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McLaren drivers' hopes hanging by a thread

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Andrew Benson | 11:23 UK time, Sunday, 10 October 2010

"It's not been our greatest weekend," McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh admitted even before the Japanese Grand Prix started. Two hours later, it did not even look that good for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Hamilton's pre-race assessment of it being one of his "worst weekends" was pretty much spot on.

After the race, Whitmarsh put a brave face on things, saying it was not the "bigger disaster" he had feared at some points over the weekend. But the reality is that Suzuka dealt a heavy blow to the championship hopes of both McLaren drivers.

Button finished fourth, a place ahead of Hamilton, but their three title rivals - Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber of Red Bull and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso - annexed the podium, and for the first time all season both Englishmen are more than a win off the championship lead.

That watershed moment - as it may well turn out to be - has come at the worst possible time, with just three races to go and with both the Red Bull and the Ferrari expected, on current form, to be quicker cars than the McLaren at those tracks.

Given the expected dominance of the Red Bulls at Suzuka, Japan was always going to be an exercise in damage-limitation for McLaren. Instead, the damage was to some extent self-inflicted.

Hamilton started things rolling with his crash in first practice on Friday morning, which was exactly what he did not need after accidents had put him out of the last two races.

That meant Hamilton managed only six flying laps on Friday and put him on the back foot for the rest of the weekend. And things got worse when it emerged that McLaren had to change his gearbox, earning him a five-place grid penalty.

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This, it emerged, was as a result of damage it incurred in Hamilton's race-ending collision with Webber in the previous race in Singapore. McLaren hoped that it would survive, but it became clear through Saturday that it would not, and they had to take the hit.

After the wash-out on Saturday, Hamilton qualified third on Sunday morning, a quite superb performance given his lack of track time. But that became eighth following his penalty, and from there he was never going to beat the Red Bulls or Alonso.

Bringing back memories of his stunning drive to third in a poor car in Suzuka last year, though, Hamilton gave it a go. He was fantastic both before and after another gearbox problem intervened and he lost third gear, and subsequently fourth place to his team-mate.

That second gearbox problem meant Hamilton, despite his Friday crash, ultimately got as many points as he was ever going to get at Suzuka. But, as he put it himself, the last three races have made winning the championship "very difficult".

For his part, Button's gamble on taking the harder tyre for qualifying failed to pay off.

Whitmarsh believed it cost Button a place on the grid and if that is true it could have been the difference between finishing third and fourth in the race.

Alonso made a poor start from his fourth place so, had Button been ahead of him on the grid, it is inconceivable to think the world champion would not have beaten the Ferrari into the first corner.

That would have given him critical track position. Alonso was faster than Button in the race but had the Englishman been ahead Button would probably have beaten the Ferrari anyway.

For Button, that would have meant being 28 points off the championship lead rather than 31 as he is now. In such a tight season, that could make a huge difference.

Trying to emphasise the positives, as all the best managers do, Whitmarsh pointed out both that there are still 75 points available and that McLaren have more developments to come in the final three races.

But the team's promises of performance have not always delivered what they expected on the track this season and the fact remains that McLaren have had the third fastest car at the vast majority of the races this season.

Only at Spain, Turkey and Canada has it been demonstrably faster than the Ferrari, and only in Turkey, Canada and Italy than the Red Bull. McLaren and Hamilton had got into the championship lead by maximising their potential better than either of their rivals. That ability seems to have escaped them for now.

What made it worse was that Suzuka, actually, was one of McLaren's better races in terms of performance - and it was always going to be Ferrari's weakest of the final four.

Had the weekend gone smoothly for McLaren they might well have beaten Alonso with both cars - they certainly had the qualifying pace for that. To miss that opportunity could prove very costly indeed.

"Anything can happen," Whitmarsh said. "The leading guys could fall off at the next race, Lewis could win, and all of a sudden you'd be right back in it."

That's what the Japanese GP did for McLaren - realistically, they know the championship is now out of their hands, and they are relying on something going wrong for the top three.

Webber, meanwhile, has extended his lead in the championship, from 11 points over Alonso going into the race to 14 after it. But the Australian will be feeling anything but comfortable.

Vettel is now tied on points with Alonso - although classified only third because he has won one less race - and the result means that, were Red Bull to finish one-two in all the remaining races, Webber can not finish second to his team-mate in all three and still win the championship.

On pure performance, that is what Red Bull should do. But, as Alonso pointed out, that must be considered unlikely on the evidence of the season so far.

"Of the 16 races of the championship," he said, twisting the knife a little, "15 of them were Red Bull circuits and they won only seven. So in the remaining three races, I think it will be difficult for Red Bull to be one and two every race because always something seems to happen.

"If something does happen, we need to take the opportunity. If not, it will be hard because we know in 2010 the Red Bull has been the dominant car."

Alonso may, though, be playing down his chances.

The changes to the rules on bodywork flexibility seem to have brought Red Bull back towards their rivals - their advantage in Japan was nowhere near as big as it was in Hungary, a similarly favourable track.

On top of that, none of the remaining circuits are likely to be as good for Red Bull as Japan.

South Korea, on 24 October, is an unknown quantity, but while there are a lot of corners at Yeongam that will favour the Red Bull so, too, are there long straights which will tip the balance back to the Ferrari and the McLaren. That may leave things dead level between all three. It will be fascinating to see.

The bumps and long straights at Interlagos in Brazil may also give Ferrari the chance to take on Red Bull on a level playing field. Only at Abu Dhabi may Red Bull reasonably expect a significant advantage.

There are doubtless many twists to come in the best F1 championship in years, decades even - but for Hamilton and Button, at least for now, it looks a long shot.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I disagree that Button's strategy cost him, other than potentially finishing behind Lewis, which didn't happen in the end due to Lewis's gearbox issue.

    McLaren are the third fastest team at the moment and Button needed to try something different. He can't get away with just finishing on the podium at this late stage in the season, he needs victories. Hoping your competitors DNF is not the way to win a championship. Today didn't work out and pretty much confirms the McLaren drivers are out of the hunt for the title. I personally feel it's now time for McLaren to forget this season and look forward to developing next years car.

  • Comment number 2.

    Another article criticizing Lewis i get annoyed with these kind of blogs this is the last andrew Benson blog i`ll probably read except for the classic races!

  • Comment number 3.

    F12008 wrote[2]:

    "Another article criticizing Lewis i get annoyed with these kind of blogs this is the last andrew Benson blog i`ll probably read except for the classic races!"

    -----------------

    You thought it was CRITICAL of Hamilton???

    I fear you have bought into our usual jingoistic overinflation of the British driver's talents. Hamilton is simply a poor driver - wait, I take that back - maybe he'd be good in stock car racing, but just not F1.

    Personally I think Lewis should take a year out and try Scalextrix. it would be more suited to his talents, and would perhaps help him learn a basic lesson which he seems to have utterly failed to grasp. DON'T CRASH.

  • Comment number 4.

    Yes, it looks all but over for McLaren. I suspect that Red Bull has finished shooting itself in the foot and McLaren in the head – Vettel having taken out Button at Spa and Webber 'doing' Hamilton twice this year with his customary 'racing incidents'.

    Despite Alonso's 'well-meaning' comments and the fact that Red Bull should, by rights, have wrappeed-up the championship by now, I can't see the fact that 'something always happens' continuing.

    However, McLaren will not go down without a fight and I seem to remember that Hamilton's McLaren dominated Abu Dabi last season until brake problems put him out and he, at least, had the pace to trouble Alonso, who only finished a couple of seconds shy of Webber today – so it's not a foregone conclusion that Red Bull will win the remaining races. Now the McLaren drivers have far less to lose than their rivals, perhaps we haven't seen the last of some really forceful driving at the front this season.

