Hamilton on cusp of title after dominant win

2008 Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton was untouchable in the Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton dominated the Chinese Grand Prix and heads into the final race of 2008 with a strong chance of claiming the title that eluded him last year.

At the scene of his disastrous retirement last year, Hamilton simply ran away with the race this time, leaving the Ferraris to swap positions late in the race to limit the damage to Felipe Massa’s title chances.

After all the hype and tension building over the race start the Grand Prix began in an orderly fashion – the top five crossed the line at the end of lap one in the same order they started. Hamilton got a clean start and team mate Heikki Kovalainen did even better, picking off Fernando Alonso around the outside of turn one.

Alonso came back at Kovalainen though, hustling him around the first lap until Kovalainen ran wide at turn 14, allowing the Renault driver bck ahead.

The only drivers to misbehave were Sebastian Bourdais and Jarno Trulli, who tangled at the first turn. Trulli spun off and pitted with damage at the end of the lap. He limped around another tour with a visibly damaged sidepod, then retired.

Hamilton gets away

The Ferraris simply couldn’t live with Hamilton’s pace in the opening stint. Each time around, the MP4/23 was another two or three tenths further ahead, so that by lap 13 Raikkonen was 4.1s behind.

Massa was having just as much trouble keeping up with Raikkonen, losing just as much time to his team mate in the same 13 laps. But the driver really struggling in the opening phase was Heikki Kovalainen. His brake had visibly been smoking on the grid and he lost around 1.5 seconds per lap to his team mate in the opening stint.

Mark Webber, who started 16th after an engine penalty, made excellent progress in the opening stint. He leapt up to 12th at the start, then picked off Timo Glock, Rubens Barrichello, and Nelson Piquet Jnr to take ninth.

Kovalainen hits trouble

Webber was clearly running light and made his first pit stop on lap 13. But Massa and Alonso came in the next time around. McLaren – possibly reacting to Massa’s stop – brought Hamilton in on the next tour, and Raikkonen pitted at the same time.

This made no material difference to the running order, however. Massa briefly fell behind Robert Kubica, who was running heavy after uncharacteristically qualifying outside the top ten, but it made little difference to his race pace.

Kovalainen pitted on lap 17 but the tyres he took on wouldn’t last the stint. On lap 35 he limped in with a puncture front-right tyre – the same corner of the car where he seemed to have a brake problem earlier in the race. Fifteen laps later Kovalainen came back in to retire.

Hamilton consolidates lead

Hamilton began his second stint with an out lap 1.2s faster than Raikkonen’s. He quickly increased his lead to over seven seconds and kept it at that level.

Meanwhile Ferrari began manoeuvring their drivers to get Massa into the second place he needed to minimise the damage in the championship to Hamilton. Their problem was that Raikkonen had a seven second advantage over Massa, which had been eight seconds until he lost a lot of time lapping Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India.

Raikkonen lost several seconds during his final pit stop but still found himself over two seconds ahead of Massa. Over the following laps the gap sporadically decreased and finally Raikkonen slowed right down and Massa took second.

Aside from Webber’s moves and a brief pass-and-re-pass between David Coulthard and Bourdais, the Ferrari shuffle was one of very few overtaking moves in a surprisingly calm race.

Hamilton, though, was dominant throughout: he won from pole and set fastest lap, and was fastest in every session bar one. Just as he did at Silverstone, he responded to the criticism and pressure of the previous races with an utterly consummate performance.

But with Massa second and Raikkonen third neither of the titles are decided yet: but Ferrari look as comfortable at the top of the constructors’ leader board as Hamilton does in the drivers’ title race.

Alonso was fourth ahead of the two BMWs, cementing Renault’s resurgence in form. Heidfeld finished fifth ahead of Kubica, whose slim title hopes were finally extinguished.

Timo Glock claimed seventh ahead of Nelson Piquet Jnr, with Sebastian Vettel out of the points.

Coulthard was tenth, suggesting that Webber’s strategy of fuelling light had been a mistake. The Australian finished 14th, behind several cars he had overtaken. Between them were Rubens Barrichello, who put in an excellent performance for Honda, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Bourdais.

Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Giancarlo Fisichella rounded off the finishers, with Adrian Sutil joining Kovalainen and Trulli in retirement. It was the sixth mechanically-induced retirement of the year for the Force India man.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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81 comments on “Hamilton on cusp of title after dominant win”

  1. Only real question now is will interlagos be a fuji
    or a shanghai.

  2. I’m happy with the results because the championships will be decided on an interesting track. :D

  3. Great driving by Hamilton.
    Keith, I have a question.
    Is it under rules to change orders of Ferrari drivers?

  4. On the team orders thing, which we had a lot of discussion about on the live blog.

    Yes, they’re illegal. The Sporting Regulations say:

    39.1 Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.

    But if what Ferrari did today was team orders, then it was when McLaren did it at Hockenheim and when BMW did it at Montreal. You can’t accuse just one team of doing it.

  5. At Hockenheim, Hamilton was a second a lap faster than Kovalainen. How on earth does he need team orders there?

    Seriously it’s bizar that people will compare that to the disgraceful swap of positions here. Of course it had to be done and it would have been ridiculous if not, but to say that Hamilton needed team orders for his Hockenheim win is seriously demeaning the great effort that Hamilton put in there.

  6. I really like Heikki as a person from what I can see of him, but what is wrong with him as a driver? Either Lewis is just super brilliant (which of course he is) or Heikki is just rubbish. I wonder if Ron Dennis is considering whether retaining him was the right thing to do. We know he’ll probably never be as quick as Lewis, but he’s not even in a position to help Lewis or the team with the constructors. I wonder what Keith’s take on this is.

