Hamilton at Mercedes – will he have what it takes?
22nd October 2012, 20:17 at 8:17 pm #213606
@freelittlebirds Here’s an anecdote for example: Having the good fortune of being friend to a Lotus Team Singapore racer (I have no idea what he races in) I was in the Lotus pits with my friend in Singapore. In the pit lane, between FP sessions, I was wandering, and guess what I saw – Sebastian Vettel, a double world champion, who was the 11th most winningest driver in the history of F1 at 22 victories, making lemonade and sandwiches for his crew.
He called his mechanics off the car for a 5 minute break, and let everyone have the cool drinks and sandwiches, and had one with them and joked around with them. It was clear at that point in time that there was a bond between him and his mechanics. They were like family, with a real sense of camaraderie.
THAT was a driver rallying his mechanics around him.22nd October 2012, 20:23 at 8:23 pm #213607
F1 is a sport – I don’t think teams should rally around the person they like the most – McLaren’s done that with Button and they will probably never see a WDC/WCC for the next 13 years. They rally around the best driver – and accept their shortcomings along with their greatness so that they may share in that greatness.
From what I have seen, Lewis is extremely nicely spoken and seems the most down to earth of all those drivers. Now his actions on Twitter are just reactions to an extremely unjust situation that a driver of Hamilton’s ability should never have had to deal with.
McLaren have insulted Hamilton much worse than Webber’s been insulted at Red Bull and the difference here is that Hamilton has already given them the only WDC they’ve seen in 13 years.
The way Hamilton has behaved in 2012 is absolutely admirable – the team has taken a WDC and thrown it out the window and he has just complained that he had chosen the wrong wing.
Can anyone imagine what Vettel would have done if the same had happened to him?…22nd October 2012, 20:30 at 8:30 pm #213608
@freelittlebirds Notice how Vettel’s mechanics cheer more for a Vettel pole than Webber’s mechanics cheer for a Webber pole? Not by coincidence. It’s not about logic or the sporting side. It’s not about should/shouldn’t. It’s whether or not the mechanics will It’s simple human psychology – they WILL not rally around someone you don’t like. Simple as that. Have you ever had a situation where you knew A was better than B, but your emotions drew you to B instead? Exact same thing.
I’ve never given much thought to what Hamilton did on Twitter, and indeed what he has done recently wasn’t really clever.
And I don’t know what you’ve seen, but to be honest – Lewis in person (met him on 3 separate occasions in real life) is quite aloof, and bordering on being an arse. The differences between Lewis and Jenson are EXTREMELY striking in that respect.
When I met Jenson, he was willing to slow down, talk to us, joke with us etc. Lewis had his sunglasses on, and basically was doing the celebrity thing of waving to fans. I did get to talk to him at one point – and his first words were “hang on a sec, I’ll be right back.” The guy disappeared, and never came back. Apparently he had left through a back door. Needless to say, that is NOT nice. He could’ve just said he was busy and that was that.
His “whose call was it to bring me in? Fricking terrible idea. You could’ve asked me how my tyres were! My tyres were fine! Whatever guys. You called me in and ruined the race!” radio message would NOT have endeared the mechanics or engineers to him.22nd October 2012, 20:36 at 8:36 pm #213609
First I envy you that you had the chance to be at the pits in Singapore. Completely green with envy and I have no doubt you know more about F1 than I do.
It’s funny you mentioned Vettel because up until last year, I was impressed by his personality. When someone is winning, you never see their real face. When someone is facing hardship, it’s when you see the real person.
I think we all saw Vettel’s real face in 2012 when he was losing and now he’s baking cookies because he’s winning.
I’ve been so impressed by Schumacher’s behavior the past 3 years. He was a winner in every sense of the word and in losing he actually showed his greatness. I personally don’t think Rosberg truly outperformed Schumacher as he simply played it safe to outscore him a la Button.
Same with Hamilton whose every comment is scrutinized by the press and folks more than his driving is scrutinized by the FIA:-)
I think in 2012 we saw a Hamilton that was just impeccable and showed a maturity that few would show at that age and under those circumstances.