  • Comment number 5.

    It has all gone wrong for Hamilton since Monza. He cannot buy a result at the moment. I can only pray that fortune will smile on him one more time. He had Alonso def in this race. I blame whitfarce as well as he has ignored hamilton the majority of the season aand now has realsied button is in over his head.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    It wouldn't be a major disappointment if the Mclarens don't win the title. They have been off the pace like Ferrari for much of this championship. It could be said Red Bull have been disappointing they should have wrapped this title up ages ago.

    As for Hamilton hes probably in the top 3 drivers on the track in terms of speed. Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel seem in a different class to most of the field with Webber and Button on the level below. Although who knows just how quick Kubica will be when hes in a strong car

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    F12008 wrote[2]:

    "Another article criticizing Lewis i get annoyed with these kind of blogs this is the last andrew Benson blog i`ll probably read except for the classic races!"

    -----------------

    You thought it was CRITICAL of Hamilton???

    I fear you have bought into our usual jingoistic overinflation of the British driver's talents. Hamilton is simply a poor driver - wait, I take that back - maybe he'd be good in stock car racing, but just not F1.

    Personally I think Lewis should take a year out and try Scalextrix. it would be more suited to his talents, and would perhaps help him learn a basic lesson which he seems to have utterly failed to grasp. DON'T CRASH.

    -----------------

    Hmmmmm, I don't remember Vettel being told to quit F1 after losing control of his car ON A STRAIGHT and taking out the World Champion.

    I don't remember Alonso being told to quit F1 after, under no pressure, completely losing control of his car and crashing out in Belgium.

    I don't even remember Webber being told he wasn't good enough for F1 when he a) crashed into Hamilton in Melbourne, b) turned his car into a plane in Valencia.

    F12008 - maybe you should decline the easy route of slipping into immature and unintelligent accusations against someone who has proved to be the most effective overtaker and blisteringly quick driver of the last 3 years. Yes, he makes mistakes, so has every other driver. Every other driver makes a mistake on every lap that they don't go as fast as Hamilton does.

    All of the top 5 drivers have made mistakes this season. Webber and Alonso win points by making fewer mistakes but scoring fewer points through actual racing. Lewis and Alonso make more, but score more points through out-racing other drivers.

    They're each different, all great, all exciting, all effective. How about you appreciate that rather than denigrate one you have a personal distaste for....?

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    andrew, all this lewis bashing is getting a little tedious. what you seem to forget that despite his 4 DNF, due to mechanical failure and perhaps brain failure at times ie monza, he is still ahead of jenson button in the championship battle. what does this say about jenson and his title hopes...ok enough of that
    what we are forgetting is that mclaren have had the third fastest car all season along and had it not been for lewis and jenson outdriving and out smarting their rival they would be further adrift. the mclaren management is very poor at thinking outside the box, they keep shooting themselves in the foot and therefore put more pressure on jenson and lewis to outperform the car. they say hindsight is a wonderful thing but had they pitted lewis earlier to cover mark webber at singapore, mark wouldnt be able to leap frogged him when he pitted and perhaps he wouldnt feel as much pressure to try and recover the position. oh well that's all in the past. mclaren need to get their act together and fast if they stand any chance of salvaging their championship hope. back to the point of lewis, im a die hard motor racing fan and i would rather see someone have a go rather than sit back and hope that the guys in front trip over themselves to gain the position, afterall this is formula one, the pinancle of motorsport, i dont want to see cars following each other obediently to the finishing line. call me crazy but strongly think lewis and jenson is still in with a chance, a long shot it may be but still a shot....as the saying go its not over till the fat lady sings...dont think she is about to sing, not yet anyway. this formula one season is one big rollercoaster, anything can happen. please lay off lewis guys, talk about kicking man when he's down and lets get behing both our brit boys....

  • Comment number 12.

    Why all this vitiol about Hamilton & Button. they are both world class drivers and are both world champions, unlike Webber and Vettel which surely must count for something.!! Why persist with this peurile rubbish about how Lewis is only good for stock cars and that Jenson is 2nd rate. It makes me sick. They are BOTH capable of winning the championship; they are separated by only 3 points and surely it's obvious that Maclaren just dont have the car this season to consisently beat the Red Bull and Ferrari cars. Grow up..!!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    amen faldoman...

  • Comment number 14.

    As soon as I saw a 'McLaren' blog on here I knew someone would be accusing anyone critical of Lewis of 'racism'. Sure enough, here it is as usual.

    Why can every other driver be criticised but not Lewis? Thought things were meant to be the same for everyone. I've slaughtered Schumi this season, guess I must hate Germans. Oh no, hang on, I think Vettel is very talented so will have to go away and think on this one. Button, for example, has copped a huge amount of flack over the years, must be 'anti-English' sentiment I suppose.

    And I say this as someone who loves watching Lewis drive! Give it a rest guys, save the racism accusations for real incidents of racism or they wear a bit thin.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    mikeyshort12, you obviously have very little knowledge of f1. i suppose everyone is entitle to their opinion, however if you really follow the sport like the true die hard f1 fans then you would know a thing or two about f1. like him or loathe him, lewis has been a breath of fresh air to an ailing sport, after schumacher left in 2006, so did millions of fans, their was a hugh gap in the market for a new and exciting talent.
    fast forward 2007, and the rise of lewis hamilton, everyone knew he was good in other formulae but noone, not even lewis hamiself could have predicted that he would make such an impact in a relative short space of time. his overtaking moves were breathtaking, he won fans and enemies a like. some say he is arrogant, how dare he come to formula one and jump in good race seat like mclaren. ok fair enough but what people dont realsie is that lewis had to earn his place, its not always what you're given but what you do with it. in his 4th season in formula, he is already a household name, his popularity transcend outside formula 1, he have a hugh following on facebook, twitter. believe it or not i support several drivers in formula, one of them just happens to be lewis.
    of course lewis had make quite a few mistakes in formula one and sometimes you want to give him a shake and say get it together, he is not the complete package but he is pretty darn close.he is still work in progress but thankfully he have youth on his side so he can only get better from here. i dont just support lewis im also a big fan of rosberg, vettel,kubica,massa,schumacher, kobayashi, sutil and button so im very happy when any of these do well.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Utter nonsense. With Red Bull's acknowledged advantage, the best possible aspiration for Mclaren at any race 3rd and 4th. Only a mistake can place anyone higher. Alonso got 3rd and the ONLY disappointment is the loss of ONE single place. This article is loaded with journalistic twaddle continuing the erosion of the BBC's credibility in covering this sport. A very sad demise with everyone trying to predict the championship every thirty seconds based on the most tenuous and over stated observations of irrelevant minutae.

  • Comment number 19.

    I wouldn't count out the Mclarens just yet. I expect them to be strong at Korea and Abu Dhabi, where there are long straights. If they don't win in Korea though, its all over I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    Andrew Im severely shocked at this.

    Not only did Lewis drive a blinding race and quali despite all the negativity surrounding him, he pulled himself up to give an awe inspiring performance, a performance which proved that he can handle the pressure and be totally inspirational. But NO instead you chose to use a negative headline - obviously it means nothing to you that he drove phenomenally considering the hassles hes had - instead you prefer to focus on hamilton's story as a negative.

    Mind you its not that surprising considering that button seems to be your favourite man and just like the rest of the beeb team....you guys enjoy brushing Lewis to the side.

    BTW...If you didnt already know: Lewis IS also British!

    -Shocking & quite shameful really!

  • Comment number 22.

