Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hamilton versus... (II)

Most people admit Lewis Hamilton is an interesting and exciting driver. His aggressive driving style has been his trademark since his debut year (2007) and has provided viewers with exciting races even though some of his overtaking moves have not been successful. Nonetheless, to date, Hamilton has constantly out-performed his team-mates. 

An article I wrote in October 2010 (Hamilton versus...) shows a graph with Hamilton's performance against all his team-mates since 2007 (his debut year) i.e. Alonso, Kovalainen and Button. (Hamilton eventually finished 26 points ahead of Button in 2010).

Relative Performance of Hamilton against his team-mates

By the 2011 season, Hamilton's current team-mate, Jenson Button admitted that he is more comfortable with his technical team and even his car seat has been customised for him. And recently, he has been doing better than Hamilton on the track, prompting pundits to comment that Hamilton is now playing second fiddle* at McLaren. A very public 'chat' with another team principal has also added weight to the idea that Hamilton is no longer happy at McLaren. Perhaps frustrated by Ron Dennis's replacement's approach to design developments?

After the Italian Grand Prix (a race at which a more aggressive Button pull off an overtake on Michael Schumacher, that a seemingly more conservative Hamilton could not manage), it is looking more probable that Lewis Hamilton will lose his crown as the 'leading driver at McLaren'. Also, as things stand Vettel already has a finger on the 2011 WDC trophy and this season might be the first one Hamilton is not in mathematical contention for the champioship by the last race. So one wonders;
  • is this the beginning of a downward spiral in terms of his future F1 performance, given that alternative options for him are limited i.e. other championship winning teams like RedBull and Ferrari are unlikely to sign him for various reasons, OR
  • if he is out-performed in 2011, will that be the impetus he needs to buck up and come back stronger and drive a more calculated race in 2012, perhaps tempering his naturally aggressive style to increase his chances of succeeding and possibly winning another WDC?
I would appreciate your participation in the poll running on this blog and your comments on this blog article. 

*second fiddlen - someone who serves in a subordinate capacity or plays a secondary role