Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Doubt grows over Chinese Grand Prix

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: A statement from Shanghai’s sports bureau has cast further doubt on whether April’s Chinese Grand Prix will go ahead following the coronavirus outbreak.

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Comment of the day

Lewis Hamilton’s critics should give him more respect, says @Hobo:

I’ve never been a Hamilton super-fan. At times his consistent winning has been annoying. At times I have thought some of his statements or actions were… less than a good idea. And I don’t understand why super-fans of his think denigrating his competitors makes any sense — the fact that he beats good drivers is a benefit to him(!).

But all that aside, I really don’t understand how some people can continue to question his ability or his place in F1 history. He will go down as one of the greats, if not the greatest (at least until someone greater comes along). I really think people should appreciate seeing someone with his talent while they can. Michael Schumacher, with all this faults, is seemingly never going to come back to public life. Senna is gone. Lauda. Prost is still around, luckily.

I get that it is annoying if you hate Mercedes or if you like another driver or if you are just tired of Mercedes always winning. I do get it. I still want to see someone else win instead of him because I want competition. And he is not my favorite driver.

But if you cannot even talk about Hamilton’s talent or use him as a positive reference point, I think you should question your motives. I don’t think you have to love him, or like him, or revere him, but he is one hell of a good driver.

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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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33 comments on “Doubt grows over Chinese Grand Prix”

  1. CoTD is pretty spot on.

    I’d like to think I belong in the same category. I dont care much for his off track antics and tweets, but he sure is a top driver. Im a racing fan, not a Hello magazine fan.

    As I always say, when you’ve been given the best tools, all you can do is maximise it as regularly possible, which is exactly what he’s done. A supposedly top end driver like Sebastian Vettel has shown that having the best tools isn’t necessarily a given that you’d win..

    1. @hobo

      I get that some people don’t like some drivers. Maybe some people don’t like loud vegans, or tattoos that show everywhere. Maybe Rosberg and Bottas superfans are sick of Hamilton.
      I’m also aware of how racist people are. That will always be a part of the Hamilton hate.

      1. I agree on the race hate. It should be painfully obvious to anyone with eyes and ears that the many of the derisive comments towards Hamilton are only made because of his ethnicity, but the racists & their apologists will try to debate you to the death in feeble attempt to prove that they’re not. But one thing I’ve learned beyond a shadow of a doubt over my life on this earth is that racism comes from a pathetic, indefensible place & you can hardly expect those kinds of people to admit they’re pathetic or to try & defend the indefensible, so there’s inevitably more covert than overt racists lurking behind keyboards these days. But I still know it when I see it & hear it.

    2. When we want to discuss Vettel having the “best tools,” as you put it, we can objectively talk about the period of Australian to Italian GP 2018. That’s the only time he’d got a solid machinery in the hybrid era. Before and after that, Ferrari was playing second fiddle to Mercedes.

      1. @pironitheprovocateur, I think that the problem for Vettel now is that, given the criticism he has faced for being beaten by Leclerc in 2019, and given that some have complained that Kimi might have posed more of a threat to Vettel if Ferrari’s management had treated him more equally, some are now starting to question whether it really was a case of “Ferrari was playing second fiddle to Mercedes”.

        In some of the years where the performance differential between Ferrari and Mercedes was smaller, such as in 2017 – a year where Vettel was leading the championship for half the season, so the car wasn’t exactly that slow – some might now question whether Vettel really was maximising the performance of the car in those years.

        The 2017 Ferrari was a pretty solid car in its own right and, although perhaps inferior in some areas to Mercedes, it was superior in others – for example, the SF70H was noted to be less pitch sensitive than the W08, at least earlier in the season, meaning Vettel was often able to brake later and could make up or gain time in heavier braking zones compared to Hamilton or Bottas.

        I can see some questioning whether, in years such as that, the car really was inferior in the way you suggest it was, or whether there might have been times when Vettel might have been underperforming and failing to deliver the maximum potential of the car.

  2. I’m really happy that Igor fraga will be racing a full F3 with Charouz. He’s a top talent, very consistent and quick. High hopes.

    1. Isn’t he the guy who won e-sports Gran Turismo Championship last year?

      1. @bulion He is indeed, but the link is a little unkind when it says he is “transitioning from eSports to single-seater racing” given that he raced for 3 years before the e-Series and was ‘F3 Brasil’ academy class champion in 2017.

