Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday 29th June 2008
Lewis Hamilton has had a tough time on and off the track recently, and a man who knows all too well about the pressures of Formula One has warned the McLaren driver that it won't get easier.
F1's elder statesman David Coulthard believes Hamilton has to make a few tough decisions if he wants to stay at the top of his game for a long time.
Hamilton was recently subjected to an astonishing attack by newspaper after he refused to talk to the press following a disastrous performance at the French GP, and Coulthard has a warned the 23-year-old that life in the fast lane won't get any easier.
"If you put yourself out there, there are going to be observations of where you're going, what you're doing," Coulthard told The Telegraph. "People will start to feel that they own a little bit more of you than if you keep a low profile. But that is a decision I am sure Lewis is well able to make.
"I never had the spotlight that Lewis has. I can't imagine what it is like. To be the first black driver in F1, almost winning a World Championship; all those things must be incredible.
"But Lewis unquestionably has everything he needs to be a World Champion. He is one of the, if not the most, well prepared rookies. The only thing that he doesn't have is the mental experience and development that inevitably comes through life."
The 37-year-old Coulthard believes keeping a low profile off the track can only be beneficial to your career.
"If you look at a Mika (Hakkinen) or Kimi (Raikkonen), they get very private and didn't or don't do a good deal. They are low-profile guys. Kimi is not off doing book signings or celebrity parties.
"If Lewis goes down a Beckham-style route he will end up being extremely busy at the race track and extremely busy away from it, which will take a toll."
The notorious British tabloid News of the World, meanwhile, on Sunday quoted Miss World contestant Vivian Burkhardt as slamming Hamilton for dumping her -- the direct result of his publicly dating her at the Cannes Film Festival before publicly switching to his current Pussycat Dolls pop-singing girlfriend at Monaco mere days later.
"Mega-stardom needs to be put on hold for now, with total focus on this critical and busy mid-season phase," Brundle advises.
Coulthard insists he doesn't dislike Hamilton, as has been suggested in some reports, but he does think his countryman's press coverage at present is the product of his current lifestyle.
"If you put yourself out there, there are going to be observations of where you're going, what you're doing," the 37-year-old Scot told the Daily Telegraph.
Coulthard said: "If you look at a Mika (Hakkinen)or Kimi (Raikkonen), they get very private and didn't or don't do a good deal. They are low-profile guys. Kimi is not off doing book signings or celebrity parties."
D.B. © CAPSIS International
The Melbourne and Monaco winner, and former drivers' standings leader, has now fallen ten points behind in the battle for the 2008 crown following consecutive disastrous outings at Montreal and Magny-Cours.
Hamilton, 23, also seemed to lose his composure with the press corps in France a week ago, moving pundits and experts to advise him to shut out the distractions and focus on simply driving his McLaren.
"You've got to learn to take a step back and realise 'OK, you don't have to do anything, just drive the way you normally drive and you will be fine, you will get by'," Hamilton said on Saturday, after meeting with patients at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
He insists that the past weeks, including the spate of penalties, have not affected him.
"It's just part of the learning curve," the Briton said. "You have your ups and downs and if you don't expect to have them then that's not reality."
"I haven't met my toughest time in my life as yet but all of this is preparing me for it," he added.
Hamilton said he expects the media to be "back on my side" once he gets back up to speed, beginning with next weekend's sell-out British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
But he continued to defend his actions following last Sunday's race in France, when he initially refused to speak to reporters after crossing the line just tenth.
"You've just done an hour and a half race and worked your backside off, and then they expect you to sit down and straightaway get out of the car and talk to people," Hamilton told BBC Radio 5 Live, before heading off to another off-track commitment -- a yacht race involving team sponsor Hugo Boss.
"Are you crazy? Damn man, I'm knackered. I need a drink. Sometimes I like to do that," Hamilton added.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Provisional 2009 F1 calendar
|1||27-29 March||Australian Grand Prix||Albert Park, Mebourne|
|2||3-5 April||Malaysian Grand Prix||Sepang International Circuit (possible night race)|
|3||17-19 April||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir|
|4||8-10 May||Spanish Grand Prix||Montmelo, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona|
|5||21-24 May||Monaco Grand Prix||Monte-Carlo|
|6||5-7 June||Canadian Grand Prix||Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal|
|7||19-21 June||British Grand Prix||Silverstone|
|8||26-28 June||French Grand Prix||Magny-Cours|
|9||10-12 July||German Grand Prix||Nürburgring|
|10||24-26 July||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring|
|11||7-9 August||Turkish Grand Prix||Istanbul Park|
|12||21-23 August||European Grand Prix||Valencia Street Circuit|
|13||4-6 September||Italian Grand Prix||Autodromo Nazionale Monza|
|14||11-13 September||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps|
|15||25-27 September||Singapore Grand Prix||Singapore Street Circuit (night race)|
|16||9-11 October||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka**|
|17||16-18 October||Chinese Grand Prix||Shanghai International Circuit|
|18||30 October - 1 November||Brazilian Grand Prix||Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Sao Paulo|
|19||13-15 November||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Yas Island|
Wednesday 25th June 2008
The pressure currently on Lewis Hamilton has been likened to that on Michael Schumacher's shoulders as he hit the headlines.
Hamilton has failed to score any points in the last two grands prix after taking the Formula One World Championship lead following a superb victory in Monaco.
Hamilton now finds himself 10 points off the pace being set by Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
Mistakes of his own making, combined with penalties imposed by the stewards, have hit Hamilton hard, and they are starting to cost him dear.
Hamilton turned on the media at the weekend for their criticism of him following his gaffe in Canada when he ran into the back of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in the pit lane.
But Honda team principal Ross Brawn, who nurtured seven-times World Champion Schumacher through the growing pains of F1, feels 23-year-old Hamilton needs to focus on what is important.
"The driving is the thing that will carry him through whatever else happens," said Brawn.
"He's got to focus on his driving, concentrate on that, and everything else will take care of itself."
Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: "We all tend to forget how young he is, and how this is all lots of new experiences for him.
"I was fortunate enough to be with Michael Schumacher when he went through this learning curve, and it was no different.
"The attention that these young guys get is enormous pressure, and something that no-one can really help them with.
"No-one can really advise them what they should be doing. So they have to learn the hard way and learn themselves."
Although Brawn is convinced Hamilton will one day be champion, he is backing former team Ferrari to triumph again this season.
The 57-year-old, who helped Ferrari win six Constructors' titles and Schumacher five Drivers' crowns as technical director with the team from 1997 to 2006, added: "Ferrari look very tough.
"Lewis is certainly capable of being a World Champion. It's just a question of how the car goes and how the dice roll."
