The Makings of a Champion

I want to start by responding to the media’s sensationalisation of Lewis Hamilton’s achievements, claiming that he is possibly the greatest driver who has ever lived – he’s not. For me, the sign of a good driver is one who is competitive year after year, who can compete when the chips are down, and Hamilton is still not that driver.

There can be no doubt that he is an exceptional talent and always has been since he burst onto the grid in 2007, he is undoubtedly a born racer. However he still lacks the maturity and level-headedness needed to be a great – Lewis himself claims that he is a bigger and more mature person than he used to be, but it’s very easy to say that when you’re winning back-to-back world titles and you have very few drivers that can rival you, arguably only one. But my question would be, would he be the cool-headed, easy-going driver if he wasn’t top of the championship? Not likely.

But let me tell you why I think this: In the last few races of the season, Rosberg dominated him in every aspect: practice, qualifying, and the race, Lewis simply had no answer. But what was disappointing to me was how he reacted to this situation – he would complain over team radio, blame the car, demand alternative strategies and then reject whatever could be suggested, and once he’d lost out, would sulk on the podium; not exactly the traits expected from a person who already has the World Championship sewn up.

I can fully understand why Mercedes have put out a warning to both drivers regarding their future at the team; something I really love about Formula 1 is that drivers can go hell for leather on the track for two hours but once the race is over there is a mutual respect between them, but I do not get this from the Mercedes drivers. They have a complete inability to be happy for one another and let them have their day, meaning podium ‘celebrations’ this year have largely been a dour, flat affair, with the person in second place looking miserable instead of accepting it and respecting their team-mate, and the occasion. It’s pathetic. The best podium this year by far was Singapore, with three drivers in Vettel, Ricciardo, and Raikonnen all delighted to be there (well, as delighted a Kimi ever is…) and genuinely respectful of each other’s achievements.

I think what has really bothered me about the attention given to Hamilton is that the same people who long berated Vettel for only winning titles as he had the best car and refused to consider him as a great for this reason, are now claiming Lewis a legend in a car which is even more dominating than the Red Bull which Vettel won his titles in. Hypocrisy much?

Now Lewis has equalled Senna’s three world titles, I get the feeling he now considers himself to have achieved as much as him – but he is not half the man Senna was. Senna had a humility and respect which stood him apart from everyone else, which made him a great. Senna was able to challenge in cars that had no right to be up there, whereas Hamilton couldn’t compete in a McLaren which should have been up there; people forget that Jenson outscored Lewis in points in their 3 years as team-mates. To be considered as a true great he should’ve won two or three titles with McLaren, that was his chance and he didn’t take it, and for me this is the main reason he can’t be considered a legend in my book. Lucky for him he made the switch to Mercedes at the right time and has added two relatively easy titles to his trophy cabinet, it is after all a lot easier to beat one person to the title than five or six as was the case in 2009-2012.

2016

As always, very much looking forward to next season. Although still expecting a Mercedes domination once more, I feel Ferrari will get closer once more hopefully getting in between the Mercedes drivers (or even ahead). It will be interesting to see if Nico starts next season as well as his finished the last one, and if so how Hamilton responds to this. I will also be very interested to see the two young starlets at Toro Rosso competing again, this time with a Ferrari engine hopefully more reliable than the Renault package that hindered their 2015. We’ve got the debut of the new Haas F1 team, the return of Renault as a constructor, and the continued progress of Force India (or is it Aston Martin?) to look forward to.

There is also a feeling that the driver market will get very interesting in 2016 also, with Raikonnen expected to exit Ferrari who will take his place? As mentioned before, Mercedes may dismiss one of their drivers if relations do not improve, and if reports are to be believed McLaren may have a driver mutiny on their hands if the car doesn’t improve, all potentially paving the way for drivers such as Stoffel Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi.

And who said F1 was boring……. *tuts*

Footnote: I’m fully aware of Ferrari’s recent threat to quit F1, but purposely not talking about it as it’s a petty, empty threat not worth comment.

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