  7. I am no longer going to contribute nor read this site… there are some people who are just so completely biased towards one driver…for example, “Lewis is just super brilliant” @6 … No, he isn’t. He is very talented but has made many mistakes this season and has been on the good side of luck on occasions too with the weather. It is a shame that the website is hijacked by such biased comments because Keith obviously puts so much effort into it. So signing off… Over and out…

  8. Well, I for one was disappointed that there were no unfair penalties against McLaren and specifically Lewis this time around (or even pro Ferrari). Where was the inappropriate drive-through penalty for car 22? Where was the clearly invisible infringement that only the FIA’s super-expert stewards can pick up on? Where was Heikki’s mistake that Lewis cops the punsihment for?

    We NEED consistency from stewards and their implementation of the rules on a whim and a pro-Ferrari bias. Otherwise how are we supposed to know what to expect? I was very disappointed. This race and their decisions have destroyed Formula One for me and it’s not what I have come to expect from them over the last few races. I think they should be replaced by someone less experienced and preferably with a more pro-Ferrari bias. Jean Todt anyone?

  9. Massa is the best pilot ever…!! (perhaps this just makes Kate come back) :-)
    If Felipinho wins the title we will all remember the Spa farce…

  10. Kate – You know, it’s not as if no-one ever posts comments criticising Hamilton…

  11. Kate – I am no longer going to contribute nor read this site… there are some people who are just so completely biased towards one driver…for example, “Lewis is just super brilliant” @6 … No, he isn’t. He is very talented but has made many mistakes this season and has been on the good side of luck on occasions too with the weather. It is a shame that the website is hijacked by such biased comments because Keith obviously puts so much effort into it. So signing off… Over and out…


    So you would rather be involved in “debate” with people who have the same opinions as you? Sounds rather boring to me… I’m sure we’ll all agree we’re here for war! ;-)

  12. If Felipinho wins the title we will all remember the Spa farce…

    …and Lewis’ Fuji blunder, too :-(

  13. Lol, Kate you have got to be kidding. No one on this site can have a bias? We all have to be impartial, just so you can stay here?

  14. Lewis made it look easy today, no one could touch him. Dull for us, but a great result. Well done!!
    P.S. Although, I do find myself waiting for a penalty of 25secs from the FIA for him making F1 look easy.. If there isnt a rule now, I’m sure it will be in for the next race.

  15. Anyone notice how easily Alonso outdragged Kova down the long straight even without the help of a slipstream? Reports of Renaults engine being underpowered are greatly exaggerated

  16. Katiekate, give credits where its due will ya? Last race the complaints and criticisms were equally split between FIA and Hamilton and rightly so. Today of course all the praise goes to Hamilton and rightly so.

    Btw I agree with qahub, Massa = the best overtaking move ever! Even more brilliant than in Magny Cours!

  17. I discovered it a little too late for it to be really useful, but this brazilian site has a very nice championship simulator, just drag the cars from left column to right one

  18. Nick Caulfield
    19th October 2008, 11:42

    I don’t have a problem with team orders per se, particularly at this stage in the season but both Ferrari drivers looked humiliated at having to talk about it in the press conference which (for those who do object) is some sort of recompense.

    If people want this to be less of a team sport and more focussed on the individual then the first thing to do would be to restore the old qualifying format where everyone runs light. Actually I’m in favour of that anyway because I have read posts (not generally on this blog) where people have used the chance to speculate on fuel loads to reinforce their own prejudice regarding driver ability and team bias where in fact there is little genuine opportunity to be sure about either from the fans viewpoint.

    Nice quote from Rob Smedley (Massa’s engineer) about Lewis getting more from his car than Heikki so the Mclaren couldn’t have been all that much better than the ferraris.

    Talking about fuel loads, was anyone else surprised to see Massa pitting earlier than Hamilton or Raikkonen after qualifying behind them? It makes sense that Ferrari wanted him lighter but he is usually good at translating that into a grid position where Kimi has struggled this year.

  19. All Hamilton needs to do now is finish 5th in Brazil, and not overdrive it higher if it’s going to cause problems – the latter of which will be harder for him.

    We all know Massa is good at Interlagos, but it’s not going to be enough – just like it was this time last year. Even if Massa and Raikkonen finish 1-2, who will fill in the other 3 slots after them so Lewis can’t claim it? Given the races Lewis has finished I think he’ll still be on the podium in Brazil.

    It’s as good as over for Massa I reckon – I don’t like to give up hope, but last year there was forward momentum for Ferrari, and reverse momentum for Lewis. Only consolation now is the Constructors Championship. Raikkonen had better win it next year to make up for his disastrous season – coming behind Kubica, and not wanting to detract from him because he’s probably been the driver of the year, is unacceptable given the title of “Reigning Champion” and Ferrari’s sterling performance.

  20. No problem my british mates: In Brazil? Massa and Raikonnen with a fresh new engine, Hamilton with the same as today’s. In Brazil? Hamilton with the engine blow he has not yet had on these last 2 years… hehehe I’m an intruder in this Mclaren blog :D

  21. Great drive by Lewis.. And full credit to Mclaren for producing a bumper car..

  22. Ferrarista – this is not a McLaren blog. This is an F1 blog. Perhaps you should read this post for an example.

  23. Loki: truly horrifying that an engine blow or any mechanic failure can change the whole momentum thing. The question I asked and everybody asked before this race was if that Lewis could cope with the pressure. With Fuji, Shanghai 07 and Interlagos 07 in mind that was a valid doubt. I think we now can look back to Monaco and Silverstone as the benchmark races instead. Lewis is good at bouncing back, going back to Interlagos this year he is mentally strong enough.

