Lewis Hamilton is a greater danger to his title hopes than Fernando Alonso is

Fernando Alonso has said he wants to help Felipe Massa win the F1 title

Fernando Alonso has said he wants to help Felipe Massa win the F1 title

Fernando Alonso told his home press earlier this week: ??Yes, no doubt, if I can help, I will help Massa.??. He followed that up in the press conference ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend with:

When I said this in Fuji what I meant is that now we have a competitive car it seems that we are able to fight sometimes with Ferrari and McLaren and first of all we need to have a competitive, hard car here in Shanghai and Brazil to be fighting with Ferrari and McLaren. If we do that and Felipe wins the race and I can be second or third I will be happy to help Felipe to take as many points as possible and this is the only approach.

To me this looks like a psychological swipe that rather than a genuine threat to get in Hamilton?s way or take him out. How will Hamilton react in Shanghai?

Advantage Massa

Hamilton may have the championship lead but the impetus in the title battle rests with rival Felipe Massa: he has out-scored Hamilton in all but one of the last five races. And at Singapore, Massa was perfectly poised to win before that disastrous pit stop.

Massa won Interlagos, scene of the season finale, in 2006, and was set for victory last year when he obligingly yielded to team mate Kimi Raikkonen to guarantee a Ferrari champion. Hamilton needs to out-score Massa by a point or two this weekend to make the Brazilian?s chances of wrapping up the title at his home race extremely difficult.

The role of Alonso

This imperative and Alonso?s words of warning will be preying on Hamilton mind. But, realistically, what could Alonso do to disrupt Hamilton’s race?

Delay Hamilton in qualifying? Alonso would get a penalty. Hold up Hamilton in the race? He?ll have to out-qualify him first. Crash into Hamilton? Surely no-one seriously expects Alonso to take matters that far.

In the press conference, Alonso claimed the extent of his desire to ??help Massa? was simply to finish between the leading Ferrari and Hamilton. Later Hamilton spoke about his encounter with Alonso in the season finale at Interlagos last year, which might indicate a wariness about Alonso in Hamilton’s mind:

Firstly, in Brazil I didn’t try to overtake [Alonso] and make a mistake. Fernando was on the outside and he braked a little bit earlier than I anticipated and so I had to try to avoid him, so I went wide and that forced me to go off, so that wasn’t a manoeuvre trying to overtake.

But realistically, in order for Alonso to cause problems for Hamilton, the two will have to be disputing the same piece of track at some point. And even though the R28 has clearly improved in recent races, they haven?t seen much of each other all year.

They clashed at Bahrain – which proved to be entirely Hamilton?s misjudgement ?ǣ and the two wouldn?t even have been in that position had Hamilton not fluffed his start. Then at Monza Hamilton caught Alonso and passed him with a lack of drama, the McLaren several seconds quicker than the Renault at that point. Once again, it was an earlier error by McLaren that brought Hamilton and Alonso into each other?s races.

Conservatism is the key to the title

Hamilton should naturally exercise caution if he gets into a wheel-to-wheel battle with Alonso this weekend. But frankly, he needs to do a bit more exercising caution anyway ?ǣ he made two in the first few corners at Fuji, and they weren?t the first he?s made this year.

It pains me to see exciting drivers curb their racing instincts. I blame a points system that over-rewards minor finishes. But if Hamilton wants to win this championship, he needs to drive like he did at Singapore and not like he did at Fuji.

If he does that, Alonso should scarcely have the opportunity to influence the outcome of the championship.

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62 comments on Lewis Hamilton is a greater danger to his title hopes than Fernando Alonso is

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  1. Adrian said on 17th October 2008, 9:07

    Lewis Hamilton may be a greater danger to his championship than Fernando Alonso is, but the FiA Stewards could be an even bigger threat to his or Massa’s hopes if they carry on the way they’ve been going this season…

    “Did you see that, that car defended his position…black flag him”

  2. Jonesracing82 said on 17th October 2008, 9:22

    lol, more like, “he looked at that car, give him a drive through!”
    sad i know, but thats how pathetic it’s getting!
    even more stupid, next years new rules are aimed at “creating overtaking”! yet they then go and make the drivers scared to have a go in case they get a stupid penalty for getting it wrong……….

  3. From another site:

    “Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Webber and Jarno Trulli are to raise recent incidents involving Hamilton at Friday’s drivers’ briefing at the Shanghai International Circuit.”

    “Mark Webber fears Lewis Hamilton will cause an accident if he fails to temper his aggressive driving style.”

    And this comes five days after Hamilton himself was torpedoed by Massa?!? It feels like I’m on drugs, because every GP I see something and then wake up to find a totally different reality a few days later…

  4. you also missed that they clashed in fuji, lap 1 after the first corner before the 2nd, after lewis rejoined the track alonso closed the door on him and their wheels made contact.

  5. Andrew said on 17th October 2008, 9:40

    That’s the way it was. It was always this way, it always has been this way. Now move along comrade.

  6. Anonymouse said on 17th October 2008, 9:42

    The other drivers and their fans are Jealous of Lewis, it really is that simple.

    So they gang up on him, becasue they can’t do their talking on the track.

    They sound like sore losers, who want Lewis to slow down. Why? Becasue they can’t catch him.

    Lewis is the star of F1. He is the most exciting driver, and has put all other drivers in his shadow. And so the other drivers gang up on him like little school kids and blub and moan, as do their fans.

    What a bunch of corporate cry babies the other drivers are.

