A bad weekend gets worse for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton starts 11th in tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton starts 11th in tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix

So far it’s shaping up to be another weekend to forget in Australia for Lewis Hamilton. He became the first driver from one of the ‘big four’ teams to fail to make the cut for Q3 in qualifying this year.

The timing couldn’t be worse – he’s already in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after he was pulled over by the Melbourne police yesterday.

He lines up a disappointing 11th on the grid for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix despite McLaren believing they’d improved their car’s pace over a flying lap.

It’s not unusual for any driver to have a poor result in qualifying now and then. When the gap between reaching Q3 and missing it is measured in hundredths of a second it’s bound to happen sooner or later.

But given distractions outside the cockpit yesterday you have to wonder if his mind was elsewhere. And whether he would have had that problem in the first place if he still had the guiding hands of father Anthony managing his career.

Of course the reasons for his difficulties today could be more straightforward. All the drivers had to cope with traffic on the circuit and lower track temperatures, and some did rather better than others.

Hamilton wasn’t the only driver who was some way off his team mate’s pace. Felipe Massa was seven-tenths slower than Fernando Alonso in Q2 and Q3.

Hamilton faces a struggle to make an impression from 11th on the grid tomorrow. He at least has a free choice of which tyre he will start the race on, knowing that all the drivers in front of him will be on the soft compound.

Was just a one-off blip or are problems that run deeper? Have your say in the comments and have a look at the earlier qualifying coverage for more from other readers.

2010 Australian Grand Prix

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143 comments on A bad weekend gets worse for Hamilton

  1. Marc Connell said on 27th March 2010, 11:58

    Hamilton will do more passes than everyone else put together.

  2. Icthyes said on 27th March 2010, 12:00

    I don’t think his road violation and getting caught by the police has anything to do with Hamilton’s qualifying, though of course you have to consider the possibility. But these guys have and need incredible focus to do what they do. Hamilton is the youngest ever world champion who almost won in his first year and when things were going bad last year, he learned to become a more mature driver over the course of the year. He’s in the car to do the job, and for that reason I don’t think the run-in with the police had anything to do with it.

    Hopefully there’s no safety cars, because a top contender trying to come through the field is exactly what F1 needs after the negativity around Bahrain.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th March 2010, 12:14

    I’m going to be on Sky News around half past one talking about Hamilton so if you’ve got it keep an eye out for me!

  4. James said on 27th March 2010, 12:16

    This is a blessing disguise really. Hamilton can fight form here and put in some strong moves to get higher up the grid. If Button can park the car on 4th spot, then I’m sure Hamilton will get every inch of performance he can from the car!

  5. Magnificent Geoffrey said on 27th March 2010, 12:21

    I worry about Lewis. You just know that he’s extremely embarrassed by what happened on Friday night. I get the impression that he’s the type of guy who really cares about his reputation, and really takes others’ opinions of him to heart. It’s not that he wants to be loved by everyone and be the world’s most popular driver (although I’m sure he’d like that prospect), I do, however, think that he really does want to be universally respected and that he wants to be a good role model to all the younger fans who look up to him.

    In his three seasons to date, he’s already highly experienced in the political workings of the sport:
    2007: Spy Scandal / fallout with Fernando
    2008: Bus-Stop Scandal
    2009: Aus GP Lying Scandal
    Lewis is a very different character from someone like a Fernando or a Kimi and I imagine he really, really hates all the drama that surrounds situations like those – whereas I imagine it really wouldn’t bother someone like Kimi who we all know honestly wouldn’t give a stuff about things like that if he was involved in them. I’m not saying that that character trait is necessarily a weakness – or that Kimi’s nonchalant attitude is a strength – but that that’s just how Lewis is and I imagine that something like what just happened could truly have a mental knock-on effect.

