Lewis Hamilton: the driver debates

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton is hyped to the hilt but just how good is he?
Lewis Hamilton is hyped to the hilt but just how good is he?

Lewis Hamilton is the new Michael Schumacher.

I don’t necessarily mean he’s as complete an F1 driver – but he’s already as controversial. No other active F1 driver excites such polar opposites of emotions and opinions.

A glance at some of the biggest debates we?ve had on this site makes that clear (have a look under the ‘all time’ top posts tab at the top right of the page).

Having already written about why so many people don?t like Hamilton earlier this year, I?d now like to tackle the question of how good he is at driving a Formula 1 car.

Inevitably that?s going to lead of cries from some quarters that he only did so well last year because McLaren gave him preferential treatment over Fernando Alonso. I’m not convinced by this point of view, and in the absence of any proof to support it I?m going to stick to judging Hamilton on the facts.

Preamble over. So, how good is Hamilton?

One of the most startling things about his rookie season was his astonishing consistency in the first half of the year. McLaren gave him a car that was usually capable of being in the top four, and Hamilton was never out of the top three in the first nine races. No other driver in the same period managed that.

At the Nurburgring he had a messy weekend ?ǣ the likes of which we?ve seen more of this year. It started with a wheel failure in qualifying that caused a big crash, but a wrong call on tyres during the race made matters worse.

His mistakes in the final two races ?ǣ failing to pit early enough for tyres at Shanghai, and running wide trying to pass Alonso at Interlagos ?ǣ looked like unforced errors borne of championship pressure. But Alonso and Raikkonen made mistakes that were every bit as bad during the season and, even putting his rookie status to one side, I thought Hamilton drove the better championship campaign.

This year did not begin smoothly for Hamilton: at Sepang he picked up a needless grid penalty and at Bahrain he made a series of mistakes.

Canada should have marked a turn-around as he took pole position by a substantial margin and pulled away at the start. But then came the notorious pit lane crash with Kimi Raikkonen and subsequent penalty for the next round ?ǣ where Hamilton ruined his race before the first lap was over.

But there?s been inspiration as well as desperation. Hamilton has scored the best wins we?ve this year. At a wet Silverstone, even taking Kimi Raikkonen?s strategic error into account, his pace on the soaked circuit was stunning. He dominated in Germany and even a tactical blunder by McLaren couldn?t knock him off course.

If, early in the season, it seemed Hamilton?s approach had become ??win or bust?, he now seems to be tempering his approach as the championship end game approaches. As he admitted recently:

Clearly, I want to win all the time, but I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more advantageous to score as many points as possible and live to fight another day.

My aim is still to win the world championship and you don’t do that by ending up in the barriers after making an opportunistic move.

The lessons of 2007 ?ǣ and, perhaps, Bahrain and Magny-Cours this year ?ǣ have been heeded.

Hamilton has shown himself to be an excellent overtaker ?ǣ at least, in the brief windows of opportunity modern F1 offers for drivers to show their race craft. And his Silverstone win, along with the triumphs at Monaco and Fuji in the last 12 months, mark him out as one of F1?s best wet weather drivers at the moment ?ǣ perhaps the best outright.

At the start of the season many voiced concerns about how McLaren could develop their car quickly enough ?ǣ the feeling being that Alonso had led the team on set-up last year. But Hamilton (and, of course, Heikki Kovalainen) have handled those challenges well.

So just how good is Lewis Hamilton? Ron Dennis reckons that, given Hamilton has only been in F1 a year and a half, he’s the best driver in F1 today:

It amuses me to see these evaluations of drivers because for me you have to take into consideration how long a driver has been in Formula One when you evaluate his performance. For no other reason that puts him top of the heap, he is the best in Formula One at the moment. Take into account how little experience he has had, that’s the bit that gives him the edge.

But putting his lack of experience compared to Raikkonen and Alonso to one side, how well is Hamilton doing?

There is clearly room for improvement in some areas. He has struggled under the kind of pressure drivers like Alonso seem to thrive on and he?s been caught out by the rules at least once too often this year.

But what I think is most telling about Hamilton is this: there are very rarely, if ever, days when he just doesn’t figure. Yes, he’s had crashes and penalties and the like, but we rarely see him qualifying below the top two rows and then toiling around to fourth or fifth – the kind of rut Raikkonen is in at the moment, for example.

In the final reckoning, Hamilton matched a world champion on points last year and edged him on results overall. This year he?s usually been well ahead of Kovalainen. I can understand people not liking him, but I think you have to give him his due: he?s a very good F1 driver. And he?s getting better.

Lewis Hamilton is leading the F1 championship with four wins this year
Lewis Hamilton is leading the F1 championship with four wins this year

106 comments on “Lewis Hamilton: the driver debates”

  1. Wow! I’ll be the first of possibly a hundred (or more) comments on this thread!

    I’d compare him to how Murray Walker described 1985-spec Ayrton Senna: he makes mistakes from time to time, but at this point, he’s already VERY good. Murray also said something to the effect that it would be scary to see just how good Senna can become at his peak, and the same can be said of Lewis.

    But will he beat Michael’s records? Probably not. He’s not on that level of work ethic – not yet, anyway. But it’ll take Michael-like determination as much as his own God-given talent to become this era’s greatest.

  2. Many drivers started in F1 with a bang: Mika, Michael, Senna, but also Button, Fissi, Webber. The difference is obvious – some continue with the bang, others settle in and dissipate in the mid-pack.

    Only time will tell where is Hamilton. One thing is clear – he’s got what it needs to be a champion, let’s see if he can carry it. I’d say it’s too early to judge.

  3. Think Hamilton will probablly brake lots of record’s, but i reckon not Schumachers probablly because Mclaren wont be able to give him such a great car as Michael had for all those years.
    I would sure like it if Hamilton scored the WDC this year but will se because Massa is obviously rasing his game. If Alonso comes to Ferrari and Massa dosen’t have a WDC he will become Barichello.

  4. MarathonMan801
    2nd September 2008, 8:27

    Well, he’s either Good, Very Goood or Fantastic.
    Doesn’t matter what you think of his personality or maturity, we’re talking about driving here.
    The second half or this season will help us decide if he’s G or VG. The next two or three seasons will decide if he’s F.
    Ukk’s right. Many drivers start with a bang, but it’s the ability to sustain that effort – perhaps in a season when the car is going against you – that elevates the F from the VG.

  5. Jonesracing82
    2nd September 2008, 8:39

    his detractors are from the amount of hype the british press gives him!
    he is good however, just how good? time will tell.
    braking Schumachers records will b tough as he’ll need a top car every year for as long as schumi had, also he most likely wont get #1 status in a team from the start of the season! as schumi had.
    he seems set for a stellar career tho.
    P.S i think if he wins the next wet race you could say he’s the new Reignmeister!

  6. Many drivers may well start with a bang and then fail to sustain the initial burst but Hamilton is quite clearly not in that group. To compare the “bang” of the arrival of Button or Webber with that of Hamilton borders on the intentionally blind.

    Hamiltons incredible poise under pressure and excellent racecraft put him a cut above all the other drivers on the grid at the moment – with the possible exception of Alonso. I’ve been watching F1 since ’80 and Alonso is the best *driver* I’ve ever seen and Hamilton matched him in his rookie season!

    Raikkonen is a great driver no doubt but he can’t seem to overtake lately (where is the Raikkonen of Suzuka 2005?). Kovalienen is really not performing at the same level considering the equipment he has. Massa is the one who is threatening right now, with Schumachers coaching (and of course Massas own ability) he may well win the WDC.

    Anyway it seems crazy to say lets figure out if he’s good or very good! He is quite self evidently a fantastic driver who has proven himself a master of racecraft if not a master of strategy and the long view. Those latter things will come with experience though.

  7. “Incredible poise under pressure”?

    Did you forget Interlagos?

  8. I think the Schumacher comparisons are fair. If we look back at Michael’s career he was erratic in his first 2 seasons at Benetton.

    Lewis’s is a stunning driver, I do not care what nationality he is, if he was from out of space I would still be a fan, he gives his maximum every time and that is what I really appreciate and he tries to overtake when ever he can so he is a crowd pleaser too – just what the sport needs.

    His potential downfall could be his life distracting his focus – I hope his new friends Puff Daddy and the Pussy Cat Dolls do not take his focus elsewhere.

    I was at Silverstone this year and witnessed his drive first hand, it looked like he was in a class of his own, even Kimi on the same tyres as Lewis could not match him.

    Consistency is the key for him now to bring home the Championship and you never quiet know if Lewis is in control of a situation, however he has looked better since his troubles at France.

    So what is the biggest threat to Lewis becoming as successful at Schumacher, Prost or Senna?

    Kubica joining Ferrari!!

  9. Sure, everyone makes mistakes though. Even MS. I stand by that statement given his Rookie season and general racecraft and results.