    Not only did Lewis drive a blinding race and quali despite all the negativity surrounding him, he pulled himself up to give an awe inspiring performance, a performance which proved that he can handle the pressure and be totally inspirational. But NO instead you chose to use a negative headline - obviously it means nothing to you that he drove phenomenally considering the hassles hes had - instead you prefer to focus on hamilton's story as a negative


    --------------------------------------------------------


    Do you mean the headline "McLaren drivers' hopes hanging by a thread"? That is (a) accurate and (b) does not single out Hamilton.

  • Comment number 23.

    21. At 2:18pm on 10 Oct 2010, SupaSix-1 wrote:

    Andrew Im severely shocked at this.

    Not only did Lewis drive a blinding race and quali despite all the negativity surrounding him, he pulled himself up to give an awe inspiring performance, a performance which proved that he can handle the pressure and be totally inspirational. But NO instead you chose to use a negative headline

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    That second gearbox problem meant Hamilton, despite his Friday crash, ultimately got as many points as he was ever going to get at Suzuka. But, as he put it himself, the last three races have made winning the championship "very difficult".

    For his part, Button's gamble on taking the harder tyre for qualifying failed to pay off.

    Whitmarsh believed it cost Button a place on the grid and if that is true it could have been the difference between finishing third and fourth in the race.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    What are you talking about? Anyone with any sense of objectivity cannot deny that McLaren's title hopes have taken a severe blow. It's just factual information. With three races to go, as well as Hamilton drove, the cold reality shows that it's just not enough. You have to put it in context, Hamilton was disappointed which tells you everything.

    1. Both drivers have fallen further behind, and are now more than a win behind Webber.
    2. McLaren fell further behind Red Bull
    3. On pace, McLaren are the third fastest team, behind Ferrari and Red Bull.
    4. There's only three races left.

    In what way do those facts suggest anything has got better for McLaren after this weekend?

  • Comment number 24.

    It just hasn't been Lewis' year. He's been entertaining, and it's certainly been better than 2009, but he's not going to be Champion. A mixture of crashes (some his fault, some not), bad luck, and the fact that regardless of who's been quicker where, overall the Red Bulls have had the car advantage, have been too much for him to overcome.

    That's been the theme of this season, really - if Red Bull don't win both Championships, and particularly if Vettel doesn't win the Drivers Championship, it'll be because they've thrown it away. Wasn't Japan Vettel's eighth pole of the season? And yet he's still playing catch-up.

    If it's going to end up being 'the one who made the fewest mistakes will be World Champion', surely you'd have to give it to Webber. Aside from his driving-into-the-back-of-the-Lotus-and-going-into-orbit incident in Valencia, I can't think of too many major errors he's made this season (they may have slipped my mind, admittedly). Vettel's been all over the place, Hamilton's made a few blunders, Button's had too many gambles not pay off, and Alonso...well, if he wins then it'll be a hollow victory after Hockenheim. I'm hoping Webber does win, and with the races that are left and the way the table looks, I think he will.

  • Comment number 25.

    Makes a change from Alonso bashing!!

  • Comment number 26.

    Hopefully this comment will not get deleted, like my comments on the previous race.

    I don't really agree with the main point of the article, none of the remaining tracks massively favours Red Bull, with both Korea and especially Abu Dhabi having long straights. On top of Red Bull's dominance here (Suzuka) was less than expected. So, don't count anyone out of it, after Spa Alonso and Vettel were out, I don't think so !!!

    Without Hamilton's penalty he might well have split the Red Bulls into the first corner. Alas that wasn't to be and it wasn't for the 2nd gearbox issue, he might even have challenged Alonso for 3rd.

    If the Red Bulls pull clear, then full praise to them, if (and when) it happens.

  • Comment number 27.

    I fail to see how this blog criticises Lewis. Rather, Andrew calls his quali effort superb and his drive last year 'stunning'. Do you Lewis fans always have to take offence when an article is written that doesn't make Lewis look like a superstar ? On this race, Vettel again showed that out in front he is brilliant. The only overtaking moves he had to make were to lap others. Webber on the other hand threw his race away at the start and was very lucky with Kubica's misfortune. I can still see a Vettel championship as Webber must be due for a DNF and I don't think Alonso can challenge Vettel IF he qualifies well. And again Andrew, I think you are 100% spot on - without saying they can't win it, only a miracle will get Button or Hamilton the WDC now. And LH lovers, it's not long until next season.

  • Comment number 28.


    This is continuing to be a great season with a maker of an awful concoction called energy drink (worse than Coke) outsmarting to date the worlds best motor car making companies.

    Things have changed so regularly that seeing any of the top 5 get up and win is predictable by any F1 expert. It is likely to come down to the last race. I thought the Japanese Kobiyoshi continues to star outside the main players. What would he be like in a fast car?

    Surely the back six cars are not contributing to the F1 brand of sport.
    Its ok to have B grade but not running at the same time.
    Second rate cars and proven driver failures.

  • Comment number 29.


    What are you talking about? Anyone with any sense of objectivity cannot deny that McLaren's title hopes have taken a severe blow. It's just factual information. With three races to go, as well as Hamilton drove, the cold reality shows that it's just not enough. You have to put it in context, Hamilton was disappointed which tells you everything.

    1. Both drivers have fallen further behind, and are now more than a win behind Webber.
    2. McLaren fell further behind Red Bull
    3. On pace, McLaren are the third fastest team, behind Ferrari and Red Bull.
    4. There's only three races left.

    In what way do those facts suggest anything has got better for McLaren after this weekend?

    -----------------------

    Certainly McLaren's chances have taken a blow,

    In response 1 and 4 are true but 1 win with 3 races to go is doable. (aka Raikkonnen in 2007)
    2 is True, 3 I'm not certain about that, here Red Bull was faster, but Hamilton was faster than Alonso in Qualifying, and future tracks suit McLaren a lot more with their long straights esp Abu Dhabi.

    So not over by a long way yet, but Red Bull on top atm.

  • Comment number 30.

    I wouldn't count out the Mclarens just yet. I expect them to be strong at Korea and Abu Dhabi, where there are long straights. If they don't win in Korea though, its all over I'm afraid.

    --

    Agree fully.

  • Comment number 31.

    IMHO, it's quite harsh to blame Mclaren or Whitmarsh for Lewis's fortunes, especially after all he and the team have done to help Lewis. Hamilton is the favorite son in the Mclaren family, whereas any other driver (including Button) is just another employee for them. I am not saying it is wrong, I am just saying that Mclaren have always focused on Lewis, maybe because of his exceptional talent as a driver, and they have every right to do so. I think Whitmarsh's comments (quoted in the article above) "Anything can happen," Whitmarsh said. "The leading guys could fall off at the next race, Lewis could win, and all of a sudden you'd be right back in it." are a simple proof of that. These comments are as biased as you can get. People blame RB and Christian Horner for giving preference to Vettel, but please tell me how is this any better if not worse. He actually wants his other driver to fall off? amazing. When you have two drivers separated by 2 or 3 points, such comments from the team boss can be really inspirational for one and completely demotivating for the other. Fairplay to Button for keeping his head and focus, and not making life difficult for the team (Personally, I think Mclaren is a bit shocked by the challenge that Button has given Hamilton this season).

    Moving on to the championship, it's really difficult to see anyone but an RB driver winning it. People talk about Alonso hitting form at the right time, but so is Vettel and with a much superior machine. Webber has stuck to it but it would be difficult to hold off Vettel in the last three races.

    Lastly on the debate of who is currently the best F1 driver (excluding Schumacher who obviously is the greatest of all time, as much as i hate to say or admit that). Well I believe that the drivers, themselves, have voted Alonso as the best. I would believe that they know a thing or two about drivers.

