2012 half-term driver rankings #2: Lewis Hamilton

2012 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Montreal, 2012While Fernando Alonso, who heads the half-term driver rankings, has rightly been lauded for his superb efforts this year, it’s easy to overlook just how well Lewis Hamilton has been driving.

Most of problems he’s encountered this year have not been of his making. And whereas last year he seemed to respond to setbacks with rash moves and mistakes, there now seems to be a more mature driver at the wheel.

He began the year with a string of podiums which briefly put him in the lead of the world championship. But a series of costly blunders by his team put paid to that, despite Hamilton often being quick enough to qualify on the front row.

Poor pit stops cost him positions in Malaysia, Valencia and Bahrain (twice). A gearbox change penalty in China compounded his problems. In Valencia he was on course to salvage some useful points before being taken out by Pastor Maldonado.

Worst of all was his team’s baffling decision to leave him on-track during qualifying in Spain despite having too little fuel, and the swingeing penalty he received as a result. Pole position and a strong chance of victory was traded for last on the grid.

Had this been the Hamilton of 2011 you might have expected him to end his race by colliding with Felipe Massa. Instead he produced a well-judged recovery drive to eighth, pitting only twice on a day when three-stoppers were the norm.

Beat team mate in qualifying 9*/11
Beat team mate in race 7/10
Races finished 10/11
Laps spent ahead of team mate 424/662

It was around this time McLaren started to get their act together in the pits, turning the cars around in record time and doing so consistently as well. But they appeared slow to react to the progress made by their rivals in other areas. Hamilton urged them to push ahead with development and it was clear in the races at Monaco and Silverstone the team had lost its competitive edge.

Their Hockenheim upgrade restored the MP4-27 to the position they enjoyed at the start of the season. But even then things initially failed to come right for Hamilton, whose race was ruined by a puncture.

Heading into the summer break he delivered a strong performance in Hungary, his second victory of the year along with his Canada win, which has brought him back into contention for the championship.

Whether he can fight for the title over the remaining races seems to depend most on whether McLaren can sustain this level of performance, as there’s been little to fault in Hamilton’s driving this year.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2012If Hamilton was the weak element at McLaren last year, this season he’s arguably their strongest card – a point his management will surely impress on the team in their ongoing contract negotiations.

Has been getting 100% out of that McLaren in almost all of the races this year. He has been let down by the team on a couple of occassions (Malaysia, Spain and Valencia come to mind). When the team gets their act together, as demonstrated in Canada and Hungary, there isn?t much that can stop Lewis.
@Todfod

He?s also one of the most improved drivers this season, driving with a much calmer head and it?s showing now. The team have let him down too often this season in the pitstops, but had that been last season, Lewis would have been in a much worse state of mind.
James Brickles (@Brickles)

The 2007-2008 Hamilton is reappearing. A dominant victory in Hungary, and a fantastic win in Canada, in addition to three poles. Would be even higher in the WDC standings had it not been for debris in Germany, and Maldonado in Valencia.
Adam Blocker (@Blockwall2)

Lewis Hamilton 2012 form guide

*Hamilton was excluded from the qualifying results at the Spanish Grand Prix.

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50 comments on 2012 half-term driver rankings #2: Lewis Hamilton

  1. Nirupam (@nirupam) said on 17th August 2012, 10:04

    Wow!! 1st to comment :)
    I never have been a fan of Lewis Hamilton, but I must agree, the way he drove this year has won me over. Nice job Lewis!
    But I still feel it would require an enormous effort from him to remain in touch with Alonso in the driver’s standing

  2. Eggry (@eggry) said on 17th August 2012, 10:05

    Surely the most mature Hamilton ever. Crash with Maldonado in Valencia was not his fault but he should be aware how Maldonado is impatient. He said(and Maldonado said too) there’s no regret about the accident, but this several points might be very critical for him as season closing…

    • Drop Valencia! said on 17th August 2012, 10:26

      The fact that Mado is a wild man, and was much faster and would have passed soon anyway, is the only mark against Hamilton all year, but I would argue that drivers should not yield to Mado, because Mado will see that as a licence in future….

    • Girts (@girts) said on 17th August 2012, 12:36

      @Eggry It depends. Had Hamilton left Maldonado more space (you shouldn’t expect that a racing driver will simply let a competitor pass without a fight), finished 4th as a result and then gone on to win the 2012 title by a few points, we would say what a fantastic and mature driver Lewis is. On the other hand, if Maldonado had crashed or spun, while trying to overtake, without taking Lewis out and Hamilton had finished 3rd and then won the 2012 title by a couple of points, we would again say what a brave and great driver Lewis is. In addition to what Keith says, this is another reason why you cannot say that Lewis acted the wrong way at Valencia.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 17th August 2012, 13:11

        @girts Well it was hardly such situation. No one can maintain position in the situation Hamilton suffered. He was way slower than most of the grid at the time and I can’t see he could do it. of course it’s Maldo’s fault because he was out of the track and suddenly turn into Hamilton. if it was not Maldo but Alonso or somebody else mature enough, he would have pulled back and attack another chance and Hamilton had finished 4th or lower but still gotten some points.

