Should McLaren Think About Reinventing The Wheel?

Should McLaren Think About Reinventing The Wheel?

Or at least, how their car handles the tyres. McLaren appear to be not doing very well in the tyre and wheel department at the moment. In fact, the last couple of seasons have seen quite a few retirements from the Woking-based squad due to tyre-related issues, and while they can’t all be put down the design of the car, one cannot help but wonder if the MP4-22 and MP4-23 isn’t so kind to its boots at its rivals are.

In 2007, Lewis Hamilton suffered a serious wheel failure when it literally started to come off. Although the problem was put down to a faulty nut-gun, the resulting accident saw the British driver air-lifted to hospital for routine checks. Later on in the same season and with the same chassis, Hamilton eventually retired from the Chinese Grand Prix with a bald Bridgestone tyre. The photo above is in fact that very tyre, the white stripe not being the designation for the softer compound, but instead the canvas underneath the rubber!

This season has seen Heikki Kovalainen have a sizable accident at the Spanish Grand Prix, the wheel clamp being blamed for the Finn’s impact with the tyre barrier at Circuit de Catalunya. Again, the driver was air-lifted to hospital for checks, although thankfully suffered no injury. And today during the Turkish Grand Prix, both drivers suffered tyre problems that led Bridgestone to insist on the team adopting a three-stop strategy. Although it wasn’t the best way to run the race, Lewis Hamilton was able to safely negotiate his way into second place, and had Heikki Kovalainen not suffered a contact-induced puncture, he too may have finished in a better position, possibly even on the podium with Hamilton.

And with Lewis we had a bit of a structural concern on the tyres which we discovered in practice and we discussed it with Bridgestone and took a decision on safety to run three stops.

There was some internal delamination which Bridgestone were very good at picking up. We didn’t want to have any tyre failure. It was possibly okay to run two stops, but it was a bit more severe on Lewis’ and we put drivers’ safety first. Ron Dennis.

The team have said that the tyre problem they suffered in Istanbul today affected Hamilton’s car more, implying the Finn handles his tyres better. And looking at the two drivers history’s, you’d have to agree. Kovalainen rarely gets mentioned for over-cooking his boots, while Hamilton is more often [than Heikki] in the press for struggling on worn rubber.

This doesn’t mean Hamilton is a poorer driver than his team mate, as the problem could simply be the car. And I seem to remember Fernando Alonso having a couple of grumbles in 2007 about the McLaren and it’s abilities to use the tyres well. However, Kovalainen seems, so far, to be handling the problem better. But shouldn’t McLaren be sorting this out?

Had the silver cars been able to stop only twice in Turkey, their race could have been much stronger. Lewis showed he just about had the pace of the Ferrari’s, both he and Felipe Massa shared fastest laps during one stint. The pace is clearly available for the McLaren’s, but whether or not it is accessible is another question…

Update: Bridgestone have now stated that the problem really lies with Hamilton more than themselves. According to their statement, they had worked on strengthening the tyre over the winter due to problems faced by many drivers at last year’s Turkish Grand Prix. But this weekend has really only seen the problem reoccur on Hamilton’s McLaren. The team have said that Heikki Kovalainen also suffered slightly, implying that it is partly Hamilton and his driving style, and partly the car.

He had a specific problem last year, most noticeably, but several other drivers we noticed had internal tyre problems. Based on that, we changed the construction and strengthened it over the winter period and then brought those tyres to all the races this year.

In actual fact, nobody else has had a repetition of any of those problems this year, with the exception of Lewis. He is the one driver who perhaps with his style of driving has put higher forces onto his front right tyre. Bridgestone Spokesperson.


  • i’m glad bridgestone responded, because in the press conference lewis flat out attempted to blame them for problems that only he appeared to suffer from.

    you are right though, macca have had an unseasonably high number of tyre problems of late.

    during the winter ferrari incidentally picked up on the fact that lewis regularly destroys his tyres. this now leads me to suspect bridgestone may have been sharing some additional information with the scarlet team. hmm.

  • That is interesting about the Ferrari knowledge, but I think it’s fairly obvious to all that Lewis runs his tyres hard, and Bridgestone called him out today. As you say, good on ya’ Bridgestone.