  10. The first line ”Lewis Hamilton is the new Michael Schumacher” itself is not true.How can u compare a legend with one who is just two two years old in F1 without any records to his name?we will get answer to this only when time passes on….I hope even schumi was compared to senna only after a substantial period…

  11. A lot of readers, just want to believe Hamilton has to be the perfect driver to be good. He is human like anyone else and subject the the odd goof. Having said that, he has already shown a great level of confidence and ability that defy his experience at this level of competition.
    I am not one of those who believe he beat Alonso, but under the circumstance in which he found himself, rookie, to be able to match a much more illustrious teammate, someone known for having that extra extra tenth, is worthy of praise indeed.

  12. added to the above comment,he is damn lucky to get a super quick car in his rookie season.Can he do it with FORCE INDIA which schumacher did with JORDON..?no way…
    And schumi joined ferrai when it was in a very bad state.He build the team from nowhere to champions ..I dont think so lewis made a contribution to development of Maclaren for its 2007 campaign.Mclaren came from nowhere to close champions.An I hope it is because of a good contribution from alonso…I am sorry if I am wrong..

  13. 02ch36

    Hamilton and Alonso both came into Mclaren in 2007, unless I’m wrong the teams start building and TESTING cars at least 6 months before the following season and Alonso was still at Renault and Hamilton in GP2.

    Alonso claimed he brought 5 tenths to Mclaren (which might or might not be true) but the fact remains that they got into the car at the same time and had more or less equal time to make the car work for them.

    The ultimate test for any driver in Formula 1 is TIME and in this case as in any other time will tell just how good Hamilton is (and I believe he’s better than the current crop with the possoble exception of Raikkonen and Alonso).

    Someone will break Schumacher’s records at some point and I believe that Hamilton stands an above average chance of doing that, TIME will tell though and in the meantime I am looking forward to some amazing driving.

  14. 02ch36,

    I hope you read the paragraph after the first line. Keith said, “I don’t necessarily mean he’s as complete an F1 driver – but he’s already as controversial. No other active F1 driver excites such polar opposites of emotions and opinions.”

    And that’s a fact we can’t really dispute.

    Just a thought, though: the most controversial drivers were always some of the most successful ones. Look at Schumacher, Senna, and Prost for starters. Niki Lauda, too, was controversial in his time, albeit nowhere near the level of Senna’s or Schumi’s.

  15. yeah i have to agree with #12 here, hamilton is no schumacher… schumi lived and breathed formula 1.

    he knew that car inside out, and pushed the team to get their **** together, when he joined they were a losing outfit and several years later they were an unstoppable championship creating machine.

    he wasn’t always the fastest driver, alonso is just as quick, if not quicker and aggressive like you need to be when he needs to be, schumi was very technical, provided extremely detailed feedback to the team and mastered the car setup.

    in f1 just like karting and most other motorsport, the setup decides how fast your going to be on the day, you could have a great engine, fast driver etc but if you just have a bad balance your not going to be able to use it.

    just look at kubica, good car – can win races, but he cant get the car setup to his driving style, kimi apparently has a similar issue, cant communicate to the team how to set the car up with his driving style and how he wants the car to feel.

    hamilton has been dropped into a very powerful car from day one. every driver in f1 is a great talent, thats why they are in f1, they are all capable of winning races, the car makes lots of difference – alonso is driving the **** out of that renault, making it look faster than it actually is.

    i think the main issue is that hamilton is over-hyped, he’s made lots of mistakes this year already and his car has been perfect, where as ferrari have had reliability and team problems and less driver errors.

    kubica who’s had little driver errors and no team issues is sitting right behind them in the points, 2 behind kimi, if he was behind the wheel of the mclaren this championship would be over already.

  16. i think lewis has proved himself to be a top contender on the current grid, and could potentially dominate over the next decade.

    but…i just get the feeling that he might actually drop off as he gets older. hamilton is at his best, and most entertaining, when somebody gets his back up and he’s going flat out aggressive.

    there’s not many people that can throw a car around the track like hamilton when he’s in the mood, but i feel likes he’s going to lose that as he matures.

    you can see it already this season, when he backs off a little and then just turns into another modern F1 driver. so what if he gets the odd puncture, i’d rather see him going all out for the win each week, like each driver should.

  17. I love how off the mark Ron so often is:

    “It amuses me to see these evaluations of drivers because for me you have to take into consideration how long a driver has been in Formula One when you evaluate his performance. For no other reason that puts him top of the heap, he is the best in Formula One at the moment. Take into account how little experience he has had, that’s the bit that gives him the edge.”

    Lack of experience doesn’t make anyone better than the rest of the field. In time yes he may be the best, but right now it’s not any where near as clear cut as that.

    Oh and if we take Ron’s assumption, shouldn’t we also factor in what car they drive?

  18. Hamilton is a phenomenal driver. I esp. like the comment #5 , He is set for a stellar career. Very very true.

    If he is in the front two rows, he drives well and ends up on the podium. If he has qualified behind, he picks up a penalty or bangs into someone, ensuring that all cameras are tuned to him. Love him or Hate him, You can’t ignore him.

    And also as Journyer pointed out: “The list of most controversial drivers and list of most successful drivers is usually the same.” Nice guys like Kimi don’t figure in it. Lewis will, definitely will figure in both the lists.

    I think; his driving abilities are better than any on the grid. And the first person to find this out was definitely Fernando Alonso. Alonso demanding no.1 status is a fitting proof that Lewis was as good as him ! !

    About his pressure-handling situations; I suspect it will come with experience. And he is getting better. Hockenheim was a good example that he can deliver when under pressure.

  19. I would be very very surprised if Hamilton doesn’t win at least 1 WDC during what I hope will be a long career. I enjoy watching him drive and I enjoy watching him qualify because he makes it seem so easy. This is massively ironic considering I’m a huge, ardent and stoic Ferrari fan so it’s almost counter-intuitive for me to enjoy watching the main rival succeed. But I think I’ve mastered the art of being objective and I can enjoy watching a good driver drive even if that means to the detrimental effect of my team’s title challenge.

    Still not sure about Lewis the person, he grated the hell outta me last year but I have to say that as time goes by, I am warming to him. But a good driver, he certainly is. As many have said, only time will tell what he will accomplish. He’s got the talent but extenuating circumstances can often hold someone back from winning titles as we have seen in the past…

    Strange, as much as I don’t want him to win the title because a) he doesn’t drive a Ferrari and b) can you imagine what will happen in Britain if he does win??…Lewis-mania will go into over-drive!!….we’ll see him on billboards, tv, magazines, he’ll be so ubiquitous it’ll be suffocating! BUT I almost do want him to win cause thus far I believe he deserves it more than anyone else based on the season so far. Though Massa may possibly be as deserving…(I’m excluding Kubica and other unlikely title contenders here)

    All in all, I think the lad will go far and I’m sure a title will only be a matter of time.

  20. What has impressed me most so far with Hamilton is his qualifying pace – usually the sign of a great driver – and his ability to drive in adverse weather conditions -another sign of a great driver. His skill at Silverstone was flattered by the McLaren (which almost looked like it still had TC) , but at Monaco he was still awesome , along with Massa and Kubica. His ultimate test will come when (if?) McLaren have a year when they run mid-field , and to see how he drives and hauls them back up. To me , Schu’s greatest achievement, was the road with Ferrari from 1996 to 1999 – four hard years of continual work , dedication and steady progress – culminating in the 5 WDC’s that followed.

  21. I thought hi is new Senna? hehe
    I admire his great racing skills but I don’t like him like a person.
    Hm or maybe I just hate those tons of useless informations about him one every racing page (planet f1 is king of that ****). O and his daddy- that man just killing his son’s PR

  22. Anthony Hamilton deserves a thread all by himself, ch.pl! But indeed, Lewis has kept him there. I’m sure it has its pros as well as its cons.

    But even if, say Lewis hired a professional manager, I’m sure Anthony will always be there in the garage, just like John Button has been for Jenson and Felipe’s dad. Speaking of which, is John Button still visiting regularly?

  23. Just a point on Schumacher, he seems to come out with a glowing reference from everyone on this site with regards to his move to “save” Ferrari. I think the £20m per season that he demanded for him to leave Benetton was more of a factor in him making the move that his desire to make a under performing team better again. Ferrari also had bottomless pockets and bank rolled their way to the title, and employed a out and out number 2 and snapped up all of the best engineers and technical people. If you look at it from this light, we can question take the glint off of Michaels achievements to the same way as many are putting down Lewis. Just because Lewis hasn’t been given such an opportunity should we hold it against him.

  24. How good is Lewis Hamilton? Very good indeed – so far.

    Lots of drivers are good, but for various reasons. Hamilton is very fast and can pull a lap out of the bag in qualifying as well as driving relentlessly fast in a race. Not all drivers can – Jarno Trulli is notorious for qualifying extremely well but fading in races. Lewis races well too, i.e. he can use his brain during a GP and pass people in places that aren’t always obvious. Not all drivers have that killer instinct when overtaking. Not all are as good in wet conditions either.