It is no secret that Jenson won the McLaren internal wars but that would be akin to Barcelona winning David Villa and losing Lionel Messi in the process. It’s devastating for them and would have crushed them if Lewis could have moved to a more competitive team.22nd October 2012, 20:40 at 8:40 pm #213610
This is the 1st time I’ve heard of a fan that has actually met both Jenson and Lewis. I have to say that what you just told me about Lewis is very disturbing. I’ve not seen that in the interviews where he appears like a really likable fellow and very soft spoken..22nd October 2012, 20:43 at 8:43 pm #213611
Singapore was, to my good fortune, not my first time in the pits either. I was there for Vettel’s historic first Monza win, and for a few other races this year. I can assure you – he was making sandwiches and drinks for the mechanics even before he won his first race, and even in the 10-race lull when he didn’t look like winning from Bahrain to Singapore.
He does tend to be a hothead “in the moment,” but he has a very cool temperament after an hour or so.
But my point is not about who is a better driver etc – my point is to rally a team around you, you need very specific skills and attitudes.
About drivers’ attitudes when talking to them – I can assure you there are even weirder stories around :P22nd October 2012, 21:05 at 9:05 pm #21361222nd October 2012, 21:06 at 9:06 pm #213613
Wow Monza and other races, now I definitely dislike you:-) You are raising an interesting point that I had never considered. Since all constructors are required to have 2 drivers, in addition to having to outdrive your teammate, you actually have to win the survivor-like popularity struggle within the team.
In 2007, one can easily see how Lewis won it over Alonso since Alonso was acting the way Lewis should have been acting in 2012 but did not:-)
Perhaps underestimating Jenson’s personality was the biggest mistake Lewis made in his career. Jenson’s dad and Jessica didn’t help either.
This has been a superb discussion, I never realized that personality went such a long way in F1…
Well, Lewis had better perfect how to make fish and chips over the winter break – that might give him the upper hand over Rosberg at Mercedes… I can see Ross Brawn thinking “we can lose Nico but we definitely can’t give up those fish and chips!!!”22nd October 2012, 21:46 at 9:46 pm #213614
@raymondu999 – The discussion went a bit further since my last post but I’ll try to clarify a couple of things.
Why should Mercedes just rally themselves around Lewis?
I’m not saying they should and I’m not saying it’s the reasonable thing to do. What I’m saying is that all signs point to the fact that this is exactly how the situation will pan out at Mercedes with Hamilton behind the wheel and this is exactly the kind of expectations Lewis has from the Brawn-led establishment. He is now the superstar in that team and I’m 100% sure he will expect to be treated as such. And I’m sure Mercedes will comply since Hamilton is a VERY expensive asset and he also looks like their last shot at performing at Red Bull, McLaren or Ferrari level. It’s either the WDC title with Lewis or the german management will cut the cord on the F1 project. Mercedes’ main objective at first will be keeping Lewis happy, I reckon.
They need a reason.
Here’s a reason: They just got the closest thing to a WDC title contender one could get his hands on in 2013. And they can’t afford losing him or having him underperform. Again, if Lewis needs the team to form itself around him in order to have results, they will do just that.
I don’t think he signed to have a team “built around him”.
Here we disagree. I truly believe this is exactly the reason why Lewis left McLaren and signed with Mercedes.
Mercedes hired Hamilton so he would hopefully help them up the grid – not help Lewis have his own team.
They could very well think helping Lewis have his own team might just help them up the grid. Help me to help you…you know…
but I don’t think you’re looking at the correct side of the difference.
It might not be the 100% correct side but it’s definitely the more realistic one, I’m afraid. :)
And as far as all the “Hamilton is an “intrinsic” part of Mercedes” thing goes, there’s some truth in it, but it’s mostly PR and walking the line for Brawn and Rosberg. They both know Hamilton will undoubtedly get prefferential treatment at Mercedes. They just won’t parade that in front of the media and the fans.
I’m sure Vettel is also an “intrinsic” part of Red Bull for that matter. :)22nd October 2012, 22:20 at 10:20 pm #213615
@freelittlebirds well personality goes a long way in whatever line of work you’re in, as long as you are interacting with other people… even in the office it can play a part.