  • The spec tyre company is meant to make tyres that suit as many driving styles as possible, but then the drivers are supposed to deal with whatever framework they are given. Lewis Hamilton may have tyre troubles later on in the season if he doesn’t adapt…

  • Bridgestone’s PR quandary is that as sole tyre supplier their name generally makes it into the news only when something goes wrong. From that perspective it’s perhaps not surprising that they should hit back so quickly when a driver tries to finger them.

    As to sharing of information – it’s very easy to form a high-level conspiracy theory about this when the truth is likely to be more mundane. After all, people talk – even in F1. If someone is regularly destroying their tyres it’s quite hard to keep it a secret: every team takes their wheels to the Bridgestone truck for the old tyres to be taken off (and sent back to Japan for analysis) and new ones fitted. Anything unusual is bound to be noticed – especially during testing when not everyone is out on track at once, and lots of mechanics will be out the back smoking and chatting to stave off the boredom.

  • Some drivers use their tyres more than others do – that has always been true. Usually, it’s the smoothies who use the tyres least and the ragged guys who eat ’em. And that’s what is strange about Hamilton – his style is very smooth and yet he goes through tyres as though they were going out of style. This might, in fact, be the measure of his greatness, that he can appear precise and neat yet work the tyres to the utmost; we should expect a great driver to keep the car at its maximum potential throughout the race and that means the tyres should be used! The really impressive thing is that Hamilton makes it look so easy because he corrects with the steering wheel so rarely. Guess what – that means he hardly ever oversteps the boundary between the tyres sticking and them letting go.

    As for his statement that Bridgestone set the three-stop strategy, I thought that was strange as soon as I heard it. Since when does the tyre supplier set a team’s strategy? I think he was simplifying to be brief; what actually happened was that Bridgestone knew that the tyre was marginal, given Lewis’ known tyre usage, and advised McLaren that a three-stopper would be safest. With McLaren putting driver safety first, that would be a big influence on their choice of strategy (especially with Heikki’s close call in Barcelona still fresh in their minds). There was so little difference (2 seconds) in overall race time between the two possible strategies that it must have been a no-brainer to opt for three stops.

    But Hamilton knew where the original suggestion had come from and so was trying to tell it as he saw it. No conspiracy to put the blame on Bridgestone, I’m, afraid. πŸ˜‰

  • @CLive : Hi, The measure of greatness is when you can achieve more than the others with the same equipment (car, tyre, fuel…) when you achieve less I call it weakness.

    As per MW’s statement 3 stops is a 5s penalty wtihout taking into account race traffic When one gives himself a 5s or more handicap I call it a challenge not a success πŸ˜‰

    If one of the two McLaren had to win thit GP it was Haikki (I take MW’s word for it -autosport same hyperlink as above) !)

    I’ll go with Alionara’s conclusions : Lewis should do somethting about it now… If he can…
    Lewis is gifted not doubt, but what is he gonna do with this talent ? Sign more sponsorship contracts? -Reebok today !- or improve his driving?
    Remember Massa is less praised but has got as many victories and one more pole that Lewis between 2007 and now… So what is all this talent used for ? Lewis has put himself in the spotlights he is not going to be forgiven, that’s the tough law of the sport these days… In his days Ayrton refused to go for the top teams too early he had his time he said….
    Now it’s “I want it all, I want it now”…

  • […] As discussed in a previous article, opinion on Hamilton is divided. Some people are suggesting the man is very talented, others say he has created problems for himself that have resulted in more question marks being placed over the driver. What is for certain though, is that Hamilton needs to comeback strong over the course of the mid-season if he is to be within ear-shot of the title in the final few grands prix. […]

  • Hi back, Ago. Agreed completely that the measure of a driver’s ability is what he achieves with the given equipment. That is exactly where Hamilton’s greatness lies – he has already shown the ability to get as much, if not more, out of the McLaren that Alonso did. So his talent is established and no longer under question. Now we watch to see how he will cope with the problem of a team mate vying for number one status in the team (just as Alonso had to last year) – and, if it’s to be a fight at all, there will be times when Heikki is quicker than Lewis, at least in qualifying.

