Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Man, Driver, Personality, Qualifier, Rookie... of the Year!

Lewis reportedly took home a lot of mantel-piece bling from the F1 Racing "Man of the Year" Awards. And even though he garnered 5 trophies, the F1 Fanatic is surprised he didn't also win "Start of the Year" for his tenth-to-fifth blast-off at the Nurburgring.

Photo courtesy F1 Racing online

Wembley Stadium gets ready for the Race of Champions. I'm looking forward to seeing what American Travis Pastrana can do against Lewis Hamilton...!

Photo courtesy Planet F1.com

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's "Jodia"... how embarrassing...

So against my better judgment I gave in and read one of those tabloid stories about Lewis and his (ex) girlfriend... and it turns out I've been spelling her name completely wrong all this time.

And I finally got to see her pic... she's pretty cute!

So it's Jodia Ma, and she's the daughter of a wealthy Hong Kong businessman. I can understand why they "broke up."

However, I do not intend to read The Mail again....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On-board fuel coolers? Is that even legal?

I'm just saying... well, actually asking. One day I want to read the actual rulebook, but I'm leery of wasting my time with fiction. Instead I read the following:

"Williams and BMW are clearly embarrassed at being caught up in all this - but if they knew they were utterly blameless, why did they bother sending five people to the appeal. If McLaren's case was so groundless, the facts would have spoken for themselves."

Another great editorial by Andrew Davies at Planet F1.com. I felt funny about running two of these in a row, hence the shout out madness.

What I want to know... is Brooklyn in the house? er... more shouting...

Lewis Hamilton and Jodie Ma!

Here's a quick shout out to the two of you, as well as to the 15 people around the globe who seem to make up my entire readership. What is it with the interest in Lewis Hamilton and Jodie Ma?

I don't even know what she looks like.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What is bringing F1 into disrepute?

"What is bringing F1 into disrepute isn't the teams spying on each other, it's the inability of the governing body to run its own sport." -- Andrew Davies, Planet F1.com.

Right on, man.

I thought I was alone for a minute there, then I read Andrew's editorial. It's packed with great bits like the one above. And this one:

"What was on trial here was not actually BMW or Williams, but the decision-making process after grands prix. It was the stewards. The fact that the FIA are now trying to shove this under the carpet with the most derisorily simple of statements (as of 9pm Friday 16th November) sucks."


Friday, November 16, 2007

First an election, now a World Championship... what's next?

What's that old saying, "possession is 9/10ths of the law" or something like that? Once you someone have something, it's almost impossible to get it back.

When Gore conceded the presidency in 2000, there was no way the Supreme Court was going get it back for him.

The FIA track stewards forced Lewis Hamilton and McLaren to concede the driving title in Brazil, and now we know that the FIA Court rejected McLaren's appeal. This amidst a bunch of trash talk about "winning on the track" versus reversing the title on a mere technicality. Make that disputed technicality. Actually, make that ignored and discredited technicality. In any case, there was no way the FIA Court was going to give that title to Lew and Mac "after the fact."

Guess it'll be colder fuel from here on out, since it can't be detected and no one really knows how to determine the ambient temperature anyway. Or that's what I read. And I didn't read it in the FIA rulebook.

I never really understood why they even have rules in top-level professional motorsports. You build a great track, you get the best builders in the world and let them "run what they brung" and you market it to the world... who cares whether the floor flexes or the wings move or they refrigerate the fuel? Besides, if you have no intention of enforcing the regulations, why have them at all?

Oh yeah, there's that thing about being able to surreptitiously influence results through selective enforcement... that's a good reason to have rules, I guess...

Well. I truly feel sad for young Lewis Hamilton, for a minute or two at least. His incredible debut, his fantastical rookie season is indelibly marred NOT by the loss of the title, but by the rulebook shenanigans and the faux espionage debacle. After such an unbelievable first season in Formula One, it is a shame that most of the media conversation was focused on barristyrical bullshit. Yes, I am attempting to channel Don King...

And strangely enough, I also feel a little sorry for Kimi Raikonnen, the actual World Champion. As good a driver as he is, he will never be as popular as Lewis Hamilton.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crazy old men

First there's "mad" Max Mosley having the nerve to call Sir Jackie Stewart a "certified half-wit"... now we have "bonkers" Bernie Ecclestone saying regulation infringements should have no effect on race results. (hat tip to Planet F1.com)

Oh, so the rules really only apply to protecting "trade secrets", is that it?

