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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Should Hamilton have Won Hungary?

It's taken me until today to really get my head around how Lewis lost in Hungary on Sunday last.  Regular readers of this Blog will know that I've been pretty critical of him over the course of the season so far, sometimes for his driving but mostly for the ludicrous nature of his outbursts in the media and his clumsy handling of his attempts to involve himself in his driver contract negotiations.

I've pointed the finger of blame at his management company for both of these matters and I'm convinced that this is where the fault lies.  My experience of F1, as a fan watching the sport, has led me to the conclusion that driver management is very specialised and is not something to be undertaken by a management company which is primarily interested in the commercial side of personality management.

Anyway all of the foregoing is beside the point; Hamo drove a fantastic race on Sunday up to the point where his chance at winning was rudely and crudely taken away from him.

It is great to see him going for it, racing hard against all comers, including his teammate - forcing mistakes - pushing the limits - taking every opportunity and making them stick.  Lewis in racing mode is a joy to watch and, under the changeable conditions, brought all of his talents to bear.

In my humble opinion there were a series of errors made which cost him the opportunity to fight to the finish at the front end.  Obviously the first and major talking point was the drive through penalty which - this time - seemed to be particularly harsh.  The stewards didn't make the right call on this (even though Di Resta did have to take to the grass to avoid him).  The fact of the matter is that Lewis, in spinning, was on the track and constituted a stationary hazard which would have required evasive action on the part of Di Resta in any event.

It didn't damage Di Resta's race and as such, given that it occurred just after the rain had started to come down again, the decision to award a penalty drive through was a little harsh and unwarranted.

The second thing which was obviously unhelpful was the decision to take on fresh (intermediate) boots - It was a gamble which just didn't pay off.  As Martin Brundle said at the time it could have been an inspired decision putting Hamilton on the right tyres while everyone else struggled on slicks (if only the rain had continued to fall!) unfortunately for him it didn't pan out that way and he had to come in to change back onto slicks as well as drive through to serve his penalty - this put him a good 40 seconds behind if you consider that the drive through was about 17 seconds and tyre changing probably adding another 21 seconds.

Given that he ended up about 48 seconds behind Button those two decisions, in conjunction with the spin cost him the chance to be at the sharp end come lap 70.

I was delighted (and surprised) with his press reaction afterwards as was his boss Martin Whitmarsh who commented on his mature attitude.  For me this was the first time this year when he would have had every right to have a go.  I think Allan McNish was the ex-F1 driver in the race stewards last weekend: I wonder what side he came down on in the penalty debate? (Not that I'm making any connection between Di Resta and himself both being Scottish!)