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The really interesting track would be Abu Dhabi. But looking at the calendar presented by Keith, it seems odd that the F1 circus should travel from Europe to Singapore then back to the Middle East at Abu Dhabi. They should go from Europe to Abu Dhabi first then travel to the east to Singapore, Japan and China before finishing in Brazil. That would help the logistics and jetlag.
Tuesday 24th June 2008
Sir Jackie Stewart has brought into focus the latest conspiracy theory to surround McLaren.
Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen were both hit with penalties for Sunday's French Grand Prix by race stewards representing world governing body the FIA.
Hamilton started the race at Magny-Cours from 13th due to a 10-place grid penalty for his shunt into the rear of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in the pit lane in Montreal during the Canadian Grand Prix.
There were those who felt such a punishment was excessive, despite the stupidity of his error.
However, he suffered further early in the race when he was handed a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage in passing the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel, wrecking his bid for a points finish.
Again, it was suggested that was harsh, as was the five-place grid penalty handed to Kovalainen for apparently blocking Mark Webber's Red Bull during Saturday qualifying.
In light of the way many felt McLaren were hounded by the FIA during last year's spy scandal, these latest batch of penalties have stirred up strong emotions.
"A lot of people - and not McLaren personnel - are saying the FIA are more interested in finding faults at McLaren than at other teams," said three-times former World Champion Stewart.
"For example, in the French race, Kimi Raikkonen's exhaust system broke and part of it was visibly hanging off the car.
"Why wasn't he called into the pits to have the loose piece removed? That could have been the 'make it happen' moment of the race.
"Eventually the loose bodywork flew off the car, which could easily have been dangerous to the public or to another driver.
"Some people will say that if it had happened with a McLaren, the team would have been fined."
However, it has to be remembered Raikkonen was hit by a drive-through penalty of his own in the Monaco GP as Ferrari did not have his tyres fitted to the car at the appropriate time before the race.
As far as Hamilton is concerned, he may currently feel he is being picked on, not just by the stewards, but also the media who he roundly condemned on Sunday.
But as far as Stewart is concerned, it is yet another part of the learning curve for the 23-year-old.
Speaking in his column on the RBS sport website, Stewart added: "He's now experiencing both the privilege and the penalty of celebrity. He's excited the media so much, and now some people are starting to feel let down.
"But we should remember Lewis has only been in F1 for 15 months. He's not the finished article yet, and it's wrong to think he should be.
"He might not like to hear this, but he has a fundamental lack of experience at the top of the sport. If he asked for my advice, I'd say, 'take your time, and don't expect too much of yourself'.
"I know because I've been there myself. I had a big accident in my second year, which I was lucky to survive.
"Over the next few years I changed. I gained experience, which gave me knowledge, which in turn enabled me to deliver."
Tuesday 24th June 2008
McLaren boss Ron Dennis is convinced Formula One's wheel of fortune will again turn in the direction of Lewis Hamilton.
For the first time in his 25 grands prix F1 career, Hamilton has now failed to score in two consecutive races, leaving France pointless on Sunday a fortnight after his costly mistake in Canada.
Naturally, the mood in the McLaren brand centre post-race at Magny-Cours was quiet and sombre, in stark contrast to the celebrity-laden, party atmosphere that dominated in the wake of his stirring Monaco Grand Prix triumph a month ago.
That now appears light years away, with Hamilton all of a sudden 10 points adrift of new Championship leader Felipe Massa following the Brazilian's third triumph of the season, and eighth of his career.
In the wake of a dubious penalty handed down by the stewards, Hamilton hinted he is beginning feel picked on.
The 10-place grid penalty for driving into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane in Montreal was taken on the chin, even if there were murmurings it was a little harsh.
But the drive-through-penalty for apparently gaining an advantage in overtaking Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel on lap one, did not go down well, and undoubtedly denied Hamilton a shot at the points as he could only finish 10th.
If the sporting gods are being unkind on Hamilton at present, that is far from a concern for Dennis who insisted: "It's not a worry. It is motor-racing.
"He had a dream start to his career and so there's a lot of expectation on Lewis, but you have to remember it is still only his second season.
"There are many drivers who spend several years in Formula One before winning their first grand prix, so he is well ahead of the game.
"He is super-quick, super-focused, highly motivated, and he knows the ups and downs of motor-racing are always going to exist, and when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
"We are a strong racing team that is more than capable of winning more races this season, and more than capable of catching up and overtaking those cars in front of us, and that's what we are going to concentrate on doing."
As if to remind everyone of just how quickly a situation can turn, Dennis added: "I seem to remember having a 12-point lead with two races to go last season, so there is a long way to go."
That was reference to Hamilton who appeared to have the title in the bag, only to lose out by a point to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh remarked that Hamilton's critics are too quick to point an accusing finger.
"Lewis, up until the weekend, had done 24 races and scored more points than any other driver in that period," said Whitmarsh.
"If that's error prone then that's a little bit harsh.
"I think there is a tremendous spotlight and pressure on him and you always notice errors closer to the front than at the back.
"We are a top team and he is a top driver, and you have to expect criticism if you don't come up to the expectation of your fans.
"If you are going to try and lead in the sport as a team or as a racing driver, you set high expectations of yourself and that's placed with your fans, and they are going to reflect that upon you.
"He knows that, we know that, and when people stop talking about us then we know we are not competitive enough."
Hamilton could not have a better venue at which to make his detractors eat their words than at Silverstone, and the British Grand Prix, in a fortnight's time.
Whitmarsh is convinced the fighter within Hamilton will emerge, adding: "Lewis will be determined at every race, and he will be extra determined at Silverstone.
"We have had a nightmare start to the season and he is 10 points away from leading the Drivers' Championship.
"That can swing in one weekend, and that's the frame of mind you have to have when you go into this. He has to believe he can win in Britain and come out on equal points."
Monday, June 23, 2008
An addition of a drive through penalty really does not help either. I watched the race as much as I could and did manage to see Lewis try to overtake Vettel which caused the said penalty. And after getting back home, I managed to read up on the race reports and opinions from all parties. The information I had was from a few respected F1 websites such as Planet F1, F1fanatic, Pitpass, etc.
Yes, Lewis did make mistakes and he might have been wrong here and there, sometimes he is right too. But it seems to me overall, my impression that is, is that the FIA (read Max) is really out to get McLaren. There I said it, even if so many people don't want to say it. It's so obvious. Here's a paragraph from Planet F1 under their article called "French GP Winners and Losers" (which is re-published here):
In Canada Lewis Hamilton was rightly penalised for his pit lane accident - at the same grand prix Sebastian Vettel was only able to stop Heikki Kovalainen overtaking him by repeatedly cutting the apex on the last chicane. He wasn't penalised.