    So, is Hamilton perfect? No, clearly not. He’s still inexperienced and makes stupid, needless mistakes under pressure. Although he says he understands the need to bank championship points over victory every time out, I’m not sure whether that’s true yet – sometimes he does it, sometimes not.

    Also, we’ve not really seen how Lewis would cope in a poor car or one in need of serious development work. The 1996 Ferrari was an awful car but Michael Schumacher managed to win with it – how would Hamilton fare in a similar situation? Would frustration get the better of him? Would his development skills be up to it? At the moment, we just don’t know. Even in the junior formulae, Lewis always had equipment that was at least as good as his rivals. It would be interesting to see what happened were McLaren to seriously lose their way, like in 2004 or 2006.

    Personality wise, Michael Schumacher was an utter workaholic and a total team player. While Hamilton has clearly worked hard to get to F1, the feeling that he’s arrived and should enjoy the fruits of his labours is a dangerous one – see Jenson Button. The Pussycat Doll girlfriend is a potential warning sign.

    I also wonder how well Lewis fits into the role of team player. Granted, next to Alonso in 2007 he looked very much a McLaren man, but that wasn’t terribly difficult in the circumstances. The disobeying of team orders at Hungary 2007 and the snide complaining about team orders in Monaco the same year hint at a driver willing to do whatever he (as opposed to the team) needs to win, and that could have a possible destabilising effect. Would Hamilton move to Ferrari ASAP if it became clear that McLaren’s 2009 car was an utter dog?

    Too soon to say. Very quick driver though.

  25. I’ve not seen Hamilton overtake anymore than Kimi. He passed Kimi last year in Monza when Kimi had a screwed up neck and Massa pulled over for him in Germany. He’s had some disatrous overtaking attempts in Bahrain and France this year. Hamilton so far pretty much just won from Pole and fuels lighter or the same as Massa when he does achieve pole. Massa is always light.

    Also in Fuji last year, Robert Kubica actually was catching him in part of the race.

    He’s quick obviously, but not as great as people seem to think. In europe, he couldn’t do anything to Massa.

    Also, I seem to remember even in 2004 of Michael Schumacher waiting to pass people in the pits instead of on track…so for some to comment on Kimi, is unreasonable. It’s quite difficult to pass, that’s why there’s no passing.

  26. “I think the £20m per season that he demanded for him to leave Benetton was more of a factor in him making the move that his desire to make a under performing team better again.”

    Sure, but money means nothing if you’re not winning. And that fact that Michael decided to stay at Ferrari than move to McLaren in what surely would’ve been a big-money deal shows that it wasn’t just about the money.

    “Ferrari also had bottomless pockets and bank rolled their way to the title, and employed a out and out number 2 and snapped up all of the best engineers and technical people.”

    You can’t buy your way to a title, as BAR, Jaguar, and Toyota would attest to. The most important requirement here is hard work and dedication, and Michael had tons of that.

  27. The comparison with Schumacher is very interesting because Michael was the driver who had better understand his own era. Therefore, he mastered all flukes and features of modern F1 to dominate the sport on his years.

    I really liked what Keith has wrote here…:

    “…Hamilton has shown himself to be an excellent overtaker – at least, in the brief windows of opportunity modern F1 offers for drivers to show their race craft. And his Silverstone win, along with the triumphs at Monaco and Fuji in the last 12 months, mark him out as one of F1’s best wet weather drivers at the moment – perhaps the best outright…”

    This statement above is a testimony that explains how this young driver was fortuity shaped on his early years to fit the F1 on this nowadays. He has the skills not only to dominate the sport, but also to bring us much more entertainment, something we´re missed so much in Michael´s years.

    He will not beat all Michel’s records because this is something that we do not need, but he will bring us much more excitement to the races (and already brought it in only two years) that Michael, or Alonso, has ever brought…

  28. Well regardless of whether he is as good as the deeply flawed human being that is MS, he is undoubtedly worth watching. He goes for it, he slides the car, he takes risks , he pulls out over takes where a kimi just sits. I dont care if hes no better than Keke ROsberg (another great showman), the fact is he is box office and hes box office cos hes an entertainer.

  29. Well said Antonyob! Lewis does entertain, without him would would still probably be talking about Max Mosley night time antics…Still!

  30. Lewis is as ruthless as Schumi, if not more so.

  31. good or bad trait in an f1 driver alastair.

    and please lets get off moseley, those ladies have ()*()

  32. I would say less so at the moment Antonyob, Schumi was prepared to crash with his main title contenders in attempts to win.

    Ruthlessness is not always an endearing trait, hence why people were polarized on their feelings towards Senna and Schmacher. Just speak to fans of Alain Prost and Damon Hill.

  33. All the F1 heroes were ruthless. I think it takes a special mind set to be a legend Like Michael and Ayrton. Do we see that in Lewis? Seems to me like Lewis is a skillful driver that has been molded into a fast pilot, but I think he is missing that personality that would allow him to become great.

    Keith- “…mark him out as one of F1’s best wet weather drivers at the moment – perhaps the best outright…” You would rate him above Senna? The faintest amount of rain made Senna’s under performing car a race winning car.

  34. i agree polak, butlets not forget Lewis’s age. i dont think i was the rounded rumbunctious bon viveur when i was but a lad. perhaps. he is a bit eager to please but he flashes those shark teeth once too many times for anyone to be in any doubt that he bites.

    id also say there is a line, that is achieveable, between ruthlessness and going soft. Kimi manages it fairly well and Webber is a bloke youd have a beer with but on the whole the days of Hawthorn, Behra and Hill snr standing round a piano for a sing song then dicing at ten tenths on a sunday have long since past. alas.

  35. I for one do like Hamilton as a driver and his performances this year have been great (well at least some of them). Then again considering his car and the fact that i don’t believe he will win the championship this year i don’t place him in the same league as Schumacher, Senna or Prost at least for the time being. He does seem to have the potential though.Time will tell i guess

  36. Keith, good article until you got to the bit where you said “I can understand people not liking him”. I may be a huge fan, but other than racism I cannot see why anyone would dislike him. He seems such a pleasant happy-go-lucky fellow, he gives refreshing interviews to the ITV team (boy, how I’ll miss them and I bet you all will too next year) and he is great with his fans (I’ve met him twice at his book signing and Brooklands and he took extra time on both occasions to sign as many autographs as he could).

    As for being a “good driver” – what an understatement. It seems commentators can bubble over with enthusiasm and hyperbole about Kubica and Vettel but almost feel they daren’t with Hamilton because of the vicious backlash. I think the nastiness towards him is actually ruining a period in F1 that all true F1 fans should be enjoying – the emergence of a stunning, charismatic talent on the scene. Instead I get the feeling that if he won 10 titles, there would still be the haters who whinge about preferential treatment, arrogance, having a good car and “bet he wouldn’t be any good in a Honda/Renault/blah blah blah”.

    Have a look at this clip from 1998 – this is Lewis: raw, unbridled brilliance at driving. I wish and beg of everyone to just enjoy it while it’s happening and don’t let the racists and haters destroy the enjoyment.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt_PJqM-sRc

  37. “I think the nastiness towards him is actually ruining a period in F1 that all true F1 fans should be enjoying – the emergence of a stunning, charismatic talent on the scene.”

    Incredibly well put, S Hughes. Although I am tired of the irrational hatred towards Lewis, based on the comments here, I am sure people will come around. The debate in people’s minds is clearly (and rightly) not about whether or not he’s good, but whether or not he’s the best.

    As for being lucky to have a good car, consider that he’s been with McLaren since he was 13. That he drives for McLaren today can hardly be attributed to luck! Even Schumi hasn’t been with Ferrari that long.

  38. WRONG – LH is not the new Michael Schumacher, they couldnt be more different! I read the 1st line, and wish to read no more.
    Bad comparison

  39. As soon as the driver debates started, I knew this would be a good one!

    In a sport like F1, with no spec car, we all know that a driver’s performance will obviously depend on the car he is driving. If Hamilton was driving a Force India at the moment, he’d probably be doing no better than Sutil is now. So without a doubt Lewis was fortunate to be with McLaren from day 1, but if he diden’t have at least the raw skills needed, he’d be fumbling around out there and not winning races during his first two years.

    I don’t want to take any of the other top drivers- Kimi, Massa, Kubica- and say that Lewis is better than any of them, but I think he is at least equal to any of them on any given race weekend. With that said, he’s in great shape for the title, but Massa appears to be getting stronger every weekend, and Kimi isn’t out of it yet, so the true test for both Lewis and the McLaren boys will be down the stretch with the title on the line.