  • Comment number 32.

    29. At 2:47pm on 10 Oct 2010, JACKTWO wrote:

    3 I'm not certain about that, here Red Bull was faster, but Hamilton was faster than Alonso in Qualifying, and future tracks suit McLaren a lot more with their long straights esp Abu Dhabi.
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Well, Monza is the fastest track on the calendar and McLaren didn't win there. The long straights are all well and good, but they're connected with loads of corners, which Red Bull and Ferrari go round quicker than McLaren.

  • Comment number 33.

    I also absolutely cannot see why some people on here think this blog is critical of Lewis. Are we reading a different blog to some of the rest of you? It's unfailingly (and rightly) positive about Lewis's driving this weekend.

    Some choice quotes:

    'Hamilton qualified third on Sunday morning, a quite superb performance'

    'Bringing back memories of his stunning drive to third in a poor car in Suzuka last year, though, Hamilton gave it a go. He was fantastic both before and after another gearbox problem intervened'

    Andrew Benson also doesn't criticise Lewis for his Friday accident, which Lewis himself said was his own fault.

    Benson's point is that the results of the Japanese GP have made it especially difficult for either McLaren driver to win the drivers' championship this year. This I would suggest is pretty irrefutable, and Lewis himself seemed to accept that the title was now a bit of a long shot in post-race interviews. And if saying this is enough to offend you I would suggest that you go and wrap yourself in cotton wool and never leave your bedroom.

  • Comment number 34.

    Looks like there's lots of subliminal stuff going on. The anti-Lewis mob and the pro-Lewis mob as usual - calm down people. Far as the merits of Suzuka go, LH has no one but his own team to blame for his 5th-place finish - his car has looked rather unreliable sometimes, and this has not been helped by Lewis' own kamikaze-like driving style (which I enjoy immensely: when Lewis is racing, you know there won't be any processions to the finish line...).
    But it is incredible that, despite not finishing a whopping 4 times, he is still in with a shout - and ahead of his more balanced but less exciting world-champion teammate.
    The BBC has never really been pro-Lewis, but hey - they are human too, so lay off them. If I wrote an article for the BBC about ANY F1 race, you would be shocked at the criticism Alonso would get - I'd even lay into his racing boots. Such is life.
    McLaren still have a chance, but one gets the feeling that their mechanics can't really tease any more performance from the car. That is a shame - the car is slow, clearly, and the mechanical and electronic problems are too many for a genuine shot at the title. It's premature to say it, but if Mercedes are serious about F1, they should be calling Lewis and telling him what they will do to their car next season. Now THAT would be worth exchanging looks over...

  • Comment number 35.

    "Lastly on the debate of who is currently the best F1 driver (excluding Schumacher who obviously is the greatest of all time, as much as i hate to say or admit that). Well I believe that the drivers, themselves, have voted Alonso as the best. I would believe that they know a thing or two about drivers."

    You state "obviously" as if it fact about Schumacher being the greatest of all time, he might be statistically, but in my opinion it was Senna.

    And a recent poll of current, and past F1 drivers were asked the same question and they chose Senna, I would believe that they also may know a thing or two about drivers.

  • Comment number 36.

    comment 35 was a reply to F1 Rookie's post no.31 post

  • Comment number 37.

    racingsupreme - you obviously misread my post as you appear to believe I had a go at Hamilton....on further reading you will realise I was defending Lewis against accusation from F12008. Quick re-read required methinks...

  • Comment number 38.

    @ cunningplan57

    Thanks, that really makes me happy. I have always been a fan of Senna. Have never liked Schumi :)

  • Comment number 39.

    Don't agree that this is a classic season Andrew.

    It may be tight at the top but the racing has been processional.

    2 complaints:
    - Each race features one set of tyre stops around the same lap, then follow the leader to the flag.
    - drivers are looking after their tyres rather than pushing flat out. Note Vettel's radio message in Singapore, "I'm not pushing".

  • Comment number 40.

    I feel that mclaren made a good choice regarding their drivers. I'm a Jenson fan, but he is a perfect foil for Hamilton's charging style. Reliable, he'll bring the car home when he can. Tha's the best they could have done, not someone who will take points all the time from the other driver, but always bring home points. As a certain Mr. Jordan is always saying, points mean money....

  • Comment number 41.

    Well, Monza is the fastest track on the calendar and McLaren didn't win there. The long straights are all well and good, but they're connected with loads of corners, which Red Bull and Ferrari go round quicker than McLaren.

    Monza is unique in being an exceptionally low downforce circuit, to such an extent that the F-duct device was not as effective there, however McLaren was far quicker at Monza than Red Bull. Whereas Spa was more conducive to the F-duct giving a good result for McLaren. So on this basis. if McLaren are battling it out with Ferrari, taking points off Red Bull, it makes the sesaon even more wide open.

  • Comment number 42.

    What a load of tosh some people talk on here. It's shocking.

    @39, only a few of the races this season have been like that...have you been watching Nascar?

    I quite enjoyed the race. There was certainly a lot of drama at the start. As Brundle pointed out, we were denied a Renault in the mix today. Kobayashi again entertains us. I tell you what, if we could get all the drivers in exactly the same spec car, then we would be able to sort the men out from the boys...and find the true best driver in modern F1. That would be something.

    Again I see Lewis as unlucky. If there's something that's going to happen, 9 times out of 10 he's involved. If he hadn't of had the silly retirements e.g. Monza and the unlucky retirements e.g. Spain then he'd be looking very good indeed. For Button and Hamilton now, it looks like a long shot. I support McLaren and their drivers, so I guess I could be counted as a 'Lewis lover' but I appreciate all the other drivers too.

    It's hard not to see Red Bull walking it now. Webber deserves it more than Vettel, although Vettel will win it sooner or later.

  • Comment number 43.

    Here is a look at what the Drivers standings would be if the scoring system used between 1991 and 2002 (10-6-4-3-2-1) was used:

    1. Webber 70
    2. Alonso 67
    3. Vettel 64
    4. Hamilton 61
    5. Button 55
    6. Massa 30

    Although the order is not changed, it suggests that Alonso has a 3 point advantage over Vettel rather than being level on points - surely a reward for Alonso having more race wins (4 to 3) than Vettel. Also, with this points system, Hamilton still is within a race win of Webber. But as it stands even if he were to win the next race and Webber failed to score he'd still be behind the Australian.

    Thus, if Bernie Ecclestone wanted to reward the driver who won more races and determine the champion in this way, he could have simply reverted to this previous points scoring system.

  • Comment number 44.

    41. At 3:33pm on 10 Oct 2010, JACKTWO wrote:

    Both McLaren drivers are far enough behind that they really have to score 1-2s to have a decent chance of winning the drivers title. I just don't think there's enough races left for Button to overhaul 31 points and Hamilton to overhaul 28.

    The only way I can see that happening is if Webber, Vettel and Alonso retire from at least one of the races.

  • Comment number 45.

    Title link from main page:

    Hamilton's hopes hanging by a thread
    Andrew Benson sees the McLaren drivers slip up in Japan

    -------------------------------------
    So ok Lewis slipped up in FP1...that was 2 days ago now.
    Did Lewis slip up in quali? = NO
    Did Lewis slip up in the race? = NO

    Did jenson slip up in quali? = YES
    Did Jenson slip up in the race? = YES

    This is what I mean.......it has been a regular pattern this season from the beeb team that whenever Lewis does well & button doesnt....then the beeb gloss over Lewis' great performances to just generalise that the TEAM did well. But when Lewis has a poor race or session and jenson has a great result - Then its all JENSON this...and JENSON that...its like you all break out the party poppers...but Lewis' great performances would be lucky to get more than a sentance.

