a visual of the main changes on the McL or the RB from start of the season? maybe [if you have an artist] we could see a simple outline of the car plus only the bits and add ons that have made for increases in performance?

It would have to be vastly over simplified I know, but even that would be appreciated by some like myself, who know not a lot about aero efficiency and the like…

Could the teams cooperate, James?


We have an animation of the RBR through the year under development for the Innovation section


I tried doing a similar thing for bad refereeing in last seasons Barcley’s Premier League and found that it was far too subjective to make any decent conclusions. Same goes for what you’ve done here – I know you’ve acknowledged that its impossibly to quantify but I don’t see the point in you having done it anyway. Maybe if you had done it for all the other would be and current title contenders it would be interesting to compare teams’ performance..

Just my two cents! Fabulous blog by the way. (my first post).


It is subjective, but as you *may* have found with bad refereeing, it is also far too widespread to be completely ignored.

Over the course of any season a driver is going to have the occassional pit stop woes or mechanical failures, and these may not even harm his chances of the championship; but in this case I think pointing out quite how massive an effect these operational errors have had on both championships is justified. At the very least it provides a decent argument as to why Hamilton is off to Mercedes next year.


Reminds me of kimi’s 2005 season though that was more down to the mercedes engines.


At last, someone in the press prints what many fans and neutrals have been discussing for a while, fair play James Allen.

It does seem strange that the wheels fell off totally after Lewis mentions he is off to Merc next year with problems in 4 of the last 5 races but Jenson is not really doing so well either so I am sure this is all just coincidence.

It looks like he will end up with less points than last year, how is that even possible? Last year is widely accepted as one of his worst in F1. This year (with two to go) he has not put a foot wrong on track, no penalties as a direct result of his actions, driving better than ever IMO, no wonder he is off.

James, do you know why Andy has not been Lewis’s Race Engineer for the last few (3/4?) races, is he heading to Merc?

Thanks for putting this out there and keep up the great work, it take’s a lot of effort to keep your blog so well stocked with informed and balanced F1 information, so cheers!


It’s paternity leave; but I do wonder if he will follow Hamilton to Merc. I get the feeling that they have a good bond.

I think it will be very interesting to see over the next 12 months if anybody from McLaren moves over to Mercedes. The big difference between the Schumacher/Ferrari and Hamilton/Mercedes situation is that Schumacher went to Ferrari and brought a load of key people across from Beneton, where as in this situation it looks like Hamilton is being slotted into a reday-made team. But I wonder if there will be the odd personnel or two who do move over in the next few months.


maternity leave



Colin unless you know something we don’t: Very generous paternity leave.


Can someone be pedantic on my behalf?


Yup, great analysis…

But if this year’s been tough for Hamilton, wait until next year!

My theory… Ham has bad year next year – has escape/performance clause in contract…. joins Red Bull for 2014 when Vettel joins Ferrari…

But no… Vettel’s not joining Ferrari according to recent statements…

Come on James – you must know the truth… Do tell…



Yes I agree with your summary. Hamilton needs the best car so there must be something performance wise written into his contract. I wonder if this could also be the reason that he didn’t sign for mclaren ie they wouldn’t write one!


I don’t know why all drivers don’t just do what Raikennen and Webber do; have 1 year contracts at a time.

If it gets to a point where a team doesn’t want the driver anymore, why would that driver want to stay with that team any longer. If the driver wants out but the team still want him, why would that team continue with a driver whose heart is not in it. Either way, it generates a negative atmosphere within the team.

Long term contracts just seem bad for both parties. I’m guessing there is some sort of sponsorship ($$$) related reason as to why such long running contracts are drawn up.


Most teams don’t want to give drivers 1 year contracts. Webber can get away with it because he’s on his way out anyway. He doesn’t know if he wants to race for two more years, and RBR don’t know if they still want him racing for them in 2 more years.


“..and Alonso (first-corner collisions in Spa and Suzuka) can also both justifiably point to probably more than 30 points being lost through misfortune.”

And not forgetting Hamilton was also an innocent victim of that Spa first corner incident.


But if he didn’t crash at Spa his car would have blown up in lap 12. So she didn’t lose any points at Spa.


Exactly. In fact, the above list that Mr. Galloway produced is a bit inconsistent as it takes some incidents like that into account (it counts Maldonado taking Lewis out in the European GP) and some others not (like Spa). To get a more reliable measure of points lost, one should stick to a standard and then compare all drivers accordingly.

Of course, this is part of motor racing, and most drivers will experience seasons like Lewis now. I think Kimi’s 2005 season with McLaren was even worse in terms of engine reliability, always giving him a 10-spot penalty, and his comebacks from the middle or very back of the pack were enthralling for us to watch, but they caused him to lose the championship.


There is no doubt that this year and to a extent last year Lewis has had some bad luck. But there is no doubt that in 2008 he had more better luck than massa so he can’t really say anything. There is also no doubt that with his talent and ability he should have more than 1 world title but there is no doubt that kimi and Fernando could have had more also. I also think luck evens itself out over time so Lewis maybe have a very lucky 2013. But will he have a car so it matters…………


The 2008 when the FIA and the stewards were out for him with knives you mean? Hmmm, I point you to 2008 Spa. Say no more…


Okay fair enough. But I will point u to Canada, Germany and Singapore when safety car timing wrecked massa’s race. And also Hungary. So anyone can see that Lewis had more luck that year than massa if u look at it without any bias. Simple.


Spa was just one example it was going on all year…

Also Massa spun Lewis in Japan on the first lap, Massa continued but Lewis fell back to last, etc…

Lewis lost 4 victories this year through no fault of his own: Barcelona, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Brazil.


Though I disagree with the way business and football teams tend to react to an instant lack of results by calling for the boss’s head, after nearly three seasons in charge I am now seriously questioning the leadership of Martin Whitmarsh.

Since MW has taken over, a lot of the things that Ron Dennis used to be mocked for, namely the hyper-focus on discipline and obsession with fine details haven’t seemed nearly so silly. And what was initially praised as a new warmer, more relaxed style of management from MW has also at times frankly just looked more like a team who have got sloppy. A wheel was even left under Hamilton’s car during a pitstop this year and by that stage I literally thought “well, that could have been worse, I guess.” Unthinkable a few seasons ago. McLaren cars often had woeful reliability under Dennis too because they were always very ambitious in their car design but the team were rarely sloppy.

