Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Ron Dennis, McLaren MP4-12C dealership event, 2011

Hamilton ‘wouldn’t behave the way he does now’ at McLaren – Dennis

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In the round-up: Ron Dennis says McLaren would place stricter limits on Lewis Hamilton’s behaviour if he was still driving for them.

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Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Sochi Autodrom, 2015
F1 action at Sochi. Or Bahrain. Or Yas Marina…
Craig reckons we’d see more variety in the racing if the track were less homogeneous.

F1 needs much more diversity in the circuits. I don’t think that the variety in circuits should be as broad as say IndyCar’s calendar, which races on road courses, street courses, short ovals and big ovals all with different characteristics, but I feel that we need a much bigger range of tracks than a few circuits that are unique but the rest of the calendar bulked out by the standard ‘Tilkedrome’.

If you have a calendar that is more diverse, then the chances are that unless a team comes along and builds a car so strong that it performs at every single type of circuit, the results will likely be somewhat different every race. I want to go into a weekend not knowing that Mercedes will win it in normal conditions, an educated guess based on the circuit characteristics – sure, but not because it’s the same type of track week in, week out. Because as it currently stands, if you have a car capable of winning on a typical Tilkedrome, the chances are that you will have a really good shout at the championship because so many circuits feel pretty much identical.
Craig Woollard (@Craig-o)

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  • 58 comments on “Hamilton ‘wouldn’t behave the way he does now’ at McLaren – Dennis”

    1. No Mercedes runner has had to use a fifth component of any part of the powertrain. Given it’s only the second year of these hugely complex hybrid engines, that’s a fine achievement.

      1. Indeed. Props to Mercedes, they’ve done a superior job.

        1. Yes abosolute fact they have done an incredible job and are the target for the others.

      2. It is indeed an admirable feat. It also suggests that Mercedes could unleash even more power if they had a competitor to warrant it. It’s clear the Mercedes team likes to play safe, and they don’t get a bigger prize for winning by a minute rather than 10s, so they’ve regularly been turning down the engine modes after the initial few laps have them comfortably in front. Teams like Ferrari that are trying to catch up need to recognise that their real target is further ahead than the lap times appear.

      3. And the Sauber’s too.

        1. But both Ferrari and Manor have used five of at least one component; not one Mercedes runner has, which is my point.

    2. Interesting to see that the article on Hamilton does not mention his 2011, easily the season where he lost most points because he wasn’t fully on in for a large part of the year (at McLaren, under the guidance of ‘surrogate dad’ Ronny) nor that the first and perhaps most famous ‘exploit’ of Lewis was the burnout in Melbourne, as well as lie-gate. A bit of revisionism, if you ask me.

      I also really don’t see Hamilton with McLaren at all any more. I might not enjoy the same things as Hamilton, but I’m happy that he is out there showing his face among other crowds than the typical current F1 driver. Same with Raikkonen hanging with the Dudesons and so forth. Meanwhile, Jenson’s gone from talkative to cynical on team radios, as well as interviews and Alonso practically stopped tweeting, started repeating the same lines about not finishing second any more. Looking at the number of sponsors who have left Woking, you start to wonder for whom McLaren choose to keep up their code of PR.

      1. I fully agree with your second paragraph.

        Where should Lewis have mentioned 2011? (I’ve read the blog, more or less.)

        1. Yep, COTD right there.
          I’m far happier seeing Lewis being Lewis and not some media-trained lap dog. It’s certainly not done him or Mercedes any harm!

      2. Ron should wake up. His “Corporate image” obsession is so yesterday… the other day I was watching Lewis Hamilton with blond hair staring in an UBS ad.. UBS Ron, UBS!

        1. But you have to give it to him. He is right, if Hamilton was still at Mclaren he wouldn’t do half the things he does, and by that I mean winning two championships in a row

      3. Wow, seems Ron just put himself on the ‘old guys that have no place anymore in F1’ pile together with Bernie and Jean

        1. and yet they control it.

    3. I completely agree with the COTD, but that should not surprise anyone and I guess it’s a popular stance as far as fans are concerned.

      Once again, Tilke should not tell me he is too tightly regulated by safety standards when he managed a Buddh sector 2 out of it – what he needs to do is just abandon his ‘little bit of everything’ idea every once and a while and boldly go for designing a track with a particular emphasis, be it low-speed, flat or high-speed with great elevation changes, lots of straights linked by few hairpins (and the necessary run-off if you must), on-camber, etc.

      It won’t even make the car easier to set up because teams invariably choose the dominant features of the current crop as well (mostly low-speed balance and traction) and go with that. The only thing that would change setup-wise is that the car would not be off-balance in some corners.