    It is race pace that matters, however, and Hamilton was much quicker in that department – his fastest race lap was a second faster than Heikki’s. You can say that was because Heikki had a heavier car (some of the time) because of his two-stop strategy but that merely supports my point that the three-stopper was the only way for McLaren to stand a chance of beating the Ferraris in Istanbul.

    As for whether Lewis becomes distracted by signing too many sponsorship deals, that remains to be seen. I see no sign of that happening as yet – in fact, were Heikki to be offered money from Reebok and Pepsi, I don’t think he’d refuse. πŸ˜‰

  • Hi Clive.

    Alonso is history now, I am not here to discuss history…. and much could be said but we have no time for this, have we?

    Let’s stick to facts would you ?

    – Fact #1 : Do you know that on average a car on a 3 stops strategy has a weight advantage of 30kg to 60kg of fuel during not “some of the time” but for 50% of the race? 30kg give you 0.9s per lap, and 60kg 1.8s per lap. Before you make any conclusion do your math…

    Remember despite one more stop the final cost is around 5s (MW said) so it means that obviously you are much faster on a lap.

    – Fact #2 : Do you also noticed Heikki was in the back of the race with much more slow drivers in the way ?

    – Fact #3 : Heikki’s stategy was compromised because of the contact he made with Kimi and that costed him a puncture, an unplanned plitstop, and a slight change -because of this unexpected pitstop- in his fuel strategy: Race totally screwed up!

    Lewis, not greatness (God gracious me! this is drivers we are tralking about!) but fantastic driving abilities are one thing but F1 is F1 and until now he’s won only races when he started from pole (and one of these poles was not exactly his, but was taken out of Fernando -Hungary 07- for bad behaviour of the spanish driver).

    We still have to see him winning a race in a dog-fight. He can do that I’m sure but he’s not done it yet, he even did the opposite: He lost races he should not have lost!

    The fact is that in Turkey the 2 stops is the best strategy (said MW) you can say whatever you want you are not going to change the facts.

    The fact is that Lewis had to go fo a 3 stops because HE cannot go with 2… He was not even able to set a decent lap time with the softer tyres! Something that Heikki could do and has done.

    Now take the conclusions you want but I have mine and they are widely shared even by McLaren team. The french have an interesting saying : “there is no worst blind person than he who doesn’t want to see”….

  • So I’m not allowed to point at history but you are, Ago (“taken out of Fernando -Hungary 07- for bad behaviour of the spanish driver”)? Ignore history at your peril, I say.

    I’m not really interested in the maths or what McLaren had to say – I know what I see in the race and it became clear that Hamilton’s light car was keeping him in contention with the Ferraris. Traffic plays no part in fastest laps since they are always set on a traffic-free lap – and, in F1, a second is a huge difference in speed. Whatever the calculations were before the race (and Martin Whitmarsh did say that the difference between the two strategies was only 2 seconds over a race distance – theoretically), the race itself made a nonsense of the maths. Take a look at Hamilton’s smiling face after the race – he knew perfectly well that chance had forced him to adopt a strategy that proved the best for McLaren on the day.

    As for Hamilton not being able to scrap – where have you been? Hamilton has overtaken more cars in breathtaking fashion throughout his brief career than any of the top drivers in the same timespan. And that includes Raikkonen, the great entertainer of the past who now finds it so difficult to pass that he tends to go to sleep at the wheel.

    If it’s quotes we’re to resort to, how about this one from Paul Simon: “Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”?

  • Clive :Your quotation of Paul Simon is exactly reflecting what I said: you are not prepared to discuss. You grab the facts you like, you do not answer to the one you don’t like and you find new ones to go on with the argument.

    For your information the best lap is just that: the best lap it’s doesn’t imply it is a traffic-free lap. Can you tell me when Heikki had a traffic-free lap? Never! If I am correct he never was anything better than 8th. On the other hand Hamilton was leading the race when he did his best lap (31) and that was just before he did his second pit stop…

    So Heikki had a puncture, Raikkonen had a damaged front wing and Massa was never seriously at threat. Kimi is still leading hte championship, Massa has closed the gap with Lewis and taken his position in the championship. Ferrari leads the championship by 21 pts but all is well for Lewis… What can I say ?

    Think what you like it’s doesn’t bother me as I am here to discuss not to preach.

    The future will tell us who is right and who is wrong anyway….

