Hamilton: ??It’s not over until the last lap??

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Interlagos, 2010

Lewis Hamilton knows his championship hopes are slim heading into the final race of the season but he says he’s going to keep trying until the last lap.

I’ve been in the hunt for the world championship at the final race of the season on two previous occasions, so I know all about the pressure you feel when the title is almost within touching distance.

This year, it feels a little different – although I’m still mathematically in with a shout, I’m fully aware that, being 24 points behind, I’ll not only need to win the race on Sunday but see the championship leader finish outside the points. And, even then, that might not be enough. So I’m not feeling the pressure in quite the same way as I did in 2007 or 2008.

That’s not to say I’m going into the race weekend feeling any less determined or motivated: we’ve seen before that this championship can be unpredictable and volatile – and I think this last race of the year could be even more unpredictable than normal.

I know from personal experience that the championship isn’t over until you cross the line on the final lap – so I’ll not only make sure I’m up there at the end, but pushing hard until the very end.

It’s going to be a brilliant spectacle, and a great event for Formula 1 fans around the world – I absolutely can’t wait.
Lewis Hamilton

Team mate Jenson Button said he’s just going to enjoy having the number one on his car for one last time:

Obviously, it was disappointing to be ruled out of the drivers’ championship in Brazil last week, but I was very pleased with my race, which was a lot of fun, and I’m already looking forward to another good performance this weekend.

Last year in Abu Dhabi, I had a similarly great result – I’d lifted the pressure of the championship from my shoulders at the previous race so I was free to race hard once again. I had a great drive, enjoyed a brilliant battle with Mark [Webber] right up until the very last lap, and finished on the podium.

I’ll be hoping for another strong finish this year. Most importantly, it will be my final race with the world champion’s number one on my car, for this year anyway! It’s been a great privilege and honour to carry that throughout the entire year, and I want to make sure I give it the best possible send-off this weekend.
Jenson Button

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh added that, having lost the constructors’ championship to Red Bull, the team were now aiming to hold on to second:

While it was deeply frustrating for every single one of us to finally be ruled out of the hunt for the constructors’ championship in Brazil last weekend, we’re all absolutely determined to hold on to second position, and to extend the gap over third-placed Ferrari.

Both Jenson and Lewis drove absolutely superb races at Interlagos, and the reality is that another double points-finish would likely push us beyond the reach of our closest rivals.

Even more importantly, we are still in the hunt for the drivers’ championship with Lewis, albeit by the very narrow margin of a single point. Nonetheless, we all know that Lewis is a fearsome competitor and is absolutely fired-up to secure a second world title.

Indeed, let’s not forget that Lewis has gone into the final round of the season in the hunt for the title in three of his four Formula 1 seasons – a quite incredible record. And, knowing Lewis as I do, he will be absolutely determined to drive a relentless race in order to pressure his rivals as much as possible in order to maximise his position.

For this final race, the team’s role is simple: we must provide Lewis with the support he needs to sustain his title challenge – that will call for faultless reliability, a slick and decisive strategic plan and perfectly executed pit stops from his pit crew. It may sound like a long-shot, but I’m absolutely convinced that Lewis, Jenson, and McLaren Mercedes, will all be players in what promises to be an absolutely enthralling world championship showdown.
Martin Whitmarsh

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    Keith Collantine
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    92 comments on “Hamilton: ??It’s not over until the last lap??”

    1. Whitmarsh’s McLaren needs to start delivering more than platitude-rich sound bites.

      1. I can’t help thinking that Whitmarsh seems too nice to be running an F1 team. Almost everything he is reported as saying is reasonable, looking at the whole picture etc. All previous successful F1 team bosses I can think of are self centred ego maniacs most of the time, who don’t seem to want to accept second best even when it’s perfectly reasonable…. just like the drivers! Could that be why McLaren haven’t quite got it this year?

        1. In these times you simply cant expect any F1 team to stay at the top. Sure the bigger names will always be near the top, but its simply impossible to stay there for very long.

          Remember its not what you do wrong, its what your competition does right. Red Bull entered 2009 with a car which was fast, but not really fastest. As the year went by, their car seemed to come together and it closed the cap down to Brawn. By the end of 2009, Red Bull were the quickest and it was damage limitation for Brawn.