      And more flowing designs would also mean a driver feeling that would be less about the ongoing frustration caused by the ‘technical’ low-speed, off-camber 90-degree turns of Yas Marina, and more about the bravery one needs to push it that little bit more in the high-speed stuff of Spa and Suzuka.

      But I will stop it for now – I simply don’t believe the powers-that-be don’t see how circuit design could be improved. They just don’t do it. For some reason.

      1. Most of Tilkedomes produce boring races and I too would welcome circuits designed with different approaches, but I gotta give props to the man for the COTA, it was a cracking race this year. On the other hand, it would be good to compare race rates of no-Tilke circuits vs. race rates of Tilkedomes for the last few years and run a regression @keithcollantine

        1. I think Monza Silverstone Austria Spa Suzuka Canada were not as good as Malaysia COTA Bahrain Russia. I love the old tracks but what compromises a good race at the moment seems to be down to many variables that may not be down to the circuit layout.

          Perhaps they should just let F1 be fast as is safe to do open up regulations and let nature take it’s course. 5 years of stable regulations would stabilise costs and close performance.

        2. How many times do we have to repeat that Tilke DID NOT design the COTA layout?

    4. “My belief is that the more downforce you have on a car, the harder it is to follow. And this car has more downforce.”

      Maybe they could also impose an additional race entry levy on the struggling teams, give just Mercedes an additional 10% fuel flow rate and have Tilke “fix” the sections of track where the most overtaking happens.

      Who wants to make a call now on who the next series of rule upheavals will hand dominance to just as we start to see the gap to Mercedes narrow? Given Williams have apparently largely been responsible for the wording, which is always the bone of contention for a team grabbing a competitive edge I’ve a hunch we might see them find a loophole.

      Bottas 2017 WDC?

      1. Well, Symmonds mentioned that Williams engineers have done a lot of the work of formulating the details, but that nearly all of it comes from the Red Bull proposal @philipgb. So it could be Williams, but given their budgets, I would rather think that we might see a Red Bull cruising ahead at second per lap faster than anyone else can mange, unless the car gets into traffic by bad fortune/mistakes etc, and suddenly struggles.

        Not looking forward to a MORE aero dependant formula with faster cars. Its only saviour would be if the cars were really harder to drive for the guys sitting in them and they would start making more mistakes. But with the downforce they add, I rather think they will be on rails again instead of hard to manage.

        1. @bascb

          Casting our minds back to 2009 Williams were one of the double diffuser teams. 2014 they got themselves a Mercedes power unit and went for efficient aero over outright aero. They’ve always done well with rule changes as they may not have the budget to tweak tiny flaps to the nth degree but they usually make very intelligent package choices.

          1. True enough, I think that Williams has a good chance of being in the top group again @philipgb. But as in 2009, they lack the resources to go full out into an idea, and to develop it intensively

    5. Symonds is ominous in his interview.

      A) I think Red Bull is going to profit from the draft following most of their suggestions as well as Williams from carefully putting it into words. I know it by experience how beneficial it is to simply say things out loud, or in this case, formulate them on paper – they’ve just took a minor step ahead in what are the first few hours of the 2017 aero formula.

      And B) I also think that, if it’s the always quite to-the-point Symonds who says that overtaking could STILL be a problem, if not a bigger problem that it currently is, I think I will believe him. Especially considering his mention that Pirelli is not too optimistic on keeping tyre grip increase up with the step-up in downforce levels after all… It’s a bit like circuit design – it’s beyond me that everybody on the top seems to know the inherent cause of the problem, yet no-one take steps for some reason. It’s mind-bogging – no wonder NASCAR makes a better on-track product even without the gimmicks (natural and raw pace differential in short and long run pecking order, thoroughly varied, but still understandable strategy, more side-by-side racing, etc.); they do have a leadership association with a strong vision and philosophy…

      1. The little bits of paper that bring out a caution 10 laps before the checkered flag are a gimmick though. A simple and effective one, but still a gimmick.

      2. Plus he pretty much says the Overtaking Working Group is ineffective…. I hope more drivers and people who are high up in F1 continue to state how the difficulty/impossibility to overtake is bad for the sport because the men in power may have to start listening. They have certainly not heard the suggestions of the fans.

        1. Why allow the teams to have any input on the technical direction. Teams should be told what the rules are and deal with it. There are many ex F1 engineers who are now not in the sport who the FIA could get together and draw up some rules. Teams should have no say whatsoever on the rules as by their nature they are looking for an edge anywhere they can get it and will try and get rules in that favour them.