    Bbut will the car cope with potential heat in Sao Paulo? That’s anyone’s guess. That is why the team desperately need Heikki to up his game and go for a finish ahead of the Ferraris, especially with a fresh engine. In the worst(or best) scenario with hamilton out Heikki could still maybe save the title for LH by finishing first and Massa third or lower. The support the Ferrari drivers has given eachother has been invaluable at this stage.

  24. Keith, Hamilton has the joker engine option for Brazil doesn’t he? I know Kova utilized his a couple of races ago but haven’t heard anything about Ham using his. Can you confirm for us the status?

  25. @Kate
    Every one is entitled to their opinion. Someone thinks Lewis is brilliant another one thinks he is not. We don’t all have to agree with one post. But if that is all you can say about this article then there is clearly something wrong somewhere. In my opinion, the driver who under performed the most this year was Kimi, who is the current world champion and the highest paid driver, with about 7 seasons experience in F1, can not keep up with a driver who is only in his second year of F1 racing. Would be good if you tell us who your favorite driver is, so we can cheer for him also.

  26. whats your opinion guys on bou/tru first corner?
    seems tru was hoping the outside til hei came over, then we miss the action on the take focusing on front… at that time tru seems to be half a car on front of bou, but still don’t having the racing line, was he much too optimistic tryin’ to get the line a bit early?


  27. @NDINYO
    he wont be allowed the joker according to the regs – http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2008/2/7366.html

    today’s race was bit of a yawn, but having said that, it was refreshing to see a race without controversy (despite massa’s poor form and even poorer ‘pass’ on kimi).

  28. Anyone notice how easily Alonso outdragged Kova down the long straight even without the help of a slipstream? Reports of Renaults engine being underpowered are greatly exaggerated

    I’ve heard Renault has been working hardly with Elf and they have obtained 6 hp extras since the last four races.

  29. Jian

    Actually it’s cold and rainy for this time of year, at least here in Rio. São Paulo in two weeks could be cooler than usual, and rain is always a good possibility in southeastern Brazil.

  30. Lewis was catching Heikki, but Heikki pulled over like he was parking the car. Lewis would have needed some laps to pass him, which may have caused his tires to lose their ultimate grip and less he may have been unable to pass the others for the win…although they also pulled over for him, so most likely not.

  31. @Kate

    Sometimes, I also say the same when I read this blog. But I don’t have problem when people praise Hamilton. He really is a great driver and should be praised. I hate when people start crying when some penalty or something bad happen with Hamilton. I think we also have to respect other’s views.

    And today, I was expecting from Keith and people on this site that they will cry again on Ferrari swap but I found them +ve.

    We should be F1fanatic and we should praise any driver who did good job. Today was Hamilton’s day. How can we praise any other driver when Hamilton was superb.

  32. @Internet

    Renault is much improved. With lot of rules being changed next year, I think they will give tough time to McLaren and Ferrari and Ferrari still struggling for KERS.

  33. i think collectively, lets stop kissing Ham’s ass and making him out to be the second coming of Senna. Ham hasn’t won anything yet. He has yet to become the youngest driver to win the WDC, and, in fact, last year he became the youngest driver to throw away a 17 point lead with three races to go. that being said, what happened with Ferrari today is no different, i repeat, no different than Germany or Canada. there was no competition in any of the three cases. each team member moved aside for the other, that is a fact, no matter the difference in lap times. conspiracy theories aside (nonsense, IMO) and barring mechanical failure, you will see Ham crowned as champ. and why? because he deserves it and he’s earned it, more so than Massa, definitely more than Kimi or Kubicza. Today i saw in Ham what i didn’t see last year or last week for that matter. he raced a clean, smart, and levelheaded race. his car played a large role in that, but he was having brake issues, and yet he drove a flawless race. he simply outshone everyone this weekend.

    please, please, please, let’s put the conspiracies aside for the final race, everybody. because when i read all you conspiracy theorists out there, for me, it takes the shine off of what Lewis has achieved up to this point, and what he may very well achieve in two weeks time. Well done, Lewis.

    Cheers all.

  34. Rocco Siffredi
    19th October 2008, 15:02

    This was such a boring race, I can’t wait to see slicks and F1 cars with reduced wings. Boooring Boooring Booring

    I slept through the second half of the race…

  35. Quite shocking seeing HK that slow and out of pace all year long. It can be easily seen that his talent can´t be compared with FA´s, riding car number 2 in McLaren. Makes me think of last year´s FA´s tremendous exploit. At the last races his car was rubbish, just as HK´s. How sad.
    I would adore to be wrong (really).

  36. To Kate (although she has exited this site now), I cannot apologise for my Hamilton-mania. It is up to Keith to ban me for this. I go on other sites where there are Kimi maniacs and Alonso maniacs and loads of quite nasty comments about Lewis. I have to accept this despite me not liking it, so why can’t you? As long as a post is not abusive to another poster, or not racist or homophobic, then it should be allowed. Surely you would prefer free speech. I have never heard something so ridiculous. And by the way, Lewis IS super brilliant and has been his whole career.

  37. IDR

    I’ve heard Renault has been working hardly with Elf

    Haa haa.. Nice goof-up there..

  38. At ferrarista
    Mclaren still haven’t use the “engine joker” on Hamilton’s car. So fresh engine for him at Interlagos.