In France, Lewis Hamilton overtook Vettel but could only do so by making the pass then running over the Imola chicane. He too got an advantage from cutting the chicane and was rightly penalised. So if Lewis in France, why not Vettel in Canada?
In qualifying (Q1) Heikki Kovalainen tried to get out of the way of Mark Webber who was on a timed lap, but did it too late. Webber didn't lose out, yet Kovalainen was penalised and demoted five places down the grid. Also in qualifying, we were riding on board with Sebastien Bourdais on a timed lap when we came across a Ferrari heading towards the Adelaide hairpin. The Ferrari didn't move out of the way and Bourdais had to go off the racing line and round him. So how come that is not worthy of a penalty?
The inconsistent application of the rules makes F1's race stewards a laughing stock.
Come to think of it, Felipe Massa's glorious overtaking move on Kovalainen and Barrichello at the Casino hairpin in Canada was only possible by cutting the apex with two wheels on the grass on the inside of the kerbs. What about that then...? He didn't just cut the apex, he cut the grass on the apex.Also, please read the article I re-published here titled "FIA man involved in decision to penalise Hamilton". Plus please read up from as many sources as you can. At the end of the day, it is inescapable that a bias will reveal itself and that bias is from the FIA towards Ferrari, or should I say against McLaren. When will it end I wonder? When Max leaves office? I'm sure he'll put a replacement that listens to him to protect Ferrari and makes sure Ferrari wins for years to come based on FIA support. This is really making me sick.
I really look forward to a non Ferrari team to win both championships one day. Then we can all go back to enjoying our beloved sport and fairness shall return.
Sunday 22nd June 2008
Lewis Hamilton is looking like the novice he was supposed to be last season, but even the stewards apparently believed his offence at Magny-Cours was a minor and marginal infringement...
The Stewards Didn't Want To Wreck Hamilton's Race But Had No Other Choices
According to Ron Dennis, Lewis Hamilton's penalty was unjust because he was already past Sebastian Vettel when he briefly skirted around the chicane on the opening lap of the race. "He didn't gain any road position," the McLaren boss stressed to ITV at least three times during what was an otherwise brief post-race interview.
Yet the stewards specified that Hamilton had been adjudged to have gained an advantage - not a place - when he missed the chicane. As such, the matter of whether or not Hamilton was actually past Vettel was irrelevant.
Nonetheless, McLaren are entitled to regard the penalty as harsh - especially after the punishments meted out against Hamilton in Montreal and Heikki Kovalainen on Saturday. The Finn's grid-slot penalty was especially severe considering that, even if did hinder Mark Webber, the Aussie was still able to reach the next round of qualifying.
It may well be the case that Hamilton was carrying excessive speed as he overtook Vettel's Toro Rosso to the extent that he had no option but to miss the chicane. Yet it also appeared that his excursion was as much a preventative measure against hitting David Coulthard as it was a means to secure an advantage. In a sport that should be encouraging overtaking, wrecking Hamilton's race for what was a marginal and very brief indiscretion that interfered with nobody's else race is difficult to justify.
What the incident also highlighted was the shortage of options available to the stewards in such instances. Having decided that an offence was committed, they had only three penalties to select from: a stop-and-go, a drive-through, and another grid demotion. That they selected the most lenient punishment available indicated that they also regarded the offence as marginal. Given the option of a lesser punishment, the equivalent of a slap on the wrist, it is reasonable to assume they would have taken it. Unfortunately, from their perspective as well as Hamilton's, it wasn't available.
Hamilton Needs Some Home Comforts
It is just as well for Lewis Hamilton's Championship bid that F1's next venue is Silverstone. The Englishman's demeanour in France was of a man demoralised and convinced of his own victimisation.
For once, he did not speak to the press - a telling insight itself, particularly after he voiced his disappointment with the criticism he was subjected to after his self-induced crash in Montreal. And, for the first time in his albeit short F1 career, he appeared to give up in the final stages of the race, falling away from David Coulthard (although the same accusation could be levelled against Robert Kubica after the BMW driver briefly caught Kovalainen and Trulli and then apparently decided it wasn't worth the bother). A return to home soil and a morale-boosting rousing reception is precisely what the beleaguered Hamilton requires.
He also needs points. The collision with Raikkonen in Montreal has cost him approximately sixteen - not only did it cost him a probable victory in Canada, which was sufficient punishment alone, but with the BMWs struggling in France he would have been first in line to take third place behind the Ferraris at Magny-Cours but for the grid penalty that the Canadian GP stewards deemed necessary to impose.
Yet whatever the excuses, it has to be acknowledged that Hamilton is making an alarming number of mistakes this season. His driving has been scrappy, his aggression self-defeating and his decision-making faulty. 15 months after his debut, he looks like the novice he was supposed to be then.
BMW's Question Is Answered For Them
The question being asked after Montreal was whether Robert Kubica could win the World Championship. The question that should have been asked was whether BMW believed he could. For only if they believe Kubica can win this season does the Pole have any prospect of doing so. And theirs is a difficult dilemma. By winning in Canada, the team achieved their stated objective for 2008 of winning a grand prix. So what to do next? Begin concentrating on 2009 and preparing for the raft of new legislation that will be introduced, or maintain development on their 2008 car in order to prolong Kubica's title bid?
The team surely cannot have expected Kubica to be a contender this season, not when McLaren and Ferrari continue to boast such an substantial speed advantage. Their sudden regression in France, where they were caught by both Toyota and Renault, may well have clarified matters and sounded the death knell for Kubica's chances.
Honda Is A Realistic Option For Alonso
The uncertainty over the effect the rule changes for 2009 will have on F1's balance of power also explains why Fernando Alonso has refused to play down speculation linking him with Honda. With the Brackley outfit seemingly stuck in reverse, Honda would, at first glance, appear a backward step for the former World Champion.
Yet much the same was said when Alonso decided to leave reigning champions Renault in 2005 for a McLaren outfit that was, at that time, further down the grid and stuck in the doldrums. Alonso and his team of advisors gambled on the team's massive infrastructure and budget eventually bearing fruit and, three years later, they are apparently thinking along similar lines about a Honda team that, under the supervision of Ross Brawn, has already switched focus to next season and beyond.
While a seat is bound to be made vacant by Nick Heidfeld at the higher-flying BMW, the fact that Honda have previously shown a greater inclination to devote vast amounts of money towards their drivers' bank balances may also have a significant influence in Alonso's thinking.
And Fifth-Best Massa Is A Genuine Title ContenderBernie Ecclestone doesn't rate Lewis Hamilton highly. Asked to appraise the top five drivers in the sport, Bernie listed Alonso above Hamilton, declaring he had no doubts that "if he was still in a McLaren he would be showing Lewis the way home", and also endorsed Kubica to beat the Englishman in a straight fight. Judging by his two-word appraisal of Massa - a "smashing guy" - he doesn't hold the Brazilian in particularly high regard either.