    6. Hamilton has always been a massive enigma to me. When he appeared on the scene, I was very positive about him. He is British, was blindingly quick, performed great overtakes, was part of the McLaren family and a huge fan of Senna. In theory, he should have been incredibly easy to like for most fans. But I always felt that he was the definition of a mid-2000s PR exercise. I felt like he believed that was best way to be successful so opted for it as opposed to expressing his own personality. Now, I don’t think it altered his performance on track, but I think that he was too predictable. Too see through. I felt he was Ron Dennis incarnate.

      When Ron moved over and Hamilton had established himself, in the sport and the public eye, he became more likeable to me. I can understand the resentment surrounding his constant parallels with Senna. I also understand that his ostentatious fashion sense and daft tweets isolate many followers of the sport. But, I like him for it. I like that he is now his own man, not confined to someone’s shadow. I like that he is symbol that transcends the sport. I like that he will be viewed as one of this era. There’s a personality to him now that in 20 years, kids will be asking who he is and what he was like. He’s become a Rindt, a Cevert, a Hunt, a Villeneuve, a Piquet, a Senna, a Mansell, a Hakkinen or a Raikkonen.

      This is not a great age of charismatic F1 personalities, but at least we’ve got one who refuses to fit into the dreary image of F1 at the moment and who gets a lot less respect for it than he deserves.

    7. Considering the stupendously woefully performing Mclaren Honda has denied me the inspiring vision of Fernando Alonso doing his thing on the track this season, I thank goodness that Max Verstappen was signed by Franz Tost/ Red Bull / Helmut Marko at the end of 2014. I think both Toro Rosso boys have been awesome and it is so great to see them out there sliding all over the place in the wet practices (and somewhat in the dry ones too ) when everyone else is saving engines or not wanting to risk it. I still think he is too young and when you look at a few of his overtakes, those moves could so easily have ended in tears and recriminations. But then isn’t that what we love to see?

    8. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a sell out in more ways than the one mentioned above.
      I wish this was more a sport than a business. Sometimes seems the main completion is for money. Sigh. Such is life, I guess.

    9. Ron Dennis? My sympathies to Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso is all I can say.

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        27th November 2015, 9:17

        Ron also said people at McLaren need to be clean shaven…

        Judging by his lumbersexual driver pairing, it seems Ron just likes to hear Ron talk about what Ron likes…

    10. Hamilton wouldn’t be 3 time world champion either Ron..

      1. And Hamilton still thanks Ron for the start he gave him.

    11. Ron is absolutely correct. All that smiling, jumping about, spraying champagne, hoisting trophies into the air.. He wouldn’t be doing any of that if he was still at McLaren.

      1. Is it McLaren have a dig at Lewis day as Ron and Jenson have had something to say on Hamilton.

    12. If he was at McLaren he wouldn’t be behaving the way he is because he wouldn’t be allowed to

      Perhaps Ron should think more about this, if Ron allowed Lewis to be who he is, then perhaps Lewis would still be driving at McLaren

    13. New 2017 F1 aero package has been agreed – Symonds (Motorsport)

      Bigger front wings? ok, now i really wonder who is making those rules? the PR people? Bernie?

      My god, this isn’t good.

    14. I think Lewis presenting himself the way he is positive for F1. First, we must understand that 2015 is way different from 1990s or even early 2000s. People like to have “direct” contact from their idols and social media is the main vehicle for that, those who follow people on social media are expecting real personalities, not robots. I don’t see why people bother so much with Lewis life style and idolize people like James Hunt.

      Ron would have a point if Lewis was underperforming or losing endorsement deals but seems to me the opposite is happening, so maybe Lewis is right. Fans and sponsors like the real Lewis more than the “McLarenbot”. Some drivers are more reserved and others are not, it should not be a problem, particularly when they are still doing their job properly.

      1. I don’t see why people bother so much with Lewis life style and idolize people like James Hunt.

        I’ve seen people online praise Hunt for drinking during racing weekends and dismissing Hamilton’s partying during the summer break in the same post on other F1 websites. There’s no pleasing some people, but luckily Hamilton doesn’t seem too concerned with that talk.

        1. One can’t help but surmise that the lack of a public-school accent from the Surrey stockbroker belt might have something to do with that, perchance.

    15. This talk of Hamilton’s “dip in form” is getting a bit out of hand isn’t it? In the last 5 races he is up on Rosberg 3 wins to 2. Sure he hasn’t got a pole, but points are handed out on Sunday aren’t they. Oh, and he’s already bagged the mightily important pole trophy.

      1. I would love to have those stats for a dip in form. I suppose one brilliant drivers dip in form is another average drivers form of their life. 3 wins in 5 is a dip when you usually win 4 in 5 or 5 in 5?

        1. Driver who won WDC with races to space in very-slight tail-off in form shock.

          Rosberg has been good the last two races. Don’t want to disregard that he beat Hamilton. But on two tracks where overtaking is neigh on impossible – and where Hamilton was probably quick enough to have attacked in both races if they’d been less processional tracks? All conjecture, just to say to call this a downturn in form is wrong on so many levels.