    Lewis has turned himself around and picked himself up....but no you want to focus more on the negative with Lewis despite him redeeming himself in fantastic style, so it looks to you that BOTH drivers struggled.

    Its no secret Jenson is the beeb's golden-boy, and just because Lewis doesnt give you as much time...its like you guys think "Ok..jenson's great with us so we'll be great about him, hes at mclaren in the lion's den so we should give him positive press." and "Lewis doesnt give us his time so why should we do him any favours".

    You obviously fallen for a massive PR offensive objective by the button camp in order to ensure the move to the lion's den is not a PR disaster as feared pre-season.

    And BTW...a tip = If you want Lewis to talk to you guys more...how about not being so two faced about him and try being as equally nice to him. Any tiny little thing and you guys are the 1st to launch into him and keep it going and going....stir stir stir. I too wouldnt want to talk to anyone who is nice to my face but behind my back sticks the knife in.



    Its sad if its come to that!

    -Its pathetic.

  • Comment number 46.

    Ignoring the pathetic and trivial bickering that much of the above discussion includes, these are my thoughts following a good race at Suzuka;

    * It's not all sour for McLaren, they did have pace, albiet didn't have the best strategy (indeed, had Button not opted for the strategy he DID go for, and had Hamilton not had gearbox trouble all weekend, Alonso would NOT HAVE BEEN ON THE PODIUM),

    * Furthermore, McLaren scored more points than Ferrari anyway, which is useful for the constructors' championship,

    * Mark Webber's needs only finish consistently in the top 2 to secure this title, as all the others' fluctuate in terms of finishing results,

    * For the FIRST TIME this season, Michael Schumacher was on an equal footing with Nico Rosberg. Will it be a flash in the pan?

    * Kamui Kobayashi once again showed he's a terrific racer with a hell of a lot of balls,

    It was an extremely eventful Grand Prix we saw today. Another great race in this most excellent of seasons.

  • Comment number 47.

    The only way I can see that happening is if Webber, Vettel and Alonso retire from at least one of the races.

    -----------

    Hamilton has to overhaul 28 on Webber, in order to do that he needs around 60 pts, and for Webber to have 1 a bad race, possibly a DNF.

    However if Hamilton can do the above, he is only 14pts behind Alonso and Vettel, which can be overturned in 1 race.

    Realistic yes, probably not.

  • Comment number 48.

    There is still a tiny chance either McLaren drivers can win the championship with only 3 races left. Next Circuit in South Korea will be new for everyone. Should be interesting race

    Currently its a three horse race to win the Championship. Webber is still favorites to win the Championship. Its very good that both McLaren drivers may not win it this year, the last two championships were won by British drivers so it makes sense that a different nation driver wins it this year

    At the moment it can be either a Spanish, German or Australian driver will win the championship

  • Comment number 49.

    I think 3rd in qualifying was as much as Lewis could have hoped for in Suzuka regardless of the misfortune he had in free practice. The real problem at McLaren is not Lewis's misfortunes or Jenson's failed tyre strategy, but an underperforming car. McLaren have of course won races but largely due to the misfortune of the Red Bull and Ferrari or weather conditions rather than a very quick car. Yes Hamilton has on occasion been able to push it beyond its limit, but on the vast majority of circuits they have been outclassed in terms of car performance. There's no denying the Red Bull car is superb and one shudders to consider what it might be like with the Mercedes engine. I would say the die is cast and I fully expect one of the Red Bull drivers to win. McLaren may catch Ferrari but I think now baring something catastrophic happening to both Red Bulls, both championships are now beyond their grasp.

  • Comment number 50.

    Off-grid, Lewis gives the Beeb time. He did the F1 2010 game with Jake, and been in many interviews (OFF-GRID) with them. He also went to the forum in Bahrain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Just thought I'd add, that being the dedicated fan that I am I got up at 6am this morning to watch it all live, even the build-up!

  • Comment number 52.

    Completely off topic - I always find it so funny on the BBC coverage just how blatantly Lee McKenzie has the hots for Vettel!!

    Today was definitely the end of Hamilton and Button's title challenge, barring Webber or Vettel taking each other out in one of the remaining 3 races, and even then it would probably still not be enough.

  • Comment number 53.

    Everyone has forgotten, remember after Spa, the championship was considered a two horse race, but Alonso still believed he could get back into it, a race later at Monza hes right back in the hunt after Hamilton gets a dnf and Webber has a bad result. If Alonso and one of the redulls mess up next race and either Hamilton or Button win, its back on... you heared it here first!

  • Comment number 54.

    rebulls*
    heard*

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh please the BBC sings the praise and tends to turn more than a blind eye about the shortcomings of Lewis "if i dont get my way i ll sulk and play celebrity who is who with my pussycat doll" Hamilton as it does with Jenson Button.

    I always grew up with thinking of the BBC as a standard to which every other broadcaster was held but the last few years their standards have slipped. If it wouldnt be for the forum it would not be such a big deal!

    LH just like my fav Sebbe Vettel is lacking consistency something which Mark Webber and Jenson Button seem to be better at. Alonso has one major ace and thats his teammate who effectively has to sacrifice any chance on personal success in favor of FA.

    All those guys saying LH is being disliked because he is black are blind and rather mis informed. I dislike LH because he has walked a red carpet under Ron Dennis and has been praised to such a level that one would think he is the best driver of his generation. Don't get me wrong he IS talented but he is not the best driver of his generation. He came to McLaren when they and Ferrari could outspend anyone else in r&d and thus had a major advantage over them. Last year JB benefited from the change in regulation which threw the leading teams a loop, and they got caught out. This year its a level playing field. RB has better aero dynamics but lack in pure speed, Ferrari and McLaren have the speed but less AeroDynamica which is why McLaren acted like spoiled little brats and complained about RB's chassis.

    Bottom line is AB's blog was not critical of LH and Eddie Jordan even said it on the forum that LH had an amazing race (starting 5 places down but still finishing in the top 5 well done LH(. So Andrew was at no stage criticizing LH nor was the beeb doing this. For your information journalists ought to stay neutral and not choose sides (something which happens all too often in sport these days).

    Any real F1 fan is loving this season, come on guys there are 3 more races and anyone of 5 (FIVE!!!) pilots can win the Driver Championship and 3 (Three) teams can win the Constructors title... Well done FIA, I first didnt agree completely with the trimmed budgets and R&D but you have proved to be on the ball. Really should have happened years ago.

  • Comment number 56.

    @karting_george

    Wise words mate, WISE WORDS.

    Anything can happen now...

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 55 (by Munsters Rebel)

    Any real F1 fan is loving this season, come on guys there are 3 more races and anyone of 5 (FIVE!!!) pilots can win the Driver Championship and 3 (Three) teams can win the Constructors title...

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Spoken like a PROPER F1 FAN my man!!! That's what I like to hear. Shame about a lot of other folk on this forum isn't it? Omg..........

  • Comment number 58.

    To all those having a go at Benson..try actually READING the article!

    I quote:

    "After the wash-out on Saturday, Hamilton qualified third on Sunday morning, a quite superb performance given his lack of track time. But that became eighth following his penalty, and from there he was never going to beat the Red Bulls or Alonso.

    Bringing back memories of his stunning drive to third in a poor car in Suzuka last year, though, Hamilton gave it a go. He was fantastic both before and after another gearbox problem intervened and he lost third gear, and subsequently fourth place to his team-mate".

    How is that having a go at Hamilton?