Yet it is Massa who now leads the World Championship having overtaken Kubica in the standings courtesy of his (somewhat fortunate) victory at Magny-Cours. Massa, in general, is an under-acclaimed driver, and one who rarely features in lists of the top-five drivers. Yet such appraisals are based on past history rather than present form. While Raikkonen has been erratic and Hamilton error prone, Massa has excelled since the opening two races of the season failed to yield a single point. In the six events that have followed since, he has won three times and also collected two further podium finishes. That's championship-winning form in anyone's book - including, presumably, Bernie's.
Nick Heidfled Is The Master Of Understatement
"Having finished 13th is certainly a disappointing result."
Monday 23rd June 2008
Although the Magny-Cours stewards have insisted that their decision to hand Lewis Hamilton a race-wrecking drive-through penalty during the French GP was the result of a "clear" infringement, conspiracy theorists are bound to have noticed that Max Mosley's close associate, Alan Donnelly, was part of the decision-making process.
The penalty, which both Hamilton and McLaren, along with a number of neutral observers, deemed unjust, was the third the Englishman has endured this season and the second McLaren suffered over the weekend after Heikki Kovalainen was deducted five grid-places after being adjudged to have "hindered" Mark Webber.
While Ron Dennis' hint that McLaren, no friends of the discredited FIA President Mosley, felt they were being victimised was played down by his number two Martin Whitmarsh, it has emerged that Donnelly, Mosley's 'official representative' at grands prix and a consultant to the FIA, 'led' the stewards when they studied footage of the incident. In January, it was announced that retiring permanent steward Tony Scott-Andrews would not be replaced and his place would instead by filled by Donnelly acting as a 'administrator'.
There is, of course, no suggestion that Donnelly and the Magny-Cours stewards were anything but impartial when the judgement was made. As well as working for the FIA, Donnelly is the Executive Chairman of a Sovereign Strategy, a company that lists both the FIA and Formula One Management Ltd among its clients. It has previously boasted of working for Ferrari but has since removed the announcement from the client list on their website.
According to ITV, who supply coverage of F1 in Britain, the only footage of the Hamilton incident provided by the FOM TV host broadcast was an on-board shot from the Englishman's McLaren that apparently showed Hamilton past Vettel before he approached the Nurburgring chicane.
They claim that 'No exterior shot of the incident was offered', but cite the FIA reporting that 'its stewards, led by Max Mosley's number two Alan Donnelly, had access to the circuit's closed circuit TV cameras when making their decision'. The Times reports that the stewards adjudged Hamilton's offence to be "very clear".
It is unclear, however, why this footage has not been made available.
Sunday 22nd June 2008
A defiant Lewis Hamilton has insisted that he will not be derailed from winning the World Championship despite being hit by another controversial penalty during the French GP.
The McLaren driver was given a drive-through penalty by the Magny-Cours stewards for missing the chicane on the opening lap of the race despite his team being adamant that no advantage had been gained as Hamilton was already past Sebastian Vettel.
Metaphorically, and possibly literally, speaking through gritted teeth, Hamilton told reporters: "There's nothing you can do that can distract me. You can keep on giving me penalties and whatever you want to do and I'll keep battling and try and come back with a result."
Asked repeatedly if he felt the penalty was unjust and his McLaren team was being victimised, Hamilton replied: "I'm not going to answer that."
"I did everything I needed to do, I stayed out of trouble and drove what I thought was a fair race. We just missed the points, so that's three races now without scoring points but there's still 10 races to go," he continued. "If I'm 20 points behind I don't care, I will still come back."
Eventually persuaded to speak about the incident with Vettel, which effectively cost him any chance of finishing in the points, Hamilton commented: "I don't particularly feel I did anything. I went into the corner. I believe I was ahead on the outside and I couldn't turn in on the guy otherwise we would have crashed so I took the outside line, lost the back on the marbles and went over the kerb. I continued because I don't believe I overtook him by going over the kerb, I actually took him before that."
The Englishman refused to speak to the press immediately after the race, snubbing British race broadcasters ITV, but denied he was angry with the media.
"I feel cool," he vowed. "It's all good. Racing is racing. I'm still here, there's nothing you can do to get me out of it."
Monday 23rd June 2008
Martin Whitmarsh has rubbished suggestions that a FIA conspiracy against McLaren is the reason the team has incurred three penalties in two events.
The spate of punishments for McLaren began in Canada when Lewis Hamilton was penalised for crashing into the back of Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane after failing to stop for the red light. As a result the Brit was awarded a deserved ten-grid slot penalty for the following race in France.
In qualifying for that French race Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen join him on the punishment list as the Finn was handed a five-place penalty for blocking Mark Webber during qualifying. But given that Kovalainen couldn't really get out the way at the time, that fine seemed a bit harsh.
As did McLaren's latest penalty, which was a drive-through given to Hamilton for gaining an advantage over Sebastian Vettel by cutting the chicane in the opening stages of the French GP.
"In our opinion, Lewis was already past him (when he went off). He didn't gain any road position," a rather aggrieved Ron Dennis told ITV in the wake of the race, which Hamilton finished outside the points.
This led to some suggestions in the paddock that McLaren feel that the FIA are picking on them. However, CEO Whitmarsh has denied this.
"I'm sure Ron didn't indicate that really," Whitmarsh said when asked if Dennis was hinting at a conspiracy against McLaren.
"He has the frustrations that happen immediately after the race. We had three penalties this weekend, we have got to accept it and move on."
However, that doesn't mean that Whitmarsh reckons the penalty was the right call. "I think we have got to accept that the stewards have got a quieter time than us, and they got more information, and they have got to make the decision that they think is right.
"We didn't see it like that, but we didn't have the information that they had.
"There was a discussion. We noted that it had happened and we gave an opinion. The stewards had a different opinion."
As for Hamilton himself, he refused to comment on whether or not McLaren were being victimised. "I'm not going to answer that," he said.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Sutil is less experienced and cries a lot in the paddock but he doesn't whine so much when Kimi hit him in the back. And that was more important to Sutil than it was to Kimi. Kimi can always finish in the points or win almost anyday but Sutil?
I say to Kimi - Shut the hell up and get on with it. If you want revenge then win in Magny-Cours. Other than that, shut up!
Kimi Raikkonen believes Lewis Hamilton fully deserves his 10-place grid penalty for the French Grand Prix after disputing the McLaren star's take on events in Canada.
Raikkonen still remains stunned at what unfolded during Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal when Hamilton crashed into the back of the Finn's stationary Ferrari at the end of the pit lane.