    Aside form his driving, Lewis is a dream for Bernie and the entire F1 public relations machine. Before his arrival, Schumi was the obvious face of F1 the world over, and despite his brilliant driving and relentless dedication, he was not the most outgoing driver. Lewis, however, is made to order- his win at Indianapolis last season set off a firestorm here in America- not just in F1 media outlets, but in the mainstream American sports media- that’s what F1 needs to develop in new markets!

  40. When a read this thing about Lewis driving a top a car I remember his background. Lets compare, for example, with Sutil:

    2002 Swiss Formula Ford 1800 – 1st on Championship
    2003 German Formula BMW – 6th
    2004 Formula 3 Euroseries – 17th
    2005 Formula 3 Euroseries – 2nd
    2006 All-Japan Formula 3 – 1st
    2006 Super GT – 26th

    Meanwhile, LEWIS:

    2002 Formula Renault UK – 3rd
    2003 Formula Renault UK – 1st
    2004 Formula 3 Euroseries – 5th
    2005 Formula 3 Euroseries – 1st (he beaten Sutil on the same car what makes me guess that he would be doing better than Sutil with a Force India!)
    2006 GP2 Series – 1st
    2007 Formula One – 2nd

    Sebastian Vettel, the next “Schumacher” for example:

    2003 German Formula BMW – 2nd
    2004 German Formula BMW – 1st
    2005 Spanish Formula 3 – 15th
    2005 Formula 3 Euroseries – 5th
    2006 Formula 3 Euroseries – 2nd (He was beaten by his team mate Paul Di Resta)
    2006 World Series by Renault – 15th
    2007 World Series by Renault – 5th

    What the hell Sebastian Vettel has made of extraordinary on his early years to be the next Schumacher?

    What makes me wonder: who has the most impressive results to deserve be in a top car on this moment? The fact is: few drivers on the grid have the same curriculum as Lewis in the Junior Formulae. Few of them had showed his true potential when driven a top car:

    Barrichello
    Button
    Coulthard
    Massa (I´m still waiting…)

  41. Way to do your homework Becken!

    Indeed, Lewis may be doing better than Sutil Fisi, or anyone else in a Force India, but he still probably would not be in the title chanse in that type of machine. Still, his record in the junior series is most impressive.

  42. I really don’t get the hype over the guy! He has not won a championship, not broke any records, I can’t see what is so special about him (oh wait I forgot, he is British!). Any driver would do well in a mclaren, it is a fast car, and I don’t see any reason to say he is any better a driver than Sutil, Rosberg, Kubica, etc. The guy is just a hype, remember the fuss over Jenson when he first came on the scene, where is he now?
    He is talented for sure, but so are all the drivers, or they would not be in F1, I just wish the media would cool down on him!

  43. But who has heard his infamous quote, “I am #2 to no one, not even Michael Schumacher”. Does this mean that he considers himself better than the great man Schumi, if he does that is some overwhelming arrogance considering where he is in his career (2nd season). I think that if he gets himself a PR, stops this verbal diahorea (sorry, dont know how to spell it), and let his driving do the talking, a lot more people may respect and like him.

  44. I struggle to follow the logic of some people. I keep reading that Lewis is lucky that he is in a McLaren as if Ron Dennis put the names of all the drivers in a hat and chose him. I started preparing an aarticle for another site on the rookies of the past couple of years and as Becken has shown his record is better than anyone’s before F1 and by some margin. At some point I will finish it and publish it but all the basic info is in the public domain.

    I also read that he had it easy because McLaren funded. Ron Dennis did not tell him that he would fund his entire career. Every year he was set targets and told that he would lose his funding if he failed to meet them. I can’t speak for anyone else but I remember being 14 and the thought of losing McLaren sponsorship if I made a few mistakes would have been way too much for me. He is not the only driver to have been funded like this. Red Bull and Renault between them have put silver spoons in a lot of young drivers mouths. Few of them have achieved anything. Messrs Rosberg, Piquet etc have had their fathers funding their careers. So the fact that Lewis had well connected sponsorship is hardly unique.

    Regardless of age, experience and championships Lewis Hamilton is by far the best driver in F1. His technique is superior to any other driver. People point out that he is hard on tyres but that is simply due to the single tyre supplier rule. At any other time McLaren’s tyre supplier would be building tyres to suit him.

    On a similar point anyone who thinks Kimi Raikkonen’s performance is due to him and not his car doesn’t understand what is going on. If Ferrari can give him a car that suits his driving style he will blow Massa away. Those who think Massa has improved a lot this year equally don’t understand anything about car handling or driving technique. Before the knee jerkers respond to this Stefano Domenicali agrees.

    Before last season started the specialist press was full of stories that Alonso was the new Schumacher and Ron was an idiot for putting Lewis in the same team and he would be destroyed. In the end Lewis blew him straight out of the door.

    What has his girlfriend to do with how hard he works and how serious he is about F1? I don’t get that. Would he be more serious if his girlfriend worked in Tesco’s? From the announcement of him getting the McLaren drive until the season started he worked on the shop floor of the MTC so he knows what is involved in designing and building an F1 car. Anyone who believes that Alonso was responsible for the performance of last year’s McLaren is wrong. But if he was then Lewis must be responsible for the performance of this year’s.

    It is always hard to compare drivers who didn’t race at the same time but in some ways he is already better than Schumacher. Schumacher was never particularly good at wheel to wheel racing or overtaking. His strength was consistenly delivering fast laps. Had his career started some years earlier he would not have had the results he did but his abilities were perfectly matched to the rules at the time.

    Keke Rosberg compared Lewis to Gilles Villeneuve at the time he was announced as a McLaren driver. Given Keke’s respect for Gilles that is a huge compliment and Villeneuve was a better driver than Schumacher and Villeneuve never won a championship.

    Whether or not Lewis beats Michael’s records probably depends on much on who succeeds Max -if he goes in 2009 – as anything else. Hopefully it will be someone more neutral.

  45. Steven Roy, what a BRILLIANT comment (also Becken’s). You have put beautifully exactly what I think too. Especially about the car set up rubbish about Alonso. And if Lewis wins the WDC this year, it will be a harder won victory than others before it seeing as he is racing 19 other drivers as well as Ferrari International Assistance.

  46. S Hughes: your comments on racism are just as negative as those posted by racist. I am willing to believe that few true F1 fans, or any sport for that matter, will be looking at his race! To top it all off he drives in a helmet and full body suit where race doesn’t matter. Its people like you and the other side that constantly bring up race that brings the subject to light. Its just as negative as someone saying “How can you like a black F1 driver?”

  47. I don’t like Hamilton as a person too much but,I think he is a really good driver….and right now he is “The Rainmaster”.

    …and I just have to add:
    to those of you that scoffed at this thread and said “how dare you compare Hamilton to Schumi” and “I couldn’t read past the first line”….well,maybe you should read more than the first line before you comment,and maybe even finish reading the article…..wait a minute,who am I talking to?

  48. *Kubica will kick Hamilton’s a$$

    *in Ferrari :)

  49. Well said, Wesley! :)

  50. I took #1, I’ll take #50 as well.

    This thread got really hot only last night. Oh well, better late than never. This was EXACTLY what I was expecting from this debate. :)

  51. I kinda wish Lewis had started in a Force India. It’d put to rest for once and all the question as to what he could do in inferior equipement.

  52. Peril:
    That is a dangerous question.
    But probably it´s not far from possible he could finish with Fisico career. Sutil made Giancarlo seems like a survivor.

    And I may agree with you. What Hamister made with bi-champiom Alonso career was not fair.

  53. As a McLaren fan, I’m also a Hamilton fan.

    That aside, I’m not quite ready to call him the absolute best in F1 right now. In my view, that title still belongs to Raikkonen, who I still feel may just be the most naturally gifted driver in Formula One history. However, Hamilton has had moments when he’s shown (at least to me) hints of being Raikkonen’s equal. He’s shown flashes of Raikkonen’s ability to just gut out an unworldly quick lap beyond the car’s capability when the time comes. I think his car control is actually BETTER than Raikkonen, and the best currently in F1. He does drive a bit aggressively at times, but he and Raikkonen (as well as Kubica) really have such a tremendous ability to manipulate the dynamic energies of the car smoothly and get top performance out of it.

    I’d rate him in a tie for 2nd place on the grid right now with Kubica. If he takes the WDC this year and puts down more performances like Silverstone and Hockenheim, that may just change.

  54. Lots and lots of emotional chapters written , which was to be expected with a question on Lewis. To me he is not Schu. , Senna or anyone else , he is Lewis Hamilton , a young and already extremely popular and very talented driver. I am a die-hard Ferrari fan , so look forward to every time he is beaten by the red car , like he was in Valencia recently , and I look forward to the next time it happens , but when he next comes out and wins on his pace and talent , hat’s off to him if it is hard fought and well deserved.

