Hamilton hopes fans understand drivers aren’t to blame for dull races

2020 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton understands criticism of processional races like yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix, but says it isn’t down to drivers to improve the quality of racing.

“People need to, hopefully, understand that this isn’t our fault,” said Hamilton. “At the end of the day we’re drivers, we’ve come through all the ranks, we’ve earned the positions that we have. We come in, weekend in, weekend out, devoted and give absolutely everything to go out there and perform at our best.”

Hamilton led all 44 laps at Spa-Francorchamps while rivals Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen also held their positions throughout the race.

Formula 1 was due to introduce new technical regulations aimed at creating better races next year. However in order to reduce costs following the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been postponed to 2022.

“Ultimately the decision-makers who design the cars, who set rules and those kind of things, are the ones that you could apply pressure to to ultimately do a better job moving forwards, if that’s possible,” Hamilton continued.

“I’m hopeful that’s what they’re going to do in 2022 and with that new type car, maybe we’ll see a different form of racing where you can follow. Wouldn’t that be something if we can follow closer and have more close races?”

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Hamilton scored his 89th grand prix victory yesterday, leaving him two shy of the all-time record held by Michael Schumacher. He pointed out many of the races Schumacher won were also very processional

“I can’t speak for the fans but having been a fan, growing up, having lived in different eras watching the Schumacher era, I know what it’s like.

“As soon as the start was done, and the restart, you generally know that I don’t make too many mistakes and the same with these drivers, they’re very consistent. It’s very difficult to overtake in this circuit so I can imagine it’s definitely not the most exciting.”

Hamilton said he would often go to sleep watching races during Schumacher’s period of dominance.

“I was a teenage kid, I would have woken up, had my bacon sarnie and probably watched the start and gone to sleep and then woke up to watch the end. If I was watching today I would do the same most likely and watch the highlights because it’s much shorter, unless a friend told me there was a super exciting race on TV so that you watch the whole thing.”

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Keith Collantine
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67 comments on “Hamilton hopes fans understand drivers aren’t to blame for dull races”

  1. To be honest, the top 3 might not have changed but there was plenty going on else where for it not to be considered boring, for me.

  2. Reduce engine power. Drivers complain.
    Reduce chassis downforce. Drivers complain.
    Reduce tyre grip. Drivers complain.
    Increase braking distance. Drivers complain.
    Suggest different format.
    Drivers complain.
    But surely they burden no portion of the blame right?

    1. but it’s not the drivers’ job to create more spectacular races. I don’t understand your comment. if I were a driver I wouldn’t care about how spectacular the race was, all I’d care about is winning and going fast…

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      31st August 2020, 16:12

      So those are all negative changes. What’s your point?

    3. These are exactly points killing all the racing in F1

      Drivers must complain about them!

    4. I’m not a driver but I’d complain about any of the changes that you’ve listed.

  3. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    31st August 2020, 13:41

    Not a great advert for F1 when the current ‘star’ of the show is openly saying they’re boring to watch.

    1. And the guy who comes home third saying he was bored driving it.

    2. It’s always Lewis’ fault.
      I, for one, Thoroughly enjoyed the crushing. But the tyre drama towards the end was very stressful for Lewis/Merc fans.

      Hopefully we can win the 7th title this season. Fingers crossed.

      1. Where’s we between you and Hamilton?

        1. The space that both the sportsman and their own fan base occupy. Not the other place on the sidelines where the inadequate sit and snipe.

        2. You know the answer to your own question so the only point you’re making is that this aggravates you. My team is MY team. Ask Ferrari fans how they refer to “their” team. People identify with drivers in much the same way. Is there something wrong with this?

          1. Well said

  4. I, of course, understand and have never blamed them for something that isn’t their responsibility.

  5. People should just stop complaining about this. It’s racing, not entertainment. Some races turn out to be extremely entertaining, some lack a bit of action. But if you love the sport, you accept this, and most of all, don’t see it as a problem in the first place. I appreciate the entertaining races because they are not a given, and this proves that the entertainment is genuine, since it is not a given.

    1. It is both.
      And good luck getting people to pay for it without ‘entertainment’/on-track competition.

      1. No, it’s not both. F1 is a sport. The entertainment comes as a result of a sport where various teams are competent enough to compete on equal terms.

        The combo Mercedes/Hamilton are not to blame for the incompetence of other teams. Red Bul, Ferrari and other are the real guilty ones.

