Lewis Hamilton – a few thoughts

20131230-173233.jpg

When Lewis Hamilton entered F1 in 2007 he surprised many with his raw talent, amazing pace and fantastic overtaking.

He was very unlucky not to be world champion in his first year of F1, yet we will enter 2014 with only one world championship for Lewis – a return which many people think is poor given the drivers ability.

And in the same time a friendly german chap called Seb has arrived and taken full advantage of good machinery to win 4 championships in a row.

Now put them both in the same car, and I think it would be very close indeed. But for now Seb has the better race car and as Lewis has himself admitted, his first year at Mercedes did not live up to the high standards he sets himself.

So what is the source of the perceived underperformance?

Well I’ve spoken to quite a few people in and around F1 at length on this one and there are three recurring themes. Fantastic talent, surrounding himself with the wrong people, and being too open about his own shortcomings (too critical and giving a negative perception).

Many of those like me, that love the racing driver he is, but struggle to like the other shitstorm that surrounds him (rap stars, living his life out in the papers), just wish he’d get back to basics.

I read a fascinating article from 2007 recently in the Guardian by Paul Kelso heralding Lewis as one of a new breed of sportsman.

Indeed, the quote that intrigued me was from Mark Sharman (head of ITV sport when interviewed)

“He’s one of a new breed of young sportsmen like Theo Walcott and Amir Khan who are a breath of fresh air, and he’s hugely exciting”


Six years on, and all three sportsmen mentioned have reached the top echelon of their respective sports, but are arguably yet to scale the heights that their natural talent suggested was possible.

I imagine it would be interesting to see what different off seasons look like for Seb and Lewis. And whether that contributes to what Lewis felt last year was underperformance.

The mental side of top line sport I think is incredibly important, and is one where Lewis has shown increasing signs of fragility.

Looking at Tiger Woods in his early career, there was a feeling before the other golfers stepped out onto the course that they were playing for second place. Indeed since that aura of invincibility has been taken away, Tiger has struggled to regain the type of dominating performances we used to see week in week out.

A top sports psychologist could probably help many of the drivers, Lewis included.

Now despite many thinking Lewis has lost his way, it might be that next season he will finally feel at one with his Mercedes. I sincerely hope so.

But in the event Nico outperforms him, I do fear we may not see him in F1 for the long term.

And that would be a great shame…. especially if he takes up singing.

Advertisements

Nico Hulkenberg – is it just me?

Is it just me or is Nico Hulkenberg – who I consider to be the standout driver not currently in a top tier team – looking likely he may be overlooked by another top team?

Now the above is a big claim to make, with many drivers flattering to decieve in junior formulae. So lets just look at some of the highlights of his career before he got to F1:

  • Karting > started aged ten (1997), winning the German junior karting championship and German karting championship in consecutive years
  • Formula BMW >  won the Formula BMW championship at the first time of asking in , and the world final, only to be stripped of it for some pretty questionable braking manoevres during a safety car period.
  • A1 GP >  stepped into the German team in 2006-07, dominating in his rookie season with 9 wins and the championship (more than 60 points ahead of Pastor Maldonado).
  • Formula 3 Euro series > taking 7 wins and the title in 2008.
  • GP2 > you guessed it. 2009 Champion

Now the intention of this blog is not to be stat heavy, but you’ll no doubt appreciate there are signs of real calibre here.

We all know the trials and tribulations, ups and downs of his time so far in F1, not least the pole for Williams and some genuine standout drives.

Now I can understand the Ferrari position in taking Kimi, who is still driven to win, still one of the very top guys in F1 and a very consistent performer.

But surely Nico Hulkenberg has done just as much as any other young driver to place himself in the shop window.

The plot thickens….

Having read some of the very insightful comments on twitter over the last couple of days from some top line drivers (Mark Webber and Alex Wurz to name but two) about driver height and weight it really asks some serious questions.

Yes, driver fitness and strength have been key drivers of performance in F1 for some time, but with the ’14 rules stressing technical teams to the limit on powertrain weight, I can’t help but worry for young Nico.

Should it be that driver weight and height has such a bearing on success or indeed even in getting a top drive? I don’t think so personally….

With Hamilton, VetteI, Kimi and Alonso all tied down, I can’t believe Lotus and McLaren are not knocking on the door of this guys manager.

In my humble opinion, McLaren could be missing out on their next World Champion if they don’t find a place for Nico.

F1 has always been heralded as a drivers championship, so lets hope someone somewhere remembers that when looking at minimum car weights.