F1: Hamilton in “territory of champions”

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarTuesday, May 13th, 2008


Lewis Hamilton’s been getting a fair bit of stick recently, so it was nice to read this analysis of his Turkish Grand Prix performance from Mark Blundell in The Telegraph:

Lewis Hamilton balancing act produces points

Lewis Hamilton believes his drive in Turkey was the best of his F1 career. It was not a win, it was not spectacular. It was a job done better than the numbers suggested was possible. He got more out of his car than he had any right to. That’s where the smile on his face came from.

They used to say of Michael Schumacher that he won races in cars that in theory were not good enough to cross the line first. This is the territory Hamilton was in at Turkey. It is the territory of champions. Read full article here…

I think the problem is that racing fans dislike comparisons of Hamilton with Schumacher before he’s even won a world championship – they feel undeserved and while the 23-year-old undoubtedly has the potential to be great, so have plenty of drivers before him (Jenson Button, anyone?) That’s why it’s interesting here to see a former driver explaining why such comparisons might be justified.

However, Hamilton doesn’t have it all his own way. In a separate piece for the same paper, Simon Arron describes how Hamilton was actually comprehensively out-qualified by and very nearly beaten by his team-mate:

Fates conspire to thwart Heikki Kovalainen

Kovalainen’s qualifying performance – when he set the second fastest time, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton – was initially regarded as a worthy effort, but the Englishman appeared to be significantly downbeat immediately afterwards, even though the gap between them was a scant 0.115sec. That should have been a clue.

Only when the race began did the magnitude of Kovalainen’s performance become apparent: he had several laps more fuel on board than Hamilton. It hadn’t been a mild beating at one-lap qualifying pace, more an annihilation. Unlike Hamilton, who had to stop three times due to fears about tyre wear, Kovalainen was kind enough to his Bridgestones to be able to plan a strategically more favourable two-stop race. Everything was stacked in his favour.
Read full article here…

This is a thoughtful piece and we were disappointed to see Kovalainen have such a bad race. But, ultimately, the game’s about who can put in the best performance in qualifying, keep their head during the start and then get the car round 58 laps with fewest problems.

If car set-up and qualifying won you the race, then drivers like Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber would have been considerably more successful than they have to date…

2 responses to “F1: Hamilton in “territory of champions””:

  1. Keith Says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    So Arron’s right and Blundell’s wrong… Kovalainen could have won in that car and Hamilton should have won in it if he’d qualified on pole.

    I don’t think Blundell’s “territory of champions” argument stacks up. But I also think it’s much harder to win a Grand Prix in a non-leading car than it was ten years ago – race fuel qualifying has changed that.

  2. ljh Says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    But it’s about what actually happened on the track on Sunday, isn’t it?

    In the race, Kovalainen blew a brilliant qualifying by colliding with Raikkonen and was unable to come back through the field (something Raikkonen himself has done more than once). Whereas Hamilton took a dog of a car and converted it into eight points.

    While Kovalainen deserves huge respect for his gutsy comeback after Spain and his brilliant qualifying, who took the points at the end of the race? And I don’t think McLaren were favouring Hamilton, either.

    Seems pretty straightforward to me…

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