  7. Other drivers I guess are jealous of Lewis’s popularity; not his driving skills.

    Looking at this season; Lewis has bounced back brilliantly after poor performances. Baharin(poor)-Spain(ok)-Monaco(awesome)

    Canada-France(poor)-Britain(world-class)

    So; if has hit a trough at Fuji; May be he will do well at Shanghai.

    But 3 ferrari drivers have won here in 4 years. Its time for the fourth one to claim his name on the trophy :). GO MASSA ! ! 1

  8. how was monaco awesome? he hit the wall and blew his tire while in 2nd place, and only won from the safety car.

  9. ninguen said on 17th October 2008, 10:17

    I think Alonso is playing mind tricks with hamilton to put more pressure on hamilton to see if he cracks like last year.

    Alonso has commented that he wouldn´t like that hamilton brake his record for younger champion, and he likes that this year wins whoever it is, and when this record is broke that it would be made by someone else he would like more, like kubica or vettel to name two

  10. seems to me that alonso wants to show ferrari hq that he can act team player and support to impress.. why else get into the title fight and help any of the drivers from other teams?

  11. I will not be surprised if Hamilton win the championship and few days later FIA rip off his title.

  12. John Spencer said on 17th October 2008, 10:38

    @duva – I agree wholeheartedly. Lewis’s driving may be ‘aggressive’, but how many other cars has he T-boned? He might not give people much space (he doesn’t have to). He might go for overtakes where other drivers do not (or cannot), and he does make mistakes (which he typically admits to, unlike other drivers, eg at Fuji turn 1).

    @Anonymouse – definitely. The problem is, we really don’t ever get to hear what other drivers actually think. We get the evasive comments they give to journalists that are then spun into sensational stories. Sometimes these stories are bang on, sometimes they are completely wrong, but it’s difficult to tell which. But the one thing that all drivers have in common is that they will criticise others’ driving until the cows come home, but will never ever say they themselves did anything remotely incorrect (eg Massa punting Hamilton at Fuji was in Massa’s opinion, Lewis’s fault).

    @Keith Collantine – while I agree with the tone of the article, I think there tends to be an erroneously automatic association between unusual events and ‘end of season championship pressure’. At any race where Lewis had a poor start from pole, I’m sure he would have gone for a late brake on Kimi into turn 1 as per Fuji. I never did figure out how he lost so many places after turn 1 (I didn’t see what todd mentioned above, was that it?), but following the Massa incident, there was not a whole lot he could do. His results in the past 3 races haven’t been as good as expected, but are better, say, than the Malaysia-Bahrain-Spain trio at the beginning of the season. So while you’re right that Alonso is no real threat – although he could start from near the front on light fuel, he wouldn’t risk his own prospects by doing anything more than running Lewis wide – I’m not sure that Lewis is driving any differently than before. Perhaps not as conservatively as he should (and managed to in Singapore), but I’m skeptical that there is anything wobbly about his mindset. Also, the pressure on Massa is underestimated. He knows that if Lewis finishes 1st, 2nd, or 3rd on Sunday, he must finish above 5th, 7th or 9th to keep alive his championship hopes, a prospect that must weigh heavily on his mind, given his results in the past four races.

  13. Filipe said on 17th October 2008, 10:47

    The drivers have being complaining about Lewis for sometime now. Glock was very angry after Monza, for example. GPDA is even more obsessed with safety than Max and Lewis GP2-style overtakes which are great for us certainly don’t look good for an organization that wants to avoid accidents. Compare Massa double overtake over Heikki and Rubens in Montreal and Lewis over Glock in Monza: both could have ended in an accident, but Massa’s was due for him attempt an impossible move while Lewis was a matter of style. I’m not saying GPDA is right as I really like seen Lewis overtake, but this is not they prrosecuting Lewis, but just doing what they often do which is trying to tame agressive drivers for safety reasons.

  14. Dorian said on 17th October 2008, 10:53

    @ Anonymouse: I respectfully disagree with you mate. I think you’re over-estimating the jealousy/envy aspect of of any of the given F1 drivers. Granted, I’m sure some of the drivers would like a LITTLE of the adulation and attention that Lewis receives but I would imagine a great many would hate it.

    I admire Hamilton for being able to handle that much attention and having to do all that corporate ass-kissing. But if you work for McLaren, that’s what you have to do. But if it was me, it would do my head in!!

    I think they don’t like Lewis, because they simply don’t like Lewis. Whether that be the way he drives or as a person, I don’t know…

    Maybe I’m over-estimating the belief that F1 drivers are more like normal blokes. I think they’re F1 drivers because they love driving the most sophisticated driving machines on earth and earning boatloads of money (plus the additional perks of women falling at their feet and jet-set living….etc). But I think most drivers would happily leave the media/corporation/paparazzi aspect alone if they had the choice.

  15. Patrickl said on 17th October 2008, 10:54

    @Duva

    “Mark Webber fears Lewis Hamilton will cause an accident if he fails to temper his aggressive driving style.”

    And who was it that ran Massa almost into the pitwall and then over the pitlane exit? Yes, Webber. Or Massa if you will, but both were involved. At full speed on the straight they almost caused a major incident, but they whine about Hamilton.

    Or how about Kubica whining about Lewis unfairly defending his position against Glock at Monza. What does Kubica do to show how to drive fairly? He pushes Raikkonen off the track!

    People can be amazed at why Hamilton is taking these risks when he’s in the lead of the championship and he should just collect his points, but to whine about Hamilton driving dangerously is just ridiculous.

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