I am well aware and grateful for all that Martin Whitmarsh has done for McLaren down the decades as Ron’s right-hand man but the qualities that make someone a great second-in-command don’t always translate to them being a great leader themselves. An example: Martin Whitmarsh told this story to The Guardian a few years ago:

“… at my first grand prix I was flabbergasted to see Ron holding the lollipop stick during pit stops. I said: ‘Ron, what are you doing?’ He said: ‘It’s an important job and if someone is going to make a mistake then it’s best the buck stops with me.’ I disagreed because, firstly, I didn’t feel it was the best position for him to get an overall view of the race. Secondly, and more symbolically, I thought it sent out the wrong message from him as team principal. So, after a few more races, he gave it up.”

He uses it as an illustration of how he wrested authority and autonomy from a boss who could be ultra-controlling but I suspect it could be read a very different way – namely it showed that Ron was a true visionary but one who saw the world in extremes and who sometimes as a result went too far. Whereas Martin was good at spotting limitations and sounding notes of caution but who in turn lacked vision.

I suspect that between them they formed a truly fantastic working duo, achieving much more together than they would have done otherwise, Martin keeping Ron more grounded than would be otherwise, Ron providing Martin and the company ever-ambitious, compelling visions of success to help turn into reality.

The personal management of the drivers under Dennis was heavily criticised but it looks to me like Whitmarsh has been no more successful at avoiding alienating his drivers. There’s no way of knowing just how much of Hamilton’s decision to go was down to MW but I do know that in Hamilton’s shoes, I would have been deeply unimpressed with Whitmarsh’s team management since the hiring of Jenson Button. The most charitable view I think you can take of it all is that he *really* went the extra mile to demonstrate that Hamilton wasn’t being favoured by McLaren. In the interests of equality, Hamilton saw his team he’d built solid working relationships with during difficult seasons rearranged for Button’s benefit.

This year we saw Hamilton take the lead in the drivers’ championship after a convincing win in Canada. Rather than focus on a big push for the WDC for Lewis, McLaren took people away from Hamilton’s team to help the struggling Button. Maybe they thought they had enough to spare to help both drivers succeed for the WCC too but instead they just ended up dithering and thus wasted an opportunity to best support the driver who (this season anyway) stood the only chance of real success.

Frankly, the sad end to this season just strikes me as a team who are now reaping all that they have sown.


I agree. At the time, I saw Ron as the sort of father figure who was never really 100% satisfied even when the team scored a one two. Now I start to see why he maybe took that approach!


Brilliant post and perfectly encapsulates how Mclaren had the perfect driver for the next decade and through mismanagement let him slip away


Your comments have echoed my thoughts over the past few days. If, in 2013, Perez turns out to be as wild in the Macca as he has been for the past few races and Button performs at the same level then things are not going to be looking too favourable for him.

It’ll really pile on if Vodaphone walk – I assume that Hamilton was a draw to them as well.


It still poses the question ‘When did McLaren, under Ron Dennis, last win a WCC & last win a WDC?

The 80’s were a great time for McL, but then they had Gordon Murray who IMO was every bit as good as Adrian Newey (for the length of time he was designing) & had Newey himself – but let him go.

They seem to design their cars by committee now.

Perhaps too many people involved.

Still, Ferrari were like that. Were?


McLaren has a policy that will inevitably alienate it’s drivers; Trophies.


Really enjoyed your comment


Thank you, most kind 🙂


Ron Dennis seems to be critical of Whitmarsh after another dnf for Lewis, but who was in charge in 2005 when Kimi won 7 races and was cheated out of another 7 by an unreliable Mac ??


@ Chromatic

but who was in charge in 2005 when Kimi won 7 races and was cheated out of another 7 by an unreliable Mac ??


The thing that was unreliable about Kimi Mclaren in 2005 was the Mercedes engine so not really Ron Dennis’ fault.


@ goferet,

It is also well known that the main reason the merc engine failed was due to overheating and the tight packaging of the rear end of the car.

Something that Newey continues to do with the Red bull to this day. The single reason why the RB does not suffer the same problems now is because of the freeze on engine development.

If the same criteria, i.e. no freeze on engine development was applied to the RB cars Newey has designed, I am sure Vettel would not be a double WC and would probably have half the wins he currently does.


As I said in my post, McLaren have suffered hugely from reliability under Dennis too. He was not by any stretch a perfect boss. However, at least in 2005 most of the reliability issues seemed to be a result of pushing through designs that were ultimately a fraction too ambitious. Who knows, maybe there’s an element of that at play this season too but frankly I think it’s looked more like the main problem is systemic human errors. In my opinion, anyway.


Well, only Raikkonen can beat these stats in the 2005 season with Mclaren. By far the fastest car and by far the most unreliable.


At least Kimi that year got to the top step 7 times! But yeah, some other races where he retired from the lead. The no tire changes rule that year hurt him especially.


After what happened to Lewis this year, am now convinced the even numbered front running cars (belonging to the number 2 drivers) can never win the title.

Yes cars number 2, 4, 6, 8 and 7 (a mid field runner) have never won the title since the new car numbering system was introduced in 1996.

So there, if Lewis couldn’t do it, nobody can, and the way it’s looking for Mercedes, Lewis may get the number 9 or 10 car next so yay!!!!!!!!!

On the other hand, since 1996, the most successful car numbers (in terms of WDCs) have been 1 and 5

However only Schumi has been able to win the title with the car #3 (and he did it once – in 2000).

The other occasion Schumi had car #3, he broke his leg in 1999 which fact denied his the title as he was on course to make an upset.


and Kimi won with #6 in 2007


Kimi won in ’07 in car #6.

Lewis & Jenson won in ’08 & ’09 respectively in car #22, but those were freak circumstances.

Villeneuve also took his WDC in car #3, so not only MSC in 2000.

Otherwise, you’re right, cars 1 or 5 are the ones to have.

If Lewis was staying at McLaren next year, there’s a possibility he could have ended up with car 5, and also continuing his run of cars 1,2,3,4 in recent years.


