Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2011

What’s gone wrong for Lewis Hamilton in 2011?

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2011
Hamilton's tough 2011 season continued in Singapore

Lewis Hamilton has rarely had a season without the odd controversial collision and a few trips to see the stewards.

But this year there have been too many gaffes and too few of the top-drawer drives he is usually remembered for.

What’s gone wrong for the McLaren driver this year?


Hamilton’s father and former manager Anthony expressed a clear view about the root of his son’s problems in the aftermath of the Singapore race:

“You look up and down the pit lane and every driver, except for Lewis [Hamilton], has a driver-manager in his life, not people from a company.

“I am sure his management are very good ?ǣ I don?t know ?ǣ but Formula 1 drivers need people personally involved in the driver?s life because it is a big pressure. They have got to be here and I don?t think you can do the job by sending someone else.”

The elder Hamilton obviously has a vested interest in making such remarks. But we shouldn’t be quick to dismiss them – Hamilton enjoyed his greatest successes in Formula 1 under his father’s management.

Paul di Resta, Force India, Singapore, 2011
Anthony Hamilton now manages Paul di Resta

And his father’s new young charge, Paul di Resta, is clearly thriving, finished one place behind Hamilton in Singapore.

Hamilton is not the only driver without a conventional F1 management team. Sebastian Vettel doesn’t have one at all, and it clearly isn’t holding him back.

But you have to wonder why Hamilton specifically chose an entertainment company to represent him.

Hamilton has defended his right to pursue interests outside of Formula 1. Even so, it seems they are a more consuming part of his life than they are for his rivals at the sharp end of the grid.

Nor can it be said that his closest advisors have helped him handle his recent problems well: recall his notorious outburst at Monaco and his vanishing act last Sunday having failed to given an account of his latest blunder.


Jenson Button, McLaren, Montreal, 2011
Button celebrates victory in Canada

When Jenson Button joined McLaren at the beginning of last year, the widely-held view was that he was risking his reputation by joining ‘Hamilton’s team’.

Hamilton has never finished behind a team mate in the world championship. But Button has beaten him in all of the last four races. With five rounds to go he is 17 points ahead – a gap that would be far greater without his car problems in Britain and Germany.

Of course, Hamilton is no stranger to having a top-line driver in the other car. His F1 reputation was built on that stunning debut season alongside Fernando Alonso.

But while Hamilton has Button out-classed on Saturdays (10-4 this year, 13-6 last year), in the races it is increasingly a different matter.

As was expected before the season began, Button has usually been able to coax more life out of Pirelli’s soft rubber than Hamilton. This has clearly helped him in some races this year.

But there’s more to it than that. Like Hamilton, Button has had to make his way through the field at times this year, and has done so without falling into the traps his team mate has.


Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Montreal, 2011
Button benefits as Hamilton hits Webber in Montreal

Whatever problem Hamilton is having, the result is a growing number of costly mistakes that have ruined his season.

While Button’s two retirements this year were caused by car problems, Hamilton’s were the result of crashes.

In Canada, a race he could have won, he had two collisions in the space of four laps – one with Mark Webber followed by terminal contact with his team mate. He was also in the hunt for victory at Spa before colliding with Kamui Kobayashi.

On top of that are the detail mistakes: the wrong tyres and the spin in Hungary, not putting a banker lap in during qualifying in Monaco and so on.

The result has been five race penalties, more than any other driver. He’s been punished for weaving in Malaysia (having been warned over exactly the same thing last year), two collisions in Monaco and another in Singapore, and that hasty spin-turn on the racing line in Hungary.

Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Singapore, 2011
Hamilton hit Massa in Singapore

Some have chosen to see this as evidence of the stewards being unduly harsh on Hamilton. I don’t buy that.

Yes, the decision three years ago to strip him of his deserved victory at Spa-Francorchamps was plain wrong and I said as much at the time. But in almost every other instance he’s deserved a penalty.

These kind of mistakes are not a new feature in Hamilton’s driving. Even in his championship year he had that notorious collision with Kimi R??ikk??nen in the Montreal pit lane, and copped another penalty in the following race by going off the track while passing Sebastian Vettel.

Completing this study of Hamilton’s F1 career in microcosm, the next race was the washout in Silverstone where he pole-axed the opposition, crossing the finishing line a minute before anyone else.

But of late the costly mistakes have far outweighed the command performances. Both his wins this year – in China and Germany – were from the top drawer. Those aside, there’s been little for Hamilton to cherish in 2011.

A single answer?

When trying to work out what’s going wrong between a driver’s brain and the steering wheel, it’s tempting to fall for single-line explanations: ‘his team mate’s rattled his cage’, ‘he can’t make the tyres work’.