  39. David: cool is cool! Was in Rio+Sao Paulo in May, was dry and cold back then when the winter began. Rain sounds ok, let’s see then if Massa spins it and bins it.

    No joker engine allowed the last race so that’s a non issue. A engine failure would be a nightmare for the team and driver. I actually enjoyed the predictability of todays race, also supporting Liverpool and my heart can only take so much.

  40. Formula 1 isn’t what it used to be. I’ve come online several hours after the chequered flag has fallen and no-one’s been demoted / had time added to their race / been penalised for turning up, etc.

  41. I’m not sure if it was mentioned (i think i can be forgiven for dosing off a few times in this instance :P) Why was Massa but not Kimi running with the extended engine cover?

  42. Maclarista – No he can’t, because the rules forbid it:

    Sporting Regulations

    28.4 f) Except during the last Event of the Championship season, each driver will be permitted to use a
    replacement engine without incurring a penalty the first time this becomes necessary during the

  43. @ Post #8.

    The average brilliance of the forum just increased by a good number of points! Thanks.

  44. Jian

    Well my head says warm and third-place for Lewis is better than heavy rain and complete track chaos! Though the latter would definitely be more interesting. Overcast with a little light rain to cool the track would perhaps be perfect…

    I’ve been wondering why McLaren didn’t use Hamilton’s ‘joker’ engine: maybe because it’s supposed to be used only in the event of a technical/mechanical problem and they were worried FIA would question their data? Or do they trust more in an engine that’s seen some action and they’ve got a race full of information on?

    Incidentally (Kate if you’re still there) I’ve just been reading a Brazilian F1 newspaper blog, and I’d say at least a third of the bloggers were giving their support to Hamilton, not Massa. Pretty much the ratio found here, if not slightly more pro-Hamilton. Bias is normal and based on a wide range of motives, not just nationality. The only people I expect to be impartial are FIA and its stewards.

  45. Haa haa.. Nice goof-up there..


  46. Great drive from Lewis, just what was needed after the last race. As far as I’m concerned he won the championship today because of the points that have been stolen from him.

    As for Kate’s threat, that’s just too funny, come on, if we can bear to watch F1 after the stunts the FIA have pulled against Lewis this year then you can bring yourself to read this blog. Otherwise it has to be goodbye, as a suggestion why don’t you try http://www.ferrai.com? Although it probably redirects to http://www.fia.com these days, it should be more to your taste.

    Honestly, too funny.

  47. I’m going to stick up for Kovy, albeit in a backhanded and patronising way. The absurd conspiracy theories can be dismissed easily. McLaren in no way try to impede Kovy’s progress so that Hamilton always gets a better grid slot, etc. That would be counter-productive for the team as a whole, and for Lewis in particular in Shanghai, where it would have been useful for him to have Kovy up at the front. Okay, so I haven’t seen many references to that kind of conspiracy on this site, but that’s because F1fanatic commenters are much more intelligent and articulate than the average F1 blogger (insert annoying smiley face thing here).

    Kovy has had a few problems – today McLaren say they fitted mismatched tyres and a puncture was almost as bad as the engine blow up last week. Apart from that, his performance has on average been below what many people expected this season. I disagree (and this is the backhanded, patronising bit coming up) – his performance has been very good considering the competitiveness of Ron Dennis’s technical package (that’s the car); it’s just that Lewis has been consistently better.

    Looking at fastest lap times in the race and in Q2, you’ve got to say that Ferrari have had the dominant car this season. McLaren have had only 3 fastest laps to Ferrari’s 12, and even in Q2, Ferrari have been fastest 9 times to McLaren’s 6. We shouldn’t be thinking that Kovy has been disappointing this year, but that Lewis has been exceedingly good.

    Is Kovy any better or worse than he was last year? The maths says he’s only a little worse, and fortunately we have Giancarlo Fisichella to help us figure that out. At Renault in 2005 and 2006, Fernando Alonso scored 65% and 70% of the team’s points against Fisi. In 2007, Kovy scored 59% of the team’s points against Fisi. And in 2007, Fernando and Lewis each scored 50% of McLaren’s points. So we can assume that – all things being equal – were Lewis to partner Fisi, he would also score 70 per cent of the team’s points, a margin over Kovy’s performance against Fisi that pretty much matches Lewis’s margin over Kovy this year (Lewis has 65% of McLaren’s points so far in 2008). I didn’t explain that very well, but in general a driver’s performance from year to year is pretty consistent and varies much less than the intrinsic performance of the cars he drives.

  48. So, why aren’t you allowed to use your engine joker before the last race? what makes it any different from any other race. Seems odd to me.

  49. @ Post #48.


    Yes. KOV is only a little worse from last year. Last year he was at Renault — when they had their worst car. And the same amount of performance with McLaren clearly shows that something is wrong.

    He has clearly demonstrated that the car hasn’t played any role in his performance this year; if it did, it only makes “his” performance even worse than what it was last year. He would have been worse at renault this year than at McLaren.

    @ Post #49.

    That’s classic FIA absurdity.

  50. John,

    So you are basically saying (in your last paragraph); that Kovy is a better partner to Lewis than Fisichella. :D
    Is that really a compliment these days..

    Kovy has not done very well; but after the acrimonious 2007; I think Kova is what Mclaren needed..even if it means one lost WCC.

    But I disagree about Mclaren being consistently slower than Ferrari; I think Germany(mid-way) onwards; Mclaren has had the faster car. And their car was always better in the wet

  51. For those that want some notion about weather here in São Paulo, if the race was today (it would be on right now), it would’ve rained earlier enough to everyone to start with intermediates and it’s 16o.C. Expect something similar in two weeks.