  3. Media annoys me, not Hamilton. Media has always the first and last say.

  4. Got to agree with the COTD. I’m definitely not a Hamilton superfan, and despite wanting to see other drivers win, I can’t deny the fact that Hamilton deserves every bit of success he has achieved. He’s an incredible driver and we don’t get to see talent like that more than once or twice in a lifetime.

    1. Hamilton is undoubtedly top drawer, but to value his place in history based on his lucking into the best cars is so typically F1.

      There’s no doubt if he had been in another car, and for example Vettel getting the Mercedes drive, Vettel would now be hailed as the greatest ever, and Hamilton frustrated errors at another team would put him down as not having the right stuff.

      1. Why bring that up @balue – I think maybe you should ponder anon‘s post above – given Vettel’s mistake last year, and in years before that, it is not a given that in a Mercedes he would have won these last three years; against Rosberg in 2014-2015, quite possibly, and that would give him six WDCs too; conversely, in 2018 many think that Hamilton could have won in that Ferrari, and perhaps 2017 too. Was Vettel lucky to get the best car in 2009-2013 (over the whole year)?

        We won’t ever know for sure, but I wouldn’t call either just lucky, surely it is about having talent and speed, and taking opportunities when they present themselves and hanging on to those. To keep the title in-house for such a stretch, the team and driver have to be pretty special, you cannot have one without the other (I think this is one reason Williams lost momentum in the 2nd half of the nineties – they seemingly believed like you that drivers luck into a great car, and are easily swappable).

        1. I don’t think Vettel would have won against Rosberg in 2014-2015 either @bosyber. Rosberg had seen off Schumacher by then. On the other hand, maybe if he hadn’t been pushed by the fierce internal competition with Hamilton, maybe he too wouldn’t have reached the level he did

          1. Yep, well said @bascb, I do think that Rosberg has been more impressive than he got credit for in seeing off Schumacher, who despite having age, and two years out of the car, was still a strong competitive driver (those descriptions of the mind-games he played, not someone who easily gives up).

            But given what Rosberg told of how/why he did 2016 and then quit with the result achieved, I strongly have the impression he had to (learn to) reach deeper to beat Hamilton, and I am not sure that with Vettel he would have reached a solid enough level in 2014 to actually beat him, just as he seemingly only really got an insight into how difficult it was to beat Hamilton that year, and in 2015 seemed to feel deflated before finding his footing near the end as Hamilton eased off, but with Vettel more prone to mistakes and less able to adapt to the car he has (I think), maybe Rosberg would have found enough of a foothold to win the 2014 season and then 2015 surely would have been different too. But I gave Vettel the benefit of doubt there, because how it exactly would have played out is speculation, and that’s the point I was making.

      2. @balue

        Well.. Hamilton was a top drawer driver even before he got the Mercedes seat. Vettel on the other hand, still had a lot of people doubting his top tier status, and was often considered inferior to Alonso and Hamilton even after winning 4 WDCs on the trot. I think there are a lot of drivers who are considered greats even without collecting the silverware – Stirling Moss and Gilles Villeneuve come to mind. It just goes to show that F1 fans can gauge a driver’s ability even when they don’t have a dominant machine or stats to back it.

        I feel by saying that Hamilton “lucked” in to a seat that made him an all time great is just pointless. He got the most coveted seat in F1 because he was the best driver at that point in time. He’s still performed at a top level to crush his competition in equally strong machinery in 2017 & 2018. He’s pretty much looked untouchable for 5 out of his 6 seasons with Mercedes.

    2. I agree too, really well said in that CotD @hobo. I’m not “into” Hamilton (although he seems to have matured as a person, recently a lot of what he does, and says make sense to me – see also that post about his father), but wow is he a great driver who seems to keep improving to get better and better.

      The only thing we can really want more, is for other teams and other drivers to step up and give Hamilton a higher level of competition to fight.

      1. @bascb – He has definitely matured. He seems to be more confident and comfortable with himself now and doesn’t make as many missteps as he did early in his career. (I think that is the case with most people who grow and do some amount of introspection.)

        And I appreciate your last sentence as well. 2014 was a fun year to watch because it wasn’t expected. But the years since have become harder to watch (with some small exceptions in the past season or two) for me because of how predictable it all became. But the frustration should be with F1 and the other teams.