The heart of the matter is rarely that simple or convenient. And there’s always much more going on beneath the surface than the glimpses on show at a race weekend.

At the end of last year Hamilton spoke of looking forward to a better season having put problems in his personal life behind him. Whatever he’s changed it doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect.

There are enough worrying signs around Hamilton to conclude that something fundamental is amiss here. Are we looking at a driver whose team mate is putting him under pressure, who can’t make his racing car behave the way he wants it to – and perhaps doesn’t care about it quite as much as he should?

Whatever the root of the problem is, it threatens to turn the career of a driver who produced one of the greatest rookie performances ever seen, into a case study in squandered potential.

2011 F1 season

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Images ?? McLaren, Force India/Sutton, McLaren, Red Bull/Getty images, Singapore GP/Sutton

245 comments on “What’s gone wrong for Lewis Hamilton in 2011?”

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  1. Do you think that we could see a Villeneuve-like (Jacques, not Gilles) fall from grace of Hamilton, Keith?

    1. As similar as their first 3 seasons were, (2nd, 1st, 5th in the championships), i’m afraid that in my opinion it is evident that Hamilton is better than Villeneuve and will stay at the top for at least another 5 years.

      Hamilton will win again, make no doubts about it.

      1. I don’t mean him falling from grace as drastically (from wdc to never winning again) but I mean, never winning another wdc. I can certainly see him as a “wasted talent” in that he won “only” one WDC

        1. I understand what you’re saying – but I feel Hamilton will win at least another World Championship – perhaps a few even. He just needs to collect himself and win a few more races this year in order to be ready for 2012.

          1. After last season, I would have agreed with you about that, but with the way that Vettel’s driving, I just don’t see Hamilton being consistent enough to truly compete. If Alonso gets a decent car again, then I think you can add him to the list of reasons that Hamilton might not be WDC again.
            Even if the next Mclaren is a great car, I could perhaps see Button taking another title, he seems to have perfected his racecraft on the Pirelli’s and showed in 2009 that he can drive a good car both fast and consistently.
            I’m not saying I don’t think that Hamilton is capable, but he has always been erratic in a way that none of the others are.

          2. Wificats – I agree with your first and 3rd paragraphs. However I don’t agree with your 2nd. If the McLaren is a great car; I think that Button will be fighting Hamilton for it; maybe Button might come out on top, maybe Hamilton. But they’re close enough to be taking points out of each other. For example if say the wdc was decided by 1 point, it stands to good reason that Button could have cost Hamilton 2 points that a “numpty” number 2 wouldn’t have.

      2. Of all the mistakes Lewis has made (and there are plenty), there is one big one he’s avoided.

        He’s avoided moving to a new team to try and start it from the ground up.

        That alone may ensure Lewis wins at least 1 more title.

        1. Have you considered the total disinterest from any other team may have been the reason….

      3. I’m not sure he’ll win, as Vettel is increasingly better and has the best car and Alonso is doing miracles with his Ferrari, but he has what it takes to be World Champion.

        1. Yup, that’s what I meant

    2. Villeneuve was never that good to start with he was just in the almighty Williams those first two years. Hamilton is a threat even in a sub par car.

  2. The fundamental problem is one of mentality – Lewis’ “die hard” “passionate” “aggressive” racing mentality, which was always on a knife’s edge, has hit him back.

    I feel Lewis feeds of victorys, pole positions and accolades, he’s what John Watson described as a “hot rod”, who wants a fast car and wants to take it as fast as it can. When he doesn’t get it, he gets frustrated, commits errors, loses self confidence, doesn’t win, gets even more frustrated, commits even more errors….. ad infinitum. It’s an infinite loop that Lewis needs to get out of, by better mentality and self management.

    1. Yes that’s it!

    2. Completely agree with this comment. I think he treats it like ‘we’ treat it like a video game: all ‘guns n blazin’ in the first few laps, try and get passed whoever as quick as possible and it doesn’t matter if ‘we’ make contact, then if it doesn’t work out, ‘we’ go off the bubble and make mistakes carelessly.

      I love Hamilton, I will defend him to the hills and back, I see all these comments on facebook towards him saying, ‘don’t worry, next race you’ll do it’ and so on and so forth, but I would like to get him by the shoulders and say ‘wake up, you’re wrecking your career here’. Well, wrecking is a strong word, but it must annoy him seeing Vettel fly past his race wins.

      No matter what he does though, I will still be there for him, unless he decides to wear red overalls!