        IMO, Maldo should be considered as natural disaster or out-of-control monster.(too harsh for him but it’s my view) If you encounter such kind of stuff, you’re the one to make a decision to save yourself.

        • Jake (@jleigh) said on 17th August 2012, 13:29

          @eggry “No one can maintain position in the situation Hamilton suffered”

          He had managed it perfectly legally up until that point, and Maldonado still hadn’t legally overtaken him at the point. I wouldn’t be surprised that had Maldonado cut the corner and got past Lewis he may have not given the place back. After all, he cares not for any kind of rules and regulations. Therefore, Lewis’ fair and perfectly sensible defence could have kept him 3rd place, even if he lost the position on the road.

      • Mike (@mike) said on 17th August 2012, 14:52

        @girts I think the main thing is that Maldonado shouldn’t have drive into the side of him the way he did. That’s the Crux of the issue.

        It’s like Monza where Hamilton struggled to overtake Schumacher, as long as Schumacher doesn’t break the rules then he can defend all he wants.

    • If every driver regularly recognized how “impatient” maldondo is, he would be leading the championship now—everyone else would simply pull over when they see him coming. Why don’t we just let him drive around by himself and give him the trophy if he doesn’t crash out? Given that he can’t even do a demo without wrecking the car, that might actually be entertaining enough.

  3. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 17th August 2012, 10:22

    Arguably he’s made less mistakes than Fernando has (remember Australia Q2) although some could argue that Lewis was at some fault for his Valencia incident with Maldonado.

    I don’t think maturity was an issue with Lewis, yes he’s mature on the psychological side of things but me personally, maturity wasn’t the primary problem.

    P.S. Interestingly, Lewis has less points at this stage of the season than he did last season, which was clearly to everyone his worst.

    • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 17th August 2012, 10:48

      @younger-hamii And we could add he hasn’t been as lucky as Alonso … Okay Ferrari was not the best car at the beginning of the year (yet this could be argueable, in fact the car was capable of great performance, they just didn’t understand it well and this is valid only for the 2-3 first races max, after it was more about lifting pressure being the underdog than “the faster car” as McLaren has been presented)
      And the rain coming at different venues clearly played in Alonso’s hand as the Ferrari was impressive in those condition against a poor McLaren.

      I don’t wan’t to dismiss Alonso from that #1 half way rank, but just nuance the point margin he has on competitors, he hasn’t been hit by anyone or anything mechanical and he has a full team behind him (probably even more than Vettel has)

    • leadfoot (@leadfoot) said on 17th August 2012, 10:58

      I think Lewis has had a really good season as well but I respectfully disagree with you on the issue of maturity. Last year Lewis would get frustrated and get over aggressive which too often resulted in some form of incident. He has admitted himself that his improvements this year are due to a better life off the track. That being said there is absolutely nothing wrong with having these types of issues when you are 26 years old. These guys do such amazing things that we forget that in the end they are just people. You mature with experience and last year was a range of new experiences for him.

      This year he has been very measured. He has restored the balance of power to his favour between Jenson and himself and the silly mistakes are gone. He has kept cool and effective despite half of the problems affecting him not being his fault. That kind of turn around to me displays an improvement in maturity. Who knows, maybe having such a frustrating year will end up being the best thing that has ever happened to him in the long run.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 17th August 2012, 18:18

      Arguably he’s made less mistakes than Fernando has (remember Australia Q2)

      remember that Hamilton has the fastest car so far this season & The F2012 was a dog of a car especially in the First 4 races

      • Guccio (@concalvez00) said on 17th August 2012, 19:36

        ”remember that Hamilton has the fastest car so far this season” – explain China, Bahrain, Canada, Valencia, Silverstone and Hockenheim then, don’t say these things to make Alonso look better, the race pace of that Ferrari was faster then the Lotus

      • tharris19 (@tharris19) said on 17th August 2012, 20:27

        The McLaren has not been the fastest car this season, Lotus has been the car to beat.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 17th August 2012, 20:24

      Arguably he’s made less mistakes than Fernando has

      But I also think he has gotten lesser out of the Mclaren than Fernando has out of the Ferrari. There were a few races at the start of the season where Jenson was quicker, so I wouldn’t be able to rate Lewis as highly as Fernando this year

  4. Enigma (@enigma) said on 17th August 2012, 11:34

    Seems like Lewis is at his 2010 form again, nice to see he’s at his best. I’m pretty sure he’ll play a major part in the championship battle.

  5. antonyob (@antonyob) said on 17th August 2012, 11:45

    He’ll always be a bit of a marmite man. Some fans dont like drivers who dont smile all the time or who are not deep and mysterious. Lewis is just a normal lad with outstanding ability in a car. In some ways i preferred the outlandish Lewis, the one who went for it and who oversteered the car into corners but for sure this new slightly duller Lewis will more likely win more WDC’s. THE fastest driver of his generation.