    After reading reports about Hamilton that suggested that he may have considered quitting the sport after the damage his reputation suffered from the lying incident last year (assuming there was a significant level of truth in those reports), and now hearing about remarks that DC apparently made about concerns he has over Lewis, I just worry that all this constant drama genuinely does bother him. I’m sure all he wants to do is just get out there and drive and not get all this attention for the wrong reasons, but he always seems to find himself in the spotlight for all these controversial reasons far too often.

    So Lewis, you shouldn’t have been driving like you were, you got caught and you’ll probably get a small slap on the wrist for it. But apart from that, no-one cares. We don’t judge you – we all think it’s pretty funny, if anything. Just put it behind you and get your head back in the game, so I can stop hearing these rumours about you wanting to pack it all in.

    • You are completely misrepresenting events:

      “In his three seasons to date, he’s already highly experienced in the political workings of the sport:
      2007: Spy Scandal / fallout with Fernando
      2008: Bus-Stop Scandal
      2009: Aus GP Lying Scandal”

      2007: The “spy scandal” had nothing to do with Lewis Hamilton (McLaren fined £50,000,000! by FIA) All the teams spy on each other, its part of the game.

      2008; ” Bus-Stop Scandal”!? what scandal, Lewis was robbed of a race win after driving exceptionally well in the rain and the win handed to the bumbling Felipe Massa!

      2009: His team, Dave Rayn, orders Lewis to say that he wasn’t ordered to slow down when he was. He was unfairly put in a position, where if he spoke out he would go against his team, be punished by the FIA and loose his 3rd position. His only option was to keep quiet, he was covering his boss’s mistake. The FIA found Dave Rayn responsible and he resigned.

      People, for their own reasons, keep mudslinging at Hamilton in the hope that something will stick; to discredit him. Its called prejudice, People form a simplified often wrong opinion about a person then set about going to extraordinary lengths to prove themselves right

      • steph said on 27th March 2010, 14:05

        To be fair in 07 he had nothing to do with the spy scandal but was part of the Alonso fall out.
        08 he made a mistake and gained an advantage but the main problem was the stewards again. Massa won because the other two infront made a mistake, he wasn’t the best driver but that’s F1 it’s about whoever survives.
        09 tricky position but he could have and should have just said no.

        • Patrickl said on 27th March 2010, 20:45

          Hamilton made a mistake? He was pushed off track by Raikkonen! After the race they changed the rules on him (even when McLaren was told durin gthe race that “giving the position back” was indeed the right thing)

          How people can still blame Lewis for that is beyond me.

          • Senor Paz said on 27th March 2010, 21:58

            Pushed off? Don’t make me laugh.

            Why don’t you just face the fact that Lewis – inadvertently or not – gained an unfair advantage by slipstreaming?

            I agree with the criticism towards the stewards’ way of dealing with it, and no one likes to see inherited wins. But he broke the rules and got penalised, end of story.

          • Jraybay-HamiltonMclarenfan said on 28th March 2010, 5:27

            He cut the chicane yeah but what advantage are you talking about? He was in the draft for like 0.3 millsconds.

        • Jraybay-HamiltonMclarenfan said on 28th March 2010, 5:19

          Yes he smoked alonso one too many times x^D

          • Senor Paz said on 28th March 2010, 9:40

            Watch the race and count the seconds (not milliseconds). Either way, more than enough to have an unfair run at the end of the straight.

      • verstappen said on 27th March 2010, 14:06

        I think Magnificant Geoffrey just meant the controverse surrounding those ‘issues’ can have an influence on someone like Lewis, regardless of ‘blame’ and ‘guilt’

      • Mudslinging? Which post were you reading?

        If I can paraphrase, the post you responded to basically says that Hamilton has been involved in several controversies during his brief time in F1 but he should put it behind him and get on with the job.

        Where’s your problem with that? Whether you like it or not, Hamilton was a McLaren driver at the time of Spygate (even if he had nothing to do with it), he did have a falling out with Alonso (regardless of whether it was his fault), he was controversially penalised in Belgium in 2008 (whether it was justified or not) and he did mislead the stewards in Australia last year (apparently on the instructions of a senior McLaren employee).