  • The future will tell us who is right and who is wrong anyway….

    No one is right, and no one is wrong, usually, at BlogF1. Although I do hold the trump card if necessary. πŸ˜‰

    That is the beautiful thing about opinion and their related discussions. We all have them, and for sure some opinions are ridiculous (in my opinion), but because they are opinion – someone’s thoughts and feelings on a given matter – they are only wrong when they are taken to the extreme. And then it is the actions, not the opinion, that is wrong.

    Predictions? Oh, they can be wrong, very wrong. I’ve had many of a prediction thrown out of the window. πŸ™‚ And of course, they can also be correct, although if mine ever were on a regular basis I’d take up gambling.

    Great discussion guys, just keep it gentlemanly. πŸ™‚ And just so as I’m not seen as the killjoy…

    Clive said in his first comment that Hamilton was a smooth driver. I’m not so sure he really is. Whenever I’ve seen on-board footage of Lewis, he seems to always be correcting the car (admittedly very well and precisely) and thus moving the steering wheel a fair bit. Maybe I only get to see on-board footage when he is clearly having trouble, but compared to Button, Hamilton seems positively un-smooth! (Apples and oranges, I know, but the only comparison I can think of right now.) Lewis has excellent car control, no doubt, just not that smooth in my eyes. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for him though. Hamilton was pretty exciting in Monaco last year and brushed the barriers on more than one occasion as he chopped the steering wheel around. Breathtaking to say the least, and he had the pace to win the event.

    Anyway, I was wondering, Clive, why you believe Hamilton’s style to be smooth?

  • Tiny steering wheel corrections, Oliver, that’s the secret. I agree that Hamilton is constantly correcting but only by the smallest amounts – you won’t see him getting the car twitching as Kubica does. There were a few of his qualifying laps last year where the onboard footage was amazing for the lack of movement of the wheel through the corners – Indy is one that I particularly remember (also memorable for the precision of his driving – no-one else came as close to the wall as he did without flinching!).

    When a driver makes very few corrections in the course of a lap, there can be only two reasons: either he’s not driving at the limit or he’s bang on it but not overstepping it. The deciding factor then becomes the lap time and the careful driver will be left behind. And those tiny corrections give the game away – Lewis drives at the absolute limit and rarely makes mistakes. Someone like Kubica has an entirely different approach – he will take the car over its limit and rely on his reflexes to bring it back again. More spectacular but not as fast when it comes to lap time.

    If your name is Gilles Villeneuve, you can drive over the limit and still position the car through the slide so as to set it up for the next corner. That was why he was both spectacular and quick – he was in a sort of permanent state of controlled disaster on some tracks! But few are able to drive like Gilles.

    Hamilton is not as smooth as Button, it’s true – but he is still in the smoothie camp. I am not one of those proclaiming Hamilton to be the new Senna – I’m still watching – but I don’t see how anyone can argue against his ability after last year. He sat in the exact same car (even down to the settings, if we believe the rumours) as the quickest driver in the world and matched him. This, in his rookie year. If that isn’t astounding talent and ability, tell me what is.

  • Hi Oliver (sorry to have called you Steve the other day!) my statement was not about prediction it was about maturity. For me Lewis is not a mature driver, not yet. Nevertheless I agree with Steve the way Lewis controls the car sometimes leaves me speechless! But nobody is unbeatable Senna himself what beaten 119 times and won 41 times πŸ˜‰

    So is Lewis in the best position to be a WC this year? My answer is no. Ferrari and Kimi are the favorites. Last year was a fantastic opportunity because he took everybody by surprise -including his own team- but now he is watched closely… Plus let’s face it: in modern F1 the win is more a matter of good position on the grid and good race strategy than superior driving skills: how many true overtaking -after lap1 I mean- do we see at the front of the race?

    Has Lewis got the potential to be a (multiple?) WC in the future? Yes!

    Is he going to make it happen? I don’t know! It takes more than pure talent to make it happen and we should also keep in mind that in this sport the driver needs.. a car! No driver can expect to spend his whole career in a winning car. Lewis, like all the others will have some years in “not the best” cars: will he be able to cope with that too?