Reigning world champion Raikkonen, along with eventual race winner Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber, had both stopped for a red light as the pit lane was closed due to a safety car on track.
Hamilton, emerging from his own pit stop, claims he saw the red light too late and was unable to avoid driving into the back of Raikkonen's car, sending them both out of the race.
But a doubtful Raikkonen said: "I can't believe somebody can hit you when you are standing in front of a red light and side by side with another car.
"I can't believe he did not see the red light, and more than that, the two stationary cars. He knows there was a red light. Accidents happen, but not with two cars that have stopped.
"I was ready to fight and try to beat Kubica after the red light, but that never happened. Instead, along came Hamilton and our race was over.
"I was not angry. Just disappointed, surprised and frustrated at the same time."
Following the race, stewards swiftly hammered Hamilton, with the penalty ensuring the 23-year-old will now start outside the top 10 for the first time in his Formula One career.
"I think Hamilton deserves his penalty," insisted Raikkonen.
"He loses 10 places for the next race in France, and at least it is not going to make things any easier for him."
Raikkonen has now failed to score in the last two races after his own accident in Monaco over a fortnight ago when he ploughed into the back of Adrian Sutil's Force India.
It means the 28-year-old trails new championship leader Kubica by seven points, with Hamilton and Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa three points ahead.
At this stage, Raikkonen is unconcerned by Kubica, believing Massa and Hamilton still represent his main title rivals.
"We lost a good result in Canada," added Raikkonen.
"The car was very strong on speed, and I felt we could have won, or at worst, been second. Now, after seven races, we have had two bad results in a row, something nobody could have predicted.
"Obviously, our position is not that strong any more, but it's not the end of the world. We have not lost that much.
"I'm still fourth in the championship, the same position as last year, and like then, there is still a long season ahead of us.
"I'm just glad Kubica won - and congratulations to him. For me, it was better he got the 10 points rather than my main rivals who are now just three points ahead of me.
"BMW has been there and scored points all the time and they now have a nice lead, but I'm not worried about that. Although if they keep scoring every race then it won't be that easy to catch them in the championship.
"But we've a very strong feeling about our car, and we will win again soon."
Lewis Hamilton is convinced he can defy the odds in the French GP and claim what would be a stunning victory.
Hamilton will start the race at Magny-Cours handicapped by a 10-place grid penalty following a calamitous Canadian Grand Prix.
The McLaren star was left red-faced after crashing into the back of title rival Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari at the end of the pit lane.
Trundling along at 30mph, Hamilton failed to spot Raikkonen and eventual race winner Robert Kubica had stopped for a red light.
The McLaren star braked too late, and was unable to avoid hitting Raikkonen, resulting in an early retirement for both drivers.
The penalty handed down by the stewards at Montreal means even if Hamilton sets the fastest time in qualifying in France, he will still start outside the top 10 for the first time in his Formula One career.
Yet, despite Magny-Cours being track where it is difficult to overtake, Hamilton said: "For sure, it's going to be tough, and we know we are already on the back foot.
"But knowing the pace and momentum we had in Canada, it just shows anything can happen.
"I feel quite confident we can still win there - that's my job. I have to have that belief in myself and the team."
Hamilton, speaking at the launch of the 'Go Motorsport' campaign at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, later tempered his enthusiasm - if only slightly.
"The key is to score points, and we obviously need to score as many as we can," he added.
"I still feel we can finish in the top three, but it's going to be a real challenge.
"Going on to Silverstone (British Grand Prix), we don't want any 10-place penalties for that!
"It's my home grand prix, and it would be very special for us to win it."
Although Hamilton looked foolish in Canada, particularly after he had laughed at father Anthony earlier in the week for pranging his £330,000 Porsche Carrera GT into a hedge, the 23-year-old adopted a philosophical approach.
"It was nowhere near one of my lowest points," responded Hamilton when pressed on the matter.
"I don't even particularly feel it was a low point - it was one of those things you just have to come to terms with and move on.
"In the race, I was on top of my game."
After failing to score points for the second time in five races this season, Hamilton trails Kubica by four points in the title race.
Like last year, Hamilton is anticipating a close-fought fight to the finish - but with the hope it does not again go to the wire.
"I believe the title is going to be very difficult to win, but I don't plan on it going to the last race," remarked Hamilton.
"We will push as hard as we can to do the job, and it doesn't matter if it is early or the last race, just so long as we get it done."
The 'Go Motorsport' campaign is designed to lure people from all walks of life into becoming involved in motor racing at any level, either as a competitor, official, trackside marshal or spectator.
The Motor Sports Association, the governing body of motor sport in the UK, is funding the £250,000 project, although further financial support is expected from organisations and individuals.
With Jenson Button, David Coulthard and Sir Frank Williams, among others, also behind the project, Hamilton added: "While Formula One is the pinnacle, there are many other classes of motor sport of which people are not aware.
"They don't realise there is such a depth and variety to the sport - particularly in the UK.
"I am happy to see an initiative such as 'Go Motorsport' raising awareness of the thousands of events around the country and showing people there is something for all tastes, ages and budgets."
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
However, Hamilton is refusing to let it get to him as he reckons had it not been for the accident he would be destroyed the competition.
"This will make no difference. It hasn't knocked me confidence-wise, I'm not gutted or disappointed," he said.
"It is not going to take me a day to recover or anything. I'll be up first thing training and really looking forward to Magny-Cours.
"Going forward, the mood is strong. The fact is we destroyed everyone at the weekend. With the car we have right now there is no stopping us."
I know Lewis' character is a competitive, confident and positive thinking individual. You need these characteristics to be a champion in your chosen field but you can always decide to keep your comments to yourself. It doesn't help by telling the press because they will surely twist it and the readers will form negative opinions.
It makes Lewis look arrogant. At least that was my initial impression and I know him personally. I have understood that he needs to be super confident and positive to be at the top of his game. People like him will succeed and exceed at their chosen field and it inspires me to condition my mind so I will be successful at what I do. But I still think a good dose of humility wouldn't hurt. Humility here means restraining yourself from commenting because you know your comments will be taken wrongly and that will hurt your image.
I'm not Lewis' mother so I can't tell him what to do or how to behave but I would advise him to tone down his comments or better still just keep quiet and get on with the job.
But some comments from some drivers does point that nobody in their right mind would want a crash anywhere on the track, even the pitlane, especially the pitlane. Lewis has said that the SC rules are silly and it was substantiated by Nico Rosberg by his comments :
"In my whole career I have never watched the lights at the pit exit," he is quoted as admitting to motorline.cc.