Hakkinen won the title in car no. 8 in 1998 🙂


She will still fare even worse at Mercedes I am afraid…


Shirley you’re right.


Frankly, this season we have witnessed a surprising number of mechanical failures. Very different from the bullet proof solutions we used to see just several years ago. Gearboxes in particular seemed to be very fragile at the beginning of this season.

Looks like high risk solutions are being applied to circumvent the limits set by the engine freeze and other regulations.


Gutted he’s leaving McLaren for Mercedes 🙁


James, how do you explain vettel in a faster car with softer fresher tryes struggling to overtake button and then failing to catch alonso and kimi on older harder tyres?!


Faster car than Button?

You mean the one his teammate dominated qualifying in and was comfortably leading the race in until it broke?

I can’t stand reading about Vettels “oh so dominant” car anymore. Look at Webber, he was overtaken by quite some cars before crashing repeatedly.

Faster driver is all I’m seeing there!

Agreed, Vettel did manage to get the fasted lap of the race in the end, but only by a small margin and probably helped by fresher tires and we all know how much he is going for those records.

When I watched the timings during the race Vettel could NOT match the times of hamilton and kimi in the short periods he’s had a clean track in front of him. He fell short by about 3-4 tenths at those times but he was slightly yet constantly quicker than webber.

In race-trim (in the hand of the faster driver) I’d rate the MCLarens ahead of the Lotus followed by RedBull and Ferrari pretty evenly matched.


Good straight line speed on the McLaren, great defensive driving from Button


Even if Hamilton wins the final 2 races this year, he will end up with less points than he got last year. Shocking considering last year he was driving at his worst, and this year he has arguably been driving at his best and with a very fast car.


… and one less race!


I don’t think Monaco should count. At Monaco, Vettel was doing a brilliant pace on older tyres and Red Bull was definitely playing a team game (by slowing Webber) to ensure that they get a 1-2. There wasn’t much Hamilton could have down to thwart that anyways.

Europe, again I am not sure. Hamilton should have known Maldonado’s reputation, let him go and taken 12 points. I think that is a 12 points loss not 15.

Even then, he still would have 102 points more. Enough proof that Hamilton has indeed been amazing all season! The 6 poles demonstrate that.


In Valencia, Hamilton lost a lot of time in the pits, so he should have been miles in front of Maldonado. Secondly, Maldonado tried to pass Hamilton with 4 wheels outside of the track, which has been shown a couple of times this season, to be illegal.


Maldonado came into a 90 right on the left of, but alongside Hamilton. Their front wheels were level as they began to turn right. LHs car used all the track to its left.

Maldonado had to move outside the white line with all four wheels, there was nowhere else to go. Maldonado should have slowed enough to stay behind LH, then DRS-ed him further on in the lap.

Maldonado had to make that decision in what….1 to 1.5sec?

An easy decision on the sofa.


Sorry you are wrong. Vettel exits the pits a car length in front of Hamilton. If Hamilton had been up with alonso there would have been no problem and he could have saved tyres later. Epic fail from mclaren.


It is very sad to see. I would actually say that Hamilton has been just as good as Alonso this year, yet the mechanical/operational problems have cost him so dearly that it is hard for people to see this; or maybe they don’t want to. With 3 more wins to his name, at least he would be in the debate.

Maybe it would also highlight Button’s worrying form this year.

Indeed, the Ferrari is not as bad as Alonso makes out. It is quick and extremely reliable.

Fingers crossed for the future, Lewis!


Agreed. They are the 2 fastest drivers pound for pound. Seb will be there too in no time. We’re very lucky to be witnessing this.


For sure, Lewis never does things the easy way for with him we will always have rollercoasters and that’s why we love him i.e. Why 2008 was such a classic = last corner of the last race. Say no more.

Look, Mclaren ought to be ashamed of themselves for they have efficiently let both championships slip through their hands with their numerous blunders & even though Lewis lost the team a couple of points last year (partly thanks to the team), both championships were long gone as early as Monaco 2011 so it’s not the same thing.

But no worries, me am trying to look at the bright side of all this mess for if Lewis had won the 2012 (or come a close second) he would most definitely have re-signed for another 3 years of the same bitter medicine plus he wouldn’t have earned the respect of F1 purists by taking a gamble in a not-yet-working Mercedes.

All in all, you have to take seasons like this on the chin and hope for better days for who knows, next year (or the year after) maybe belong to the chap.


To add to James’ list: Lewis also got taken out at Spa through no fault of his own.

Cannot recall any driver having such a run of bad luck, ever. He should be leading the championship easily.


2005: Ask Kimi. The same team anyway.


I think “leading the championship easily” is a bit of a stretch. He’d be in the hunt though definitely.


James while I think the list is very good at showing just how many points Lewis has lost through no fault of his own, I think you’ve also missed a few:

Malaysia: two awful pitstops put him behind his team mate Button, Alonso and Perez, and while Alonso was faster briefly, for most of the race they lapped at the same pace. It would be fair to say Hamilton could have won that too.

Japan: Had a rear damper failure throughout qualifying and the race, had it not happened it’s reasonable to assume he would have lined up third (after Jenson’s penalty) and considering the incidents at the start, may have finished second.


Great job, Kvothe.


Oh Yes. Let’s keep Jenson’s penalty due to a gear box failure, but elevate Hamilton to second because he had a issue with his car. Try a little harder, you might be able to make Hamilton win every race. Better yet, why not have Hamilton circulate all by himself, so he is sure win every race. Surely Hamilton doesn’t deserve the misfortune of having to fight the other lowly drivers.


@ quest Surely the Hamilton vs button is just done or u still at it last time i check button has been no match for Hami this season not even close sure button has had unreliability problems but no where near Hami n when button had this problem he was not set for victory


There is no comparison. When Lewis DNF’d, it was in big points positions. They’re 14-4 in qualifying this year, and two of those 4 for Button were wet Germany, and Belgium where Hamilton and his engineers made a collosal mistake on set-up choice.


Why the vitriol?

We’re talking exclusively about the points Lewis Hamilton lost. When there is an article dedicated to the misfortunes of either Button or the rest of the field I’ll be sure to mention it.