    You were talking about Gilles… he was a great driver, a true racer but never became a WC… but he is still remembered as one of the greatest of the sport…

  • @Clive: A fair and reasoned response. I still cannot shake this tyre thing out of my head though.

    You say that maybe he’s just doing his job.; running the car to the absolute maximum. Which is why it looks like it’s just come back from the Rally of Finland rather than a grand prix when he rolls into parc ferme (lol). That would be understandable had either the team or the tyre supplier not felt compelled to adjust the strategy. You guys can argue until the cows come home about whether two or three stops were the same or not, but the fact remains that originally, McLaren were leaning towards a two-stopper. As was the rest of the grid, pretty much. But due to Hamilton eating up his wheels, somebody advised a change to three stops. The difference between the two is irrelevant. The fact that Lewis was unable to drive one strategy over another because of his style is not good. Not when other drivers are perfectly capable of doing so. It’s all about being flexible. That’s how Schumacher won seven titles.

    Brawn: Michael, I need 23.2s lap times for the next 17 laps.

    Schumacher: *Does that.*

    Brawn: Okay, well done Michael. Reduce pace to 23.9s to save tyres and engine. Coast to finish.

    Schumacher: *Does that.*

    ..Where was I? Oh, which is why in the original post I’ve parted the blame between Hamilton and McLaren. Of course, passionate people that we all are, the McLaren element has been lost. πŸ˜€

    Anyway, my point is that it is possible for Lewis just being in the zone and running at maximum. But he needs to mature and understand that without four decent boots on, he ain’t going anywhere!

    @Ago: I think your finest comment so far, Ago. Thank you for contributing. πŸ™‚

    Lewis isn’t a mature driver yet, but then we cannot expect him to be after just a couple of handfuls of races. However, I think Clive and yourself have pretty much stated: imagine what he’ll be like when does become a mature, experienced and wise driver? Brazil 2007 was a huge let down for me, but as a human, he will make mistakes, just like every other driver on the grid does from time to time. Will he become a great driver though, great in the sense of Gilles Villeneuve, Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark et al…? Maybe not, but as I said previously, it’s all apples and oranges, even with team mates. Different eras? I’m won’t even attempt to go there! πŸ™‚ Good, yes. Great, not even close. But he is still young and there’s plenty of time.

    It is fair to say Kimi is favourite. I think the bookies had him down as favourite prior to 2008, and I can’t imagine anything has changed given his current position in the title race. And as unfortunate as it is, all we fans can do is continue to hope that one day, Formula One returns to being about the overtaking move more than the strategy that starts on Friday and doesn’t end until Sunday evening. *sigh* Of course, sometimes, when strategy isn’t important though, we get the best races. I’ll never forget Suzuka 2005 for as long as I live. 130R around outside…

    And indeed, no driver will ever spend his or her entire career in the best car. In fact, I doubt Alonso has ever really had what is generally considered the best car of the season. And when did he come closest to the holy grail? The year he didn’t win it. πŸ˜€ (I only just realised that. No wonder he looked so gutted all the time last year.)

    Yesterday I wrote a reply to Clive asking about the smoothness of Lewis Hamilton, as I did above, but scrubbed it because I knew that this discussion was going to unfold and I didn’t want to get in the way too early. But in that original reply, I some how managed to comment on how the greatest drivers aren’t always the winners. Circumstances get in the way, including politics and even fate and karma if you’re that way inclined. I know Clive thinks I’m being hasty with this, but I rate Vettel. He’s won sod all in F1 and barely finished a race this year. He may never win a thing, but I still rate him. Just as I can’t get enough videos of Gilles. (He’s sadly before my time). Christ Bloomin’ ‘eck, that man had car control! I’m not comparing the two, just pointing out that sometimes the greats come and go without notice and without winning the title. How many Alonso’s have passed through the tender grip of Giancarlo Minardi over the years? Some went on, others went back.

  • Very insightful comments from all of you. I came late to the conversation but I would like to give my opinion. F1 isn’t only about raw speed. It’s also about reliability, and you must tradeoff between them. Choose when to overtake and if it really is worth the risk, choose when to push and when to save the tyres, the fuel or the engine, choose if defending the position has sense if your oponnent is in another strategy. A F1 driver is someone who can calculate precisely while driving at 300km/h.

