Mon 21 Jul 2008
There are no two ways about it, if Lewis Hamilton and McLaren continue as they have done in the last two race weekends then the Driver’s Championship trophy will be sitting on his mantlepiece come the end of the year.
I thought his win at Silverstone a little lucky for two reasons. Firstly, both McLaren and Ferrari had to gamble on tyres due to the timing of their pitstops - and ultimately one was going to get it horribly wrong. Had it not rained again, I could see Kimi getting faster and faster while Lewis fell back, but as it happened the exact opposite took place. Ferrari chose not to change Kimi’s tyres and when the rain came he simply had no grip, which allowed Lewis to waltz off into the distance whereas the other drivers were all waltzing round the track.
His winning margin was due in part to his skill at staying on the track, but was also down to this pitlane decision. I’m not taking anything away from either the driver or the team, they took a chance and it paid off so congratulations to them.
In Germany this weekend, Hamilton was simply unbelievable. With James Allen constantly referring to Lewis’s drives as “Senna-esque” I would counter that this race was a bit more “Schumacher-esque” instead.
He was in total control of the race when suddenly it seemed to be taken from his grasp firstly by a Safety Car period following Timo Glock’s accident, and then by what appears to have been a bit of a mistake when McLaren failed to pit him while that Safety Car was still out.
But none of this seemed to distract Hamilton, and when he re-emerged from his pitstop later in the race he simply hounded down the cars in front of him and passed them with apparent ease.
This raises two points - firstly, how much better the McLaren is than every other car out there, and secondly how easily most drivers seem to let others overtake them.
What have McLaren done to their car lately? It’s speed is simply staggering! Ferrari must be scratching their heads at the moment, and unless they come up with some answers and improvements themselves sometime soon then they can kiss goodbye to retaining either trophy. Some blame has been laid at the feet of Kimi and Massa for not driving quick enough, but it would appear that the reason this weekend at least, was that the car simply wasn’t quick enough.
When Lewis was coming up behind his teammate, I fully expected him to pass Heikki, but at the same time I expected him to actually overtake him - as it was, Heikki practically ran off the road in order to allow Lewis ahead of him. How frustrated must he be if he has been told to make this happen? Rumours emerged that he said as much in one post-race interview, but whether this is true we will probably never find out as McLaren have a habit of covering these things up.
While I pretty much expected Heikki to move over one way or another, I certainly didn’t expect anything of the sort from Massa however he almost allowed Lewis to pass him more easily than Heikki had! On TV, the move was shown from Hamilton’s perspective and I couldn’t believe my eyes when Massa left way too much room up the inside - I half expected him to not even know Lewis was there and sweep across his bows, but as it turned out he was practically waving him through.
Another “shout at the TV” moment!
Going forward, this championship is really there for the taking - for the first time I really can’t see anyone but Hamilton winning it.
Both earlier this season, and indeed last season, when he edged ahead I had a feeling that he would do something silly to allow the others back into the hunt but now he really seems to have got himself sorted out.
Of course, at the coming races he may not have quite the same car under him which could lead to more over-driving and errors could result but at the moment I just don’t see that happening.