You missed my point. Neither am I interested in doing this whole exercise for Button nor in comparing Hamilton and Button like Paul is saying.

But to make this alternate reality execise even remotely meaningful, if you add back points Hamilton lost due to “mistfortune”, you have to deduct the point the points he gained due to misfortune of others and then do the same for the other drivers before comparing.

Otherwise if you do the same with Vettel and add back the points he lost while keeping Hamilton’s tally as is, he will end up with close to double the points of Hamilton.


Hamilton was over 20 seconds behind Alonso at the finish, there was no way he was going to win that race because he couldnt get enouhg heat in the tyres with that set up, which would have worked wonders in the dry.

As for Japan, it’s impossible to say what his pace would really have been like without the broken damper, and if he started further up he may have been the one that Grosjean hit instead of Mark.


Actually according to Lewis finished 14.5 seconds behind Alonso which was less than the combined sun of both of Lewis’ bad pitstops combined.

Fair enough but I as I said I don’t think ninth was a true indicator of his pace, and it definitely affected him


I hope Hamilton does not read this. He will have another golden chance to point out how lucky Vettel has been.

There is no doubt that Hamilton has been brilliant this year and has been extremely unfortunate, but Vettel has been far from lucky.

Vettel has also bided his time collecting points until he had a dominant car. Then he made the most of it (which Webber could not do by the way). So it is really questionable how much of it is down to the car and how much is down to Vettel.

Vettel and Alonso have both more or less lost the same number of points due to events beyond their control.

Hamilton will have his chance in future, I think he will be a multiple world champion, but IMHO both himself and Alonso should stop belitting Vettel at every possible opportunity by saying he has the better car. Does not look good on them, they are great champions.

Sorry for the long post.


I think Alonso and Hamilton are just afraid Vettel will win more titles and wins then them. When Raikkonen left it was between Alonso and Hamilton … until Vettel came. Sooner or later, Vettel will get everybody’s respect, from drivers and from the fans. He’s still young. Imagine him at Alonso’s age.

Schumacher was labeled cheater and everything (also by me, I was Senna, Hakkinen, Raikkonen fan), but today everybody respects him. And he didn’t have so many challengers like Vettel (or anybody from this generation)


You think? Of course they both fear that! Both of them have driven their balls off this year, and while the RB8 was still the best car (enough to be leading the WCC), but only slightly better, Alonso was able to lead Vettel by 44 pts, while Hamilton (with fewer finishes) was pretty much right there with Vettel, leading him by 2 pts coming out of Monza. Since Japan though, the RB8’s been a rocket, and while Alonso and Hamilton have continued to drive their balls off, they’re up against an Irresistable Force (while Hamilton has reluctantly drawn the Immovable Object – his car – straw one too many times this year).

They’re both bringing knives to a gunfight, and there’s nothing they can do about it.


Its just my opinion – I have been watching F1 for 10 years now and truly speaking Vettel is not one of the drivers who has earned my respect and he won’t until he wins races in which Mark Webber is 2 tenths slower than him in Quali and still be 2nd on the grid.


I think Alonso has taken it too far with the “we’re fighting Newey” of late, getting fairly nasty with some of his comments about Vettel. Hamilton had comments last week that I think we’re totally fair.

“Fernando, for me, is more accurate. He hits all the apexes. Sebastian misses four apexes on a single lap and still goes quickest. He goes off and he still goes quickest. And I think ‘Holy crap, I couldn’t do that lap even if I was on the limit’. His car is just that far ahead of everyone else’s.”

Hamilton added, though, that he felt Vettel would be a worthy champion if he was to prevail this season and claim his third straight crown. “I think he’s a true champion,” Hamilton said. “He’s polite, he’s never in trouble, he’s squeaky clean and a genuinely nice guy. He speaks incredibly well and carries himself really well. And at the end of the day you have to do the job even if you do have the best car.”

“He qualifies really well, he pulls out fantastic gaps. But when your car is that far ahead it’s easier to do that.”

I think the drivers can watch each other’s laps and spot errors or sub-optimal lines better than the average F1 fan or journalist. But I think Lewis hit it on the head that yeah, he has the fastest car, but you still have to do the business with it. Webber certainly hasn’t.


lets not forget that Hamilton was tested against Teflonso in equal machinery, and won. By saying Fernando is quicker than vettel means Hamilton is quickest of the three. Proves nothing other than Hamilton also plays mind games.


Some of the most insightful/fair comments I have ever heard from Hamilton.


in the race he asked about the welfare of rosberg and karthikeyan, I haven’t heard a driver do that before. I hope he stays like this, very quick, and a decent human being.


It’s very unusual for a driver to talk about another driver on the record like that.

They normally want to avoid doing that.


It seems like ever since Hamilton signed with Mercedes he’s turned into a decent bloke. Very professional, kind, and polite. This is the 1st time in a LONG time that he looks like a composed world champion. Makes you wonder what was happening at McLaren last year and this year that got him bent out of shape and making silly comments/tweets. Looking more and more that he made the right move to leave.


I totally agree on this!


At the start of the year, the slightly unstable and more oversteery RB8 was more to Webber’s liking. Vettel didn’t get on with it at all.

As the car has been brought into Vettel’s liking, Webber has consequently fallen out of favour with it, echoing 2011.

They have different driving styles, but RBR have publicly proclaimed that the car will always be sorted to suit Vettel, even if it hurts Webber.

It’s massively different than calling out Webber as talentless.


David Coulthard made the comment, in his Telegraph Column, that you have to leave home at some point, even though the frige is always full and the laundry is always done. But if staying at home enables you to win world drivers championships, then it would be silly to leave. Despite their excellent winning record, McLaren seem to be fairly good at losing world championships….and world class drivers in the process. This year its hamilton, in 2007 they handed the title to kimi then lost their top driver, in 2005 they had the worlds fastest driver yet the worlds most unreliable car and then lost that driver to ferrari, they lost senna to williams, prost to ferrari, they lost niki lauda….and now they’ve lost Hamilton. i’m a big McLaren fan but the list goes on and on and on….