    3. Hamilton is one of those guys who are their own worst enemies. Ultimately, it’s down to Lewis’ head where the problems arise. Be it pressure from Button or not competitive enough car, it all results in Lewis not handling on track situations well. In his rookie season, this kind of antics were attributed to his lack of experience. But now, as a former world champion, with plenty of experience in the bag, he should not make the choices he made. It becomes clear that Lewis is not coping with maturity problem, like Vettel did (and overcame it), but with serious mental problem which prevents him from repeating his success. It’s a material for sport psychologist, I’m afraid Lews can’t solve this on his own.

      1. Exactly!
        As I previously posted:

        Cole September 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm
        Worst thing that happened to Hamilton was winning the championship so early on his career.
        He would be much better with another attitude.
        He’s a brilliant driver but he tries so hard to always show he is the best, that often ends up overdriving, and finishes against a wall or against a competitor.
        If he wouldn’t won so early, perhaps he would be trying to win races, instead of this.
        Having another young and talented driver so dominant nowadays is not helping the issue either…….

    4. I think you’re right, and a lights to flag win from pole would probably do him a certain amount of good.

    5. exactly, he is spoilt, used to having the best car in the sport, even since he was a kid, as mclaren sponsored him from a young age. his ego has got the better of him, he thought he was the next ayrton senna, and now another driver in vettel has come along and showed he is the more likely of being the next senna. hamilton needs to go back to the roots and just enjoy driving, instead of believing he is the best. every season is a new beginning for an f1 driver, hamilton cannot think he is the best driver in the field at all times, he needs to be constantly working at his driving skills, year in, year out. at this stage of his career, it reads that he had his best season in his rookie year, matching alonso in pace, then claiming an extremely lucky championship win in 2008 – after almost collapsing at the last moment like in 2007. after that he showed little in a bad mclaren at the start of 2009, before having good results at the end of 2009 and 2010 as a direct result of mclaren building a better car. he was then in with a chance of winning the 2010 championship, but he choked, and made errors late in the season. 2011 should have been better, but he has made way too many mistakes, and i do not believe his 2 race wins were as controlled as they looked, he is extremely erratic with tyre management, and was lucky in those 2 races the cards fell his way with tyre strategy, i do not believe he is in control of his race tyres as other top drivers are, he just drives quick and hopes for the best, which fell his way in china, possibly by accident.

      1. If I’d just taken over McLaren, didn’t know anything about F1, and then read this I’d tell my assistant to “fire Hamilton and get me the number of that Grosjean. He should do a better job.”

        Let’s face facts. He was unlucky to lose out in 2007, kept his cool in a high pressure situation in 2008 when he had been an easy target for the stewards, was driving the only McLaren to get decent results in 2009 and was still in the title hunt going into the last race despite having the 3rd best car over the course of the season.

        Hamilton’s a top notch driver, whether you like it or not.

      2. I really don’t know how you can say that with a straight face when even the most die-hard McLaren fan’s agree they’ve produced two complete dogs of cars in the last two years. (this year not included).

        1. They’re described as “Complete dogs” in order to make the drivers efforts look better.

    6. Thanks for the comments.

      I’d personally love to see Lewis win and through that, get back his confidence to be the at his very best again because he’s an extremely exciting racer to watch.

      1. I wish he takes time to grow just for the sake of serenity of his soul. Because, it is becoming harder and harder to achieve the WDC besides very strong Vettel/RBR, Alonso, Button, Rosberg, Shcumacher, promising Di Resta and it takes supreme machinery, flawless team, and ice cool talented driver(at least on sundays). Fingers crossed. Just take time for things to settle.

  3. Vettel may not have a manager in name, but he does have both Helmut Marko and his own personal PR to support him at the track. I dismissed it at the start, but I’m starting to think that the lack of personal support argument may have a lot of merit. It’s looks like there may have been a reason why no other F1 driver had gone down the entertainment company route before!

    1. streetfightingman
      28th September 2011, 15:18

      I would actually agree. I’m divided on Lewis and has been from the start if I should like him or not.

      I think him choosing this management business stuff is because his sugar mommy picked it for him. End of story.

      1. Not that I’m saying she is but gold digger may be more apt than sugar mommy – I think he’s considerably richer than her! I agree with you though that if it wasn’t for her there’s no may he would have gone with Fuller. Such a shame, I’d love both Mclarens near or at the front, ideally winning because both being the same nationality as the team it makes the podium celebrations so much more watchable!

      2. Your management theory would hold water if Lewis’ girlfriend was signed to the same agency as he is.

  4. He and everyone else must start accepting that most of the incidents this season have been his faults, not others’. It’s not the stewarts, it’s not Button, it’s not his management… It’s Lewis being dumb.

    In 2011, when he has got his helmet on his brain usually is shut down. And his commenst afterwards simply show he learns nothing from that. After all those incidents he is lucky not to have been banned from several races.