      2. @geemac Since the Japanese GP, Hamilton has not been quicker than Rosberg in a single race. Rosberg was faster in Russia, Austin, Mexico & Brazil. Also, it’s 3 wins for Rosberg and 2 for Hamilton, one of which was inherited.

        1. Not sure how you can say Nico was quicker in the race in Russia when he only lasted what, 8 laps?

          And as for your theory about the wins, so then by that logic Lewis won in Monaco then?

          But anyways, first to win, you have to first cross the line in front. Nico didn’t do that, so whatever you think, the results won’t change or lie.

    16. Lewis certainly would not have been acting the same this year. We seen him look very happy, relaxed, letting his hair down, and, most of all, leaping all over podiums collecting shiny, shiny trophies. Many many trophies Ron. And happy. You see?

      Certainly not what we would have seen if he was at McLaren.

      Still Ron, glad your iron grip has achieved such improvements after dealing with Whitmarsh quite so clinically. The team has slipped, year-on-year, further down the grid (and it’s not just the power plant is it Ron?). But at least you know the real secret is in not letting the drivers chose their hair colour or enjoy – shock! – an alcoholic beverage.

      You know when people talk about living fossils?

    17. Hamilton is simply enjoying his championship. He won when it mattered. The “raise to form” from Rosberg, at least to me, doesn’t mean anything now. It certainly feels more of a “less committed” and “end of season” attitude from Hamilton, letting Rosberg gain back some pride as well as Mercedes gaining the Drivers 1-2 as well as both Constructors and drivers championships.

      I do think Rosberg is talented. Arguably as talented as Lewis. But he currently lacks that “fire”. That extra, call it selfishness, ruthlessness, or desire that Lewis has. This is where he loses.

      This year Rosberg clearly lost to Lewis. Lets see next year. I really, really hope for a no holds barred, relentless Rosberg fighting eye to eye with Lewis. If it means double DNF, so be it. Mercedes already won 2 straight championships. Now its time for the drivers to shine.

    18. We also should remember current cars are much less physical to drive so Hamilton can afford more of this adventures than earlier. He has more of a margin.

      1. I don’t recall Hunt’s M26 ever generating 5G when cornering or braking.

    19. I used to like Jenson Button once upon time. But over the years he has gotten really political and under that smooth exterior, he is far too sly and clever. I am not a Hamilton fan. But I think JB joined hands with Whitmarsh and slowly pushed him to the periphery at McLaren. It was a good thing he did that because it was one of the factors that led to Hamilton leaving in 2013. Look how it has turned out.
      JB again used the media to make sure he got the contract he wanted without a pay cut for 2016. Well all the scheming and conniving has made sure he is toddling around at the back of the grid. Just desserts.

      1. Another well written post. Jenson is an excellent political operator, with extremely deft skills at playing “office politics”. Anyone who has worked in a UK office will know these kind of people and the subtle games they play so well.

        Lewis on the other hand is absolutely useless at these kind of thing. He lack the emotional intelligence, wherewithal or the time to play games and get people on his side. This is one of the things that led to his parting with McLaren and the “victim mentality” he sometimes showed there.

        I have always said that getting the team on his side is Lewis’s biggest weakness. He was lucky Ron regarded him to be on par with Alonso, and rejected Alonso’s political machinations. However, from a people’s person perspective, Lewis will always struggle against people like Jenson, Vettel, et al. He is simply too much of a non conformist.

        1. Lewis is too naive. But everybody said he wouldnt be able to work with the Merc team once he left McL which was like home etc. That has not happened. In a way I like Hamilton, Bottas and others who seem very genuine even if Hamilton can be plain stupid at times.

    20. Jenson is talking tosh. Even in the 2011, counting the races both cars finished, Lewis beat him on every metric that counts, and by a far bigger margin than Alonso has. And this is in 2011, Lewis’s worst year.
      It is no wonder he thinks Alonso is a better team mate. It is because he isn’t showing him up as much.

      1. I think there is an element of revisionism from Button here. His comments line up well with 2011. Hamilton had some mind blowing performances that year where no one could touch him. The China win and Korea pole spring to mind.

        But then he’d just be nowhere like Monaco.

        But in 2012 Hamilton was on another level all season, you could see the change and Button looked like a rookie that year in comparison. The final points tally for 2012 don’t reflect the gulf in performance they had, Hamilton deserved the championship that year.

    21. Ron Dennis, you’re dam right Lewis wouldn’t be acting like this at McLaren.
      He would be in tears at the back of field while someone else would be wiping the floor with that Mercedes.

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