McLaren: Good at winning races, crap at winning world championships.


good post. …but that last line we’ve been hearing a lot lately. Does it make any sense? After all, winning races is what leads directly to winning titles!!!


I agree. Lately Macca seem to be average at winning races and crap at winning championships.

Also, I think McLaren lost Prost because of Senna and lost Senna because of active suspension & traction control!


Very sad, but it’s fact. What’s the point, he knew that in 2013 Mclaren anyway would not match RBR and perhaps Ferrari with it’s phenomenal reliability, otherwise the car Mclaren at top performance is one of the best, but the arousing complex problems during the season unfortunately is sword of Damocles for them.

And I think the main factor for moving to Merc is the 2014 regulation change, and there he belives (and perhaps Brawn assured him) aero will not be main factor for at least 1-2 years as supposedly Merc will get engine+kers advantage, perhaps that’s what he is targeting to -2014 -15, with 2013 running the car to his senses.


I stand by my comment after reading your link.

There will be room for briliant guys like Newey to make the car go faster. Fine Erik, I don’t know the exact % – but it’s safe to say that many tenths will always be found in aero and efficient chasis cars will go faster.

I agree that engines will create some shuffling around. Historically Renault (RBR) has not made bad engines, quite opposite in fact. Which means combining a good engine with the aero of RBR and budget of RBR, well, let’s just say it may not shuffle things that much vs. what we have now. Sure there may be some drama start of the season, but just like they got on top of the tires, they will get on top of the engines quickly.

To be quite honest with you, I’m most concerned about Ferrari – not as much Mercedes. Ferrari really have a change to have some blown puffs here – and I have this gut feeling that their engine will be least reliable when new rules come. I’m sure Mercedes can make a great engine, but in a bad chassis with poor aero it will not be fastests.

I’m betting there won’t be a huge change to the pecking order through this rule change in 2014. A bit more drama, but then again we had drama for the first 7 races this year – yet end result looks to be same as 2011. As for 2013, get ready for a re-run of 2012! Just with more Vettel victories.


Aero will forever be a factor in F1. It is the modern F1. Even if they took 1/2 the downforce away right now, the best way to make the cars go faster would be to figure out a way to get an aero advantage over others. Take away aero, and instantly slow down the cars by 20-30% Otherwise, if cars are going 200MPH, aero dynamic efficiency and down force optimization at slowe speed will always be the name of the game. I don’t believe new engines will change that.


Ok, sorry, but now I have to take exception to you correcting everyone like some elitist. New engines CAN change that, just take a look at the 90’s V10 era. Engines were very much a defining aspect of any F1 car.

“Take away aero, and instantly slow down the cars by 20-30%” – wow, such an eye opening statement, like we didn’t all know that. And you know this percentage for a fact right? It’s like you have a masters in aerodynamics, lol. Sure it’s not 15%? 46%?.. 9?

Also you’re wrong to think aero makes the most difference. Whilst it is important on an F1 car, most teams are on a close playing field with aero. They all equally spend millions on aerodynamicists in labs so the difference in laptime gained from team to team is small, tenths of a second. Want proof, look at the lap differences in qualifying.

On the other hand you will find that any team chief engineer will give their right leg to gain a tyre advantage over the rest of the field. There is massive time to be gained by unlocking speed in the tyres. Just ask Alguersuari.



How much faster/slower will the cars be in 2014 do you think?

I think about the same – which probably means the aero differences you see on the grid now will manifest themselves in 2014 as well. And you will easily be able to compare the difference between cars with same engine make.


That’s hilarious. It’s “Caubet”, not “Kobe” !


James, interesting analysis, I think the loss is even greater: The relative loss to leaders is greater if you consider that the incremental points LH could have earned would have reduced the points of the rest…for example, Abu Dabhi, LH +25, then FA -3 (15-18), SV -3 (12-15), and so on…


Excellent point.


Good point, which reinforces James’ findings and confirms that McLaren have cost Lewis the title and, when considering Jenson’s failures as well, have probably also cost themselves the constructors title.

This never would have happened if Big Ron was still running the show!


Look at history, if you’re interested.


It’s a real shame, mainly of course for us!

I did smile at your caveats on the lots points part – you just know the kind of reaction you’d get without that!


Great analysis James , can you do something similar for Schumacher?


Why? He was never going to be a contender. Not even close.


but he had a LOT of mechanical failures this year 🙁


I hear you. But there is no point to re-live them in this case. He was never going to put in a top 3 WDC finish even if all his races went perfectly. He just didn’t have the car.

I’m a huge Schumi fan, but even I’m OK with him calling it a day. What can be written about Schumi this year is this: He certainly still has it, and he would show it if he had the car to do it with. Also, there is no magic pixy dust in any driver’s pocket. You must have a car to contend, otherwise…thanks for showing up. And believe me, Alonso is not driving a lemon. The Ferrari is fast.


I doubt that will happen as it’s much more convenient to just look at his points – bash him and say he’s too old.


Can’t believe how a team can hurt its driver internally more than external factors. For a top team this is unacceptable, all other top teams have mostly only external factors to deal with. Are they suffering from losing some of their staff to other teams?


Wow! I refuse to believe all of these are coincidences…McLaren played a dirty game (and still are!) Lewis definitely made the right move.


Haven’t many of the same things happended to Jenson also.

Also where is he moving to. Not only have Mercedes failed to build a competitive car in the last 3 years, Micheal seems to be unable to get through a single weekend without something going wrong. Micheal hasn’t scored in the last 5 races and Nico in the last 4. So yeah, definitely the right move!


Yes, because McLaren *really* wanted to sabotage their entire year and jeopardise their funding for next year.

On what grounds? *Please* try and answer without painting this to be some anti-Hamilton thing.


Does there have to be conspiracy theories and or the blame game?

Sometimes teams or drivers, as is other sports go through cyles of being competitive and at other times going through bad patches…it is not always about pinning everything down to a single individual or team policy.

I believe McLaren just went through a run of bad luck with incidents in the pits and and as a result have worked harder to raise their game. Now they need to iron out the DNFs!


+1 Mclaren played a dirty game?