    One thing no one has mention yet is that we gonna see the very unusual (I can’t think of it happened before, but imagine it likely happened at the earlier days of F1) of one of the WDC contenders racing at home for the final round. As far as most Brazilians are concerned Lewis is the enemy and he is gonna find a very very unfriendly audience during the whole weekend (and probably not only at Interlagos).

  52. Filipe,

    I think; it has happened before; in Brazil itself. Alian Prost was given police protection for the entire weekend, while he battled Senna for the championship. I don’t remember which year.

  53. As far as most Brazilians are concerned Lewis is the enemy and he is gonna find a very very unfriendly audience during the whole weekend (and probably not only at Interlagos).

    There is a Brazilian who posts here, I think it’s Bergen? It’ll be interesting to see what he says because I remember him, or it could be another Brazilian, saying that there’s not a love for Ferrari over there because of what has happened with Rubens and Massa (being designated number 2s) and lots of love for McLaren and Lewis because of the Senna ties.

    Massa’s chances are very very remote, but you could say the same about Kimi this time last year. Watching a newly crowned champion on his home grounds would definately be a sight to witness – or see on TV, for those who can’t afford the daytrip to Sao Paulo! I cannot imagine what the place will be like if Massa does win the championship!

  54. Just want to say, I had the utmost respect for Rob Smedley’s post-race comments today. He seems to be a graceful winner and loser, a rare breed within ferrari it seems.


  55. Felipe:

    One thing no one has mention yet is that we gonna see the very unusual (I can’t think of it happened before, but imagine it likely happened at the earlier days of F1) of one of the WDC contenders racing at home for the final round.

    I think it was mentioned by James Allen during the race, that this has only happened once before – Farina at Monza (presumably 1950).

  56. ha ha ha

    i read this on a news piece about max mosley’s decision to cut costs by standardising engines, quite funny really.

    ………”What commercial and marketing benefit BMW, for example, might see in winning with a Ferrari engine, has yet to be explained.”

  57. A McLaren 1 & 2 will certainly clinch the title for both Constructors and drivers.

    I think Lewis & Heiki will drive for that in Brazil, that is if they fuel themselves light similar to Ferraris. They certainly had the faster cars in Shanghai.

  58. #49 and #50:

    For once the FIA are right. Personally I think the two-race engine rule is very un-F1 but the “last race” clause is at least logical and consistent. If you allow a penalty free engine change for Lewis etc before Brazil you would be encouraging the use of an extra engine, regardless of any actual engineering need. This would be contrary to the stated aim of the 2 race rule of reducing cost by reducing the number of engines used.

    I don’t like it but it is at least consistent.

  59. @John Harding

    Indeed Rob Smedley’s words are amazing. Compare that to how Flavio was badmouthing Hamilton.

    I wonder how Massa will feel about that though. Massa always thinks he’s the fastest. If he doesn’t win it’s the car. Now his engineer is saying that Hamilton is probably the fastest driver. That must be shocking for the little guy.

  60. #59

    The two race rule is not what I was talking about. I was talking about why JOKER cannot be applied to last race? There’s no rationale.

  61. It certainly wasn’t the most exciting race, but full marks to Hamilton for getting the job done.
    With reference to the late and lamented Kate (and the lamentation is due to the fact that assuming she is female it is nice to be reminded that loving F1 can be ascribed to both genders) whilst I find plenty of partisanship amongst those who comment (lets face it, partisanship is endemic in any sport, its what gets people excited and committed) the blog itself is in my view about as neutral as it gets – I think Keith does a great job. My pet peeve is all the FIA conspiracy theorists – like Governments, the FIA probably dreams of being able to run a conspiracy but I have my doubts that they actually can! So come back Kate, and scroll past the whatever fanatics that you dont like, just as I ignore the conspiratti. The good stuff here is really good.
    And re Kimi – he might not have had the year that his fans would have liked, but I don’t think this denigrates him as a driver – the last but one Ferrari Champion didnt have a great follow up year either! (And in my opinion he was one of the better drivers that graced F1 – as well as being a very complete person as his subsequent life attests!).
    I don’t think the car has brought the best out of Kimi, and the fact that he is usually enigmatic in good times and bad is part of the fascination.

  62. @Stunz

    I don’t think it’s so much a conspiracy, but there is a lot going wrong at the FIA with the stewards. I’d say the cause is the fact that they put the whole thing together so badly.

    If you have rules that are clearly defined then this is not a problem, but in reality the rules are not clearly defined. When you start bringing people in who have to be impartial and different people every time then the rules will be like clay, the stewards make of it what they will.

    Although then it doesn’t help that the head steward has had Ferrari as a client. Still, not so much a conspiray, but a partisan steward is going to have slightly partisan views.

    Mostly though, Hamilton is in the “unfortunate” position that he’s a tremendous racer and that he overtakes a lot of people. This makes him prone to “incidents”. Miuch more so than other drivers who just stay behind their competitors.

    I think it’s more Hamilton’s exceptional skill that’s getting him into trouble.

    Take Spa as an example. All the drivers were convinced that, under normal circumstances, Hamilton could never have gotten so close to Raikkonen between the Bus Stop and La Source. They are absolutely right, but only under normal circumstances. Thing is, Hamilton was so much faster in the wet that he easily COULD have gotten that close. He didn’t even need a slipstream, his brake point was simply so much later and he still held the corner.

    On the other hand, Massa has been getting a fair amount of penalties too. Mostly because he’s so incredibly poor at overtaking or getting out of his pit box. He keeps on running into people when he tries to get past them and that’s something that’s considered an incident too. Though oddly enough they found it right to punish Bourdais for Massa’s inability to pass a car that’s actually letting him by.