  6. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 17th August 2012, 11:50

    A gearbox change penalty in Valencia

    his gearbox penalty was in China.

    Hamilton has been driving really well this season and I hope he keeps it up. His qualifying performances have been tremendous, and his race pace is up there too. We haven’t seen many spectacularly long and fast stints that the Lotus is able to produce sometimes (like Grosjean in Canada and Silverstone), but then his smooth team mate Button hasn’t been able to deliver those in this year’s McLaren either.

    With Alonso’s luck running so high at the moment it’s difficult to envisage anyone beating him in the standings, but one mechanical failure or slip-up (two years ago he spun in wet conditions at Spa, for instance) might see the others getting into range, and I’m definitely looking forward to Lewis challenging for the title again.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th August 2012, 14:33

      @adrianmorse Changed it, thanks.

    • tharris19 (@tharris19) said on 17th August 2012, 20:30

      Alonso is so good he makes his own luck. That is what makes him the best driver in F1.

      • GeordiePorker (@geordieporker) said on 17th August 2012, 21:06

        As much as I can’t bring myself to like Alonso, I agree to an extent. Good drivers have good luck, great drivers make good luck (I’m sure I’m paraphrasing someone there). But by the same token, what could Hamilton have done to prevent the team blunders? Does he need to ask the team each time he starts a Quali run whether he has enough fuel to finish it?! Does he need to train the mechanics personally to change a tyre?!

        That said, the McLaren in the dry has been one of the best cars, the Ferrari wasn’t (at the start) and still isn’t at the top, yet look at Fernando’s points total.

        But, as a Hamilton fan, what I like most is the mature response he’s given to all of this year’s calamities. I’m looking forward to the second half of the season :)

      • Jake (@jleigh) said on 18th August 2012, 13:13

        if you make it, it’s not luck. I hate the saying “you make your own luck”

  7. infy (@infy) said on 17th August 2012, 12:53

    I find that while Lewis has made little to no mistakes, he has at times been slow when it comes to race pace. When you would expect him to make up places, he just hovers around.

    • Jake (@jleigh) said on 17th August 2012, 13:32

      @infy compared to what though? Other than Australia he has dominated Button in both Quali and race pace, and surely we can only really compare drivers against their teammates when it comes to what pace can be expected. Remember, quali pace and race pace are 2 completely seperate things.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 18th August 2012, 16:34

        And we also know from 2009 especially, that Button can be blisteringly quick if it all falls into place for him like it did then. Maybe in Australia Button found that in the McLaren, even though he/the team lost that zone from China onward?

  8. sato113 (@sato113) said on 17th August 2012, 13:25

    @ keithcollantine

    A gearbox change penalty in Valencia

    China i think you mean

  9. xeroxpt (@) said on 17th August 2012, 15:37

    Oh Keith everyone knew you would chose Hamilton, I don’t agree but i’m sure he’ll prove me wrong from now on, i just think that Vettel deserved to be 2nd till now.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 17th August 2012, 15:39

      I’m just saying this because from race 1 mclaren was the car to beat.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 17th August 2012, 18:09

        From the beginning of race 1 until the end of race 1 maybe…
        When the car has been at its best was either team errors or the one time all season that Button was better. I’d love to know which races you think the McLaren was clear best at.

        • dkpioe said on 20th August 2012, 11:41

          he is right, it is consistently fast, just look at the qualifying, but the drivers dont get it right with the tyres in the race like other drivers have.

  10. colinf (@colinf) said on 17th August 2012, 18:48

    How is Lewis rated so much higher than Ma Quebba? Lewis has had arguably one of, if not, the fastest overall car of the season and in spite of being near the front of the grid more often than not, he still lays pretty far down in the championship table.

    You can call it bad luck, but I believe that in F1, drivers make their own luck.

    Bad pit stops don’t happen to the best drivers very often.

    Cars rarely break down on the best drivers.

    If the team believes you will do everything you can with what they give you, and that you won’t be a cock, suddenly luck seems to be on your side…

  11. pking008 (@pking008) said on 18th August 2012, 12:37

    Lewis deserves his high ratings. He’s driven well this season if not for the team’s mistakes, he will be miles ahead by now.

  12. dkpioe said on 20th August 2012, 11:43

    i think what some people are forgetting about with hamilton, is race pace. his race speed has not been top 2 this year. yes he seems more level headed, and is fast in the fastest car in qualifying. but he rarely seems like a favourite to win the race after getting pole. the renault drivers i think have driven better then hamilton in races. hamilton whould have more points then alonso and be leadinvg the championship at this stage with the car he has. now renault is on the up, and points are going to be tight. i wont be surprised to see Raikonnen finish ahead of hamilton in the championship without scroing any pole positions.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 20th August 2012, 13:07

    Deserved I would say. He’s come on leaps and bounds with his maturity this year, both behind the wheel and down the pit lane. He doesn’t seem as eager to drive hell-for-leather, which as good as it is to watch, doesn’t always make for great race craft.

    He really surprised me in Valencia when he managed to keep a lid on the Maldonado incident, if only to the cameras.

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