          RedBull hung onto that momentum going into 2010 and no one has been able to match them on pure down force. However as the year has gone by, Ferrari have closed the gap down to .3 seconds, from around 1 second. Given a few more races, the gap would probably be reduced even further.

          So while Ferrari and RedBull have been developing their 2010 contender, the other teams have been focusing on 2011. Mclaren and Merc both have teams working on their 2011 car.

          Next year could see the tables reversed, and the following year it could reverse again.

          I wouldn’t be surprised to see a closer battle next year between Mclaren, Ferrari, Merc and Redbull, with Merc as the team to beat and Ferrari as the slowest.

          1. I agree with you, only the last part is incorrect I think. By the same logic that RBR have come strong this year, it could be Ferrari the next year.

          2. Don’t mean to lower Mclaren fans hope for next season but don’t forget RBR and Ferrari are developing next season’s car too. Pat Fry, recently switched from Mclaren to Ferrari and is heading the 2011 project

          3. Ferrari started development for 2011 in July this year,but have since Monza concentrated even more for 2011.
            Mercedes will i,m sure will be better next year,but Ferrari will be the team to beat.

        2. Jim N @

          That’s my suspicion too. McLaren seemed to have lacked a ruthless edge this season which Red Bull and definitely Ferrari seem to have used to push out of their range. Starting a year on the wrong foot happens, but it’s surely a real disappointment McLaren with their resources were unable to catch up (in fact fell further behind) when their drivers were putting the team within reach of both titles? Lewis could be said to have messed up a couple of times, but really I think that wad down to pushing too hard when the car wasn’t delivering enough. I just find these endless Whitmarsh promises of nothing much in particular annoying. I’d feel much more assured if McLaren were deeply annoyed they’d missed out this year – Button even said he was ‘surprisingly unbothered’ he hadn’t remained champion! Sang froid or a fatal absence of ambition? Not something that can be levelled at either Hamilton or Dennis. Clearly Whitmarsh needs longer to see if his way works. I’m just right now a bit sceptical we’ll see McLaren lead from the front next year.

    2. Lewis only needs to win the race,alonso’s engine to blown and both redbulls to crash onto each other. It’s not unlikely to happen… who’s with me? :)

      Lewis wdc 2010! yes we can!!

      1. AKA Turkey. Except vettel just needs to hit webber a tad harder…

      2. I’m actually hoping Ham wins the race. Things will be so much easier for Alonso to get the title… Come on Fer!

      3. john like your logic
        but im afraid its gonna be Alonso – Massa – Kubica – Button – Schumacher and then the red bulls and lewis
        ha ha ha

    3. I like Buttons attetude at his ending WDC year, he has really done a very good job to represent the sport.

      Let him finish on the podium and make it a fair fight between Webber and Vettel. Or even if Alonso goes into the race from pole I would love to see an exiting race in Abu Dhabi.

    4. Good attitude. I wonder Alonso will appreciate him if he help Alonso resultingly :-D

    5. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion
      10th November 2010, 11:58

      Under Whitmarsh’s way of thinking Hamilton’s chances are more or less the same as mine kicking a ball and throwing it to the moon. But, Hamilton is a fierce competitor and he’s determined to clinch his second WDC. OHHHH YEAH!!

      1. Whitmarsh is probably the one person in the team who has absolutely no say when it comes to the development of the car. He pretty much just makes sure the managers are doing their jobs.

    6. I hope Hamilton storms through this weekend with a pole and victory, in consequence, handing the title to Fernando. :)

      1. He may think that scoring enough points to ensure that McLaren stay ahead of Ferrari in the constructors championship will be more than sufficient to make his day if winning the WDC is not possible.

        No doubt that both he and Button will both be fully and regularly informed as to who will finish where, in both the constructors and drivers championships, during the race. :)

    7. McLaren’s goal will be solely to prevent Ferrari finishing ahead of them in the constructors championship. This can be done in many ways! If it also happens that one of those many ways ensures that Lewis becomes WDC……..