  63. @ Charlie 19 October 2008 at 11:02 am

    Gold ! I too logged on this morning expecting to see the results ‘altered’ from last nights race.

  64. I have a question to Brtish F1 fan.
    Is Hamilton popular among British F1 fans?

    I am Japanese,in Japan, He is one of the unpopular driver.

    In this page,
    Japanese fans mark points to every driver at every race and Hamilton’s rank is 12th so far,though he leads the championship.(No1 marked driver is Alonso, kubica is 2nd, Nakajima is 16th, Raikonen is 7th,)

    At Fuji,There was some sort of a “driver introduction” to the fans at the grandstand before the race had started. As Hamilton’s name was announced, few people cheered for him while Raikonen was cheered very strongly.

    Most Japanese fans critisize Hamilton’s arrogant attitude, so I was very surprized when I read some English writing blogs or magazins, most of them supports Hamilton.

    Is he really popular among British people?
    Is he as popular as Mansell used to be?
    and do British F1 fans know how unpopular he is in the far east.

  65. So it’s looking good for Lewis to win the title at Interlagos , bar a mishap which could let Massa in – and if Massa does not win , I think next year he could be facing not only Lewis , but a rejuvenated Kimi in the other Ferrari , and even possibly an Alonso in a better Renault. It may end up that 2008 will end up as the year in which Massa “could have been” but never was , through a mixture of a few mistakes and some bad luck.Back to Kimi , it’s the first race in a while that he has been faster than Felipe’ , and oddly enough at a point when he can no longer challenge to win. Makes me wonder about the inside politics and strategies of my favourite team.

  66. schumi the greatest
    20th October 2008, 8:18

    Well, im not going to lie and say it was a great race and worth getting up at 7am on my only day off to watch it, but iot was great to see hamilton silence his critics this weekend with an awesome drive. completley dominated the weekend from start to finnish. surley he will win the championship now?

    Ive been abit critical of kovaleinen this season, maybe unfairly so in the 1st half of the season when he was unlucky on several occasions. But i dont think im being unfair now, he’s scored less points than fernando alonso in a renault, a car which struggled to get into the top ten at the start of the year. he has been terribble this season he’s so far off hamiltons pace its incredible. hes onlky been on the podium 3 times. in the same car hamilton has had 7 poles, 10 podiums & 5 wins, also take into consideration canada & spa where he should have won. i think mclaren wanted a driver who wouldnt be too quick to take points off lewis after what happend last year with alonso but he is nowhere near hamilton at the moment, he must be devastated with his performance this season.

    Onto ferrari’s swapping places, ther was nothing wrong with it although i do think the circumstances were different to say hamilton at hockenheim, with massa the only ferrari driver in contention for the tittle it would have been ludachris to not arrange that

  67. schumi the greatest
    20th October 2008, 8:34

    hakki to answer your question regarding hamilton’s popul,arity among british fans.

    Myself, im a big fan of hamilton, in the 11 years ive been a watching f1 he is the most exciting driver to turn up on the grid, and by far the best british driver in terms of pure talent. i think its 50/50, alot of people have only started watching f1 because of hamilton, there is alot more coverage in the british media of f1 now and that is because of hamilton no doubt about it. I was at the british gp this year, and although there were plenty of brits cheering wildly as lewis went past on the slowing down lap, there were plenty of brits cheering for kimi, alonso, massa and everyone else.

    i do think alot of people find his arrogance abit off putting, but alot of ex drivers were abit too fond of themselves, senna and mansell were, schumahcer could never admit he was wrong etc.

    on british tv now, very rarley when im wathcing tv does an hour go by without some sort of advertisment featurling lewis hamilton, before he came along, i never used to see any f1 drivers on adverts let alone a british 1.

  68. the joker engine only applies if there is a genuine problem with the engine. it does not mean a team/driver can change because they feel like having a fresh engine.
    well, thats the way i understand the rules.

  69. Internet: “Anyone notice how easily Alonso outdragged Kova down the long straight even without the help of a slipstream?” – Perhaps, but I think Kovalainen made a mistake in the previous corner.

    Qazuhb – Thanks! Will bookmark that for Brazil.

    Nick Caulfield – “If people want this to be less of a team sport and more focussed on the individual then the first thing to do would be to restore the old qualifying format where everyone runs light. Actually I’m in favour of that anyway because I have read posts (not generally on this blog) where people have used the chance to speculate on fuel loads to reinforce their own prejudice regarding driver ability and team bias where in fact there is little genuine opportunity to be sure about either from the fans viewpoint.” That’s a very good point, and another reason to junk race fuel qualifying.

    Luke – “i think collectively, lets stop kissing Ham’s ass and making him out to be the second coming of Senna.” You’re the first person in this article to mention Senna…

    John Spencer – “Kovy has had a few problems – today McLaren say they fitted mismatched tyres and a puncture was almost as bad as the engine blow up last week.” If I were Hamilton I’d be looking at Kovalainen’s reliability rate this year (three mechanical DNFs, more than anyone bar Sutil) and chomping on my finger nails.

    Filipe – Thanks for the weather data – please do send me any useful info or links in the run-up to the finale: Contact form.

    John Harding – I’m becoming a bit of a Smedley fan as well (he’s a northerner like me :-) ).