Or could it be one or two well placed mechanic, engineer who did a sub par job possibly intentionally? Lewis’ clutch settings were all over the place this year at most starts hence him loosing places and he asked the team what is he doing wrong but they said he is doing everything absolutely perfect it is his clutch settings that weren’t done properly. Jenson hasn’t had this problem once if I remember correctly…

So maybe it’s not Mclaren but just some people within the team?


Well it’s either a McLaren played a dirty game, or they are severely incompetent. Pick your poison.


Agree. Tinfoil hat time.


I just don’t understand how a team of their calibre and their resources can make so many mistakes?! I can’t get my head around it.

As for jeopardising their funding money, i think they underestimated Ferrari.


Similar questions were asked about Ferrari prior to MSC’s in 1996. McLaren are not the first and they won’t be the last! Whilst their performances have been unacceptable, I firmly believe that this just part of the normal cycle of F1, just look at the history of F1.


For a jinx, look no further than Sam Michaels!

Williams have improved since he left – McLaren have started a downward trend since he joined.


I couldn’t agree more with this. McLaren have really dropped the ball this season. If you add Button’s lost points for similar reasons, it’s pretty certain that they could have won the manufacturers title rather than fighting for second as is now the case.


While Alonsos performance this year will rank amount the best of any driver ever (and I’m not a fan btw), Hamilton has literally not made a mistake all year. He has qualified excellently and raced clean. For me he has easily been the next best driver after Alonso.


Alonso has been flattered grossly by a poor Quali car that is actually one of the best on Race pace. All the praise for him somehow seemingly driving “a dog of a car” is false, it is palpably not, even Massa has frequently set fastest laps and sectors. Added to that, he has lucked into a lot of the points and positions, ultimately to loose out to better cars that perform in Quali and Race trim.

Hamilton has been excellent, the luck was not his this year, still the best driver out there.

Raikkonen too has very quietly had a great year, nice to see him get a win.


Finally someone who understands this technical sport… All your points exactly right!


The BBC have some very good analysis by Garry Anderson of what is wrong with the Ferrari.

Basically, it’s poor to drive when using its DRS all the time in qualifying because it’s been designed for maximum benefit during races.

The car’s branding as a dog was down to the set-up issues and limited real-world understanding of the design decisions made. Ferrari now know how to set the car up and the exhaust is pretty much tuned to where they want it.


Vettel hasn’t done much wrong either. We as fans should be grateful that we have a field this calibre with at least 3 and possibly 4 great drivers, plus a couple future promises. It’s up to the teams now to deliver the goods and make justice to all that talent.


Vettel has made mistakes this year like crashing into back markets in Malaysia or damaging his front wing at Abu Dhabi…twice. He has also failed to get into Q3 in a car that should easily have done so


It was Vettel’s fault in Malaysia. Also in the first half of.the season Vettel looked ordinary and were being beaten by Webber both qualy and the races regularly…


In Malaysia it was Narain’s fault. He turned into Vettel. He wanted to go from the dirty side, but it was too early.


All drivers makes mistakes every race, most small and unseen, brake locks, missed apex, wide runs, all the way to major collisions. None are perfect. All of Vettels (and other top cars, eg. Button, Alonso) quali “falures” were mostly due to early glitches with tire understanding or poor timing more than any specfic driver mistake. Remember, the RedBull was not the fastest car until after the summer break.


Dear James,

May not be the right topic to post this question though.

Can you post something on the engine situation with Red Bull / Mclaren / Ferrari.

8 Engines in 20 races.

Did Red Bull miss a trick by not taking a new engine for the race in Abu Dhabi, given that they were anyway starting 24th?

Vettel probably lost an engine in Valencia, not sure about Monza.

Alonso has saved 2 race distances on his engine, though not intentionally.

This may yet come back to haunt Vettel & Red Bull and may be the reason for Alonso’s continued confidence in winning the title in Brazil.




That’s a great point, it was alluded to by a few on the Saturday but then not mentioned on the Sunday….


Im a Hamilton fan and have been a bit gutted to see McLaren start with an excellent car but through operational errors and failures to the car not reaped the points they could have potentially won

Arguably Hamilton could have won more points in the opening races, in Australia and Malaysia he was not spectacular but that could have been down to understanding the tyres and no wanting to push so early on.

however Spain, Singapore and now Abu Dhabi, all races that were firmly in Hamiltons hands to win. However as much as I wanted Hamilton to win you need a run of luck in a season to mount a championship.

But 2012 has still been a classic and it comes down to two of the best in two good cars Austin and Brazil should be really exciting!


Sure you are a Hamilton fan? 🙂


I have a lot of McLaren merch to Ebay come the end of the year!


I feel the same way…


I was a Mclaren fan since I can remember, even tho I’m Mexican and Perez is going in next year, I just can’t continue supporting this team.

So upset when Kimi, and then Alonso walked away; now Lewis… My Mclaren merchandise is already gone.


I feel very sorry for Lewis. he drove brilliant this season. No single mistake on track. Alonso & Vettel both made a few, but it’s Lewis who will be blamed for the result at the end of the year. The media arlredy blamed him for underperforming, and some experts hail his team mate Button for “outscoring” Lewis a 2nd year in a row. this is simply wrong. The numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they will be remembered.Even here he was not listed for driver of the race, as he was the dominant driver and a class of his own at Abu Dhabi! I can undrstand his decission to leave mClaren where his talent is certainly not appreciated, and wasted especiall this season, as he was not backed for the WDC after Hungary & Monza, as development was delayed to help Buttons set up problems. McLaren backed the wrong horse this season, but they seem not to care, that they lose out in the WCC as well


I’ll add now that I think Hamilton is a strong contender for driver of the season this year, he has come back of his worst season ever, listened to sensible heads and made dramatic changes to the way he approaches a race weekend. He is faster and more reliable (shame his team is not) than ever.

Only Alonso has arguably driven better. I’ve never seen ‘driver of the year’ be anyone other than the WDC here, will this be the first year this changes? I think it should.


I’ll agree with more reliable. Faster is very difficult to prove, and probably unlikely.

The big difference between Alonso and Hamilton is that Hamilton has driven strong races and generally finished where the car should, except at times, a certain Ferrari has appeared ahead of him. Hamilton has no Malaysia, Valencia, India or Abu Dhabi results. Hamilton has put the fastest car on pole and won, so he’s beaten his team mate, but the only really notable result is the two stop in Spain, but again he had the best car in the race.