        And there´s another point here: when an audience can’t appreciate a team or a driver efforts in smashing the opposition like Mercedes and Hamilton are doing, it shows how spoiled those audiences are. They´re only craving for instant gratification.

        If we compare those fans’ complaints to other sports, it feels bizarre: how could someone felt bored looking at Bayern, Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt dominating their sports?

        1. There are Bayern fans and there are Bundesliga fans
          Bayern fans pay money on tickets to watch Bayern dominate
          Bundesliga fans have the option to watch the other 16 games going on. They have options
          F1 is one race at a weekend. If F1 had H2H races like football the comparison would be fair.
          Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are once in a lifetime feats of human performance. F1 cars are car and driver, everyone knows Hamilton is good but Usain Bolt and Phelps it’s all them, the training the winning it’s Usain bolt and besides Olympics is the largest sporting event in the world.

  6. All this complaining is not making sense…this is very simple to understand…the best car and best driver best preparation and planning wins the race…
    this is what mercedes has done consistently.
    look at the rest of the field and tell us which other team has best fitted this description….and there you will have your answer.

  7. Who is doing tyre management? If someone has good pace then ahould try 2 stopper.. atleast it induces more racing actions

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      31st August 2020, 16:18

      True, we saw how Hamilton made it work in Hungary 2019. That was a massive risk though. He had to push extremely hard and he most likely would have won that race without the extra stop too. Verstappen ran out of tyres 8 laps before the end of the race.

      For Spa I don’t think anyone actually even had the new tyres to do that though. Everything is so marginal that losing 20s to 25s and track position is hardly ever worth it.

      1. I think he didn’t have enough performance difference to overtake verstappen, he’d have been without tyres too, so I think the additional stop strategy from mercedes was a great idea and the only way to win, and it was also very hard to react to, if they had called verstappen in the lap after he’d have been 2nd and wouldn’t have been able to pass hamilton any more.

        1. @esploratore Nope, Hamilton stopped a lot later for the first stop already and Hamilton was miuch more gentle on the tyres.

    2. @Prvn Everyone. They’re having to in order to get the tyres to work at all, let alone for an entire race (regardless of stop count).

  8. Lewis is right. Casey is just too weak of a leader. Bernie would already change the rule twice to reduce Merc domination by now.

    1. If Mr Ecclestone was in charge we’d have seen lots of Mercedes at the front of the race, lots of Ferrari, lots of Red Bull, and not much else. I would like to think he’d have coped with the idea of no fans attending the races, but there’s a nagging thought he’d have wanted packed grand stands.
      Instead what we got was lots of action with most of the team sponsors getting air time too! While there was little happening at the front of the race there was plenty going on else where, and of course there were also the replays as well.

    2. Think it was Windsor who said something similar. With Bernie there would have been no very public secret Ferrari deal, and Ferrari would still be somewhere near the front. And we would be left wondering why Ferrari had lost a couple of tenths from last season.

  9. I’ve seen 650 of the 1000 races and maybe 50 of them were any good. Of course I get it’s not the drivers fault and obviously that’s not the reason I’m here still.

  10. Well, you could let go off the throttle in Q3 and start from 10th place, to pretend there is excitement.
    As long as the FIA isn’t capable of forming a competitive technical directive, F1 will remain processional.
    Fingers crossed Ross Brawn got it right. If so, it’s all up to the teams to keep up with the competition.

  11. It was a mistake to postpone the new formula cars. It would’ve been great to have the teams rushing to get them done, and then next March we’d have had a bigger range of performance and lots of variability as well as better following and racing. Generally these cost-cutting measures don’t really alter the amount teams spend anyway, very much. Of course each team thinks it’s fine if they can have the same for less. But for the sport, it’s very expensive.

    1. But what if Merc got it right again? Actually…what if Merc DO get it right again?? Are we going to have a new regulation change?
      We would have your “bigger range of performance…” but it wouldnt go down very well.
      Usually sticking with a regulation set allows performance to converge and after 7 years you’d expect that to be the case but unfortunately we have a grid full of teams unable/incapable of competing with Merc. So we have to dumb it down to the lowest common denominator. Shame but let’s hope we at least get closer racing as result.

  12. I think the “problem” is the reliability of the cars. In the past, even though there would be a handful of drivers consistently fighting for wins, we never knew which if any would finish. And with drivers managing their tires rather than pushing, they rarely if ever make mistakes, so once the procession starts there aren’t a lot of changes near the front.

  13. It’s mostly Mercedes fault for not putting an A-driver alongside Hamilton. With Alonso or Verstappen there, we could have had some great seasons.