    Patrickl – The Daily Express had a story claiming Briatore had taken back his criticism of Hamilton, but there was no quote…

    Hakki – There’s a lot on the popularity of Hamilton in this article: The most hated man in Formula 1

  70. @61 “The two race rule is not what I was talking about. I was talking about why JOKER cannot be applied to last race? There’s no rationale”

    Maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick but I thought you were saying that there’s no rationale for preventing a penalty free engine change before the last race. But there is: The joker is prevented because otherwise anyone with a joker still left would use it now. This would have the effect of ensuring they would use their engine for just one race, namely Brazil. That is counter to the aim of the rule and this is why the joker is prevented before the last race. If you want people to use each engine twice you can’t allow an engine change now because, as there’s only one race left, it necessarily means the engine will only be used once.

    Please note, I am not defending the rule, just saying that the joker is consistent with the rule.

  71. Assuming lewis doesn’t have another brain explosion then he’ll win the WDC. i hate to think how many more he’ll win if Alonso doesn’t get a top car.

  72. If one didn’t know any better , looking at the general reliability of Kovy’s car compare to Lewis’ , would be forgiven for thinking Kovy is getting Lewis’ used parts and tyres from previous races ?

  73. There is nothing wrong with kovy, he’s proved in lower formula and race of champions that he’s a very talented driver. He’s just unfortunate to be in a team as the defacto no2 to rd’s latest pet project with the entire team and car engineered for him. That’s harsh on Kovy , it’s the way rd has always operated …just ask dc! Notice how Lewis ‘ I think I’m Ayrton Senna, ‘ Hamilton always has the so called ‘’awesome’’ race victories/performances when pedro de la rosa attends gp’s….more than a coincidence? I think so. He would seem the great one needs help in setting up the car. I feel the world would see a very different lh in another team, that’s why I feel he will never race for another F1 team…as he will be found out. You need more than a yellow helmet to be Ayrton Senna. Don’t believe me, watch the 1984 monaco gp for proof. Worse conditions, no hitting the barrier and no safety cars to bail out your mistakes. It will be a great travesty for F1 when the ‘senna wannabe’ wins the wdc this year. Massa deserves it more on the basis he is his own person and his 7 point deficit is down to team errors/failures rather than his mistakes. Handing back 10 points for spa to lh with fm ‘awesome’ perfomances in hungary/singapore ruined by his team…I think he would be 5 points ahead. At least fm has worked to be where he is, unlike lh who has had a succession of ‘daddies,’ from papa ant ham, papa son of jean todt and now papa rd. LH made an interesting statement at the chinese gp post race interview when asked about the wdc, he commented – it’s his dream to win the wdc. For all other drivers it’s an ambition for lh it’s another wish to come true. It’s a sad reflection of F1 that it it is now a techno formula where the constructors championship is more important than the drivers to the teams. Where truly exceptional hardworking drivers like heidfeld, webber, vettel and kubica are unable to race for wins every gp and just make up the numbers and therefore deemed less talented than the dominant teams driver/drivers. This applies to all drivers/teams and for me is another dumbing down of the wdc over the last few years. It would seem there is to much drive by instruction and technical assistance to the drivers from the teams. Which I feel is hindering the racing as far too many decisions are being made by pit based engineers/techies. I feel the FIA to improve the racing should ban drive by instruction. If a driver wants to be truly called wdc them they should make the decisions on the track after the red light not be assisted constantly from the pit. I feel that this has contributed to the situation the dominant teams being more dominant and generally of only having 1 driver from each dominant team battling it out for the wdc at the seasons end. Banning drive by pit instruction and test driver gp weekend input could level the playing field by enabling smarter drivers to overcome inferior equipment.

  74. zeppe so whats your point????

    in that very very long comment you have mentioned everything except pleading the fia to ban lh. if pedro was such a good race driver why doesnt he have a race sit in any other car or more importantly why isnt he a world champion.

    everyone has ego and especially when you are young the excitement tends to go through the roof, hamilton is very young and he has shown talent and that is why until now he leads in points.

    on the issue of kovy whats stopping him from using the setup hamilton uses (which u say is pedro’s) or maybe you think mclaren is conspiring against its own driver who gets millions to drive and win???

    and when you say felippe deserves the wdc more i dont get it. when u go into a race it is the team that does most of the work the small part is done by the driver, so if your team bundles up i dont think you deserve anything.

    wdc is not a handout it is a team effort by the way hamilton has had a few of team mishaps as well…….

    stop the hate

  75. McLaren’s chief foe in Brazil looks to be its engines. Kovalainen had his second consecutive engine-related retirement in China. And, as many here have pointed out, Hamilton did not take his joker when it would have done him any good—he must climb that long steep main straight in Brazil with his China engine. I prefer the Bayesian view, but Hamilton has been lucky with his engines and may be “due” a failure. And I have to think how Schumacher lost his last title due to his first such failure in 2 years.

  76. That was the perfect weekend for Hamilton in comparison to what happened a week ago.

    Although I want Hamilton to win the championship I have a feeling that Massa will still snatch it at the death. Be this through a Hamilton mistake, McLaren reliability issue or FIA interference. This is mainly down to me being a pessimist, as I usually think my favourite teams will lose in sport.

    Massa did himself no favours by trying to claim in the press conference that he passed Raikkonen on merit rather than being let through. I liked Kimi’s response when asked about it of a knowing smile and saying he knew what he had to do.

    This could be sad reflection on the current state of the sport, but I kept on checking the results every couple of hours after the race to see if the stewards had come up with a penalty to change the result.

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned anywhere as I have not read all the posts, but did anyone notice that in the race Raikkonen’s Ferrari had the classic style engine cover, whereas Massa’s had the anvil/shark fin engine cover. Has this been going on for a few races and I have just noticed it now?