Even Ferrari test driver Marc Gene admits that the current safety car rules are "absurd" and "silly". His comments were made to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. But my comments are not in defence of Lewis Hamilton, even though I support him. He made a mistake and that's it. Calling him stupid would not help and would mean that Kimi was also stupid. Even though Kimi made his mistake at 300Kph, it's still a mistake. It does look stupid because it was made by a world champion with years of racing experience. If I were to stupidly defend Hamilton, I would say that at least Lewis is only in second year while Kimi has been racing for longer.
But where would this argument end. It's just an argument between different supporters, it will never end. So I won't get carried away and just say that it was a mistake. Learn from it and move on. The only thing I'm upset about is double standards. I hate double standards. It makes me so angry. Double standards across the world is enough with racism, we don't need it in sports. I'm upset that Kimi didn't get any penalty when he rammed Sutil but Lewis did. It's not about supporting Lewis or that I'm obsessed with Lewis. I want fairness and no double standards.
Lewis made a mistake and he paid the price. He's not perfect. Kimi also makes mistakes. World champions are not perfect either. But why the double standards?
Lewis Hamilton is refusing to let his Canadian GP mishap get him down, saying if he hadn't crashed he would've "destroyed" the rest of the field.
Starting from pole position, Hamilton easily etched out a seven second lead over the competition. However, his advantage was undone when the Safety Car came out on lap 17, resulting in the field bunching up.
Two laps later and Hamilton was out of the grand prix after a mistake saw him rear end Kimi Raikkonen. It was a disappointing end to a promising race for the 23-year-old.
However, Hamilton is refusing to let it get to him as he reckons had it not been for the accident he would be destroyed the competition.
"This will make no difference. It hasn't knocked me confidence-wise, I'm not gutted or disappointed," he said.
"It is not going to take me a day to recover or anything. I'll be up first thing training and really looking forward to Magny-Cours.
"Going forward, the mood is strong. The fact is we destroyed everyone at the weekend. With the car we have right now there is no stopping us."
Speaking of the penalty, which was handed to Hamilton after he crashed into the back of Raikkonen's stationary Ferrari which had stopped for a red light at the end of the pit lane, the Brit said: "The rule is silly.
"We are in the race - how can you see a red light at the end of the pit lane? But that's the rule and I accept it.
"I start ten places back in the next race. It's a bit harsh really. I didn't aim to ruin anyone's race."
One person who firmly believes Hamilton can bounce back from his Canadian disappointment is McLaren team doctor Aki Hintsa.
The Finn explained: "We can measure the mental stress levels in the drivers as well as fatigue.
"Lewis has improved physically and mentally since the start of the season. His statistics are very impressive and from those I can tell you this will not affect him one little bit."
F1 is likely to have a new procedure in place for what drivers are supposed to do in the event of a safety car deployment in time for the next round at Magny-Cours.
A trial of the new system will be held before the race. The plan is that, when the safety car is deployed, the drivers will be given a message by race control and will have to activate a special programme on their cars that limits their speed.
Will this help fix the safety car problem? How will this affect the races?
The safety car rules were changed at the beginning of last year to prevent drivers from coming into the pits as soon as a safety car period was declared. This was because at the beginning of a safety car period drivers would continue racing up to the start/finish line, often out of a desire to get a pit stop at minimum cost to their race time while the rest of the field was delayed.
The first ‘solution’
This was correctly judged to be unsafe and a solution was borrowed from other categories that have the safety car, notably the Indy Racing League. The pits would be closed during safety car periods.
However this meant if a driver was close to running out of fuel and had to pit during the ‘closed’ period they would receive a penalty. This is less of a problem for drivers in the IRL where much of the racing takes place on ovals and making up the lost positions is possible.
But in F1, where overtaking is near-impossible at many tracks, this solution was clearly flawed. However even though many people spotted the problem as soon as the new rules were introduced it has taken a year and a half to find a potential fix.
The new solution aims to solve the problem of the drivers hurrying back to the pits by making them activate a special ‘safety car’ programme on their cars. This will be part of the standard engine control units (ECUs) that were introduced this year.
This may be a simple speed limiter similar to what drivers currently use in the pits, or something more sophisticated (see here for more).
Is this new solution safe? A crash during the GP2 feature race at least year’s French Grand Prix highlighted the dangers of telling a pack of drivers that are jostling for position to slow down.
If one driver backs off before the other the consequences can be catastrophic (see this video of Ernesto Viso’s crash for an example).
Presumably this change will mean it is no longer necessary for the pit lane to be closed during safety car periods.
What will be crucial is how long the delay between the safety car period being declared and the drivers activating their safety cat systems is allowed to be. If a driver can wait one or two seconds longer than his rivals before hitting the safety car button it could gain him a position on the track.
But other ways in which safety car can complicate races will remain. It will still tend to disadvantage a driver who is running behind his team mate on the track, because both cars cannot be serviced at once in F1. And there will still be occasions when the pit lane exit is closed, requiring drivers to stop because the safety car is passing, which as we saw last weekend can cause all kinds of dramas.
The new system, if it can be implemented, may at least end the unfair practice of penalising drivers who have no option but to pit while the safety car is out.
However safety car periods will still introduce an element of the random into F1 races, which is something we’re going to have to live with. At least until someone sees sense and bans refuelling during the races.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Lewis Hamilton would be best advised to skip today’s newspapers. Unless he wants to read several unfortunate comparisons between his father’s prang in a Porsche last week and his crash with Kimi Raikkonen in the pits (see video here).
Hamilton is not the only F1 driver to have messed up at a red light in recent years. Nico Rosberg committed exactly the same mistake yesterday but, not being Hamilton, he gets less attention and a lot less vitriol from some quarters.
But why is it happening at all? We all know that if the light is red you have to stop so surely the world’s top racing drivers know the same?
Running red lights
Hamilton and Rosberg are the latest drivers to fall foul of a closed pit exit. They join Rubens Barrichello, who re-joined the track passing through a red light at Melbourne this year and was disqualified.
The phenomenon of drivers passing through red lights has become more frequent in recent years because of the increasing use of the safety car.
For safety reasons, the pit lane exit is closed while the safety car and any F1 cars near it are passing by. However last year the rules were changed to control when drivers could come into the pits during a safety car period, meaning the entry to the pits may be open while the exit is closed, which rarely happened in F1 before.
But despite all this a red light means stop so why are the drivers not seeing it and not stopping?
I saw the two guys in front battling in the pitlane and all of a sudden they stopped. I saw the red light but by the time I stopped it was too late.
This suggests a couple of things. First, the pit lane stop light is hard to see if you’re not one of the first drivers in the pit lane queue. And it also suggests that it hadn’t occured to Hamilton, and presumably Rosberg, Barrichello and the rest, that the pits would be closed.