    I've read quite a lot of Andrew's articles and I've never seen him be anything less than objective about ANY driver, be it Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Webber or Vettel.

    Far too many fanboys on here who can't abide a word said against their favourite drivers.

    All the above - and their teams - have made mistakes over the course of the season and all have been deserving of criticism at some point. Deal with it!

  • Comment number 59.

    @Lord_Lancashire

    Just read your earlier post, couldn't agree more, Koboyashi is so exciting to watch, can't wait to see him in fast car!

  • Comment number 60.

    @59 (by karting_george)

    Definately! Kobayashi in a top team would be a sight to behold, and he's going the right way about attracting their attention.

    Hopefully it won't be Ferrari, as they've proved they can stuff one driver into a corner, thus not letting him show true potential. I'd hate for Kobayashi to be made the victim of Ferrari favouritism.

    He needs a team like McLaren or Red Bull if he'd to really shine.

  • Comment number 61.


    That's what you are guys that's what you want and that's the level of journalism you deserve. Look at which are the best selling newspapers by far in the country, it's quite embarrassing.

    Andrew Benson [after numerous blogs on Lewis being the best driver Jenson being somehow the embodiment of brilliance Alonso/Vettel/Schumi losing the plot and changing the subject when Alonso/Vettel blitz everyone away]:

    "the fact remains that McLaren have had the third fastest car at the vast majority of the races this season"

    Which, being so blatantly wrong, translates just as blatantly into:

    "POOR LEWIS AND JENSON WHAT A DONKEY THEY HAVE TO DRIVE -sob- OH AND WHAT HEROES OVERDRIVING THAT DONKEY AND BEING WHERE THEY ARE ON THE TABLE -sob- THEY ONLY REASON THEY MAY NOT BE CHAMPIONS WHICH THEY DESERVE MORE THAN ANYONE IS THAT DONKEY THEY HAVE TO PUT UP WITH, POOR SOULS -sob"

    But this nation is so pathetic that a pundit isn't even allowed to be 95% biased - 5% objective or god forbid critical, they have to run a 100% bigging up brainwashing ghost hunting agenda [which is sadly the norm in all sports] otherwise if they are lucky not to get the sack they get s1agged off by their audience for hurting their pride.

    Laughing stock of the world.





  • Comment number 62.

    Barring weird phenomena such as the gods of mediocrity and mindless aggression bestowing the title on Hamilton by default, he will have proved himself a bit of a loser. Will this shut up his many crzed fans? Doubtful. Fanatacism goes beyond rationality.

  • Comment number 63.

    I think it would be great if Lewis and Jenson can get within 25pts before the final race, which would really take things to the wire.

  • Comment number 64.

    What is this obsession with L.H. is he the only one driving?? This was a defining race for the whole championship, not just for him. As we head to Korea and a new track, I hope the focus will now be on who can take the pressure in the last three races.

  • Comment number 65.

    Excuse the pun but what exactly is the point in measuring the championship today in terms of the points system of last year or, indeed, of any previous year going back to 1951? I could come up with a points system which, when applied correctly, made ME the drivers champion. To what possible end? None. It is what it is, not as you'd like it.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hamilton did brilliantly given the lack of running time he had and drove well, all that's happened is that his luck has hit a dead end at this race, it could've happened to anyone. i think pretty much everything did happen with lost wheels, collisions, engine failure, transmission failure and suspension failure.

    I have to agree with Andrew though, I understand the Hamilton fans keeping the faith but realistically it's highly unlikely he'll win the title. It could get worse if Brundle's right and they have to change the gearbox again at Korea, another penalty and it's pretty much game over. Have to say that it's now Webber's to lose, though the way the season has gone so far I wouldn't bet against Alonso.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why do so many people advertise their ignorance by posting on these blogs?

  • Comment number 68.

    nibs
    ============================

    go post your drivel elsewhere, it seems the idiots are out in force today

  • Comment number 69.

    I have to agree with Andrew though, I understand the Hamilton fans keeping the faith but realistically it's highly unlikely he'll win the title. It could get worse if Brundle's right and they have to change the gearbox again at Korea, another penalty and it's pretty much game over. Have to say that it's now Webber's to lose, though the way the season has gone so far I wouldn't bet against Alonso.

    ---

    The thought of another gearbox change could severely hamper Hamilton.

  • Comment number 70.

    The BBC can't appreciate anything, nor can their employees.

    I didn't watch any part of the race, I was expecting a car to take out Lewis ala Webber, fortunately nothing like this happened, but this time another mechanical failure proved to be the undoing of Lewis.

    RedBull and Alonso fans must be so happy, 2 DNF and a gear-box problem in 3 straight races (with potentially another replacement to do for Korea), it's better than their wildest dreams of bad luck for Lewis. He drove his heart out at this race, should have started 3rd and bothered the Red Bulls but it wasn't to be. Don't lose heart Lewis, you're far too talented for bad luck to ruin you.

    It won't be for this year though, if Webber doesn't screw up, he'll win it. Not that I like the idea of him winning, but I'd rather he won than any of the 3 contenders left did.

  • Comment number 71.

    ALL drivers can suffer 'bad luck'. To mis-quote Oscar Wilde, to suffer one piece of bad luck might be unfortunate, to suffer THREE in a row could be considered carelessness. Hamilton suffers no more 'bad luck' than any other driver. He's just not got what it takes, period. When the going gets tough, Hamilton suffers 'bad luck'! LOL.

  • Comment number 72.

    Right so as usual It's all about how great Lewis is and how the whole world is against from Andrew and the vast majority of you biased bunch.

    Vettel won the race, Webber leads the title, Kobayashi and Schumacher where impressive and Jenson went for a totally different strategy. But lets all talk about how Lewis did nothing all weekend, except put the car into a wall within an hour of landing in the country, and "tried his hardest" as he likes to remind us from time to time.

    If McLaren want somebody who drives on the edge and swings the car about, hire me, because I'll put the car in the wall (or into massa/webber) for half the price. The difference being when Jenson does it(Brazil 2009) it works, because he has the talent to do it well, over 70 laps.

    Anyway what is seriously so good about Lewis Hamilton, he threw away a big title lead one year at a point where even Luca Badoer couldn't have lost from. Then he won a title the year after because Glock let him by at the final turn. And I believe that's something that all you Hamilton lovers know, deep down inside, he won it through Massa's bad luck(Singapore, Hungary) and because his good friend helped him out. Whereas JB has taken his only shot at a title in 10 years, by driving aggresively when needed and finishing GP's when it mattered, and at least Jense won his properly, by a big margin, against a team mate allowed to chalenge him and without the help or misfortune of others.

    But what I think really worries you all is that after 16 Grands Prix, Jenson is 3 points behind Lewis, with a very good chance of beating him in his first year at a new team with a car not designed to his liking.

    Also, for those who say the beeb love Jenson and dislike Lewis,I haven't seen one of you back this up with an example.

  • Comment number 73.

    what a load of cos wallop, as it turned out Lewis missing all that practice really did him no harm...so much so he even out qualified Alonso and Button....

  • Comment number 74.

    Andrew,

    I have read a number of your blogs and feel compelled to comment at last. Your assertion that the Red Bulls have been "brought back toward their rivals" by the new load tests is evidently wrong as they were over half a scond a lap quicker than their rivals, and as deomonstrated by Webber's final lap they were holding back throughout.

    Your comments regaridng Button and Hamilton are also inaccurate. I think it is sloppy journalism to state that it is "inconceivable" that Button would not beat Alonso to the first corner had he qualified ahead, or that he would "probably" have beaten Alonso on the track had that position been maintained. The Italian GP demonstrates how wrong this assertion is.