  77. PJA: No favours indeed, I was amazed to hear Massa describe himself as being “quite strong” at that point in the race and that it was the “best time” of the race for him. Either he doesn’t seem to realise that Kimi gave him the place, or he doesn’t realise that we can all see that that’s the case. Either way there’s some delusional thinking going on. If I was Massa I would have summed that moment up as a “necessary evil”, thanked Kimi and dropped all pretence that the ‘pass’ had any merit.

    “Most shameful bit of the race, particularly given the fact that I’m supposed to be worthy WDC material” would also have summed it up quite well but that might be a bit much to expect.

  78. Regard comment #52

    “As far as most Brazilians are concerned Lewis is the enemy and he is gonna find a very very unfriendly audience during the whole weekend (and probably not only at Interlagos).”

    We are in Brazil, not in Spain. Brazilian fans doesn’t HATE Lewis, in fact, he had an expressive fan base growing at every race because there´s a common feeling that Lewis´s driving style and his determination remember Sennas´s.

    Another point is: Felipe Massa has not the same charismas as other Brazilian drivers from the past. He is not able to moving the fans´s heart as Senna has easily done in the past or as Alonso has done at Spain so far. Felipe is not a hero or unanimity. Go through any blog or forum and you will see a huge controversy regarding his talent and skills as a driver.

    I think the crowd will praise Massa as they should do, but will not disrespect Lewis at all. Last year, Lewis were the favorite driver for the Brazilian F1 fans to win the championship. I can’t understand why he would be mistreat here!

    I think it will be a great party!

    I work in a broadcast company; we have here in our complex, cable TVs, radios, newspaper and internet press coverage. Last year, in the GP´s coverage, the main subject were Lewis, Lewis, Lewis… His youth, his talent and the most interesting, his “Brazilian ethnicity” were something to praise and cover through that weekend.

    I think is time to Lewis visit the place where Senna is buried (I´m at less 1 km from there!) and praise his/our hero. Would be great for all Brazilian F1 fans to see a great driver praising Senna.

    “or it could be another Brazilian, saying that there’s not a love for Ferrari over there because of what has happened with Rubens”

    In fact, when the guys here sees Felipe getting a DNF, there’s always some conspiracy theory appearing at any place. Since Rubens “incident” the fans has not any confidence in Ferrari. I remember that Galvão Bueno, or James Allen, has said after that German GP that the FIAT has had some responsibility with Brazilian customers and must to do something to protect Rubens´s rights. Another point is that Senna is primarily remembered as a McLaren driver. Schumacher never was a popular driver in Brazil and this has help this sort of anti Ferrari feeling that has weaken only because of Massa and just in the last two years …

  79. Congrats to Hamilton.

    We have to give it up for Lewis, who managed to answer the critics at the right time, on track and in a level-headed manner. As a Massa fan, it hurts me to say this but Lewis has pretty much wrapped up the title. Deservedly so.

    I say that despite the fact that it’s clear that Felipe has been the better overall driver. Ferrari has let him down too many times this season: just thinking about Singapore and Hungary makes you realise Felipe should have already been crowned champion!

    But that’s how sport goes, and that’s why I love F1. However, I think we have to remember that, more than anything, this season was McLaren’s long due comeback. The team really deserves all the praise, with Lewis playing an important inspirational role and delivering crucial results following his own mistakes. The fact that his car has not had a single major problem yet is remarkable (they seem to have caught up with Heikki), the pit crew has not messed up once, and even the team strategies have been thoroughly consistent (with the exception of Hockenheim, though that didn’t matter in the end as the car was so much quicker than the Ferraris).

    That is why I say I hope people don’t complain if Lewis’ good fortune with his car runs out in Brazil. He’ll be running with his second engine and, statiscally speaking, he is really due to have a mechanical failure. Let’s hope it goes well for him and he wins the championship in style, on the podium.

  80. @Zeppe
    It’s obvious you have no idea what you are talking about. A car is set up to address, 3 basic priorities, namely, reliability, performance and then feel. Reliability and Performance are determined by the team and will be standard on both cars. The drivers feedback helps determines the feel. To say a Lewis is using, Pedro’s settings is laughable, because pedro is not driving the cars. If you had said, pedro may help in interpreting the drivers feedback to the race engineers, then your comment may have some merit. One other thing, Pedro is the reserve driver so he attends all the races all things being equal.

    You mention DC, but look at this, Dc is the number one driver in Redbull, but is acting like the number 2 driver.

    You talk about dreams and ambitions, but you do not understand that an ambition starts with a dream. Without a dream, what are you aiming for. Do you perhaps think Lewis slept and had a dream he was champion? It is AMBITIION that has brought Lewis to F1 and is pushing him to work hard and perform.

    You mentioned Senna’s drive in 84 in Monaco, while that was a great performance indeed. Do not forget that the same Senna while leading in the same Monaco, in 1988, crashed into the barriers. He was also human.

  81. Hi there Becken, didn’t realize you’re from Brazil too. Your post is spot on concerning the F1 fans and media. You’re also right about the ‘paranoia’ on Brazilian blogs concerning Felipe’s car when there’s a DNF! In fact some were questioning the difference in aeodynamic foils used in China by the Ferraris and whether Ferrari were deliberately sabotaging him (or helping Raikkonen with new stuff), though this seems to have down to difference in driving styles/cornering. Can’t wait to see all this pan out in São Paulo next week, though having to listen to Galvão Bueno on TV Globo criticize Hamilton from start to finish will be a complete nightmare as always!

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