Well those are stories for a separate thread, but here’s one. In that Monza 08 race, I saw Kimi. Kimi was with backpack and his flatbill cap, and I ran towards him, shouting “Kimi!” He looked in my direction, and actually started half-running in the opposite direction. It wasn’t as slow as a jog, but it wasn’t a sprint either. I chased him for a good 2 or 3 minutes, before he finally stopped and let me catch him. He had his sunglasses on of course, but he smiled at me and just said, “I just wanted to see how badly you wanted to see me.” He was a good sport though and gave me his autograph and a photo with him after that.
@tony031r I don’t mean a logical reason. Merc have every logical reason to rally around Lewis. But the mechanics will need a psychological reason to do so.
For example if you were at work, and you were assigned to be in the same project group as the single outstandingly smartest guy in your department – the logical path would be to rally around him as project leader. But if he’s an ass, you won’t. You can look at my previous conversation with @freelittlebirds to see what I mean.22nd October 2012, 22:35 at 10:35 pm #213616
that is a hilarious feel-good story about Kimi and here I thought that Kimi didn’t have a sense of humor:-)
I’m equally impressed by the fact that you caught up with him!
yes personality goes a long way in every walk of life but I didn’t think it could play such an important role in F1 where the performance is so obvious.
The theory of needing to feel motivated to do well is slightly contrary to Apple where Steve Jobs was a remarkable PITB and people hardly like each other. Google’s founders are infinitely more likable and generous than Microsoft’s Gates or Apple’s Jobs, yet Microsoft and Apple still thrive.22nd October 2012, 22:49 at 10:49 pm #213617
As I mentioned earlier my foray into the Singapore pits was with Lotus this time (the same friend took me in 2010 as well, except then it was with green Air Asia Lotus!) and it strikes me that Lewis finds the media tedious – not actually interaction. It’s like “Kimi you have an interview” and the feel you get is that internally he goes “not again!?” as opposed to an overall lack of motivation. I must add that I was out of breath and absolutely sprinting! He is after all fit enough to be an F1 world champion…
I had a lovely opportunity to work at Apple once. It wasn’t a full time job. I had my own job, and it was actually an internship position, but given that I had been a machead since my first computer it was an opportunity I could not resist. Mind you I’m self-employed so reentry to my old job was never an issue. I’ve also never worked at Microsoft or Google, so can’t add anything for them, though I have a friend whose brother is working at Google. However I’m not close to him, nor have I actually ever met him in my life, so yeah.
I have to admit Steve Jobs (who is a hero of mine) is an absolute PITA, or as you put it, a PITB. But he seems to have this weird way… this absolutely weird way… of inspiring you. He makes you feel like you’re changing the world – like you’re finding a cure for cancer. It’s like he does mind control over you and really gets you to WANT to work more. I certainly found it very hard to tear myself off my work at times. I don’t remember a single day without overtime (even on intern pay). Absolutely amazing.
In other news, this thread (I think) has just broken the record for the most derailed F1F thread…23rd October 2012, 8:25 at 8:25 am #213618
Right, time to drag this back to topic! ;)
No one will question that Lewis has the raw speed and talent to drag a bad car to the front. But to truly contend for the title, he needs a better car under him, and to get that, he will need to work well with the team around him.
There is one MAJOR difference between this and Schumacher-to-Ferrari: Lewis isn’t bringing people with him. On one hand, you could say there is no need to – Mercedes is already jam-packed with technical people (Bell, Costa, Willis) who have made significant contributions to at least 9 drivers championships combined. That said, the main challenge here is that Lewis has worked with none of them anytime in his career. It’s easy to understate how important it is to have a strong relationship with these people – even Michael Schumacher couldn’t work well with John Barnard in 1996 and had to recruit Rory Byrne to replace Barnard at Ferrari.
Can he lead this team to victory? Like it or not, Lewis has to lead this team – and he knows it. It will be the price of getting preferential treatment – even if they say it’s not in the contract, it will happen. He and his new team need to work together to ensure they have a fast and competitive car. If that means staying at the factory until midnight or spending more time with the engineers, then Lewis has to do it. Lewis has to start doing these things next year. Otherwise, I don’t see this new partnership going anywhere.24th October 2012, 12:44 at 12:44 pm #213619
I agree. And he will have to be extremely analytical, critical and observative, and he can’t shy away from difficult decisions. I’ve been brought in to troubleshoot companies before, and while it is very much possible, there are lots of painful decisions you have to make.
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