    But that’s the famous Mercedes ‘values’ they are always going on about. Hierarchical and generally unsporting. Even Ferrari have moved slightly away from the no.1 and no. 2 drivers, it’s now at Mercedes.

    1. It’s Mercedes’s job to win championships, not to create exciting racing. With Hamilton and Bottas they come first and second or third most of the time which is about as good as it gets. Having to two Number One drivers won’t give them two winners per race.

      1. @greenflag

        Two winners per race

        ? What does that even mean?

        And how can you possibly think that an Alonso or Verstappen at Mercedes won’t be as dominant? The likelihood is of course that the team would be even more dominant, where no Red Bull would ever find its way in between their cars.

        Teams are an integral part of F1 and should be just as responsible for product value as anybody else.

        1. No. The FIA are responsible. Why are Merc responsible for your “entertainment”? Why don’t RB employ 2 No1 drivers? Or Ferrari? Because they want what is best for THEIR team.

        2. My point is Mercedes can’t be more dominant than they already are. Having two champion drivers won’t help them be more dominant – because they still be first and second in a race – like I said, you cant have two winners per race.

          1. @greenflag The point here is not about being more dominant.

          2. Of course not. That’s why Mercedes does not need two top tier drivers. Its goal is to win both championships, not to create exciting racing. Hamilton and Bottas enables Mercedes to achieve its goals.

          3. @greenflag Even on that count, it doesn’t make sense as Bottas is currently behind Verstappen, and just a couple of years ago he ended up way behind and 5th. Mercedes could easily have lost the WCC then, and there’s never a guarantee Red Bull won’t be amazing. By hiring Verstappen one makes sure other teams don’t have him, guarantee both championships, fulfill the team ‘spirit’, and to the point here, contribute to F1’s popularity and thereby themselves. But no.

    2. So, you want Mercedes to spend millions of dollars, create unrest within the team so that you can sit back and get entertained for a couple hours.

      1. @rockgod Mercedes is always harping on about its company values, and if those are not for fair competition, they shouldn’t even be mentioned. As it is now, they are in reality bragging about where one of their sportsman is subservient to the other. It might be very German, but for the outside it is very grating.

        1. Grating to you maybe. Me? My entertainment comes from this grating you. 👍

        2. My entertainment comes from this grating you

          Clearly a Hamilton fan..

    3. @balue You mean like Red Bull builds their whole team around Verstappen? Or how Ferrari was prioritizing only Vettel (until it was 110% clear that Leclerc was better)

      Which is actually not the case at Mercedes since they actually give Bottas a fair chance. Also, you massively underrate Bottas.

    4. A rivalry is a classic ingredient of popular sports. Now there’s nothing. It could easily be remedied, but the tough F1 guys at Mercedes are too scared of upsetting anybody in the team and giving more work for the management. They are wusses.

      People don’t like it at all. They actually booed the drivers and team when one driver was too obviously favored as we saw in Austria 2002, revealing the basic sentiment of the people, and even if you now do it sneakily by hiring placid journeymen and gearing the team around a no. 1 driver, that’s not what the people want. They obviously want proper competition, even within teams. We all know Verstappen or Alonso with Hamilton at Mercedes would be the stuff of legends and no one would want to miss a race.

  14. Don’t worry, Lew, we all know you are a safe pair of hands

  15. I’m sure there may have been some fans fairly new to F1 that might not have understood or grasped why they saw what they did on the weekend, but yeah certainly most around here get it full well. And that is where the commentators come in, as they too would not want to see a discouraged audience. Those of us who were watching MS/Ferrari get it too. This has been an issue for decades, and thank goodness the new owners post-BE weren’t just for more BE style F1, and started acting immediately upon their takeover to get F1 to where it will be for 2022 and beyond.

  16. If you passed over the top 3 runners, this race was actually pretty good. From the perspective of those “New to F1”, more like … “what is all the fuss about, this is boring”.
    Same goes for NASCAR, if you are only looking at one race … please shoot me now or pass the Bud and chips.
    As an F1 follower, and most of the readers here are, the longer view changes your perspective. Thankfully.
    What makes no sense is that the rules have created this situation of monotonous races.
    Engines are regulated and controlled, there are (apart from the Red Cars) effectively only very minor variations and effectively no technical divergence.
    The aero regs are stifling and make all the cars look the same. Might as well be Indy-Car. They even perform, generally, the same. Teams can’t change or work on the cars for the majority of the event, hence no changes or adaptation from Sat. morning on, fuel is metered and controlled to limit use and power, tyres are c…p with the end result, there is little or no variation in car performance. The leader at the end of the first lap has such an advantage that it is near impossible (bar an unfortunate DRS event) for anyone to overtake him.
    To cap it off, the drivers are all at such a level that we, the absolute top of the heap critics, have little reason to toss stuff at the TV. Thankfully, there are some gems that seldom disappoint. Gives us something to shout about.
    My take, unfetter the teams, the designers, open up and simplify the technical and sporting rules. The budget cap should an will limit technical warfare and we just might see cars that are different.
    Otherwise, every year gets us closer to a Spec Series.