  55. i love the comment ” i dont like hamilton as a person”!!

    oh met him have you? hung out with him and thought, nah hes not my cup of tea. probably not is my guess.

    you mistake not liking the coverage of him to not liking the man. hes a driver first and last.

  56. Polak, I live in the real world. When you do too, you can comment.

  57. For sure that if Hamilton would be driving for Force India he could not get a big deal. But who could? Raikkonen..? Kubica..? MASSA..? Alonso is already showing Renault’s true shape this season, we all know he’s good, but we have also discovered he’s not “mister six tenths” nor “the best car developer ever”, the one whose setups were being borrowed by his teammates… That said, I think Hamilton’s lack of modesty and brain is playing big deal against him, and he’s not being perfectly managed by the team, to say the least. He recalls me the early Villeneuve or Senna, and I’m not comparing driving styles here but “kamikazeness”. He just would have needed a firm hand (and head) within the team last season at China, someone to just warn him: “you just need four points here, and should you ever take the smallest risk for trying to get more than five, you will be severly punished…”. It appears that he’s beggining to learn, or at least if his flu made him taking it easy at Valencia, the team should try to get a full jar of that virus to feed Lewis. His stupid antics have showed the worst of him two or three times this year and put the WDC in jeopardy, but had his performances been perfect, the championship would be certainly boring by this time…

  58. @S Hughes: I take great offense to being listed as a racist by yourself, but can understand that it’s your short sightedness that has led you to calling people who don’t like him racist. As shown by the rest of your posts.

    Hamilton may be quick, and maybe one of the greatest, but his arrogance says he’s already achieved greatness, when he really hasn’t yet.

    If he already had a collection of WDC titles under his belt I could accept comments like “I own this track” whilst walking around a track he has only ever driving an F1 car round once before.

    I actually enjoyed seeing him crash out of Canada after that comment, regardless of the fact it was into my driver that he crashed.

    Arrogance is only endearing when it’s backed up with real time and time again performance. Hamilton isn’t there yet, but he’s definitely on the right track (no pun intended).

  59. I would like to know what winning the championship has to do with driving ability. If the FIA decided that Ferrari’s car was not legal in Melbourne and Kimi would then have been third in the championship would he be a better or worse driver?

    At the end of 1994 if Schumacher had been penalised for ramming Damon Hill would that have made Hill a better driver and Schumacher a worse one?

    Whether a driver ever wins a championship is utterly irrelevant to how good a driver he is.

    I really struggle with the idea that somehow had Hamilton started at the back of the grid it would be possible to judge him better. That makes no sense whatever. Last year in his rookie season he at least matched Alonso in the best car on the grid with enormous pressure to perform. In the first corner of his first race he made a great overtaking move. Imagine how he would have been judged if that move had gone wrong. Imagine Alonso had done to him what he has done to Kovalainen this season. No-one would then be saying they could judge hime better at the back of the grid. They would be saying he didn’t deliver on the hype. The guy succeeded but for some folk that is not good enough.

    How could him beating Fisichella for 17th place in a race give a better guide to his ability than fighting with the Ferraris and Alonso at the front of the grid? A lot of drivers have looked great at the back and in the middle of the pack but when put under pressure at the front they have crumbled. There was a time when a lot of people thought Frentzen was better than Schumacher and more than a few thought Ralf was going to come close to Michael’s level.

    People now think Kubica is the next big thing because he is beating Nick Heidfeld in a car where Heidfeld can’t make the tyres perform because of his driving style. Why is that more impressive than leading the championship for most of the season with the reigning double world champion in the other car? I don’t get that. Would Hamilton be a better driver or would someone be better able to judge him if he had beaten Button at Honda or Trulli at Toyota last season?

  60. arrogance is in the eye of the beholder. i dont think he is, just uber confident. i remember when that Ozzy tennis player Hewitt beat our boy Henman. Everyone said that if only hed shown some more of Hewitts aggression, arrogance, win at all costs mentality then we would be a winner not the eternal runner up.

    Now we get an f1 driver with all the qualities required to win but for some reason hes not allowed to show them until hes got half a dozen titles. its rubbish but i guess its an english trait that has mde us the crap sporting nation we generally are.

  61. #60 – wonderfully well said. Henman got savaged for being “too nice” but once a British sportsman shows self confidence he is considered too arrogant and is disliked by a lot of the British public. Bizarre. Do the likes of Schumacher and Alonso polarise opinion in their respective home countries? Or are they fanatically supported and lauded for their achievements?

  62. Arrogance and self confidence are two completely separate traits. You can be completely self confident and show that without being arrogant. Hamilton however currently shows more arrogance than self confidence.

  63. Lewis is a brilliant driver and a dumb arrogant prick.

  64. Steven Roy – I think the issue is not that Lewis could be “better judged” were he in a Force India instead of a McLaren, but rather that the true quality of F1 drivers comes through best when they have to fight against the odds. As you say, in 2007 Lewis matched Alonso in the best car on the grid. And that’s my point exactly – it was the best car on the grid.

    I’d be interested to see how Lewis would perform in a car that was unreliable, handled badly or both – not necessarily a car that was at the back of the grid. In fact, McLaren’s 2004 and 2006 seasons were just like that. I don’t know how Lewis would respond to such a situation because he’s not really experienced it before, having mostly driven for the best teams in FRenault, F3 and GP2 (not that the likes of Raikkonen, Vettel, etc didn’t). Some drivers rise to the challenge and transcend the limits of their machinery, others struggle and lose interest.

    Schumacher at Ferrari in 1996 is an example of the first category. The 1996 Ferrari was very poor but Schumacher never gave up and dragged it to several wins.

    An example of the opposite extreme would be Jenson Button’s second year in F1, which saw him lose his way with a very slow, unreliable and inconsistent Benetton-Renault. The Williams-BMW Button had driven in his debut year was solid, just not quick enough. The 2001 Benetton was a dog with an experimental wide angle engine that rarely lasted long enough to sort the car’s handling.

    That kind of situation, where the car’s handling changes from lap to lap or even from corner to corner, is very different to being in a car that is solid but slow. Lewis might do very well in such a situation, but we just won’t know until he encounters it.

  65. Very nice synthesis, TeamOrders. That said, I believe Lewis is the best combination of skill & will currently available. He is far away to being the new Fangio, Clark or Senna, but no-one else is nearer. Also, it is extremely improbable that Schumy’s record gets ever broken, but of the current crop, only Lewis gets a minimal chance in my view. Alonso? He would need to get the red dress first, and he has no team leadership whatsoever, he’s too fond of whining when things are grim. Lewis is slightly better in this respect, and also is already on a fast car whose owner loves him. So I think he’s a couple of steps ahead of Fernando in the race for the Everest’s summit.

  66. team orders. your comment speaks volumes

  67. No. 32 – Alain Prost had something , but Damon Hill , it has to be questioned ?

  68. #59 Steven Roy – may be a Formula Bad Handling Cars should be created by FIA so we can get the World Champion Bad Handling Cars – Steve you wouldn’t have put it better – some arguments are just ridiculous.

  69. A bit of this, a bit of that…
    First about Lewis: He is good, come on admit it – I don’t like the bloke either, but he can drive. Nonetheless, you have to be a supporter to say that there is no evidence that he got preferrencial treatment at Mclaren last year – the phrase of Ron trying to explain why they kept him so long on the track in China when he should have changed tyres says all: “…we were not racing Kimi, we were racing Fernando..”!!!
    Scott Joslin: Prost fans should refresh their memories and take a look at what Prost did in 1989 at Suzuka – go to youtube, type “Suzuka 1989” and see for yourself.
    Suzuka 1990 was the pay-back act, not the first blow.
    Steven Roy: Arguments go like that, you argue something and then you give some hard facts to back what your analysis. Should we bow to your opinion on Kimi’s performance (and the subsequent abuse on Massa) just because you said so? Ferrari is setting the car to favor Felipe? Kimi is the current champion and, in your opinion, he is way better than Massa, so why the hell would they give him inferior treatment?
    This brings me to my last point: Why is it that Massa is so thoroughly disliked around here? I mean, some people are now “accusing” him of being light as it was some kind of choice not available to others. The guy wins races, makes poles, take the challenge to the “all-times-best” Lewis and he only gets abuse – why is that?

  70. Kester, your comments are proof that you take Lewis’ comments and put an arrogant twist on them more than any other driver’s. Massa said this year that he owned Bahrain, just as Hamilton did about Monaco, but why did you not pick up on Massa’s comments? Lewis is judged more harshly than other driver when they do identical things – I cannot think of another reason than racism. I would love it if you could inform me of why I am wrong because Lewis is no more arrogant than any other driver. Is Alonso arrogant for saying he brings 6/10ths the team and therefore should be given preferential treatment? Is Kimi arrogant for pushing over a seasoned F1 photographer in the paddock? These issues are not debated ad infinitum as every little comment that Lewis makes or deed he does, is.