        There’s about as much prejudice in stating that Hamilton has been involved in some controversies in his F1 career as saying that Vettel is on pole for tomorrow’s Grand Prix driving a Red Bull.

        • With all due respect, the Spa win that was taken away from Hamilton in 2008 and given to Massa was the one of the most disgraceful episodes in modern sporting history.

          In Australia 2009, no one on earth would have done anything different to what Lewis did after Dave Rayn and McLaren put him in an impossible situation.

          His team failed him and he stood by his team as any other driver would have done faced with this situation.

          Throughout the years, how many F1 drivers have been told over the radio to let their team mates pass and how many of those later stand in front cameras and deny that any such communication ever took place! I wonder.

          Yet Hamilton is constantly being hounded by this ridiculous accusation. The truth guys is Hamilton’s genuine and superb talent is something that many ‘fans’ and F1 people just can’t accept and will never accept and they’ll will keep hounding Hamilton and pushing him to destroy his confidence and reputation. Its an old story and it is sad to see it being played out in what should be world’s most intelligent sport

          • David A said on 27th March 2010, 18:49

            Re: your final paragraph

            This is what happens to many top drivers, though. You get people hating on Alonso, trying to blame the whole spygate saga on him and believe that he practically masterminded crashgate. Even to this day people bring up Suzuka 1990, with what Senna did. I won’t even start with the number of things people start criticising Schumacher for. My point is, almost all top drivers have to cope with tons of bad press, trying to knock their confidence and reputation. Hopefully, Hamilton will be strong enough to deal with it (I’m not even a fan of his, I support Ferrari).

          • Taking your points in turn.

            Spa 2008 – yes, I agree, the Spa decision was disgraceful. A scandal in fact. A scandal involving Hamilton.

            Melbourne 2009 – while it’s debatable whether every other driver would’ve done what Hamilton did (some would, others perhaps not) but that aside it was, again, a scandal. One where the main driver involved was Hamilton.

            However, just having the words “scandal” and “Hamilton” in the same sentence does not automatically suggest that the author is blaming Hamilton for the controversy or is prejudiced against him for whatever reason. This is what you seem to be having difficulty with. The amount of blame that can be apportioned to Lewis in these incidents is always up for debate, the fact that he was involved in all of the incidents is undeniable.

            I agree completely that Hamilton is a superb talent – but your trying to deny that he has been involved in various controversies is plain daft.

          • Senor Paz said on 27th March 2010, 22:08

            No, I think the most disgraceful event in F1 history (that I can remember) was Briatore’s criminal stunt last year with Renault. And it’s a pretty safe bet it wasn’t the first disgraceful thing he did. Suddenly the allegations against Benetton in 94 seem really well founded. The guy should be in jail.

            Spa 2008 happened because Lewis did not comply with the rules. It was a harsh punishment and not the best way to end a GP weekend. But it was fair and, let’s not forget, all drivers in the paddock that cared to comment agreed with the decision.

          • Scribe said on 27th March 2010, 22:47

            You know I can’t remember what lewis said about it. Obviously it was disapointing. An the new rule is better, an it was the right thing, he did gain an unfair advantage. If he took him along the back straight it would have been better.

            Whateve,r what’s annoying about spa 2008 was blinding utter inconsistancy from the stewards. You just knew that if the roles where reversed it would have been different. Which is why everyone got so angry.

