Winning At Home: On Lewis Hamilton
Guest writer Kunal A. Shah analyses the Briton, who looks set to take the drivers' championship again this year.
When I chose Nico Rosberg ahead of Lewis Hamilton for victory in the predictor championships, I knew I had bet on the wrong driver. I still did so because a Rosberg win would spice up the championship and offer the sport a possible boost – much needed given all the negativity around.
The 2015 British Grand Prix was a classic. That too in front of a sell out crowd – yet another uncommon phenomenon in the sport these days. We had overtaking moves (for the lead, too!), Hamilton chasing (he rarely needs to), Rosberg chasing (he always does!), Williams in the lead, opening lap shenanigans, a Maldonado retirement and strategic pit-stops to determine the finishing order. And just when one thought that Lewis Hamilton would cruise to an easy victory, it rained – first on Twitter, then in Brackley and then in Silverstone. I now somewhat understand Bernie Ecclestone’s suggestion to add sprinklers at all tracks! I hope Bernie understands my suggestion someday on why everyone should be given Mercedes engines!
Despite the unpredictability and confusion, we had a Hamilton-Rosberg-Vettel podium for the 6th time in 9 races. I must applaud Mercedes and Ferrari for thinking on their feet and making the most of changing conditions to ensure they claimed the three most coveted finishing positions on Sunday. Red Bull Racing claimed that Kvyat could’ve ended on the podium too had he not spun.
The ghosts from Monaco were remembered for a few moments when Hamilton dived into the pits for intermediates just when Rosberg was fast charging and looked almost uncatchable in the wet weather conditions. Rosberg claimed that Hamilton got lucky with his tyre call, whereas Hamilton believes it was the ‘best call of his career’. Irrespective, fans got what they always screamed for – excitement. But you’ll have to wait till 2017 for the engine noise though!
I did wonder for a few seconds…what IF Hamilton’s tyre call was wrong, would there be massacre at Silverstone? I am glad we didn’t have to find out! Could it have been worse had Rosberg jumped into the pits after overtaking Hamilton on track? A few fans did diss Rosberg’s talent for not reading the conditions right and pitting when Hamilton did. But why would he if he was already the quickest driver on track?
The race was a bit of an anti-climax for the fast starting Williams. They reminded me of the fast starting Renaults (Alonso-Fisichella) back in the mid-2000s. I think Mercedes should recall their engineers at Williams and copy their start procedure. Hamilton could do with some help as this was the second race in a row where he lost his lead at the start itself! Clutch issues? Or has his partying ways reduced his reaction times?
Apart from the start, I wonder if the Williams did anything right in the race. Or maybe they did? The team from Grove is aware of their target – Ferrari. This is possibly why they didn’t waste much time trying to fight Mercedes in the first stint. There was too much fuss about Bottas – Massa and I don’t understand why the team intervened and radio-ed Bottas to stay put and not overtake Massa for the lead. Whether he was quicker or not is secondary, the primary fact is that on global television they showcased that Formula1 negatively.
Those interested in tyre strategy did question why Williams didn’t act and rather chose to react only after Hamilton’s first pit-stop. The answer probably lies in the fact that the British GP was expected to be a one-stopper and hence shifting the ideal pit-stop window a few laps forward could have their cars exposed to attack at a latter part in the race (possibly by Ferrari!).
A few of the wittiest messages I picked from Twitter: It was ironic to see a former Ferrari driver lead the race ahead of a driver Ferrari are rumoured to sign! But it is always heartening to see Massa do well, isn’t it? And of course, who can forget the presence of the Spice Girls. Did Mrs. Horner seek some favours?
Ferrari got lucky and they know that too – despite Vettel’s insistence that the podium wasn’t Santa’s gift to him. That it rained showed that their Lady Luck did have some involvement in an otherwise drab race for the Scuderia. They have got to find a solution to Raikkonen’s lack of performance. If the tyre call in mixed weather conditions was the driver’s, Raikkonen did make a wrong call. Is the Iceman’s Formula1 career Finn-ished?
I had a few readers comment on my post on Raikkkonen’s replacement that the Finn had topped the GPDA fan survey as the most popular driver and hence should be retained. I stand by my word that Formula1 is no popularity contest and that there are only two places Raikknonen needs to top to be considered for 2016 – in the Ferrari garage or even better in the Drivers’ Championship table.
The strangest part (apart from Red Bull Racing using re-badged Mercedes engines via an Aston Martin sponsorship) on the conclusion of the British GP and Hamilton’s victory at home was that the fans assumed that the worst for the sport was over and things were back to normal. What was wrong with Formula One still is, including the F1 Strategy Group! And probably Mclaren too! I am just glad that Alonso scored his first point for Mclaren for the second time.
However, the only wrong that got corrected in Silverstone was the trophy. Hamilton complained that even the trophies in Formula1 lacked standard. I hope he loved the unique gold trophy that was handed over to him on the top step of the podium. If not, I am sure there are more than a few takers for it!
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