Montreal was a bit different as he didn’t win from the front, but it was still the best race car, and McLaren got the strategy right.

I’d also add, Lewis has McLaren’s win every race, rather than win championships mindset. While Spa wasn’t Hamilton’s fault as such, there’s no way Alain Prost would have allowed his car to be damaged in that situation. Hamilton still takes high risk descions for marginal reward in a championship perspective. He was taken out by Maldonado in Valencia for that reason. To get into a wheel to wheel fight just brings fifth place closer. Thinking he was going to stay ahead of Maldonado for the rest of the race was an optimistic call. Alonso made the same mind management error in Japan with Kimi.

Being a top driver is more than just sticking it on pole and maximising the tyres. To me the relationship with the team has to be worth something, however intangible.

Yes Hamilton has driven about as well as you could expect, but I doubt he will get to many top rankings as there’s been no unexpectedly good results.




If you still look at this forum sort of thing I would like to just query that Hamilton didn’t have the faster care in much of the last races, such as abu dhabi and singapore; I like to believe this because I believe Button is a mediocre driver and finishes where the car is capable just like in his Honda days and BAR where he only won races because of good tyre/strategy calls. Credit due where it is deserved Jenson Button is great at predicting the weather change like all Brits should be able to 😉 Joking aside Hamilton was far superior in that season obviously he had a good car that could bring the challenge to the Red Bulls. Also I don’t believe the Ferrari was that bad as they make it out to be because Massa (not regarding the title challenge in the 08 season) is/has been a quite a bit less of a mediocre driver since his Hungry and we often forget that formula 1 drivers are human too; if I had experienced what happened to Massa I would surely not have been back in an F1 seat as quickly as he returned, so maybe Massa was peaking and was quite unfortunate but back to the case (sorry for digressing so much) all season long he had been struggling for pace not is it until his drive is under threat did he pick his game up, giving him the mindset of “risk everything and win it or potentially lose it anyway” so maybe the Ferrari wasn’t quite a title contender but I would have ranked it on the levels of the lotus that season and the Lotus was no slouch either that season picking up a few podiums. So in hands of a world class driver maybe he should have done a little bit better (if he had kept the beginning, middle of his season and maybe had some of Massa’s late results we could have seen a bigger threat to the title) but again credit where it’s due I am just a 16 year old who has near to no experience with running, driving or designing an F1 car. I wasn’t a big fan of Hamilton till 2011 I was mainly a Renault fan and still am, disappointed by current results but once engine is sorted looks fine; and, now I really think Hamilton isn’t given enough credit where due because he does what most drivers in formula 1 can’t do at the moment and that’s entertain: because, he pushes his car to the limits because when you don’t push your car to the limits your not racing any more ( I hope that’s how the Senna quote goes like 😉 )


First off I’d like to commend JA for posting Galloway’s excellent analysis and this is what a sport journo should be all about. Empirical, impartial, factual, something that we have come accustomed to here. That is until JA joined up with the exact antithesist of this in the form of the Button loving-Hammi bashing Martin Brundel & co! But I’ve said enough on that front in previous posts.

Now but back to your comments. Up to this season I would have agreed with you regarding Hammi’s risk/reward outlook but not this year. You cite the collision with Mald’ in Valencia as an example but you are completely wrong in my view. If you study the footage, and I have many times, Lewis lets the car take the line of least resistance and so reducing as much tyre wear as possible, he had to, if you remember, he was falling backwards because of tyre wear and was in danger of doing an Alonso in Canada (it was Alonso who contradicted his pit to stay out). Anyway just saying….


James, you didn’t include the collision at the beginning of Spa! I reckon he could have got 5-10 points without it… Great article as normal though!


Although Hamilton was undoubted on top form in Abu Dhabi and would almost certainly have won, I don’t think you can have a driver of the race for a driver who didn’t make half distance, let only finish the race. He wasn’t in most of the race. Plus however, likely it is he would have won, by saying he’s driver of the race you’re making assumptions on what will have happened. He could have dropped the ball for example or been poor on the primes.

McLaren has been a let down this season but you can’t say they backed the wrong horse. They treat both cars equally, they didn’t go shifting attention to Button and neglecting Hamilton, there’s no teeth to comments like that. It was the car in general that lacked pace mid season and to say development was tailored for Button is just unfounded.

If Hamilton was ever slower than Button in a race it was largely due to Hamilton and his engineers going down the wrong route on setup, and not that the team weren’t bring ‘Hammy style’ upgrades (whatever they would be)!


It was Button was it not that went down the wrong set up route?….for about 7 races while Hamilton was banging in podiums. The only real set up faux pas for Hamilton was Spa. And then he was acting on the advice of his engineers regarding the performance of the new rear wing.


Yes, I was referring to Spa mostly. I put it in as an example of if Hamilton was off the boil it was largely due to setup rather than the car being developed for Button, which is what seemed to be suggested.


Season isn’t over yet, Lewis can still win the next 2 and end on a high. Hes in great form!


Have to agree, its just a shame that he didn’t apply himself with the same commitment in 2012.


Button has gone on record to admit this season has been his most disappointing at McLaren, in the context of points scored, team operational performance and the quality & reliability of the car.


He seems like an honest guy, although he doesn’t do himself any favours with the ‘no grip’ comments in The Pen,etc.

He will really have to give a lot more to confirm himself as Team leader next season, if only he could find a little more aggression from somewhere.


Would like to mention that Jenson is one of the few drivers to have won in 3 different teams, BAR, Brawn and McLaren, something only Alonso, and on Sunday Kimi, of the current driver crop have managed. It would only have taken this years tyres to be a little more in the direction of last years, and I think Jenson would have been right up there with Lewis this season.

I wonder what with McL. having 2 development teams, who alternate each year in designing the car, whether they will give him a car next year like the 2011 car which he managed to beat Hamilton in….? ie whether Jenson is suited to driving the ‘odd’ year McLarens, and Lewis more the ‘evens’


The aggression I mean is things like not being able to stay within DRS range of Alonso, to recover the place that he lost at the start.