      1. Aha, so Ham winning the race and Button taking Alonso out of the race, securing WCC and hoping Vettel crashes into Weber… uhm, many ways… many dreams

        1. Yes then hopefully we can lynch Jenson the same way we did Piquet!! Woo Hoo!!

    8. Mclaren has repeatedly let Hamilton down, two years in a row, and are now paying the price of helping Button at the expense of Lewis earlier on the season.

      Most of people on here, surprise surprise, keep harping on the ‘mistakes’ Hamilton did over the season. The ‘mistakes’ are a direct result of the unpredictability of the Mclaren, where radical developments where being introduced at almost every race and the drivers having to learn what the car does almost from scratch.
      Hamilton is a hard charger, and thats why people who love the pure racing spirit appreciate Hamilton’s driving style and passion.

      The ‘mstakes’ this year are purely down to him trying to find the limits of performance of a car that kept changing on him almost at every race, if he hadn’t done that, today he would be where the “smooth”, “clever”, “looks after his tyres” Button is today.

      And remember this, twice in his fledgling career in F1, Hamilton made two world champion team mates look pretty ordinary.

      If any blame is to be assigned, it should direct at Whitmarsh’s Mclaren. They have let two world champions down in one single season. I blame Whitmarsh. He has palyed far too much to public opinion and while he has learned a lot from Ron Dennis on the PR and management fronts, he does not have the raw racing and competitive passion that is needed to sustain the image.

      Mclaren should give him one more year an if fails to show movement in the right direction then he should be shown the dooor or given lesser involvement in team management.

      Also Hamilton should give Mclaren another year only, he is wastin his time at a team that wants to play for the cameras, rather than race for the sake of racing.

      1. I keep hearing “mistakes” but I’m struggling to think of any incident other than Monza that was both significant and entirely his fault.

        1. Soumya Banerjee
          10th November 2010, 13:56

          How about Korea and Brazil?

        2. he crashed during practice in Suzuka also…

          1. I think most tend deliberately ‘forget’ that they’re talking about formula 1’s youngest ever world champion, who has been a contender for the title in 3 out of his 4 years in the sport.

            The MP4-25 is the 3rd fastest car of the 2010 season.

            Monza, Korea, Brazil: the car has no grip. Hamilton is carrying the car beyond its capabilities. What the MP4-25 can do is what the “smooth”, easy on his tyres”, “clever” Button is currently getting out of it, 5th in the championship. Lewis has had 3 retirements and he’s still ahead of his world championship team mate..

        3. None of three were significant.

          1. They are ‘all’ “significant” for one reason or another.

            1. Not really.

              In Suzuka they lost a bit of set-up time; in the end Hamilton was on for maybe even 3rd before the new gearbox gave up. I doubt his crash cost him the chance to go for 2nd. His grid penalty for changing the gearbox came from the Singapore shunt, which was a racing accident.

              In Korea Alonso would have beat him. Same in Brazil.

          2. I’m pretty sure he walks on water. Mistakes are beyond him.

            1. He also had a car damaging off in the German GP practice, maybe others too?

              A man that crashes, but makes no mistakes. I so want to be that man!

      2. Where do you suggest he goes? Ferrari? RedBull? Mercedes?

        As for blaming Whitmarsh for poor team performances, I think that you won’t have to look too far into the past to see some much poorer ones under Dennis’s management.

        Hamilton has made mistakes this season, so have other drivers. Hamilton’s just seemed to be so unnecessary.

        1. Mercedes for 2012 may not be as bad a move as it sounds now, or perhaps williams or even Red Bull..

          1. Or Lotus or Virgin or….whoever happens to reckon that they’ll have the fastest car.

      3. So you expect Mclaren to win every single year? Thats impossible and you are being completely unreasonable.

        Button is good, but he is not that good. Remember his only competition last year was the grandpa rubens. Lewis, Seb, ALO and Kubica are the 4 drivers to watch. The rest are obstacles.

        I doubt Lewis will have a better chance at success at any other team. As with all teams, Mclaren has ups and downs. However they have more chance at being at a high than the other teams bar Ferrari.

        Remember, history always repeats itself.

        1. Not every single year but about 6 years in a row might be nice 8)

    9. I remember one comment way back in pre-season testing to the effect that Ferrari’s gamble of sacrificing third in last year’s constructors’ championship was paying off with the quality of the car they brought to testing.