    As long as he does not change his attitude, his performance won’t change either.

    1. Ban him? Really?

      If Lewis had hit someone like Schumacher mistakenly did in Singapore we would have people asking NATO to bomb his house!

      1. so true…..hahahaha

      2. Oh, common wrong example! Since 1994 every hard move from Schumacher is a good point to explain in British media how ruthless he is. Just like Senna was a bad guy in France…but that is not the point here.

        Lewis got great potential, no doubt. Sadly, He got no respect for other people. The sin of vanity is always pernicious to a man.

    2. You are correct about Hamilton’poor attitude. And this is inappropriately fueled by his team manager constantly speaking out after each of his mistakes and wrecked cars saying that he doesn’t want him to change the way he comes to race. Whitmarsh is doing a great deal of damage to Hamilton’s career with this lack of leadership.

  5. Lewis himself and his fans will say he’s just passionate, he’s got that edge, a fighting spirit etc etc. but them same words are often attributed with someone like Alonso, as well. With someone like Alonso, their reputation is built up in a more understated manner and it’s so much more controlled.

    I was so proud as a British F1 fan when Lewis Hamilton came along in 2007, but this season there’s been too many times when he’s on for a podium, or even better, and put simply, he hits someone. And then he has to pit because his car’s damaged. And THEN he has a penalty. And THEN he and his fans wonder why it always, always happens to him. I’m a little sick of it.

    1. The ‘passion’, ‘edge’ and ‘fighting spirit’ are not in doubt, but too often this season it’s seemed like that’s all he’s got. Some find it hard to accept that to win championships, those qualities need to be tempered with some of the attributes of Button’s driving. Just driving the wheels off the car every week and making do-or-die overtakes is not enough. The reason Alonso has the reputation you mentioned is that he is a more complete driver, aggressive when required, measured when needed. That doesn’t always make for spectacular viewing, but has delivered championships. Now, if you could mix Lewis and Jenson’s DNA together!!!!

      1. If you could, you’d probably get Michael Schumacher. Well, a British Michael Schumacher. :D

        1. But you run the risk of getting someone slow in the Qualis, and crashy on sundays !

          1. Yeah and you run the risk to have 7WDC titles.

      2. You’d probably have the best wet weather driver of all time that’s for sure…

  6. The mistakes he made have cost him the most & secondly the management isn’t helping him.He should have someone like Haikkinen with him.

    1. how many mistakes has he actually made this season,really.other drivers like schumacher have made more.in monaco if lewis hadnt of driven the way he did he would have finished 9th,not 6th.so i wouldnt call that drive a mistake.
      then he got a dnf in 2 other races.and in the last race he made i mistake.thats only 3,thats hurt his races.
      now button also has 2 dnf’s plus he’s been alot more consistent than lewis.and dont forget lewis got 3 or 4 dnf’s last season,button only got 2,but lewis still finished the season with 26 more points.which means button with the same amount of dnfs should finish the season with more points than lewis.if he doesnt,what will that say about button?
      lewis hasnt been at his best this season,and button has.if lewis had been at his best and button was still beating him,then i’d be worried.but because thats not the case im not worried atall.lewis just needs to get back to his best,and thats it.

  7. As commented in a different article, I’m a huge Hamilton fan but it’s becoming difficult watching him self destruct but as in Golf with Tiger Woods I’ll lose some interest if he’s not driving. His mind seems to be somewhere else and not directly in front.

    1. I hope you Woods comparison has nothing to do with Woods crashing whatever-he-was-driving(with his wife swinging the club)

  8. Great article Keith. It gives a really balanced view.

    It’s so interesting to watch Lewis’ career and I really hope it isn’t a case of wasted potential. Every weekend I put him up there in the predictions purely because I always think he is going to hit back after a poor weekend and get a race win or something. However I’m still waiting and can only wait so long before I start to doubt that choice.

    I still feel Lewis is feeling the effects of his post championship year, 2009 when he was dealt such a poor hand in terms of his cars performance. I’ve heard many F1 WDC winners say that the season after you win the championship it can really determine how your career goes. It can either settle you down to become confident and comfortable in yourself (think Button, Alonso, Vettel) that you have accomplished your dream or it can make you think you are the best driver there has ever been, and if you aren’t winning week-in week-out then you are going to be disappointed.

    2009 did not exactly get off to a great start for Hamilton with the whole Trulli incident and lying to the stewards. I think the sooner Hamilton gets to grips with the idea that the power balance in F1 ebbs and flows then the sooner he will get back to his old self.

  9. He didnt take the threat off getting beaten by Jenson Button seriously, until know!

    1. Like Alonso not really taking Hamilton seriously before the first race in 2007 (with the twist here that Hamilton seems to get on with Jenson on a personal level quite fine).