    Lewis has great talent, and his driving in Turkey was breathtaking, but he hasn’t learnt to chose his battles wisely. The best example was China GP last year. While the rest of the cars where saving the tyres using the wet zones to cool them, he was pushing like mad. When he get into trouble, he defended the position agressively with Raikkonen… but also with Trulli!!

    What surprises me more is not that he hasn’t learnt yet. It’s that he isn’t trying to. McLaren should have tried to persuade him to do a two stop strategy, and adapt his driving style to the situation, going slower when heavy and faster when lighter. May be this is not the best strategy for this season, but in the long run, he will need to learn this to win more than a sporadic WDC.

  • A couple of points there, Ollie. About Hamilton in Brazil last year – obviously, he threw away the championship in that race, there’s no denying it. But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. What it means is that the boy wanted to race and win – he wasn’t thinking about the championship. He could have toured around in third or fourth and duly collected the big prize at the end but he didn’t, he went for it (and suffered the consequences).

    Does that remind you of someone? How about Kimi in his McLaren years, flat out at every moment and missing who knows how many championships as a result? How different a driver he is now that Ferrari has changed his outlook – he goes to sleep in the races, accepting that “it’s impossible to pass”, and can’t even put Massa to bed finally. How about Gilles himself, who never toured around for points, regardless of the state of the championship? You won’t have seen Chris Amon but he was another who would get his car as high as it could possibly get (even a completely uncompetitive Ensign), only to have something go wrong.

    The fact is, Lewis was incredibly lucky last year, especially in the first half of the season – he went for the win at every race, took chances (remember those impossible overtaking moves?) and fate smiled on him until the end of the season. But he shows every sign of having that will to win, even when it doesn’t matter – and that’s a sign of a great racer.

    The other thing is about Vettel. You know my feelings on the guy – I feel that he just isn’t living up to the hype. Keith has a post today asking for opinion on Vettel and already the adoring responses are flooding in. Why? What has the guy done that is so special, apart from winning a few second rate series in his progress towards F1?

    Understand, I’m not anti-Vettel (I thought he could be the next sensation after his Indy debut) but he really is not delivering anything like the results to justify the constant litany of praise he receives. Heck, I’m still waiting to see if Hamilton is as good as he seems to be but others are awarding Vettel future championships without any evidence whatsoever.

    In fact, if we look coldly at the evidence so far, the conclusion would have to be that Vettel is no better than Liuzzi, the only yardstick we have. And Liuzzi had to fight like mad to get a test drive at Force India…

  • Wait a minute Clive.

    So Lewis didn’t want to be WC in 2007, so he was just racing for fun? lol

    Lewis wanted badly to win and he did everything he could, but, like for the tyres in Turkey, he did not understand what he really had to do to win! Let’s face it after Japan Lewis had to grab only 4 points in 2 races. Piece of cake for a guy that achieved 12 podiums in 15 races and an amazing avarage of 7.1 points per race. I say no more….

    About Vettel now: Sebastian is 2 years 6 months younger than Lewis and you’ve judged him already!

    Where was Lewis 30 months ago? Well just out of F3… What if he had been pushed in a F1 not in march 2007 but in september 2004? How can anybody tell what a driver is worth at such a young age? You compare him to Liuzzi born in 1980… age difference: 7 years !

    It’s only Lewis fans , and their likes, that want to compare anybody with everybody else. I repeat the point I made: these drivers are kids and the age is certainly a very important factor -not in terms of raw speed behind the wheel- to acquire some maturity. Vettel is very quick and got points the first time he drove a f1… at the same age Lewis was in the middle of his F3 euroserie season… So can we compare them? No we can’t!

    Can we favour one pilot, or another one? Yes! can we even favor them for no specific reason, only because we like them? Yes! Do we have to spend our time saying they are the best? Do we have to try to find a very good reason for that? Indeed not πŸ˜‰

    Ayrton was 25 when he was first introduced to F1, and you know what? I’ll still waiting for another driver to give me that adrenaline shot…

  • I think Clive meant Hamilton just went all-out for the win in Brazil, attacking at every opportunity. Which as we saw, resulted in a few, perhaps immature (my own words, not necessarily Clive’s) moves. We often hear drivers saying “I’m not thinking about the title, just each race.” Of course, winning every race results in a championship. Even Alonso has said similar, but he has also [maybe] contradicted himself by winning the title on consistent points finishes*. 2005 was a great example. Alonso didn’t win as many races as usual champions do, but he won the championship, fair and square, by being consistently there on the podium. He let others flounder while he cruised and collected. I’m not saying he didn’t push hard, he clearly did, but he also understood what it took to win the title in a car that wasn’t the best and wouldn’t always win.