      If Alonso doesn’t win the drivers’ championship, third looks like all they’re going to get. Realistically McLaren can’t be caught.

      Anyway if Hamilton somehow wins the championship on Sunday I think I’ll quit F1 because nothing could beat that achievement for me.

      1. But it would have been due to others misfortune, and not his own skill…

        I dont really see that as impressive.

        1. At least not impressive enough to quit following F1..

          1. What will happen this weekend will please some and not others, and then we’ll most likely get the ‘If it weren’t for’ and ‘If only he/they hadn’t’ bleatings from the usual suspects.

            Lewis has said that he would prefer Webber to win the championship and Button has said that Alonso winning the championship could devalue it. So no prizes for guessing where their priorities lie if the situation arises.

            1. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if a McLaren driver were to ‘mysteriously slow down’ in order to get the ‘right’ result.

            2. I would hope that McLaren doesn’t manipulate the race in any fashion. I like McLaren of the top teams but I would be angry if they did. But for them to honestly do it, either Button has to qualify ahead of Alonso or Hamilton would have to keep Alonso behind him (technically qualify ahead too but he’s at least shown he can do it).

              I doubt either will really influence anything this weekend and will simply pull in points – I project a 4-7 finish for the two. Ferrari won’t gain enough points to pass them but McLaren don’t have a say in WDC.

        2. I don’t recall anyone saying the same about Raikkonen three years ago. And probably not because he was a skilled driver.

          1. You’d find fanboys sopping love for Raikonnen’s somewhat overrated abilities far outweighs their grudging respect for Hamilton’s skill and talent.

            1. Somewhat overrated skill and talent as it turns out.

    10. “It’s not over until the last lap.”
      It sounds a bit like Rocky Balboa, maybe it will be so… think about ALO and WEB colliding and VET breaking his engine (it wouldn’t be strange, hehe), it could serve the WDC on a silver plate for HAM.

    11. His best chance is with probably two engine failures (Alonso & Vettel) in the race, and Webber either binning it into a backmarker or having a mechanical fault. It’s possible.

      And have any of you guys seen the weather report yet.

      A very small, but existant, chance of rain for qualifying.

      1. Soumya Banerjee
        10th November 2010, 13:58

        Dude it doesnt rain in Abu Dhabi!!! Take it from me,i live in Sharjah!!! I dont know what weather report you have been reading.

        1. the wishful thinking one that has a link to it above $:)

      1. that’s ridiculous don’t know how they’re coming to that conclusion. I’ll stick to weather.com which has a nice sensible prediction of a 0% chance of rain.

        1. It has been revised now. What a shame, I’d have loved to have seen a hailstorm during the race.

    12. No mention of Lewis being tentative in the last couple of races….? Mistakes let thru Alonso and he hasnt shown the same commitment, in my eyes, to corners. i think the DNF’s have hit him hard and he doesnt have the same confidence that his agression wont result in him crashing out. It may be a blip, i hope so. We will see but i dont think he has any chance on Sunday in his present state, regardless of the cars pace.

      Having said all that hes still lightening and still way above Buttons pace but like i say, i just dont feel hes got that banzai mindset.

      1. It’s easy to be on the absolute edge when you know that the car you have underneath you is reliable. But when the car is restive, you naturally become a bit more tentative. There is a clear difference in the McLaren post-Silverstone and the EBD has hurt its driveability.

      2. You’re so right! Lewis has changed a bit since Singapore. I blame the british press specially the bbc crew. Before the race in brasil, Jake said again that lewis was too aggresive. They kept asking him to change his approach now we have 2 jenson button at mclaren.

        1. I blame the british press specially the bbc crew.

          I don’t imagine media reports make the slightest bit of difference to how he drives the car.

          1. When you have most of the media and so-called experts reporting that his approach will cost him the wdc, his teammate is smater and doing better because he doesn’t make mistake (which is a lie)and blah blah blah… no wonder he’s starting to think twice now and losing confidence. I remember Martin W. said Lewis was too fragile, he care what they say about him. For his own good i would advise him to not read the press.

      3. In general, since the put on the EBD in Silverstone, that car has been foul handling, inconsistent, and tire-hungry. I think that is what you are seeing in his driving.