In other forms of motor racing we hear the teams giving their drivers a constant stream of useful information. In Indy Car the drivers have spotters around the track to let them know if they have a car close by them that they might not be able to see.
Exactly what F1 teams do in terms of giving their drivers information can be hard to tell because we rarely get to hear their radio transmissions. Did McLaren or Williams warn their drivers of the likelihood of the pit lane exit being closed yesterday? If so the warning wasn’t heeded.
The blame ultimately has to rest with the drivers but as with everything in F1 it’s a team game as well as an individual sport. If it’s hard to see the pit lane exit light at Montreal, and past experience has suggested it is, then McLaren and Williams should have taken that into account.
However this may no longer be a problem from the next round. At the next race in France the teams are to trial a new system where, in a safety car situation, the drivers will receive a message informing them to activate a special ’safety car mode’ on their cars, slowing them down.
This should allow the pit lane to remain open during safety car situations and hopefully will eliminate the chance of accidents happening as the drivers react to a safety car deployment.
The image above is illustrative and not a photograph of the red light at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
There are many people in F1 who say the same thing, from the lowest ranking to legends. They are not stupid also as they have this same perception. One person can be wrong, 10 persons can be wrong but a lot of people? Look at how the FIA handles issues with Ferrari and others. It just gives you the impression that the FIA has 2 different sets of rules.
The latest is the 2 incidents at Monaco and Montreal. Kimi hits Sutil and gets nothing, not even a reprimand. Lewis hits Kimi and immediately gets a 10 grid penalty. Kimi says that his accident with Sutil is ok because he made a mistake at 300kph while Lewis made a mistake in the pitlane. A mistake is a mistake, you pay. But Kimi somehow manages to get out-of-jail free. Why? Because he drives a red car.
And after all that crap he was mouthing off about Lewis - the word "stupid" comes to mind - it would seem that he was trying to cheat by stopping next to Kubica in the pitlane, when he should have stayed behind Kubica. It seems he was trying to overtake Kubica after exiting the pitlane - I seem to remember that there is no overtaking under the safety car. Guess who made that rule? Yes, the FIA or Ferrari International Assistance. Here's a comment from Planet F1 :
"Raikkonen Blocked Hamilton's Escape Route In The Belief He Could Overtake Kubica When The Safety Car Was Deployed
In our Winners And Losers column, Andrew Davies also makes the observation that 'the penalty of 10 grid places for clattering into Raikkonen in the pit lane is a bit harsh when Raikkonen was effectively parked in the wrong place. Kubica was just in front of him as he was released by the Ferrari pitcrew and the Finn should have slotted in behind Kubica not stuff up the exit. (You can't overtake behind the Safety Car). Had Kimi slotted in behind, then Lewis would have had somewhere to dive to when he finally realised the red light was on and the cars were s-t-o-p-p-e-d. Clearly Hamilton's mistake but Raikkonen didn't help.'
It's a good point.
The follow-up must be to wonder if Raikkonen would have attempted to overtake Kubica when they were released by the red light. As Andrew notes, 'You can't overtake behind the Safety Car' but does that rule legislate for a scenario when two cars are situated side-by-side at the end of the pit-lane? While not exactly overtaking behind the Safety Car, both Kubica and Raikkonen had already overtaken Hamilton at their pit-stops and it's probable that the pit-lane exit would also have been regarded as an extension of that anomaly. After all, until a car has left the exit, surely it is not on the actual racetrack and thus cannot be considered to be 'behind the Safety Car'. My guess is that Raikkonen believed he could overtake Kubica along the exit and this is why he parked his Ferrari next to the BMW and not behind it."Who's stupid now? Actually, personally I thought at the time of the accident that Lewis was stupid for making such a mistake but F1 drivers at the top of their game don't make "stupid" mistakes. To me, fine Lewis made a mistake and he paid for it by not taking any points in this race. And that was that. But today when I read about the penalty for Magny-Cours, I was so pissed off that I had to write this.
I was willing to forget yesterday's race but the "stupid" FIA is doing it again. Again, Ferrari got their running dog to do their dirty work for them. Last year at Melbourne, Ferrari was cheating with the movable floor but nothing happened. When they cheat it's ok but when there is even a suspicion of others doing the same - POW! - the FIA springs into action. Fucking double standards.
So at the end of the day, the "stupid" belongs to the FIA. Stupid for being used by Ferrari.
Lewis Hamilton's driving in the Canadian GP has been described as "stupid" by an aggrieved Kimi Raikkonen.
The World Champion was shunted out of the race when Hamilton rammed into the back of his Ferrari having failed to spot a red light denying access back on to the race track.
Raikkonen briefly confronted his McLaren rival before he stalked back to the Ferrari garage and was still simmering when he spoke to reporters a few hours' later.
"I am not angry because that doesn't achieve anything and does not change my result. I am unhappy, because I had a great chance of winning," he said.
"I am maybe not the best person to say you shouldn't hit anybody from behind after what happened in the last race [when Raikkonen crashed into Adrian Sutil at Monaco] but these are completely different stories.
"If I am going 300km an hour and lose control and hit somebody it is natural. But if I do it in a pit-lane, with a speed limit, with two cars stopped, and you hit them it is stupid. I saw the red light and chose to stop. Unfortunately someone saw the red light and chose not to stop."
The stewards evidently concurred with Raikkonen's reasoning. Having declined to punish him for wrecking Sutil's race in Monaco, they have imposed a 10-place grid penalty on Hamilton for next week's France GP. But that will be of limited consolation to Raikkonen whose title bid is faltering after an imperious start to the new season.
"I have failed to score in these last two races and now it's time to start winning again," he admitted. "There is still a long way to go in the championship and it is still very close and we have everything we need to regain the ground we have lost."
McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh has questioned why Lewis Hamilton was handed such a severe penalty for his Canadian crash, while Kimi Raikkonen wasn't punished for his Monaco incident.
Following Sunday's Canadian GP, Hamilton was handed a ten-grid slot penalty for the next race in France after he failed to stop for a red light at the end of pit lane, crashing into a stationary Kimi Raikkonen.
"It's disappointing," Whitmarsh said of the penalty. "It's a decision the stewards have made so we've got to now make the best we can out of it."
However, that doesn't mean the McLaren CEO agrees with the penalty, citing Raikkonen's lack of punishment for crashing into Adrian Sutil in Monaco.
Asked by Autosport if he felt Hamilton's penalty was severe, Whitmarsh said: "It is."
He added: "There was a different view taken in Monaco so we've got to work with what we're given."
Lewis Hamilton has, somewhat peculiarly, confessed he apologised to Kimi Raikkonen after their race-ending crash during the Canadian GP but refused to admit he was to blame for their prang.