    There’s no point taking offence – I take offence at the unjust criticism of LH’s character by people who don’t actually know him.

  71. Allowance to be arrogant unfortunately comes with experience. Lewis doesn’t have that experience, which is why people don’t like his arrogance.

    Also, can I not like a black man without being called racist?

    Am I a racist for not liking Alonso? Surely the only reason I can’t like Alonso is that he’s Spanish? Nothing else comes into does it right?

  72. Antifia,

    I did not say Ferrari set the car up to suit Massa. Ferrari over the last few years have built cars that understeer slightly. All there data is on building cars that understeer. The difference is that this year for some reason it understeers a lot. Massa likes understeer and Kimi hates it. Even Domenicali came out at the weekend and said that Kimi has problems with the handling of the car. At no point did I abuse Massa or any other driver. I simply said Kimi was a better driver than him. Massa is not as good as he looks just now. Put Alonso in that car and he would blow Massa and Kimi away because the handling is more suited to his style or Kubica’s. Put Hamilton in it and he would be at the same level as Kimi because both of them need the front end to stick. Put Kimi and Massa in the McLaren that suits Hamilton and Massa would struggle badly because he needs the rear end to stick where Kimi or Lewis are happy to have it wagging around all over the place so long as the nose sticks. Everything I have said is factually accurate and nothing to do with opinion or abuse. Some cars suit some drivers.

    Ferrari are working to make the car to Kimi’s taste but they are never going to build his ideal car without throwing away all their data and starting again. Maybe the new regulations next year will help them to do that but with the current regs it would be insane for them to do it.

    Your interpretation of the one phrase quote from Ron Dennis is popular ridiculous interpretation. Sidepodcast recently did a piece on the inability of people in motorsport to use the correct pronoun. Ron was discussing Lewis’s position when he said we were racing Alonso and was absolutely correct. At that stage of the championship the battle for Lewis was against Alonso. Kimi was miles away and irrelevant. Had he been asked about Alonso’s position he would have said we were racing Hamilton. I am baffled how so many people can watch a whole season’s racing and form an opinion based on four words said in the heat of the moment. How would anyone who has done that come out if someone decide to pick four consecutive words you had said any time during the last year and passed that of as an accurate reflection of your views. How many times during the season did Ron say both drivers were equal? Did Alonso not finish the season with exactly the same number of points as Hamilton when the team could easily have prevented that? I agine if the failure Hamilton suffered in Brazil had happened to Alonso. What would the interpretation of that have been? Had Ferrari not been allowed to race an illegal car in Australia Alonso would have been world champion. I guess Ron must be incredibly incompetent to put him in that position if he was trying to make him lose. Get a grip.

  73. Thank you nº 69 – As a Ferrari’s fan I feel the same. LH is a very good driver, but he’s a miles away from Senna or Schumacher. I have no doubt in my mind that Felipe can beat him. I hope Ferrari continue to make him look rookie like the start of the Hungarian GP.

  74. Scott (No. 23 comment) , I usually keep away from the emotional , but you are hilarious , man , to say that Schu. was the man to “save” Ferrari , at the time Ferrari were down , out and not even about , after having lost for twenty something years . In fact , I rolled on the floor laughing for a while. If it’s all about what money can buy , can you tell us why Toyota , who after all are reputed to having the largest budget for some years now , have until recently battled to score a point , let alone a podium ? I’m not big on statistics , but I recall Schu. and Ferrari even started WINNING in 1996 , does that in itself not tell a story about the greatest driver of all time , that he can march into a lost and bewildered outfit , and start to WIN in year 1 ? Lewis , on the other hand , has been “groomed” for 12 years to take up a role at McLaren , also a super well funded and organised team , so there lies the big difference. But as many (and myself) have said above , he is SO FAR proving to be very good , cannot take that away from him , but let’s also not give him 10 years credit in advance.

  75. Steven Roy:
    Forgive me if I call a frog a frog. When Kimi is doing well, he is the ice-man, the lateral G minimiser (bluuurghhhh), his team mate just can’t keep up with him, and so on…When things go badly, suddenly the car does not match his style (and apparently matches that of Felipe – that lucky untalented bratt). I would have three things to say about it:
    1. A good driver adapts to the car.
    2. The car did not change so much since he lost his form.
    3. Ferrari and Kimi had a year together in their bag. If they decided to desing a car to fit a driver’s style, it would no doubt fit Kimi’s(he is the champion, after all).
    When it comes to Alonso’s treatment at Mclaren, what can I say? Unless Ron or Lewis actually come out and say it, no Lewis fan will ever accept it (and even then, some will try to spin the story). Use of the wrong pronoum…oh boy… Do you know why Ron would not have said to Fernando “we are racing Lewis” at that point? Because they were not in speaking terms since Hungary. Cameras showing the Mclaren pit crew during the year would show quite different reactions to Alonso’s and Lewis’ sucesses and failures. Even the FIA found it necessary to send an agent to Mclaren’s pit to ensure equal treatment in the last race (probably because they doubted that it was being given – pretty much like everyone else, except it is, for the most blind Lewis’fans

  76. What a surprise this little article elicited such a large number of responses.

    I read with interest the backlash that arose from comparing Lewis with Michael. Isn’t that a little harsh on people engaging in one of the best pastimes of an F1 fan? Which X is better than which Y?

    Of course comparing a complete F1 career with one less than two seasons old is an exercise in futility but isn’t that half the fun? One fills in the gaps, due to Lewis being so young, with our own opinions and conjecture, we are all hypothesising what might be, whether we think it will be to either drivers advantage is simply a matter of taste.

    So to all those who are upset at the temerity of the comparison here is another poser:

    Let’s compare Michael and Lewis on equal terms, namely after both had completed 1.5 seasons. By my reckoning for Michael that means it’s roughly the end of 1992. He’s driving for a team that, although it hasn’t yet, has the potential to win world championships. For Lewis I would argue the situation is similar except for him it’s August 2008.

    Now that the comparison is fairer, which is better so far?

  77. Antifia,

    You may not believe Kimi has a problem with the car but Stefano Domenicali does.

    “The team boss said it was up to the team to give Raikkonen a car he feels comfortable with.

    “He isn’t happy with the way the car enters corners. He would like it more aggressive, and this influences him. It’s up to us to carry on giving him a hand.”

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/70103

    Maybe he is lying and making things up.

    A driver’s driving style is not something he can just change. He can adapt it to an extent but like anything that anyone has done for ten or more years it cannot easily be turned on its head. Ferrari did not design the car to suit Massa it is simply something that happened. Regardless how high tech F1 is not everything is totally controlable. Sometimes a car has more or less of a particular characteristic than the designers intended.

    I did not say Massa was lucky or untalented simply that he is not as good as Raikkonen and that the car flatters him. Saying someone is not one of the two or three best drivers in F1 is a long way different to calling him talentless.

    As to the equality steward. You cannot be serious. If the only thing you have to back up your argument is that you agree with Max and the paranoia from the Spanish ASN you have a weak argument. For most of last season Alonso did not complain about not getting equal treatment. He complained about not getting preferential treatment. Only when it looked like Hamilton was going to win the championship did he try to save face by claiming he was getting second best. Had he been driving for anyone other than Ron Dennis he would have been fired in Hungary. Imagine a Ferrari driver doing what Alonso did and threatening Jean Todt with going public with what he knew. He would never have been allowed near Maranello again and would never have sat in a Ferrari again. Can you imagine what Flavio would have done in the same circumstance. Stop thinking about one phrase and give me one example of unfair treatment to Alonso in the whole of last season.

  78. Phil B,

    Well, the field you have set up for the comparison is not that level, is it? The Benetton was indeed the second best car on the grid, but it was way behind the Williams (something like the difference between BMW and Ferrari/Mclaren this year). Furthermore, Der-Uber-Cheat was contending against the likes of Senna, Mansel and Prost(in 93) – Massa, Kimi and Alonso are not quite the same stuff.
    I believe a better comparison would be against his three British predecessors, who also started their carriers in top class teams (Damon Hill*, David Coultard and Jenson Button). Better still would be comparing him to Jack Villeneuve, who started in a super Williams in 1996 and won the championship in 1997 (against who?). I don’t think Lewis’ fans will like that though: If he wins, winning against JV does not exactly makes you an all-time-best. If he loses (and if he does not win the title this year, lose he will), well…you know.

    * I know that D.Hill did a couple of races for Lotus in ’92 but his first complete season was in a top class Williams.

  79. Steven Roy:
    You got that right about Jean Todt and Flavio. I don’t know why you’d think it would have been different with Ron. Well, I kind of know: Because if you admit to yourself that after their fallout Ron and the Team’s attitude towards Alonso became hostile, you would have to admit the corolary: Things became geared towards Lewis (if not before, certainly after Hungary).
    It is just common sense – and by the way, wasn’t it Mclaren itself that notified the stewards in Hungary about Alonso’s pit antics? I am not saying Fernando is a good guy nor that Lewis is not super talented, I am just saying what was plain to everybody to see.