        1. Which doesn’t explain why he keeps saying that it’s the best F1 car he’s ever driven. Unfortunately, it’s just not any better than the competition, which is neither his fault nor McLaren’s fault.

    13. Is he “way” above Button’s pace?!! Button needs to get qualifying sorted and maybe Pirelli will help in that respect.

      The cars “pace” in Brazil was enough to get Hamilton fastest lap, with Alonso and Button both less than a tenth of a second behind.

      1. That’s because he pitted under the SC.

        1. Maybe so, but the pace is there.

          1. And, as the useful data point, even with the new tires, he could not catch Alonso, who was on ancient tires at that point. In fact, this example is the most devastating reflection of the car’s race-performance right now.

            The car’s race pace situation is desperate. Look at Korea and how Hamilton disappeared in the late stages, and Button burned his tires immediately and had no pace on the primes either. Look at Singapore where both cars gobbled up their tires immediately and began to fall back sometimes three seconds per lap. Look at Suzuka and how Button toasted his PRIME tires so fast his long stint strategy fell apart immediately.

            Hamilton flatters the car on Saturday, but neither he nor Button can do much with it now on Sunday now

          2. Maybe so, but the pace is there.

            No it’s not. At Brazil they were only as fast as the front runnners immediately after their cars had put on fresh tyres, while the Red Bulls and Ferraris were on tyres that had done dozens of laps. And even then the McLarens couldn’t keep up the pace for long.

    14. Fernando should listen to this man. he knoes what he says

    15. The desert is hot. Webber’s engine was hot at Brazil, so he will have to keep his engine really lean to finish. Going to be a thriller

      1. Unless it was not really hot, and his pitwall was lying to him to force him to back off.

      2. Actually, he would need to run it richer to avoid it getting too hot. Fuel also acts as a coolant.

    16. Maybe we expect too much of Lewis. Its not necessarily something that cant be explained away by stats or car “upgrades” but there is definitely something troubling Lewis. Personally i put it down to the 3 or 4 DNF’s in quick succession and naturally in that scenario you question your decision making.

      For example) there was a couple of times Lewis was outbraked in Brazil going into the first corner, Lewis never gets outbraked. You can put it down to the car but perhaps he also recalls the comings together with Webber.

      Whichever, time will both reveal the answer and heal any questions.

      1. For example there was a couple of times Lewis was outbraked in Brazil going into the first corner, Lewis never gets outbraked.

        That stood out for me – also how Alonso was able to get in his slipstream so easily at the end of lap one. That simply wouldn’t have happened at the start of the year.

        1. Lack of grip and poor straight-line speed may have had something to do with it. Of course we know how drivers like to give excuses but it would have been very out of character if everything was hunky-dory.

          1. Car can indeed play a role, but I think psychological endurance to pressure played harder. It happens that he goes wide basically when one (8) of the reds is behind.

            Does he know that he has to be perfect to avoid overtaking and cant drive under such a pressure?

            With a non optimal car you can keep Alonso behind longer than Hamilton, unless we think that Nico’s Williams was a better car than the McLaren in Brasil

        2. Agree,
          It’s a no brainer, Lewis’s style has changed……kindaa..

          Couldn’t believe his tit bit lack of aggression and holding back as he chased the HULK (one hit wonder)
          This aint that man Lewis Hamilton…ope the real Hamilton turns up in 2011

          1. That’s just a bizarre assessment. Hamilton was impressive for a large part of the season, the best driver on the grid (by common acknowledgment), driving way beyond Button, pushing RBR and Ferrari. McLaren have simply faded over the last few races, none of the upgrades working as hoped, leaving the car without grip (or rather: pushing to the limit needed to keep up with frontrunners, Hamilton and Button are losing traction and stability). Sure there might be an element of lower performance from Hamilton in the last two races given the impossibility of the task set for him: winning the race with a car half a second to a second slower on track.

            In a Red Bull he or Alonso would have sown this season up 4 races ago. Credit to Alonso and Ferrari for taking the competition to the last race.

      2. I wondered about that as well, it was so unusual to see Lewis in that position (especially with Kobayashis defence).

        A bit like the first times we saw Schumi being nowhere on track this year.