    1. @rekibsn – all good points – especially the fact that Sundays race was actually pretty interesting if you looked beyond the top 3.

      What made the race worse was the fact that nearly everyone pitted early because of the safety car and then decided to go to the end of the race on tyres that couldn’t get anywhere near that at full pace. If they actually made the differential between the tyres meaningful and brought back in “the cliff” where extending the tyre’s usage past X number of laps caused it to drop off dramatically then maybe we’d also get some teams having a crack at two and three stop strategies rather than this “everybody’s going to tyre manage to the end” rubbish. There’s just no incentive (even for people like Max or Dan) to pit and take a fresh set of tyres as the pace differential is not high enough for them to cut through the field.

  17. Schumacher after winning two consecutive titles left Benetton to do the impossible and take Ferrari back to glory.

    The Benetton was at a disadvantage to the Williams in both those championship years, yet he still left to give himself a bigger challenge.

    Hamilton has spent 7 years in a row reeling off easy championship after easy championship where his only competition is his teammate.

    Drivers do have some blame.

    1. David Knowling
      1st September 2020, 6:12

      He could insist on getting the best team mate possible. It’s not his decision alone but he could agitate for that rather than cultivating one dominant driver per team.

      Wouldn’t VER & HAM or RIC & HAM on the same team spice up the racing?

    2. Hamilton left the quickest car in 2012 to go to a team who was struggling to score points by the end of 2012. I don’t remember Schumacher giving up his easy championships in the Ferrari from 2000-2004 to go help a team like BAR win a title.

      1. Schumacher only had genuinely easy championships in 2001, 2002 and 2004, with 2001 seeming easier than it was because of poor William reliability and Hakkinen having one foot out the door.

        In saying that, the 2002 and 2004 were still not as dominant as the most dominant Mercedes in the hybrid era. Not even close.

        Hamilton’s had a dominant car for 7 years, Schumacher only 3 years.

        Not to mention Hamilton went to Mercedes at the end of 2012 because they were tipped to have the best engine in the hybrid era.

        1. Hamilton only had easy championships in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 his car broke down so often that he didn;t stand a chance against the working car.

          In 2008, 2017 and 2018 Ferrari had the better car, but a driver who cracked when the pressure was applied. Still Hamilton had to go all out to keep up and finally beat Vettel.

          Also 2019 Hamilton had many races to win with a slower car: Bahrain, Baku, Canada, Monaco, Hungary, Russia, Japan and Mexico. Plus Austria, Spa, Monza, Singapore and Brazil where Mercedes didn’t have the fastest car, but didn’t win either.

          The fact that Hamilton wins races that he should not be winning does not mean he had the fastest car in retrospect.

          1. Now don’t go upsetting them with the reality. These are the guys who spent 2007 to 2013 saying the points don’t lie in reply to Hamilton fans. The same ones who responded to any poster making him DOTD with the retort that ‘well he wasn’t on top of the podium was he?’ And the regulars who responded to a positive Hamilton post with ‘he hasn’t got 7 WDC’s has he?’
            Now he has 15% of the total number podiums, and well on his way to achieve 10% of all ever poles and wins in F1 you will find the stopwatch, podium positions, points, wins and championships they cared about so much in the past matter not a jot now.
            Bit like the party mode excuse they have trotted out these past few years. Now everyone is edging their bets on that one.
            Just imagine if the Hamilton/Mercedes combo dominates once the new regulations come in?

          2. Hamilton’s had easy championships for 7 straight seasons.

            Hamilton butchered 7 starts in 2016, locked up Bahrain qualifying, crashed Baku qualifying, had a dummy spit in Shanghai.

            That’s why he lost in 2016. Rosberg didn’t even have to be particularly good just go out and bring the car home.

            The only reason Ferrari had a sniff of the championship in the first half of 2017 is because of Mercedes strategy blunders.

            Mercedes have clearly had the best car for 7 consecutive years.