          • @Tim

            A good attempt but we both know that you are trying to dodge the essence of what is being said here, so let me simplify things a little:

            The F1 world is a pretty self contained one, the amount of people who wield actual power and influence can almost be counted on the one hand. On the whloe they come from similar backgrounds and share similar outlooks and vision of what they want the sport to stand for

            Since mid season 2007, It is clear that a few people up there have had it in for Mclaren, Ron Dennis and his protege Lewis Hamilton. Hence Dennis’ early exit from F1, an attempt at taking the heat off his team. If the people mentioned above start sending out signals that certain entities are persona non grata, the marketing creeps, the pundits and certain commentators and ‘journalists’ immediately start propagating these idea, because these people are usually careerists who sing for their money and have a highly developed sense as to which side their bread is buttered. Before you know it an atmosphere, an unspoken understanding prevails and most people buy into it. Decision makers start to tailor their judgments according to what they percieve/understand is expected of them and most people around the sport start resonating to same tune and a hate campaign becomes self propagating because most people are like sheep, they just want to belong to a group a class or club and accordingly believe that the worst thing that could happen to them is to become outcasts and in turn use the later against those that they believe do not share their outlook, hence the drivers attitude to Hamilton.

            This is an almost primitive marketing ‘tool’ known as FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt and it is broadly speaking what is happening to Hamilton and Mclaren at the moment. It is why Bernie has become more a liability to F1 than ever. He has too much influence and power in this sport and ultimately this is not good for F1, especially when you take into account that would consider a ruthless cheats like Briatore friends. Of course all this may not be down to Bernie and his club, although recent contrived interviews along side Hamilton on F1 site, obviously designed to dispel any thought of bias on behalf of Bernie suggest it.

            On the other hand, such an atmosphere could be down the to growth and pervasive influence of information technology, and the nasty geek networks that inhabit the web, thus bringing into the sport political and ideological influence that it was insulated from before. Whatever the case, what happening to Hamilton is not justified and we need to keep the sport away from politics and ugly tribal attitudes although i suspect I’m waisting my breath here. Whatever the case, the point is that whether knowingly or not you’re propagating misinformation that is part of a wider campaign against Hamilton. It is unprecedented in F1 and we should collectively reject it instead of passing on hateful tabloid nonsense that has no place in F1..savy ;)

          • Scribe said on 27th March 2010, 23:28

            Alright, cabbagesVScarrots in many ways your right about the pirahna club but your missing a key points.

            It was Mosley who had it in for Dennis not Bernie. Bernie genrally gets on with McLaren, has fought for them often in the pass an likes the hell out of Hamilton for being the sports Tiger Woods, Williams sisters, whatever. He’s the talented black guy outdoing the white guys in a white mans sport. Brilliant for the sport, brilliant for attracting veiwers, brilliant for Bernie, he’d have to be stupid to move against Hamilton, an underestimaiting Bernie is so stupid its not really funny.

            It’s the FIA that doesn’t like McLaren but that’s changed to. If the F-duct had been invented for 2009 it would have been banned. An the DDD still wouldn’t have gone. It’s Jean Todts nuetralising influence, while I don’t know how he feels about McLaren, I feel like the FIA an the resectable media have handled this ridiculously. It well be the Mosley hounds are follwing his orders after he’s been removed. An that was what it was, a full on FOTA coup, but to suggest it’s Bernie is a bit odd.

  6. I hope this isn’t a repeat of Raikkonen’s problems in 2008… It will ruin his reputation to an overrated driver just like it did with Kimi.

  7. If the car was bad to drive in qualifying, then it’s not going to suddenly transform itself in the race. Lewis, at best, could find himself staring at the gearbox of a Mercedes for quite a number of laps.

    • Patrickl said on 27th March 2010, 20:48

      When you add 150kg of fuel it might change things a lot though.

      Besides, I would assume his problems originated from the tyres. There was some talk of them changing the tyre pressures. Maybe for the worse?

      Besides, the drivers in P11 and down should be allowed to change their setup right? Q2 is done with low fuel and does not have to take into account that 150kg of fuel gets added. They will have to make changes for the car to even be able to run

      • VXR said on 28th March 2010, 0:34

        “Besides, the drivers in P11 and down should be allowed to change their setup right? Q2 is done with low fuel and does not have to take into account that 150kg of fuel gets added. They will have to make changes for the car to even be able to run”

        At the beginning of Q1 the cars are in parc ferme conditions, which means that the cars setup is ‘locked off’ barring changes to front wing angle and tyre pressures. All qualifying is now done with low fuel, and the teams should know what suspension settings to use for a full fuel load in order to compete in qualifying and the race without need for adjustment.