I have followed JBs career enthusiastically for many years & feel sure he would like to win another WDC, as the first was a bit ‘double diffuser’, which is repeatedly brought up on JAonF1.

Rather than ‘certainly don’t think he has anything more to prove in his career’, I think he would feel he has – otherwise it sounds like throwing in the towel.


Oh god, nice guy? Acquitted himself well? He is a second tier driver who got a funnycar ticket to a WDC. He’s quick, but so is Webber/Massa et al. He is not in the same league as his team mate, Fernando, Seb.


Jenson is who he is. He has aquitted himself brilliantly against a teamate who even he would admit was faster over a single lap. I dont think agression will help his cause and certainly dont think he has anything more to prove in his career.


hear, hear!


what mistakes did Alonso make this year?


Only one: Crashing into Kimi by pushing him out in a race (which one I forget).


No AlexD, he means the same as Maldonado with Hamilton, not the other way around.


You mean the same as Hamilton with Maldonado earlier this year?


Alex D You make it abundantly clear who you support, but is it necessary to go on the attack every time you perceive a criticism, however small, about your preferred driver?

Surely, it should be about supporting F1 in general, rather than being just a huge fan of one driver.

Maybe you don’t see it that way? I’d be interested to know.


Well said Peter…..the subject is about Lewis Hamilton and his misfortunes during this season.

Lewis Hamillton has looked a sure winner at Abu Dhabi as he has done in other races were it not for car gremlins and pit stop issues. He has also won pole at six races this year when Jenson Button has struggled to get even close. Hamilton is definitely a strong contender for the driver of the season!


I agree with AlexD on this one. I really didnt like Alonso at the start of this year, but Ive got mad respect for him now. He has driven unbelievably well this year. In fact, if you look at just how the drivers have driven and on track mistakes and exclude everything off track, Alonso and Hamilton are head and shoulders above the rest.


Peter – everything is relative. I support Ferrari, not Alonso…but Alonso is the only chance for the team to take the title. His performance this year convinced even his most severe critics and haters.

If people say that Hamilton did not make a single mistake this year, but Alonso did – I also want to understand it:-)


Suzuka. Montreal (although arguably the team should have steered him better).


Re Montreal – Well, I suppose it depends on how much blame (and indeed credit) you can attach to drivers for tyre choices and strategy calls. If you’re willing to praise drivers for making the right calls tyre wise, the surely it holds that if they make the wrong choices the driver has to shoulder some of the blame as well.

In Montreal, Alonso got the strategy wrong by picking the wrong tyre strategy (Vettel too), and I think he has to take some of the blame for that to go along with the credit he takes for a lot of the good decisions and driving he has shown this year. I think Ferrari compounded the error by not bringing him in when it was clear to everyone that it was the

As for Hamilton vs Maldonado, I genuinely don’t believe Hamilton was at fault there. Maldonado crashed into him from outside the confines of the track. The stewards agreed Maldonado was at fault and penalised him (although I’ll be the first to admit I don’t agree with 100% of the stewards’ decisions).


Tell me more about Montreal:-)


Spun in Q2 in Australia left him out of Q3, and almost crashed into maldonado in Malaysia, touched Raikkonen in Japan and that put him out of the race.


No, Maldonado crashed into Hamilton. Hamilton was defending, Maldonado launched back onto the track way too aggressively and took Hamilton out (similar to the way Perez launched back onto the track in Abu Dhabi and took out Grosjean and then Webber).

I disagree with Sascha though. Both Hamilton and Alonso have been pretty much faultless this year and will be ultimately let down by their teams.


I will only agree with you on the Q2 Australian quali spin. But considering Alonso has been driving a generally inferior car most of the season, that should barely count.

ALMOST crashing into someone is not a mistake. The Japan clash with Raikonen was a pure racing incident, neither had anywhere to go with Button on the other side of Kimi.

For the record I am a McLaren fan. But I like to think I can give credit where credit is due.



‘Did Hamilton not crash into Maldonado?’

..Erm are you being serious? If you seem to think Hamilton drove into the side of Maldonado either you need a new TV set or you need to seek help for that case of Hamiltonitus (suffered by those who despise Lewis).

Just to remind you…Maldonado went off the track and joined it by T-boning Hamilton who was on-track..Maldonado’s fault..plain and simple – hence why HE got a penalty.


No, Maldanado came from 4 wheels off the circuit and tried to rejoin the track AT THE APEX which lewis was already occupying. Brace-face’s fault the whole way.


Agreed, Alosno has made a couple of errors this season but still well within range of what is acceptable for a top F1 driver.

As for this article, I dearly hope McLaren read this website and James should be congratulated for putting the time into the analysis that we all half-heartedly attempt here in comments 🙂

I do wonder though, that even if McLaren read this website they would just write the article off – they come across unbelievably arrogant and pretentious in the way they ‘go racing’ – blowing hot air all over world’s circuits from their self-impressed, cold, dispassionate soap-box.

Whitmarsh blathering on about how Perez does not understand pressure until he races a McLaren. You are immune to this pressure then Martin? It does not seem to affect your job that the team you are responsible for throws away races and titles on ridiculous principles, poor procedures, (usually) awful cars at the start of the season, reliability that is more out of the 80’s than the 00’s etc etc.

5 Years ago I was a committed McLaren fan, paid up member and all! I am happy to ride the rough with the smooth with my support but McLaren have brought their misery on themselves and they have no excuses with their history and budget. They lost Alonso because they took frustrating decisions by allowing Hamilton to take points away from an almost certain WDC win (I am a massive fan but Hamilton should have served his apprenticeship), they brought in Button and Whitmarsh very obviously emotionally favoured him (I do not doubt equal equipment) despite the fact that Hamilton should have clearly been the future of the team and now they have lost Hamilton who may as well try ANYTHING else.

I’ve never been a Ferrari supporter but at least Ferrari have passion! Ferrari make decisions based on the will and desire to deliver their drivers’ championships, they do not spend 200 million per year and then blow it all because they refuse to make some very sensible and obvious decisions on track. They also understand sports psychology a little better than McLaren I would suggest.


No, Maldonado was out of the track and rejoined into Hamilton.


Did Hamilton not crash into Maldonado?

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