    Given I, with everyone else, pay your salary, I expect a higher degree of professionalism and impartiality from you.

    Rant over, but I'm not going to read your blog again as it is a waste of my time.

  • Comment number 75.

    REF 72

    saudisafc - you are a sage.

    ...and for the record, Alonso can't even get help from his teammate who has been so inept in the last few races yet is still there in the mix...

  • Comment number 76.

    my tip for the wdc is Massa!all it takes is a huge 5 car pile up in the remaining gp,s and hey presto.Mc Laren should consider how to stop Neweys frankenstein like car for next year . if Button and Hamilton were in RB,s they would have walked to a 1/2. But then so would Glock and Any1 else.People seem to forget all sports would give their right arms for a 5 way title fight. Love the bbc coverage and all the hoo ha . You could always go back to itv ,adverts ,no forum no controversy .
    ,







  • Comment number 77.

    71. At 5:57pm on 10 Oct 2010, BobDylan wrote:
    ALL drivers can suffer 'bad luck'. To mis-quote Oscar Wilde, to suffer one piece of bad luck might be unfortunate, to suffer THREE in a row could be considered carelessness. Hamilton suffers no more 'bad luck' than any other driver. He's just not got what it takes, period. When the going gets tough, Hamilton suffers 'bad luck'! LOL.
    ________________________________________________________________________

    thats why he beat alonso in his rookie season and won the championship the next!!

  • Comment number 78.

    I think a lot of people need to CALM DOWN, for pity's sake!

    Everyone has their favourite drivers but why should people get so defensive when their "man" is being questioned. Lewis Hamilton was really unlucky this weekend, he deserved better. Button has been solid but hasn't been able to get that 1st or 2nd he needs to get in amongst it. Still, he has been consistent and the car has not been as competitive as the Red Bull for the majority of the season.

    #43 - I know I have found it hard to judge how close this season has been, considering the new point system. Being someone who likes their stats I have worked out how the points would look if 10 points were awarded to 1st place, but with points for 2nd to 10th done in the same proportion of the top points for a win (i.e. 2nd place is 72% of 1st, 3rd is 60%) Therefore it works out that 7.2 points are awarded for 2nd, 6 for 3rd, 4.8 for 4th, 4 for 5th, 3.2 for 6th, 2.4 for 7th, 1.6 for 8th, 0.8 for 9th, and 0.4 for 10th. I hope you follow me...

    Well, it is not as bad for McLaren as it might appear. If you round up the points to full numbers, this is how it looks.

    Webber 88
    Alonso 82
    Vettel 82
    Hamilton 77
    Button 76

    Didn't some Finnish chap win the World Championship when he was 17 points behind the leading driver with 2 races to go??!

    Incidently, whilst someone has pointed out that comparing old points systems to new is academic it is still quite interesting! Many have said this season has been as exciting as 1986 (aka Prost, Mansell, Piquet, Senna). If we were in '86 times I believe there would have only been 16 rounds, therefore Mark Webber would be World Champion.

    Webber 66
    Alonso 63
    Vettel 61
    Hamilton 58
    Button 53

    Indulgence maybe, but it shows what a crackerjack season we've had!

  • Comment number 79.

    Hamilton's like a boxer with a big punch and no defence. Great stuff when he lands, useless when caught by his opponent. It's a mental problem. He's quite capable of driving as fast as any other driver but he still hasn't learned, although he pays some lip-service to the concept, when to push and when to settle for a place and points. His take-no-prisoners attitude derives from a fundamental, blind and childish desire to be the winner in every race. He simply detests not having the lion's share of the lime-light and therefore tries to win every race regardless. All drivers want to win but most other top drivers are realistic and mature enough to know when enough is enough. Having been cossetted by McClaren and Uncle Ron almost since childbirth, Hamilton is, in plain language, spolit. He needs to grow up.

  • Comment number 80.

    @72, I think that's very harsh on him. Yes, he makes his mistakes, but Vettel has made the same mistakes this year and you haven't slated him. You also seem to be forgetting that without the mechanical failures, this year Hamilton could easily be at least another 10 points up on Button.

    I guess he does get a little 'too much praise' sometimes but there's no need for all that. Yes, I'm a Hamilton fan.

    On a seperate note...you know you're addicted to F1 when you get up at 6am to watch it, even the build up, and you've written down and kept a log of all the data from races, quali, and practice sessions since 2008.

  • Comment number 81.

    Every time Andrew posts a blog the Hamilton Fascionistas come out and give their tuppence' worth of dribble.
    I think it's time Hamilton seriously considered driving for another team - prove to doubters like me that he can build a team around him, like Kubica, Alonso and, to a degree, Kobayashi.
    With the WDC under his belt helped by his pal Glock he can do anything he pleases.I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if both Button and Hamilton finished on equal points, and if they do who is Hamilton going to blabber to (without Daddy Ron, Big Daddy and a Very Naughty Alonso about)?
    I know they're selling Christmas already in the shops but it's far too early for panto Lewis fans...

  • Comment number 82.

    Another brilliant race!

    Wow, how unlucky is Lewis Hamilton, while on the other hand How lucky is Mark Webber? First of all, the incident between Lewis and Mark in Singapore, where everyone saw how it affected lewis while after the race we all saw the damage on Mark's car. Today Mark loses out to Kubica and Kubica's wheel falls off. While Lewis's theory of unluckyness comes in three's failed, with his gearbox issue.

    I believe Mark has the car,luck and the talent to win this championship
    However all five drivers deserve credit for an absolutely sensational season!

    Expect to see some fireworks in the last three races from Mcclaren because they got nothing to lose. However I dont like this Lewis Hamilton vs Jenson Button. they are more united than their fans are with each other.

    Nico Rosberg
    Kamui Kobayashi
    Robert Kubica
    Sebastian Vettel
    Lewis Hamilton

    What a future for Formula 1!

    By the way i woke up at 5 on saturday, then at 2 yesterday and then at 6
    so yes I am a bit tired but what a great day!

  • Comment number 83.

    Do you think you're bad? I got up at 6 for qualy on Saturday, again at 2 am on Sunday and 6.30 for the race!!

    I am an Alonso supporter and think he is the best driver out there, but I'm not going to bash the other drivers. F1 is a unique sport. Many can be tennis players, soccer players, etc. but at this moment there are only 24 F1 drivers competing. Very tough for them to get there. And what to say of the top 5? Well, they are brilliant. And about Hamilton... I think if Alonso is no.1, he is no.2. and the RB boys are ahead because they simply have the best ar this season.

    And just to add one correction. DaSilvaSurfer, Hamilton (and his friend Denis) DID NOT beat Alonso in his first year in McLaren. They ended with the samer number of points. I don't know where this is coming from, but every now and then, somebody comes up with the same comment. Could we for once and for all get the record straight?

  • Comment number 84.

    Solfan

    Just wait for some fan boy to talk about Lewis beating Alonso on race victories that year, be as it may, it doesn't prove who is better, it's a fruitless debate frankly and if I hear the word rookie one more time....

  • Comment number 85.

    Alonso may be a great driver but he left me disgusted after the race. In the room where thye get their sponsor stuff before going on the podium. Alonso was asked by Webber why he was wearing a black armband. Alonso replied "I diont know, something to do with Italy".

    That he didnt know that the black armband was in honour of four Italian soldiers killed in Afghanistan was insensitive, uncaring and appears to me to fit the type of person he is. Shameful.

  • Comment number 86.