      But the lack of support in bad situations also seems to be a problem, he would need maybe a trainer/masseur/… type person to support him and always be with him to give consolation, tips, temper him when needed and feel embraced by.

      1. But the lack of support in bad situations also seems to be a problem, he would need maybe a trainer/masseur/…

        I think you’re onto something here. The guy just needs one hell of a massage.

        1. The guy just needs one hell of a massage.

          And a happy ending to boot :P

  10. I think it is mostly a case of needing to channel his talent. Most people (his team-mate included) consider Lewis to be in a league of his own in terms of pure natural ability. Clearly this needs to be tempered with some restraint which seems to have been lacking lately.,

    In addition to this, I think Lewis has been less able to shine this year, due to the fact that the new rules make it possible for everyone to overtake, and not as in the past, just the truly great drivers.

    I think it will be just a ‘blip’. Lewis is 25 and doing his growing up in public. Jensen also did a lot of growing up at a similar age with his contract-related shenanigans.

    1. The “growing up in public” card gets played a lot; but consider this: there have been, and there are, younger drivers who are driving in a much more mature fashion, with less mistakes.

      1. Considered and rejected, mind full of the fact that not all individuals “grows up and mature” at exactly the same rate and same time!!!

        1. Yes, Lewis is certainly proving that to a tee

  11. I have said it before and still believe he should leave F1 and drive in another class of racing. He is a racing driver, he can race in any classification and be extremely competitive. The world does not have to begin and end with F1 for him.
    Sometimes I wonder, is he comfortable in F1? Is he beginning to feel out of place both in F1 and at McLaren? Like everyone, his odyssey through life is uniquely his and we can only observe and wonder what is going on with this amazingly talented individual.

  12. Don’t forget about a penalty that happened at a far more critical point in 2008, when Hamilton bonzai-red misted his way into turn one at Fuji, setting off a turn of events that would ruin his race and have Massa draw nearer to the Championship.

    Probably his first incredibly, needlessly dull moment if we are to dismiss Montreal 2008 as a mistake than an act of aggression.

    1. But selfishly it also set off a turn of events that turned the GP into the most satisifying, personally for me, I can remember. :)

    2. That was a stupid penalty at Japan, oh no, isn’t he allowed to late brake and miss the corner?

      Yes, everyone else missed it but that was their own faults.

      1. Everyone else went off at turn one because of Hamilton, they all had to take avoiding action, to avoid Hamilton’s dangerous lunge.

      2. The penalty wasn’t necessarily the point here, though I don’t disagree with the infraction.

        It was an incredibly shortsighted decision in turn one of a race in which Hamilton was likely to score a podium, not a -1L out of the points disaster with two rounds remaining.

        1. I know he shouldn’t of done it, very stupid of him, but I still think it shouldn’t deserve a drive through.

  13. Unlike Button and most other drivers, Hamilton is simply unable to accept anything other than 1st place. Where Button drives carefully (but still quickly and impressively of course) to a well earned but safe 2nd or 3rd, Hamilton would rather risk it all for the win.

    1. +1.

      Button said, he’s not interested in anything but WDC too, he dais when you’ve tasted that you will not wish anything less.

      All I hope is to see a more competitive field from day 1. Give Lewis a competitive car and all this accidents will wipe out. Vettel has consistently improved with his car, he has less accidents too, wasn’t him known as “crash kid”? I really don’t think Lewis is worse than his rookie year.

      Alonso’s last WDC was back in 2006 and nobody says he’s finished, why Lewis? Those 5 penalties are enough to say he’s doomed?

      1. Good points, to find out we’ll have to see what Seb’s like when he goes back to a car that isn’t dominating.

        1. ‘Memba Fuji 2007, under heavy rain young Vettel crashing into Webber’s car? Vetterl was driving a STR while Webber was already a Red Bull driver. Webber said something like “that’s what happens when they give an F1 car to kids” over team radio :) Funny how that youngster is destroying Webber…

          Check theses videos:



      2. The Crash-Kid title was given by Whitmarsh for those two incidents, Turkey and Spa. Now that Lewis has equaled it and could go better there is a need to think about the rightful title holder. On the other hand Alonso spent 2 years at a non-productive car with wins in each season(although controversially) which is why nobody would say he is finished

    2. Unlike Button and most other drivers, Hamilton is simply unable to accept anything other than 1st place

      And as I said earlier on Twitter- if Hamilton believes the old line “2nd is the 1st to lose” then someone should really tell him that actually the first DNF is the first loser.

      1. but even jenson will not win the champoinship will he.so he’s going to finish the season with nothing just like lewis.

