Lewis Hamilton column: Racing has become more strategic

 

In his latest column for BBC Sport, Lewis Hamilton talks about strategic racing, Hollywood actor Jamie Foxx and Fernando Alonso's inspirational driving.

Tyres seem to be a big topic of conversation in Formula 1 at the moment, and although I'm not aware of all the complaints, I know people are questioning whether the racing is "real" or not.

In my opinion, it is "real" racing; it's just very strategic now.

When I first started in F1, you did not have to be strategic, apart from when you were trying to pass someone. You just had to go hard on the tyres and try not to lose any time. You still had to run as long as you could on the tyres, but you could push to the maximum, pretty much.

Nowadays, you can't do that - you have to manage the tyres.

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

"I don't particularly enjoy looking after these tyres, but I like the fact that F1 changes all the time and that you have to keep learning."

Each tyre is different. There are different techniques for preparing and saving them in order to get the best out of them.

For example, a lot of the drivers are noticing that the first three laps of a stint are the most crucial for the life of a tyre. If you don't push in the first three you get more life out of them at the end.

But don't get the impression we are all effectively driving around with one arm out of the window. You still have to push, but within the boundaries you have been set.

So you try not to slide the car, and you try not to overuse the tyres.

In China, where we raced last weekend, Turns One, Eight and 13 are very hard on the left-front tyre so you have to approach them differently. You have to brake early and cruise into the corner to make the tyre last. In those corners, we are not on the edge - but in all the other corners we are.

For me, it is what it is, and I just deal with it. I don't feel it should be drastically different.

I don't particularly enjoy looking after these tyres in the way you have to - by being soft on the throttle, not pushing in certain corners, doing late downshifts, lifting and coasting - but I like the fact that F1 changes all the time and that you have to keep learning.

Driving standards

Sergio Perez

On Sergio Perez's driving: "I think the driving standards haven't been too bad this year. I don't have a particular problem with anyone."

If you were watching the Chinese Grand Prix on television, you may have heard Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and me having a bit of a chat in the room before we went out onto the podium.

We made a couple of references to McLaren's Sergio Perez and the way he was driving. Kimi had an incident with him that damaged his front wing and cost him some performance.

I didn't have much of an opinion about Perez's driving because I didn't see too much of it - certainly not the incident with Kimi.

I do remember seeing, in the distance, Fernando trying to get past a car and that it was weaving from one side of the track to the other. I was surprised at the time that the driver - which I now know was Perez - wasn't penalised.

The problem is that there is such a fine line between dicing and going too far. The stewards do a really good job - and they don't want to take away racing.

I've experienced that in karting. The clerk of the course wanted to ruin everyone's weekend and it took the fun away from racing. You don't want that but you do want consistency in rules. But it is so difficult to be consistent because every situation is different.

Young drivers are definitely the ones who have the most to learn, but I think the driving standards haven't been too bad this year. I don't have a particular problem with anyone.

Your questions

What is the favourite F1 car you have driven?

Jimbo's F1 ‏‬@JamesHayter447m

"The one I'm driving right now. I have always needed a car with good rear grip. I don't mind if I have to struggle with the front because you can catch that up. But I've always wanted to make sure I have plenty of rear grip and I've rarely had that before. Now, I've finally got a 'rear-ended' car and it's driving into understeer, and you have to work around it with mechanical balance.

Jamie Foxx

"Jamie Foxx [could play me in a movie]. He would be awesome. I watched him in Django Unchained. Sick movie."

"I know people have this impression of me as a driver who likes to dance the rear end out, but that's just the way my cars have been. I'm quite comfortable being on the edge and having to balance it when it looks 'oversteery'.

"That's what I had to do with my aggressive style to get the car as far up as possible. Driving in that way enables me to make that kind of car shine more than it would do if I drove it normally. But I prefer the car like the Mercedes is now."

If a movie was made about your life and career, which actor would you want to play you?

Adam Perkins ‏‬@f1perky1h

"Probably Jamie Foxx. He would be awesome. He's one of the best actors around at the moment. I watched him in Django Unchained recently. Sick movie."

Is there a circuit currently not on the calendar you'd like to have as part of the season?

Beth ‏‬@beth_f11h

"I love the Nurburgring Nordschleife. That is hardcore. I would love to take an F1 car around there. And Macau. That is the coolest street circuit in the world. For me, it beats Monaco, and I love Monaco. It's twice the length of Monaco and it's such a challenge to keep your mind focused over such a long lap."

Has Nico pulled any pranks on you yet like he used to when you were team-mates in karting?

Ivkiran Kaur ‏‬@skyywalker_x1h

"No, it's a lot different nowadays. When we were in karting, we used to spend so much time together. We shared a hotel room because of budget. We travelled around together. We would do sneaky little things without each other knowing. It got us in trouble with our parents. It was funny all round.

"Now, it's just so focused. We don't have time to play. And as a driver, I want Nico to be at his best because when I finish ahead of him it's better that way. I would never want to distract him and him be on his back foot and then beat him. When you beat the person at their best, that's when you can feel the most satisfied."

Even though you've been around Mercedes all your life nearly, what other road cars do you like?

Taras Dhedhi ‏‬@Krustylicious1h

Pagani Zonda

"I have a Pagani Zonda. That's the favourite car I have. But I'm really into old classics now."

"I have a Pagani Zonda, which has a Mercedes engine in the back. That's the favourite car I have. But I'm really into old classics now.

"I'm looking at an Aston Martin DB5, which is something I have always wanted. I have a nice old 1965 AC Cobra. Such a great car. I have a Shelby GT 500, which is the Gone In 60 Seconds car.

"I also have a Mercedes SL65 Black series. I've had that since 2009 or '10 and it only has 200km on it. It's a special car for me and I don't want to put much mileage on it. I don't drive a lot."

Name one driver currently racing in F1 that inspires you in some way?

Rashi ‏‬@HAMazingLew1h

"Fernando, really. He feels to me like he's the most complete driver here. And with pure speed, he is rapid. He is such a quick driver but he's also very, very smart in how he does it. I really admire him for that.

Fernando Alonso (left) with Lewis Hamilton

"[Fernando Alonso] is such a quick driver but he's also very, very smart in how he does it. I really admire him for that."

"Fernando is always there. He has been the most consistent driver apart from Sebastian, who has also done an awesome job but he's been in the most dominant car.

"Before I got into F1, Fernando was the driver I most admired. Having driven alongside him and then been in the sport and seen him progress, it remains the same.

"Back in 2007, we were both immature and misbehaved. We took a long time to recover from that. Fernando probably said a lot of things through anger, as I did, and that got twisted and turned in the media which impacted on the fans. So there are people who don't like me and people who don't like him.

"He will go down as a legend. He will win more world championships. And to be in an era when there's a legend and to have him say such positive things about me, is a really cool feeling."