        2. An engine that they had been developing 3 years before any of the other teams. Thats why they threatened to pull out of the sport if the regs werent changed in 2014, and the FIA buckled because they didnt want another large manufacturer to leave the sport after only recently losing BMW, Toyota and Honda. While this engine formula stays the same nothing is going to change as there is no way the other teams will ever be able to claw that 3 years back, especially as Merc have the biggest budget for R&D for the engines. And I agree Schumi only had a couple of dominant years, and the same with Seb at Red Bull. After Nico retired any excitement within Merc disappeared unfortunately. If you go watch the season reviews for 2010 and 2012 you realise how good things were back then (for the fans) and how dull they are now

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            1st September 2020, 21:02

            Renault played the same game. Were developing an in line 4 cylinder for years. Merc and Ferrari voted against it because the V6 suited their commercial interests better. That is why the V6 became the formula and why Renault sucked. Ferrari just dropped the ball. Honda underestimated the task and had a driver in Alonso that was too critical for their culture. It’s not all on Merc that this dominance happened.

    3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      1st September 2020, 20:57

      7 years in a row? 2014-2016 he was fighting tooth and nail against Rosberg. Do you think those blow ups at Spa, Austria, Spain and Monaco happened just because? There was huge pressure from both sides of the garage. 2017 and 2018 Hamilton Vettel? That wasn’t easy either. Seb cracked because of the pressure. So 2019 was the first relatively easy season. 2020 the same. Maybe it’s because of the battles he’s already faced. You disrespect the talent when you say “easy” No WDC is ever easy.

      1. In 2017 and 2018 he won double the amount of races Vettel did. Easy championship

  18. To be honest f1 has always been like this, I personally don’t care anymore, it is not my favorite series anymore, I much prefer cart/indycar since around 1999. I like nearly all motorsport. Motogp is a pure racing highlight nearly every race weekend. For the money spent in F1 and how much fans have to pay to watch it, on TV or at the race, it is a bit of a disgrace that f1 is the way it is in 2020. They should have moved to more standardized chassis and parts years ago.

  19. Part of what makes the races less exciting is that the drivers are so good. Compared to Indycar, NASCAR, sports cars, F1 rarely has drivers just binning it for no reason or tripping over each other. There are few pile ups, even at the start. We are spoiled. We see one person in an entire race, like Giovinazzi, drop the car when pushing hard and everyone says, “sack him!” If two cars collide, it’s a scandal and we have 200 comments on the article.

    We also don’t really see the performance of the cars in the way the race is covered, with these really long tracking shots, etc. For example, just with the braking, the onboards make it look like the cars just turn calmly into the bus stop chicane like I’m going into my driveway, but when you see the cars live or see a static shot, the way the cars brake is just incredible. We forget what it takes to drive these cars within a couple tenths of a computer-predicted time lap after lap.

    Generally, the drivers maximize the pace of the cars, over a lap and over a race distance, and without putting it in the scenery. And if they don’t they get replaced. And the results speak for themselves. If you don’t have a procession, it’s because of some weird freak event or because someone in the car or the garage made a career-endangering mistake. What we have to hope for is that the maximized performance of two different cars is very similar, within a couple tenths of so in ultimate performance, and that is going not happen very often with custom-designed cars.

  20. BTCC is way, way more exciting than F1, despite this year looking like a 2 horse race between Colin Turkington and Ash Sutton. Why a 26yo Ash Sutton restricts his ambitions to tin tops defeats me, he is so quick to pick up an unfamiliar machine and drive the wheels off it. After last BTCC season finished he jumped into a geared kart and won an International at Le Mans, utterly amazing versatility. Watching him pedal a Mk1 Lotus Cortina waving his front wheel in the air with a 4 wheel drift at Goodwood a couple of years back was as if Jimmy Clark had been ressurrected.

  21. It has put in full display the absolute failure of the hybrid era on every level. The least competitive era in F1.

    -3 teams have won races since 2014
    -Costs didn’t go down at all, they skyrocketed
    -As for attracting new manufacturers like promised, Cosworth left and Honda joined
    -From the beginning Mercedes have been more dominant than Red Bull and Ferrari before them
    -DRS still exists

    I guess this is what happens when the FIA wanted to work so closely with manufacturers. Renault and Mercedes in particular were close, but Renault’s V4 was vetoed. Mercedes got what they wanted.

  22. Interesting comments in light of so many previous discussions in these forums.
    Basically Lewis has now stated that the car is the big differentiating factor, not so much the drivers.

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