    3. Perhaps over-influenced by his fellow yellow helmeted idol as well perhaps?

      1. Taking it too literally, I’ll say. :(

  14. I think he still has a lot to learn. He still has phenomenal potential and skill, as shown by his drives in China and Germany, but it’s been clear in other races this season that he doesn’t have the ability to map races out in his head and make sensible decisions based on that. This is where Jenson excels and it’s something Lewis should be looking to learn. (For the record, I do think Lewis has the ability to be a multiple champion).

    Take Monza for example. Lewis spent all too long attacking Schumacher and ruining his tyres trying to get past him, whilst Button could see what was happening and simply bided his time, making his move when he knew that neither driver in front of him could keep him at bay.

    I agree that he needs to review his management. It’s quite different for Vettel given that he has, clearly, the fastest car and simply has to drive away from the front in most races. Although Germany proved that he is not perfect. Perhaps Lewis split from his father because he didn’t like the advice he was being given in 2009, when his father probably knew best and Lewis was probably acting like a bit of a spoilt child who’s had his favourite toy taken away from him.

    Whatever the cause, something is affecting him and he needs to sort himself out. Possibly write off this season and come back next year refreshed. Being beaten by a team-mate for the first time could be the best thing that happens to him.

    1. Beaten by his teammate…..the season isn’t over yet.

    2. I think that makes a lot of sense.

    3. I would blame it on the people. When the outcome of a reckless moves becomes a success people appreciate it but when it fails people are quick to pounce on him. People(not all) always get fascinated by heroic moves than carefully planned overtakes. When there is a shortcut to be a hero, why would Lewis choose the long distance route?

  15. nice article! here’s my thoughts..

    I personally believe his Mistakes are just that, mistakes..

    I think a lot of people are blowing it out of proportion a bit.. an F1 Driver is on the edge all the time, and they all have slip-ups now and then.. Hamilton’s have just all happened in the space of 12 months

    I also find it hard to see how all the issues of Manager, Family Life, Teammate, Car Troubles etc influence in his mistakes. The situations that Hamilton’s getting caught out in happen in split-seconds, and it seems he’s just been too unlucky, too often. I can’t see him thinking about his Dad when he loops it at Hungary and has to make a split-second decision whether to spin-turn or not.. I see it as him making some bad judgements.. which everyone experiences now and then..

    The point about him possibly “not caring” about his racing is interesting, since he is probably one of only 2 or 3 drivers on the grid who’s seat is fairly solidly set.. Nearly all the drivers on the grid have to fight for their lives every second they’re on track because of the constant threat of being replaced. Hamilton doesn’t have to experience this threat, since Mclaren aren’t going to replace him anytime soon..

    anyway, just my thoughts :)

    1. Yes, it is a very nice and balanced article Keith!

      I also find it hard to see how all the issues of Manager, Family Life, Teammate, Car Troubles etc influence in his mistakes.

      I believe you race karts (correct me if I’m wrong) so I’m probably in no position to comment but I could see how it would influence his general mental state/mood which may harm his driving. Driving is about spilt second decisions you’re absolutely right but because drivers have to be in that perfect state -‘in the zone’- any distractions or frustrations could come out behind the wheel or lead to more rash/ambitious decisions.

      I do see your point though as he probably is just getting on with the job but I’m just playing devil’s advocate as I like a debate :P Great comment though!

      1. I think you are right iamsa8 about the actual driving not being that much influenced by thinking about those things.

        But we all know the difference between feeling at one with the car/bike/yacht/… and just somehow feeling a move will work and actually having to pay attention, and willingly do something from being distracted, feeling uncomfortable or just being ill. It often works, but it takes more effort and goes wrong just that bit more often.

    2. Mistakes stop being mistakes if they happen so often, though…

    3. Agree on the mistakes front. Just 12 months ago we were discussing all of Vettel’s errors and no he’s destroyed the field.

      I don’t think he’s “not caring”, if anything it appears to me like he cares too much.

      1. This comment above me is brilliant, I was thinking that myself.

        Keith, it’s great to see a very nice, balanced view on Hamilton here, but it has appeared that everyone is slagging him off as they were with Vettel last year.

        By this point of the season in 2010: Webber had 4 wins to Vettel’s 2, and a decent lead over him in the championship. However, in the next 4 races we saw nothing but Vettel domination, with 3 poles and a 2nd in quali, and what should have been 4 straight wins.

        This was all after him being dubbed the ‘Crash Kid’. And I think with him it was solely down to frustration. Earlier in the year Vettel had problems out of his control, and a resurgent Mark Webber.