    One comparison I will make is that I find the symmetry between Vettel’s and Hamilton’s perceived form interesting. Vettel burst onto the F1 scene, generated lots of interest, and then faded. Hamilton has arguably done similar, only over a slightly longer timeframe. He burst into F1, generated serious amounts of interest, but has proportionately faded this year. Okay, Hamilton’s issues aren’t quite the same as Vettel’s, and aren’t as bad as 4 DNFs, but the general peaks and troughs are close.

    *Depends how you interpret “Thinking about each race, not the title.”

  • At least we’re agreed on Senna, Ago.

    But you’re the one who’s judging Vettel, not me – you say he’s “very quick”. All I’m saying is that it’s far too early to judge and could we please go easy on the “future champion” nonsense that is spoken of him. Exactly what you’re saying, in fact.

    And you miss my point on Hamilton too. He pushed for the win in every race in 2007, fate finally catching up with him at the end of the season. And it would have been so easy for him to take it easy in the last two races, just ensuring that he brought those 4 points home – but he didn’t. We can sneer at his naivete in throwing away the championship but he is a racer first and foremost – he wanted to win every time. Yes, he was disappointed not to be champion but he can’t help it, he wants to win every time out. And I can’t fault an attitude like that.

  • Ok Clive got you… but I think if you (we) read between the lines the meaning of this “race every race” is not “I can’t stop myself from winning races wahtever the final cost is” in a Gillesvilleneuvesque way but “I am so good that I do not have to count the points-Iwill win the races and the championship anyway”. In the end the guy is disappointed because maybe he is just understood it doesn’t work this way! So no “it would not have been so easy to take it easy” simply because this is something he CANNOT do, not yet to say the least !

    And that, for me, is the trouble with Lewis: He believes he is different, he can have things his way and that over-confidence can be dangerous, and to be honest I hate it. I loved Senna for that supreme confidence he had in his own skills blended with clear conscience he was only human and could fail. I never heard Senna saying having a crash was a big fun, never heard him saying that taking a corner too fast and crashing was better than taking it too slow….

    About Vettel you’re the one who said “he is not just not living up to the hype” but what has Vettel to do with the hype? Did he created the hype ? Again Vettel is very young and let’s be honest put Vettel in the McLaren and Lewis in the STR: who would you put your money on for a race win?

  • It took me 5 minutes to whip up a spreadsheet showing how a 3-stop McLaren performs against a 2-stop Ferrari. I just plugged in a whole bunch of assumptions (pit stop time, fuel load, lap time improvement over weight etc.) and then extrapolated

    if anyone is interested in it, let me know and ill send ’em out

  • Ummm, nice but why, Nik? We already know how a three-stop McLaren does against a two-stop Ferrari in Turkey – we saw it on the track. Reality always beats theory in my book.

    It might be interesting to see how a two-stop McLaren fares against the other two but, again, we should remember we’re dealing with theory still. Get one parameter wrong (even such a minor thing as track temperature) and your results could be wildly different from what actually happens.

  • @Nik Well I performs like this:

    Massa 1h26:49.451

    Hamilton + 3.779s

    Raikkonen + 4.271s

    Shall we have to quote Martin Whitmarsh again?… So be it:

    “The reality is that we wouldn’t have three-stopped on either car unless we had to, and I believe that both cars had a reasonable chance of winning, had we been able to conventionally two-stop.”

    But the only wait we could have seen how it really works would have been if

    (a) Lewis took pole, (b) Heikki didn’t hit Kimi (or the other way aroud).

    That is a race I would have loved to see !

    Monaco can be very interesting too: Without TC the setup of the cars would probably put more downforce on the rear tyres to avoid wheelspin… this might not please Lewis too much… An opportunity for Heikki’s maiden win? Lewis is a fighter and we can expect the unexpected… can’t wait!

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