  80. ” and by the way, wasn’t it Mclaren itself that notified the stewards in Hungary about Alonso’s pit antics?”

    Ron Dennis phoned Max and said that he had been made aware that some people in the team were aware that Mike Coughlin had Ferrari data. Note this was nothing to do with the 760 page dossier. This was info that Nigel Stepney had given Coughlin and Nigel Stepney said that he got an equal amount of info in return. Also bear in mind around this time the two of them went job hunting at Honda.

    It was also Ron Dennis who phoned Max and told him that Renault had a stack of McLaren data. Yet McLaren were punished? Make of that what you will.

    I have no doubt the team were less than happy with Alonso afterwards but there is not a shred of evidence that he was ever short changed by them. I don’t see why Ron not firing him proves that he treated him badly. Ayone else running any other team would have fired him on the spot. Ron gave him an even chance to win a championship and had he not dropped his car in the rain in Japan he would now be champion. That doesn’t sound to me like he was persecuted.

  81. Antifia,

    Are you seriously trying to exclude all comparisons unless the terms are identical? If so then I assume we can never compare anything other than team mates in the year they were alongside each other. How dull would that be?

    Why do you mention the three British drivers? My question was about the relative merits of Lewis versus Michael after 1.5 seasons. Your patriotic bias shines through here. I’m trying to offer a simple way of comparing Lewis with Michael on something like equal terms and you want me to compare Lewis and Damon Hill instead?! How will that help us with a Michael/Lewis comparison?

    and Villeneuve? I think your motives are becoming clear now. You say a “better comparison” and at first I thought you meant “fairer” but no, better for you means “makes Lewis look bad”. If you have no interest in the question of who was better, Michael in 1992 or Lewis in 2008 then that is fine but don’t pretend to be offering answers to it when all you want to do is bash Lewis a bit.

  82. I’m going to have to admit from the start that Senna and Schumacher are my racing heroes and that I’ve been a Ferrari fan since I was 6.

    I love watching Lewis qualifying or racing an F1 car, his driving style is just brilliant. He’s not at Senna or Schumi’s level yet though, but he’s also not got their experience yet either.

    I think he’s good enough to win a DWC but under the current regulations you have to be in a top car to do that, hopefuly the new regulations will change that in the coming years.

    He has the ability to be competing for championships for many, many years to come. Hopefuly McLaren will be able to keep giving him a car that’s up to the job.

    For me his battle with Alonso last season showed he has the ability to be one of F1’s greats, he beat him on and off the track. Getting Alonso to throw his toys out of the pram mid-season proved his mental abilities, Alonso is no pushover and as the World Champion he joined the team in a bullish mood and was ready to dominate the season. When Lewis showed he could match his pace Alonso started the mind games and ended up losing.

    This season we have seen a few mistakes from Lewis but that is hardly surprising, it took Schui a few years to get be able to do a whole season with only one or two mistakes. Lewis’s tendancy to use overstear to increase his cornering speeds means he is always going to be very near to the limit in terms of grip though whereas Schumi was much more nuetral, Senna would often bin it (often in practice) as he was also a bit more leary than the average driver.

    This, for me, is part of the reason I like his driving, he’s always visibly pushing, trying to find those extra hundredths – and you know when it goes wrong it’s going to look good.

    Unlike some drivers he’s willing to have a go at overtaking on the track rather than waiting for the pit stops and this is what I want to see in F1.

    The only “bad” side to Lewis is his public image, he doesn’t come across as someone you want to have a pint with.
    He could do with a little more warmth and also trying to be a little less arrogant, sometimes he shows a nice and funny side of himself that I hope is the real Lewis but he seems to be trying to make a public image that isn’t really him.
    Admittedly this is just from what we see on TV but as this is the most we’ll ever see of him it’s all most of us have got to go on as we’ll be lucky if we meet him more than once a year (and even that wouldn’t be for long).

    Overall I do like Lewis but it’s going to take a few years before any of us can decide how good he really is and to be honest, that’s most of what I really care about in a driver.

  83. Jean – my point being was that Schumacher joining Ferrari in 1996 was not solely the reason alone why they ended up being so successful. His achievement was not just down to his driving – more the years spent setting it up for him on a plate with Jean Todd, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne – the “dream team”

    You ask why Toyota cannot do this, well this is mainly due to the Japanese business philosophy – especially Toyota, who rely upon Consensus. This means decision making is conducted by a group and rarely allows autocratic hierarchical decision making. Where in Ferrari Ross Brawn and Jean Todt decided qucikly and decisively on what best for Schumacher. I believe Honda have looked at this and was one of the key factors getting Brawn in, they realized they had to change to a more Autocratic style. It is rare that a driver alone can take the credit turning a teams fortunes upside down.

    Schumacher to date still has not had a team mate as competitive as Alonso – a World Champion, this because he demanded not too have one. Hamilton has had that test and passed it with distinction and in his first year.

  84. S Hughes,

    Thanks for the Lewis Video in Kart days, mate. I just finished to upload the most famous Lewis´ race in GP2 at Turkey in 2006.

    If you have some problems with the connection on megavideo, just reload the page three or four times (CTRL+F5) that it will work. The video have 47 minutes, so let it load and watch it in full.

    To the guys who never saw Lewis coming from back of the field, this video is worth. I think you can see how good is Timo Glock too and the mainly difference between Nelson JR and Lewis.

    Another issue is about Formula 1 X GP2. I hope that the new aero design regulations would bring us this kind of race!

    I hope you enjoy it!

    THE LINK:
    http://www.megavideo.com/?v=MVH3G8AD

  85. Scott – point taken – I have nothing against Hamilton , as you will notice in what I said before , I acknowledge he is good – however the comparison of himself to Fernando in ’07 is a hollow one – my theory is that Fernando was attracted to Mclaren for two reasons : 1. He brought something from Renault , which helped vault McLaren from 3rd in 2006 to matching Ferrari in 2007 and 2. McLaren wanted to start Lewis paired with the double world champion , which they already knew how good Lewis was having worked with him so many years , they figured if he could nearly match Alonso , it would boost his confidence tremendously. As it turns out , he not nearly , but in fact matched Alonso (all credit to Lewis for that) , in the new season , and that’s the point where I think he got the teams backing and what pissed Alonso off from then on. Also remember , a driver starting in a new team , is always at a slight disadvantage , so Alonso would have been slightly on his back foot in ’07. That said , is the reason why I cannot wait for Alonso to be in a car which can compete with McLaren , because it will be “battle royale” between them , and only then will we be able to conclude who is the better of the two.

  86. Phil B,
    I had no intention to get you that upset. I just don’t think that the situations you put for comparison are level. Starting in the best car of the grid (and Mclaren last year was the best. Ferrari would never have won the title in the absence of the StephneyGate) one has more chances to get wins and several podiums in his rookie season. That was not the case for Schumacher. Nor it was the case for Senna or Alonso or Kimi or Prost or….what brings me to my comment on the British drivers that seem to have irritated you so much: They use to have an easier entry to F1 than drivers from other places, always starting in top teams. Good for them, but since they are a group apart, you should compare Lewis achievements with theirs. Or with JVs (hehe). Keep your hair on, I meant no offence.
    But you are right: Bashing Lewis can be sometimes a funny sport.

  87. Steven Roy,

    my memories tell me that Alonso last year never asked for having preferential treatment as you claim (this is what I heard directly from him on TV/radio, not from what a newspaper or blogger said); at the end he asked for having not the same equipment but the same human treatment. But as it is now nobody will convince the other side, and I am not trying to either. As for Lewis: he is very good already. Absolute comparisons with other guys are nonsense; after a few years the perspective will be more adequate.

  88. Antifia,

    I didn’t say that the situations were *exactly* level but as I said before, where would the fun be in that? Let’s be honest, there are people on this forum who refuse to believe that even when they were in the same team 2007 it was not a fair reflection of Hamilton over Alonso. Without a bit of tolerance over levelness of the ‘playing field’ what chance do we have for any comparison?

    You seem reluctant to compare Hamilton with Schumacher in any way and over any period so in the interest of debate I’ll tackle the point about British drivers that you raise. I hadn’t thought that British drivers get such favourite treatment but, being British, it might not be so obvious to me and you might be right. You mention a few examples who you say started in the best teams but there are others who didn’t: Johnny Herbert, Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell, Eddie Irvine, Anthony Davidson, Justin Wilson….. to name just a few,in fact this is a little silly, I’m sure there are many.

    And I don’t get the logic that says we can only compare Hamilton to his compatriots because of their ‘unique’ entries to F1. Come on, I don’t think you can be serious there. Must Schumacher be protected from any and all comparison unless the other driver had the same entry into F1 as him? Wow, how dull.