        It seems Lewis did lose some confidence in the car and also he might have been more carefull just to finish with solid points instead, instead of giving it his all.

        1. @Keith and @ BasCB: I’m a big Hamilton fan, but I agree it was a mediocre race from him…ok perhaps mediocre is too harsh a word, but yeah that wasn’t Lewis racing…not unless the car just lacked the grip that Jenson keeps talking about :-)

      3. After watching Japan, Korea and practice at Brazil, I think the car’s areo issues are remarkable leaving the car very unstable under braking. He has said as much in his radio messages to the pit.
        When I saw this in Japan and again in Korea it was clear McLaren didn’t have a solution. I would not hold my breath waiting for one this week.
        I hesitate to question Lewis’s psyche because I don’t know him personally. I look at his races this year and his approach to racing in the past and I don’t see a change. It’s the car.

    17. There have been many times where Lewis should have held back rather than just going flat out, and not just this season. Sometimes it’s necessary to be like a Ninja in the forest rather than a Bull in a China shop.

      1. Thats probably just his natural way of driving. As he has more experience in F1, the other calmer side will evolve.

        1. Hopefully not! For large parts of the season Hamilton and Kobayashi added the entertainment factor. It still annoys me that the Moseley fueled vendetta against Dennis/McLaren led to some ridiculous FIA penalities on Hamilton, curbing some of his driving style post-2008. Go anywhere in the world (well apart from Spain maybe) and he’s one of the most popular drivers alongside the national drivers – in Brazil now he and Kobayashi are extremely popular, judging by the websites, simply because they’re willing to risk more.

      2. I wish Keith considers a thumbs up, or like or dislike hot button, u would get a thumbs up on the Ninja in the forest analogy (but we criticize Button for that don’t we?

    18. I thought it was just me who thought Lewis had been less confident, early in the season he went for overtakes others wouldn’t and they stuck. At Monza the percentages caught up with him, coupled with Webber not giving up the corner in Singapore (Hamilton would have been vilified if it was the other way round)has led him to drive in a more “mature” way. Hope he gets his mojo back soon and stops listening to the experts. Keep being an immature Senna and not turn into the professor. A punch up on track should add to the entertainment value as well(that one’s for free Bernie).

      1. I know, seeing that image of him in Japan hanging his head after binning his car–that was something, I dont know where that was the moment where he lost his confidence a little bit or not but Lewis seems different since then in races.

      2. At the start of the season the Mclaren was the only car with an F-duct and a significant advantage in straight line speed hence the many overtakes. It sort of evened out as
        a) their rivals out-developed them.
        b) Mclaren brought developments to the car that didn’t work as intended.

        But, he could have lost some mojo as well. ;)

        1. If the car is not right you don’t have no mojo.

    19. So what happened to the “great” Jenson Button? the 2009 Formula 1 world champion. I just hate the way he was being so overrated last year for winning the title what happened 2 victories for changing tyres early? More luck rather than racing.

      1. Unlike some, Button never crashed, but was crashed into. Didn’t fall foul of any regulations, again, unlike some. And generally has held his own against a driver whose team he had dared to enter. All-in-all, not to shabby IMO. Just needs to get the qualifying thing sorted. And I wish I was that lucky! :)

        1. Well, when you driving that slow, you have time to think and not crash and mak less mistakes.

          1. Next time type slower, so you have more time to “mak” less mistakes. :P

    20. “Not over until the last lap”? Try telling that to Massa – it’s only over some time after you’ve finished your last lap!

      1. Come on, don’t tell me Abu Dhabi can’t afford to hire a Singing Fat Lady :D

    21. I see i’m not the only one who thinks there’s something going on with Hamilton. It was evident to me in Japan. The old Hamilton wouldn’t hold position behind Button when the latter basically ruined his race (before he had the problem). He didn’t try to overtake him, that was weird and then we have Korea and Brasil. It’s clear to me he’s losing confidence i don’t if on himself or because of the car or a mix of both things. I don’t think it’s because of Alonso. In canada, he took the pressure from him and managed his tires at the same time, one of his best race this year.

    22. Lets just say that the two Red Bull take each other out like Turkey, Alonso has an engine failure will Button help Hamilton to win the WC if he is leading the race & Lewis second.

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