        This season, Hamilton hasn’t been given a brilliant car, similar to 2009 and 2010, but he was still composed then (kinda). Many people say ‘put him in a midfield car and then he’ll learn’ but he was at one point. Prior to Germany ’09 he was in a car which was basically struggling against STR Force India at some tracks, but then he pulled out some great races, and some great poles towards the end of the season, and 2 wins to add to it.

        In 2010 he had the outright pace against Jenson, in both race trim and quali, but Jenson had the right head on him as he always has done. Despite this, Lewis had some fantastic races and some dismal races, his wins at Canada and Spa were brilliant. His race at Silverstone was pretty mega also. But he also had some pretty bad mistakes too, his error at Monza was stupid. The Korea one was also not required.

        It’s been pretty similar in 2011. There’s one difference though, Jenson’s gotten MUCH better. This has frustrated Lewis more than anything and he doesn’t know what to do. He panics, and crashes… Very similar to how Vettel was in 2010.

        He’ll find something, he’ll come good. He’s still young(ish) and will find it

  16. He is desperate to challenge for race wins in a car that is still slightly off the pace of the class leading Red Bulls. Because the car is off the pace he’s trying to push that little bit harder to make up for the performance difference.

    It’s ok people saying you can’t win a race at the first corner or that there are plenty of laps to go, yes that is true but when the leaders are pulling away at a second a lap you don’t want to be stuck behind slower cars for any length of time as that will only add to any frustration. The further ahead the leaders get the harder Lewis feels he has to push to catch them or keep up.

    Lewis is a racer and has never denied that, he often states he’s in racing to win or challenge for wins, not make up the numbers like some of the drivers in F1 appear to demonstrate. He started in F1 in a top car and since winning the title his car has been behind the competition. If McLaren can give him a competitive car at the start of the season that will enable him to regularly challenge for pole then I believe we’ll see a different Lewis Hamilton.

    1. Finally a well balanced comment and wich is worth the read.

    2. Totally agree.

      Exactly the same as Alonso making mistakes (not normally seen) in the 1st half of 2010 when his car was off the pace. When the car became better so did he.

      If Hamilton had a better car he wouldn’t need to take the risks and we would see a different driver.

      Sadly, I fear Mclaren will struggle again at the beginning of next year. They keep making car that are based on elements of the car that keep getting banned so never have base from the previous you to develop from.

      2010 – 2011, F-duct and massive DD. Banned
      2011 – 2012, Extremely reliant on the OTBD. Banned

      It will be interesting to see what they do over the winter.

  17. The most worrying thing i’ve seen this year from Hamilton is nearly crashing with Massa during Singapore qualifying. I was literally up yelling at my tv about that.

    I’d say for most Hamiltons incident prone career has gone remembered for the good times not the bad, however I really do feel this year is casting a black shadow on how he will be remembered. You know its bad when friends of mine who don’t at all follow F1 refer to Lewis as ‘wreckless’.

    1. You must have totally lost your voice, regarding the Schumacher incident during the race.

  18. I think the problem is that Lewis was given a car that was a shoe-in for the first 2 rows right from the outset (save the occasional upset by BMW Sauber); and so when he doesn’t get that; he sulks. Alonso, Button, Vettel, all started in non-winning cars. It doesn’t matter if they started out with points or whatever; the point is they never had a winning car back then. (Though Button had a similar “playboy syndrome” happening to him)

    Look at Sutil for example. He’s done his time in a super back marker that never scored points; and last year he had a car that could score points; and you could see that he appreciates it a lot better; and doesn’t crash as often.

    1. he had 25 to sulk with, no penalties there
      (i think so)

      i was at the singapore gp last week, one telling fact he said over an interview & stressed..
      he will never give up for his fans.. never

      he is just so passionate to win
      i love him, the drama that comes along. a win for him would definitely a satisfying reward for him & his fans. something i hope he’ll do very soon.

  19. My thoughts on the matter are well-known. I put Hamilton’s poor performance down to frustration at the way he was doing everything right at the beginning of the season and he still couldn’t catch Sebastian Vettel. This has resulted in over-driving the car as he attempts to take it beyond its limits.

    The problem is exacerbated by a lack of respect for the other competitors (with the possible exception of Jenson Button). We’ve already seen him label the other drivers with less-than-admirable terms, blame Kobayashi for causing an accident that was clearly his fault, and be unnecessarily rough on qualifying outlaps – like in Singapore – when the smarter option would be to back off (as Vettel did, and look who got the better starting position). Once is an accident, and twice is a coincidence, but three times is a pattern.