The accident occurred in unusual circumstances on lap 19 of the race when Hamilton's McLaren collided with Raikkonen's stationary Ferrari at the end of the pit-lane. Raikkonen, along with the BMW of Robert Kubica, was prevented from rejoining the race by a red light that Hamilton either did not see or did not see in time to avoid the collision.
"I don't know what happened," Hamilton admitted. "I saw the two guys in front of me battling in the pit lane and I was trying to make sure I didn't get involved but then they stopped. By the time I saw the red light it was too late. It's unfortunate - I've apologised to Kimi but these things happen."
Asked whether it had been a "consolation" that Hamilton's race-ending mistake also proved terminal for his closest rival in the World Championship, the Englishman replied: "Not really. I'd rather it not happened. I was breezing it - it was going to be an easy victory."
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Lewis Hamilton claimed he felt no pressure because of his bid to become Formula One World Champion.
The McLaren driver goes into Sunday's Canadian GP leading the Drivers' Championship, three points clear of defending World Champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton finished joint runner-up to the Finn last season following a remarkable rookie campaign which saw him claim a podium finish in his first five races before notching his maiden grand prix victory in Montreal 12 months ago.
Hamilton remains the centre of attention for the media in the paddock and for the fans in the stands but the Englishman claimed he was just trying to stay focused on his job with McLaren.
"I don't read what's in the papers, I don't read anything as regards Formula One," said Hamilton.
"I lead a normal life out of Formula One and then I come here I do my job and do what I love doing.
"I'm aiming to shut it all out and put it at the back of my mind.
"I know how good I am so I just keep on doing what I'm doing and I'm enjoying it. So I don't particularly feel the pressure."
In the wake of comments from Raikkonen that he was mulling over his retirement from the sport when his Ferrari contract expires at the end of 2009, in part because he did not enjoy the demands of the job away from driving, Hamilton said he preferred not to talk shop with his fellow drivers.
He said: "I don't speak to many of them about this stuff. We talk about other things, we talk about girls, parties, cars and none of the drivers really talk about that other stuff."
Despite dominating qualifying Lewis Hamilton concedes Sunday's Canadian GP won't be an easy race to win.
Hamilton was the fastest man in all three qualifying segments on Saturday afternoon, eventually finishing up with a 0.612s advantage over second placed Robert Kubica.
It was an impressive show of form from the McLaren driver, made even more so by the fact that he was the only driver to break into the 1:17s with a heavy fuel load.
But despite his apparent advantage over the chasing pack, Hamilton has downplayed any suggestions that Sunday's race could be an easy win for himself and McLaren.
"As you have seen the last few races have been difficult, with the experience of leading the race so we can anticipate it will be similar," he said.
"The track surface isn't great so it will make it tricky and I am sure these guys will push us hard.
"We will try and do the best job we can and score as many points as possible. We have to make sure we are in the points."
As for his qualifying performance, Hamilton said: "It has been a fantastic Saturday for me.
"I felt comfortable since yesterday in the car. This morning was tricky for everyone, with the track quite slippery. We remained positive and kept car the same.
"In qualifying I felt at home. The team did a great job in the early stages of each qualifying session.
"The first lap was a shocker as I nearly went wide at turn one, the last one was good - similar to last year."
Monday, June 2, 2008
In Monaco, Lewis was seen with 3 women and now the papers just can't figure out which one is the one. Or maybe he's doing a "Mosley" with 3 at the same time. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Shame on you, wanting to just sensationalise the issue and sell more paper.
Guess what? I know the truth. I had lunch with Anthony Hamilton during the Malaysian GP where he told me what is happening in Lewis' personal life and it was an eye opener. It makes me laugh at all the so-called "news" coming out daily.
But the best part is I'm not telling - ever. Ha, ha, ha. So you cheap media sluts can go on making idiots out of yourselves. I'm enjoying every minute of it.
Pedro de la Rosa reckons Lewis Hamilton has the potential to win this year's World title as long as McLaren keep improving.
Thanks to his victory in Sunday's Monaco GP Hamilton has taken the lead in the Drivers' standings. The 23-year-old holds a three-point advantage over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen with Felipe Massa a further point adrift.
Leading the standings, though, isn't new to Hamilton who held the advantage for a large part of last year's Championship before losing it at the final hurdle to Raikkonen.
De la Rosa, though, believes this year Hamilton can make amends but only if McLaren continue to improve their MP4-23.
"Hamilton is very confident and if he fulfills his promise of scoring 15 consecutive podiums, he may win the title," the Spanish test driver said during the opening of Madrid's motor show.
"We have won two races out of six and we have been closer to Ferrari on the tracks where they beat us by much in 2007, but we must keep on improving the car because the Championship is very long. We already lost it by one point last year."
Lewis Hamilton is eagerly awaiting next week's return to Canada, where he's eyeing a repeat of last year's glory.
Hamilton, in his rookie season, clinched the Canadian GP victory after starting the race from pole position and keeping his wits about him through three Safety Car situations.
The McLaren driver is intent on putting in a repeat performance this season, which he believes is a strong possibility given the way both himself and McLaren have improved in the last 12 months.
"Last year in Canada was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life, to take my maiden pole and victory in Formula 1 was incredible, even more so as it was with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes," he said.
"It would be great to go back there and do the same, and that is what we are working hard to achieve. Since then I think I've matured a lot, I think I have grown stronger as a driver and have become closer to the team."
Hamilton's strength was on display last Sunday in Monte Carlo where the 23-year-old put in a superb drive to clinch the victory and the lead in the Drivers' Championship.
It was a dream come true for the Brit, who after six races holds a three-point advantage over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
"As I said on Sunday, winning at Monaco is the highlight of my career, it was a very emotional victory for me as it is something I have dreamed of since I was a kid," Hamilton said.
"I will never forget the moment, but now my only focus with the team is Canada. We have good momentum right now and we are pushing to keep that going and to keep developing."
As for the next circuit, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Hamilton said: "It is renowned for its difficult track surfaces, particularly with tyre graining, and the walls.
"Despite being very fast, it can feel like a street circuit with the barriers very close, but it is good fun to drive at and I am looking forward to getting back there."
However, McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh has a few concerns heading into the race weekend as he doesn't believe the Montreal track suits the MP4-23.
But having said that even he admits the circuit still been a solid hunting ground for McLaren who have won two of the last three Canadian GPs.
"We have a car which excels in high speed corners and there aren't too many of those in Canada, however, we have a reasonably good track record at this event," Whitmarsh said.
"It is about high speed down the straights, braking stability, durability of the braking system, traction out of the corners, which are relatively short but with high speeds into them.
"All this means it is an unusual circuit that is not the easiest to forecast, but we have every reason to believe we have made improvements on the car and the whole team is looking forward to carrying our Championship campaign forward."