  5. He will go down as one of the greats, if not the greatest (at least until someone greater comes along).

    Of course he will, because he has a damn good PR department and rabid casual fanboys. He really is like his idol Senna, funnily enough: not even the best driver of his generation, but entered into the debate for greatest of all time because of a vocal fanbase. Though unlike Senna, Hamilton at least has the padded stats to make those fanboys not seem delusional (even though they are).

    In the end, losing the 2016 world title to Rosberg, who is historically on the level with drivers like Webber and Patrese, disqualifies him from being in a conversation with the all-time greats like Schumacher, Prost, Fangio, Clark and Vettel. And therefore, it is really hard to appreciate someone who is mostly carried to obscene stats by the greatest period of F1 domination ever seen by a single team whilst having to cringe at his insipid public persona and a mediocre driver like Bottas going “No, really, I can challenge him now”, even though he would’ve not been near a race-winning car in any other era of the sport.

    I can’t even say I am looking forward to the day he retires, because I’ll have to avoid the internet for a couple of months because just imaginging all those insipid articles inflating his overrated legacy make me desire to put a gun to my temple.

    1. @klon the moment you tried to put Vettel amongst Senna, Clark, Fangio etc I stopped reading. Credibility dismissed.

      Hamilton had a bad year and Rosberg upped his game to (evidently) unsustainable levels to beat him.

      Vettel is good, very good; but not great. Those WDCs had more to do with RBR and Newey than Vettel. You denigrate Webber, but forget that Webber would’ve beaten Vettel to his first WDC (2010) if he didn’t bin it in Korea.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with the COTD. I neither have ever really been a fan of his, but appreciate and respect his achievements to the maximum extent, and don’t understand the hate he receives either. BTW, still, one more year to go till the 10th anniversary of Kubica’s life-threatening rally crash.

  7. Perhaps now might be a good time to see if there’s interest in F1 from India or Argentina? Or maybe we could get Germany back?

    1. Probably way too late to start organising now @sunnchilde, it’s not cheap or easy (look at Zandvoort keeping us informed of all the work they did over the winter) to organise an F1 race.

      1. By the way, @sunnchilde – I do sometimes wonder how Babylon 5 would have been made with current means – those shadows were quite iconic at the time.

      2. About India – I don’t think that India would be all that safe from the coronavirus in the spring either (still relatively close to China). Argentina doesn’t have a track ready, so it’s pretty irrelevant. Remember, the desicion would have to be made really early, since a lot of stuff gets shipped over by sea, taking almost 2 months to arrive.

        Also, the tought of early april races in Germany (or really anywhere in middle/northern Europe) is not all that great, even if one could pull off the organisation.

        1. Well, with the current weather, last week it felt like spring @bascb, so maybe the German GP (oh, wait, that area did have below zero temps last week, never mind) ;)

          Good point about India too; indeed the logistics of organizing and F1 race mean that slotting in a replacement event is just not possible with a few months to go, and even a year might be difficult if it isn’t an already planned.

  8. On the Miami race stuff – I do think that in a democracy it is good that such things can be questioned. Even though I personally think the F1 race might be good for the area, it’s easy for me to be for it from afar, as I won’t have any of the negative (or, given I am unlikely to go there in person) or positive effects from it; so far it seems there’s nothing untoward going on, which surely is a positive F1, given the sport’s reputation, and it looks like those for the race will succeed in getting it done. If in the end they won’t, I think we should be able to respect that, even if we don’t agree.

    1. The more that comes out about this race, the less likely I think it is that it will go ahead.

  9. Well, looks like that 22 race season might be down to 20 in the end (how are things looking for Australia by now by the way? The fires have dropped off the news a bit with the coronavirus).
    I guess that kind of shows that it was a good idea to book more events?

  10. There’s little chance the Hanoi race goes ahead with a human catastrophe taking place just across the border.

    Have the Hanoi or Shanghai race at Sepang if Malaysia has no infections, or maybe a race as Imola or Jerez. Have a race with no spectators if need be. The Qatar circuit that MotoGP is an option if grade 1.

  11. Appreciate the COTD, @keithcollantine.

    And happy to know that some of the commenters I enjoy reading have similar appreciation for Hamilton’s talent, regardless of driver/team preference. (@todfod @bascb @jaymenon10 @slotopen @jerejj) Not surprising, but good to see.

    1. I’m pretty much exactly on the same page as you with him. I could have written that word for word re- my thoughts.

  12. I’m wondering if Vietnam is also in danger given that they’re literal neighbours and Hanoi is in the North. That would be a disaster.

  13. COTD is just so spot on

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