  8. I really am disapppointed by this result. I can only hope Lewis can carve his way through the field or something, but…

  9. Mike said on 27th March 2010, 12:59

    I’m actually a little disappointed, Not in Hamilton, he’s young, successful, it’s the kind of stupid things people do at that age (being 19 I can testify to doing stupid things…. groan…) ,
    And I’m not disappointed in the press, because, they always sensationalise things, nothing surprising there.

    But I’m deeply disappointed in the managing body of the sport, considering how F1 is always promoting safety both on and off the track (make roads safe for instance)
    I feel, that if he does not have repercussions from within the sport, (as other sportsmen and women do from other sports) It will be a hypocrisy on a level that I have not seen for a long time, As a role model, surely he should be punished for this, and a slap on the wrist isn’t good enough.

    It is worse than a local footy player doing the same thing, or a local hoon, as he is a professional car driver, he knows the rules, and it isn’t the first time he has done something like this (didn’t he get in trouble in France a while ago?)

    That being said I hope he does well tomorrow, not too well, because I decided not to put him up top on my predictions, thinking the Mclaren’s where of the pass….

    • Kobe said on 27th March 2010, 14:35

      are kidding me, repercussions for lighting up your tires. The car being impounded seems appropriate. Whatever happened to justice for all, he should be treated the same as if I got caught lighting up my tires. Not made some spectacle of.

      • Ben said on 28th March 2010, 0:50

        repercussions FOR BREAKING THE LAW.

        Yes, there should be. He broke the local road rules. Full stop. Doesn’t matter what he did or didn’t do, he broke the local road rules. Hoon driving is severaly frowned upon here, and Hamilton is a d*ckbrain for doing what he did, especially on the weekend where the FIA were pusing their “Make Roads Safe” campaign.

  10. K. Chandra Shekhar said on 27th March 2010, 12:59

    Remember Bahrain? Train! Lewis 11 is excellent, at least we will see some racing.

  11. Jason said on 27th March 2010, 13:06

    If anyone can charge from the back of the grid, its Lewis. Don’t forget, he did it last year.

  12. Hamilton’s carreer is very unstable with lots of ups and downs, so it is not very surprising and, I think he will recover from this. And his dad is really like a talisman:)

  13. wong chin kong said on 27th March 2010, 13:07

    Hamilton is in 11th position in the starting grid. Good! He will risk everything to get himself into the point scoring position, that will enliven the expected boring processional race. Hamilton is a professional racer, all these distractions are actually non-issues on race day.

  14. darren felton said on 27th March 2010, 13:42

    lots off different opinions,we all know how good the boy is so lets wait and see?

  15. There seem to be a lot of Lewis fans that think he’ll do great things from this position. I’m a Lewis fan, but I can’t see too much happening from him this weekend, not sure picking his tyres will really make a difference. Hopefully he’ll get up to around 8th, maybe 7th if we’re lucky. If he gets a few points, I’ll be happy with that.

    But like others have said, if there’s a driver that can cut their way through the field it’s Lewis. SO let’s see what he can do :-D

    I just hope he can keep it out the wall this weekend!

    • “I just hope he can keep it out the wall this weekend!”

      That, I fear, is just as likely to happen as anything else. Could be another weekend in Oz to forget for Lewis.

    • Ned Flanders said on 27th March 2010, 14:48

      Normally I’d agree, but Albert Park is one of those tracks where crazy things tend to happen. If a few drivers in front crash and the safety car comes out at the right time expect him to score some decent points.

      And if it rains, I could see him getting on the podium

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