    You seem to find JV inordinately funny, I’ll not question that except to point out that being French-Canadian he’s not that British…

    P.S. I think Damon Hill actually first raced with Brabham in ’92 but stopped when the team pulled out of F1. Hardly a start in a top team. And as for Button: Williams in 2000 didn’t win a single race and were a very very distant 3rd, hardly a title contender. Which leaves you with a list of one I’m afraid….

  89. @Phil B – Ok let’s rate Schumi and Lewis, based on their first two seaons, in the only way that is really fair – Performance against team mate.

    Schumi had the better of his team mate in 9 races in his first full season and a further 9 in the second, both of these season had 16 races. That’s 18/32 or 56% of the time.

    Lewis had the better of his team mates 7 times in the first season, and a further 7 this season. That’s 14/29 or 48% of the time.

    To me that looks like Schumi did the better in his first two seasons.

    As for their first year each Schumi had a 56% success rate over his team mate, to Lewis’ 41%.

    If Hamilton is as good now, as Schumi was then, he should have out performed his team mate more often to show that.

  90. “If Hamilton is as good now, as Schumi was then, he should have out performed his team mate more often to show that.”

    ??? So you think Alonso is no better than Schumacher’s team mates. I don’t think the Alonso fans will agree with that one. Brundle was a really good driver but Piquet was way past his best and deCesaris was hardly a top level driver.

  91. Kester,

    I think performance against team-mate is a very good way of comparing drivers but it helps if the team-mates themselves are the same, or similar.

    So the basis of your comparison is that Andrea de Cesaris, Nelson Piquet and Martin Brundle were as good as Fernando Alonso and Kovi….. Now I know Piquet is a triple world champion but he was way past his best (which wasn’t all that good anyway) by 1992 and Alonso is only a double WC but I know which set of drivers I’d rather race against….

    As for your calculated stats you seem to have dropped Schumacher’s first half season so as to include the third season he started. Any particular reason? The question I posed was regarding the two drivers after ~1.5 seasons, roughly the end of 1992. I bet if I had time to check Schumacher was bested by Piquet in the second half of 1991 and that made your stats looks bad so you dropped it to include 1993 instead. True?

  92. Ok guys the super-human-almost-god-the-best-ever-of-all-times-and-the-milk-way- Lewis Hamilton is better than Schumi…

  93. Right: Lewis vs Schumacher after 1.5 years in F1.
    Lewis wins hands down. Seven victories against Schumi’s one, a number of poles (I can’t recall how many) for Lewis, none for Der-Meister-Cheat. And when it comes to podiums and points, Lewis is also way ahead.
    In a recent poll run by F1 Racing magazine Shumi was voted the second best driver ever. Senna was voted the best so, lets compare him to Lewis (both after 1.5 years in F1). Again it is a 7 vs 1 for Lewis in wins, and Lewis is also way ahead on poles, points and podiums. Lewis must then be the best driver to ever come to F1. That is, if leave out the rather diverse circunstances in which those drivers started their careers.
    I didn’t mean to say the JV was British. He is one driver that I remember having also started his career in the top team – contrary to Senna and Schumacher, his performance was every bit as good as that of Lewis in his first two seasons. My argument is: Good performance in a top car does not necessarily make you an exceptional driver.
    In time: You are right about Piquet besting Schumacher in 1991 (considering only the 4 races they did together).

  94. @Phil B – Don’t by any means think I’m putting Lewis down. Part of what I was trying to point out is how impossible it is to compare two drivers, after a certain amount of time, when they haven’t had similar circumstances.

    By all means, I truely think Lewis could be one of the greatest drivers of our generation. Is he at the moment though? No, he has a lot still to learn, and by the WDC points tables he hasn’t shown himself to be that much ahead of the field.

    Is he better than Schumacher was in his first seasons, possibly. Can we ever really tell though, when F1 was completely different 15 years ago, where reliability was something teams prayed for, not took for granted. A time when a mid order team could easily pull a win out of the bag with a gutsy drive from it’s pilot, and a little bit of luck. That is not the F1 we know today, and as such it’s almost impossible to ever really compare a driver of today to yesteryear. Especially when one of them started their career in one of the best cars of the season.

  95. Lot’s of comment’s in this topic. Again shows that the best drivers are the most controvrsal drivers

  96. Antifia,

    I think perhaps you’re deliberately being a little obtuse there. I think you know I’m not arguing for a straight points/wins/podiums comparison. I was trying to level the playing field a little for those that didn’t like the disparity of a 10 versus 2 year career comparison. My suggestion was to compare their first 1.5 seasons and use our knowledge of those times to discuss the relative merits of each driver. Not simply count points.

    If we take your argument to it’s natural conclusion, that we should only compare drivers with similar entries to F1 then we need to find another driver who started with Jordan, move to Bennetton and finished the rest of their career at Ferrari. And now I’m the one being obtuse.

    I wouldn’t argue with your good performance/great car point, I do suspect though that we have seen something special in the last 18 months. Time will tell if I’m right.

    As for Schumacher/Piquet that happens to be a year or so before I started watching F1 regularly so I’m on unsure ground here but wikipedia seems to suggest Schumacher had 6 races and I thought only one was with Jordan. Perhaps it was 5 against Piquet…..

  97. Kester,

    Of course we can’t compare with any surety, it’s just a game, part of the reason why I follow F1, part of the reason why Keith’s site exists.

    One thing for sure though is that if we were able to put all the drivers from all the years in the same cars, one of them would be fastest. And I find that intriguing.

  98. Wow… the amount of stuff that people put in comments over here is simply amazing… you really need half a day to go through all the comments sometimes… anyways, for my two bits:

    1. Is he the new Schumacher?
    No. In any case it is still early days, if you ask me, Robert and Sebastien V are showing a lot more promise in machines half as good.

    2. Is he the best driver on the grid?
    The championship points would make you agree to that, but, if you do not count his first nine grand prixs then his performance has been as erratic as Felipe. So if you ask me, he is a driver who performs based on the momentum (form) he generates from his previous race. He easily gets flustered by everything around him, and even himself, and then it takes a rainy race to get that momentum back.

    I think he will spend the off season in jungles Amazon learning the Rain Dance from Native Americans… let’s just hope it can be done indoors or else the media is going to have a field day… :P

    Sorry if I hurt anyone’s sentiments, but Lewis is pure talent and his lack of understanding of the rules proves that he does not believe in hard work… and therein lies the reason I do not support Lewis, Kimi, or Robert. In a battle between Talent and Hard Work, I have always cheered for Hard Work.

  99. Lewis does not believe in hard work….however you say Kimi does! That is slightly debatable in my opinion Harkirat!

    Interesting what you say about Lewis getting flustered, I agree with that. We saw it in the cross over from Canada and France, and then Silverstone offered him a chance to take advantage, still he was the only one not to get flustered on that day.

  100. I like Lewis Hamilton and I think he will be a champion someday whether it be this year or in the next few years. I keep reading in various comments that Schumi “demanded” not to have a good team mate. Can anyone show me where this is proven coz I am completely dumbstruck by statements like this.

  101. How can you be dumbstruck that Schumacher didn’t want a strong team mate? Do you really think Eddie Irvine got the job because he was a great driver? At the time there was universal stunned amazement that Ferrari signed him. Schumacher built the team around himself and if he had wanted a seriously good team mate Ferrari would have signed one but Schumacher wanted a team mate who was no threat to him.

  102. Whatever your opinion on Hamilton, whether it is for or against, there is no denying that he has brought more added spice to the championship.
    The one major thing that I like about him is that he takes risks, really hussles the car, when others would think otherwise and back off. He speaks his mind, and shows his emotions whether they be negative or positive.
    That has been a rare comoditity in F1 in recent years.
    Last year’s battle with Alonso impressed me, regardless of the alledged political wrangling from within McLaren. Hamilton started his debut year in a manner rarely seen by any rookie, and against a team mate of the highest possible calibre.
    Michael Schumacher’s records maybe a distant hope for Lewis, but he is certainly well placed to have a good try for them that is for sure.

  103. There is nothing to prove Kubica faster than Hamilton.
    Massa consistant 2008 and on his day faster.
    Vettel has shown fantastic ability at times but some average races early 2008 which is why he is not mentioned in article above.

    I have a feeling hamilton is the fastest, he likes a car with a great front end and nervous rear. To me Shumacher, who liked these settings, showed that this was the fastest type of car 1994-2003.

    Total opposite to Alonso, probably why Alonso was unhappy with Mclaren and succeeded in Renault with great rear grip and traction control.

  104. remember j.villeneuve…thats what hamilton will be..forgetable..All the hype but thats it..
    he is a good driver not great..
    Massa is like rubens and rubens is like massa..very good racer but never going to win the championship..help team team mates..yes

  105. Due to my experience you can get really high interest savings accounts online within minutes!

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