    Sorry to put a downer on all this, but I am really frightened by today. Complacency seems to have overtaken safety. I genuinely love this sport, and care about all drivers,teams, marshalls et al. I never, ever, again wish to see a repeat of that terrible San Marino Weekend. If F1 does not move very quickly, a fatal WILL happen. Wheels flying off? Er, told this could not happen again.....happens with a frightening frequency. De Grassi spearing off reminded me of Massa, until I saw the replay. Senna came to mind. Loved Martins "Gobybashi" but Jaimie A was childish,petulant and downright dangerous. The drivers need a Prost in there. This is a most exciting championship that is getting very dangerous. I'm old enough to remember too many dying through arrogance, rivalry and relaxed safety. Too many nearlys this year, and not enough enforcement of simple rules.

  • Comment number 87.

    If I've read this correctly, then McLaren was expecting to be behind the RedBulls and Alonso. So that would be 4th and 5th.

    They finished in......4th and 5th place.
    So how does that become translated into "self inflicted damage"?

  • Comment number 88.

    I love BBC cover of the races and the guys do a tremendous job, but can anyone explain to me why M. Brundle keeps calling Massa "Masser"??

  • Comment number 89.

    At 10:06pm on 10 Oct 2010, solfan wrote:
    I love BBC cover of the races and the guys do a tremendous job, but can anyone explain to me why M. Brundle keeps calling Massa "Masser"??

    How about AlonZo or KubiTZa?

  • Comment number 90.

    Alonso is Spanish. He honoured his team (and, by extension, the Italian nation) by wearing a black arm-band. So he didn't know exactly why. So what? Find some decent stick with which to beat him, if you really have to, for god's sake.

  • Comment number 91.

    It's certainly looking grim for McLaren. I thought both of their drivers drove superbly today, with Lewis just edging it. Getting 3rd in qualifying after limited practice time was astonishing, especially considering how strong the Ferrari's were supposed to be. Lewis drove a simply brilliant race, and looked certain to challenge Alonso for 3rd; what a battle that would have been. Jenson tried something new, and we've seen make those decisions work before, so why not? He just wasn't quite fast enough really.

    If neither of the McLarens are going to win the WDC, I'm not sure who should get it. Vettel has shown himself as immature and reckless, his crashes in Turkey (and subsequent post-race events) and Spa showing this. Webber has been pretty consistent, and really surprised me, showing ability I didn't think he had previously, though I also think he can be a bit reckless, often resorting to nerfing cars off the track. He seems to have a similar style to Hamilton, though I'd actually say he has slightly less control. Alonso is a proven champion and a quality driver, probably the best in the field, though he's made a suprising number of mistakes this season.

    If you look at the mistakes made by the drivers (barring Button, who hasn't really made any mistakes resulting in collisions), then only Hamilton's have been made under pressure. What I mean by this is the others have been completely unnecessary (think Alonso and Vettel at Spa, Webber at Valencia).

    Was hugely impressed with Kobayashi today. His braking into the hairpin was incredible.

  • Comment number 92.

    *Sigh*

    Lewis is exciting. Was almost Champ in his rookie year and became Champ in his 2nd year. Youtube `Hamilton Turkey GP2' and see the Real Deal folks.

    Jenson was 3rd in C'ship in a year when Ferrari were nigh on UNBEATABLE. Best of the rest in a Honda, was it 2005? Where were McLaren that year? The boy done good and continues to do so.

    Jenson outclassed former Champ Villeneuve in a team built around the 1997 champ and at the end of that year Jacques left BAR Honda.

    Facts.

    Leave em alone.

    They are like Billy The Kid and Doc Holliday, (British) outlaws in 3rd rate machinery but still taking the fight to the front runners.

    I like to admire foreign drivers (Kobayashi and Kubica right now) but have always held a candle for the Brits. I cried when Johnny won at Silverstone and when he won at the Nurburgring in the rain. I now get upset when Brits forget to support their own men. Like when a Londoner supports Manchester United or Liverpool. What's wrong with Fulham?

  • Comment number 93.

    iPlayer race replay heavily edited, post race interview with Whitmarsh missing from coverage. Any reason why the full race edit was not put online? Could the MW post race interview be added to the Video's section? His comments in that interview seem to suggest that McLaren will be seeking to back Hamilton from here on it, perhaps that why Button seemed so frustrated in his post race interview?

  • Comment number 94.

    Well, that's that, I'm a (very) temporary Webber fan. McLaren haven't a hope any more this season. They seem to have taken the same banzai approach as Alonso earlier in the season, when he was in the third-best car. I agree with Andrew that they're out of it, and only have themselves to blame.

    I do have to say I'm with Dan Brown as well, though. The antagonism by British people towards these British World Champions is utterly baffling. Jenson is like a Johnny Herbert come good, while Lewis is the fastest, most entertaining driver to emerge in F1 in nearly 20 years. What's not to like?

  • Comment number 95.

    Let's be honest - Lee McKenzie. A darn sight prettier than Jake. A welcome tonic to such an early start...

  • Comment number 96.

    Let's be honest - Lee McKenzie. A darn sight prettier than Jake. A welcome tonic to such an early start...

    But not as hot as the german tv bird that Brundle keeps clashing with...

  • Comment number 97.

    I made a forecast at the start of the season that Hamilton will end up 5th or 6th in the WDC. I stick to it.

    I will also make a similar forecast for the next Formula 1 year ie that he will end up in a no higher position than 5th.

    I am also sure that many British fans both on this blog as well as on 606 and the English tabloids will continue to say that he is a racer, the most skilled of all the Formula 1 drivers. He will also be the recipient of countless meaningless "Driver of the Day" awards by these fans.



  • Comment number 98.

    Why is the title of this blog post 'hamiltons hopes hanging by a thread' on the main sport page with a picture of Lewis Hamilton and then when you click on the story it becomes 'McLaren drivers' hopes hanging by a thread.

    I think the BBC love Lewis because he ticks all the media boxes, young, black, good looking, celebrity girlfriend etc.

    I dare the BBC to be non biased and give Jenson the same treatment on all it's websites and tv channels.


    Also please give us F1 in HD for god's sake!

  • Comment number 99.

    Hear a lot of admiration for the red bull drivers. But everyone forgets that red bull has been the fastest car on the grid by at least half second on literally 14 out of the 16 races this year so far. They should have locked out the top 2 positions between the 2 cars on all of these races. Even if they had split the points between them equally, Webber and Vettel should each have been running away from the rest with close to 300 points each. Instead and despite having the best equipment by far, they are still in a 5 way race with others.

    This has been a mediocre performance by both Webber and Vettel throughout the season and clearly they are not the fastest 2 drivers, driving the fastest cars in 2010.

    A fast car can make a champion and a champion is not always the fastest driver on the grid. It maybe that Button and Hamilton have squandered their chances of winning this year, but Alonso is still there with a shout. Should Alonso win this year’s title, it makes one wonder if Webber and Vettel deserve to be at the pinnacle of motorsport!

  • Comment number 100.

    It's interesting to note that the BBC is equally vilified by posters from both sides of any argument on these boards, not just on this one, but throughout Have Your Say. That tells me that they're getting it about right as far as impartiality is concerned.

    All aspects of the BBC's coverage of F1 is excellent, I'm watching it now where I never did when it was on 'the other side'. This season has been particularly good. As always though, one team tends to be in front for the season, I can remember past seasons when both Lotus and Williams were practically untouchable. Next season it could be anyone, but whoever it is, if we enjoy the standard of competition we've seen this year it will be another great season.

    What we should also remember, is that many of the teams are based in the UK, and we Brits are world leaders when it comes to the technology of F1. I'm sure that given more sponsorship and investment, Lotus, Virgin, STR, and HRT, will become much more competitive next year, and increase the level of enjoyment. Keep it up BBC, you're coverage is brilliant!

 

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