    Finally, he has denied that there is a problem when the evidence suggests otherwise (ironically, acknowleding it will help him overcome it), and it hasn’t helped that McLaren initially “saw no reason” to intervene in Hamilton’s driving and now appear to be ignoring the issue. All of this has materialised into a very scrappy style on the track. We’ve seen him get no less than five penalties this season (less than six), which is poor, even by his standards. You don’t get to five (or six) penalties without a reason; if little Lewis is sitting down the back of my classroom and driving the other students to distraction, I’m not going to keep asking him to be quiet. I’ll ask him to stop talking, and if he keeps doing it, I’ll move him, and if he still won’t stop, I’ll send him outside. So I can see why the stewards are issuing him with record numbers of penalties – they’re trying to get him to think a little bit more.

    Hamilton’s problems aren’t easily solved, but ironically enough, I think he already knows what to do. This isn’t the first time this season that he’s come under the microscope – after Monaco and Montreal, a lot of people were asking where his head was at. And just before the British Grand Prix, he decided to get away from it all and try and find some focus. Whatever he did, he did it right, because he won in Germany. And then promptly forgot it within a week.

    I think this post is best summarised like this: Lewis has tunnel vision. He just can’t see beyond his own front wing. In the past – Hungary 2010 – we’ve seen Jenson Button being able to see the tyre choices of the six cars in front of him and factor their pit strategies into his own … in the middle of a race (even Martin Brundle was impressed). But by comparison, Hamilton rushed to the front in Hungary this year to get the priority pit call, over-drove the car and then made a dud tyre choice. He’s only thinking, at most, one lap ahead when everyone around him is playing the long game. It makes him more exciting, but it also gets him in more trouble.

    Because right now, Lewis Hamilton cannot see the forest for the trees.

    1. Agree with every single word PM and nicely put too.

      Finally, he has denied that there is a problem when the evidence suggests otherwise

      You’re right and this frustrates me about Lewis. He keeps saying he won’t change anything as it’s who he is but the same clumsy mistakes keep happening again and again. Something has got to give.

    2. The worse thing is, right now he thinks he knows best. I think right now he’s in a very stubborn state. He seems to think he knows best, and everyone else doesn’t. And I think it’s getting to a point that even if someone tells him something which he knows is true and must be done, he won’t do it, for the sake of spiting the other person

    3. Problem with the Hungary race was him saving the extra set of tires which he saw as an advantage over others. But with the wet start that advantage was nullified. And when it came to that pit-stop he was like let me play my special-card *BOOM*

    4. really?i remember lewis saying he was %100 to blame for the crash he had with koba.

  20. What’s gone wrong with Lewis? It’s hard to tell when I’m outside of that world but I’d say Lewis’s attitude.

    At Monaco he just showed a total lack of respect for other drivers in his outburst, he’s been clumsy this year to say the least and I think the worst mistake was actually Spa. He just assumed he was well ahead of Kobayashi and the Sauber would yield and didn’t bother to check. Normally when something goes wrong with Hamilton it’s still fun to watch because he can pull out a spectacular fighter’s performance like Brazil 07 or in China this year when everything seemed to be going wrong even before the race but he came out and won anyway whcih must have sent alarm bells ringing for Seb but recently when something’s gone wrong he’s asked “what’s the point?” rather than revelling in the challenge.

    It just doesn’t feel like he’s enjoying it. The car isn’t a dog like 09 but he seems more upset than say Alonso or Button that he can’t fight with Seb or he isn’t dealing with it as well. He was complaining about PR days which is one thing I completely sympathise with and when that situation was improved he gave a tremendous showing in Germany and I thought “great, he’s back” and then at Hungary he made a mistake again and was back on everyone’s radar for the wrong reasons. I don’t even know how committed he is to Mclaren any more.

    I don’t think JB is blowing him away. I think JB’s just solidly getting the points and doing a good job but Lewis is having an unusually bad year and if he cut out the mistakes he’d have a lot more points that Button but that’s just how I read it. That’s nothing against JB as he’s doing everything right but if his season is so good and Hamilton’s is so bad and there’s still not much of a points gap then for me that says a lot. On a slight side note though, I thought Lewis handled Canada supremely well as it was JB’s mistake that put him out of the race but he treated it with dignity and maturity and was able to brush it off. I don’t know if JB is bothering Lewis but he really shouldn’t. Hamilton needs to look at himself.

    Lewis is an aggressive driver which means he’s going to get into scrapes and bumps from time to time but the sheer volume this year does raise questions. I think he can bounce back, is a more naturally gifted driver than JB and could lead the team again but unless something changes for him or something falls into place it’s difficult to see it happening any time soon. Maybe he just needs this season over with quickly so he can reassess everything over the winter and come back with a clear head. Lewis could be an all time great but I can’t remember many of the greats having such a terrible season and he has to turn things around or at least make sure next year is a more consistent year.

    1. At Monaco he just showed a total lack of respect

      I claim royalties!

      (I told you I would.)

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