According to the article, Ecclestone was "joking" when he threatened to "have a very serious thought about me retiring" if the championship were handed to Hamilton and McLaren.

Dude's 77 years old. Retirement is a good idea.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Post-season blah

So now the startling "news" that the FIA is charging Renault with spying are replacing the puff pieces on Hamilton's hubris for leaving Britain to live in Switzerland. As a friend of mine likes to say, "I hate the off season."

It's the end of the calendar year, the end of the racing year, and Formula 1 seems intent on maintaining its share of our collective attention spans. Now the show has moved indoors... it's a courtroom drama! Intrigue, oh my! Spying! Cheating! Millions of dollars are at stake! Billions even!

Well, you probably know what I'm going to say next: If I were Lewis Hamilton... I would be having the time of my life! I would LOVE to move to Geneva (though I would probably love Monaco even more)! I wouldn't be too surprised, however, if my fame moved with me.

Brace yourself, Lewis. You are only going to get even more famous (as silly as that sounds).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nicely said, Mr. Hamilton

I have no idea when, where or who conducted the interview, but Planet-F1.com has this bit featuring a few quotes from Lewis that I found interesting.

He said: "I think when you are in such a competitive sport there's rules, and you stick to those rules.

"If someone has not stuck to the rules - we get punished if we are not on the right road - and so should other people."

Good show.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Strange Similarities

How weird. Earlier, I pointed out that Lewis Hamilton is experiencing in his first year in F1 events similar to what American Supercross Champion James Stewart has weathered in his respective motorsport. The issue at that time was fan "backlash" over the growing media attention being focused on these two young men. That is, brown-skinned young men, excelling in sports that have been, until the 21st Century, the domain of white-skinned young men.

Now, these men (er, the brown ones) share another similar fate: illegal fuel used by a competitor cost them championships... for Stewart, the 2006 American Supercross Championsh, Hamilton the 2007 World Drivers Championship.

In James Stewart's case, he missed winning the title for Kawasaki by only two points, garnering 336 to the great Ricky Carmichael's 338 score. However, earlier in the season, Carmichael's Suzuki was found to be using illegal fuel. The penalty was a loss of 25 first place points. Suzuki and Carmichael both denied any wrongful intent, and Carmichael hinted at quitting the series. The sanctioning body, AMA Pro Racing, in an unprecedented move changed the penalty to a fine and re-instated Carmichael's 25 points. The Team Kawasaki manager reportedly tore up a copy of the rules in front of AMA Pro Racing officials.

Despite the re-instatement of points, however, James Stewart still had enough points to win the World Supercross Championship that year, becoming the first brown-skinned young man to do so.

And most of you already know what's up with Lewis, but here's my short and sweet of it: for lack of only one point, Lewis Hamilton missed becoming the first person in the history of Formula One to win the World Drivers Championship in their very first attempt! What a phenomenal season! Earlier this year, Hamilton literally changed the face of F1 by becoming the first black dude to contest the sport. Then he started the season by getting on the podium nine times in a row. And at the last event of the year, when the championship came down to the wire with three suitors, four cars were suspected to have illegal fuel. The race stewards "deliberated" the issue for hours, before admitting that it was "technically impossible" to enforce the FIA's rules.

Three of the four cars finished ahead of Hamilton at the Brazilian Grand Prix. If they were to be penalized for illegal fuel, their points would be taken away, the other finishers moved up, and Lewis Hamilton would be... well, among other things, the first brown-skinned young man to win the title of World Driving Champion.

The issue is being contested by McLaren. But if the decision by the FIA in November follows the same path of history that saw James Stewart denied a major motorsports title, who would be surprised? Nothing more than a strange similarity?

(Oh yeah. Another strange similarity is that they both suffered horrendous crashes on consecutive Saturdays in July, with both having to be taken to hospitals for checkups.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ron Dennis: "It’s just a costly problem at the worst possible time."

Going for the Oscar for Understatement of the Year, McLaren Chairman and Team Principal Ron Dennis sums it up.

Dennis defends the reliability record in this illuminating interview over at the team site.

What? I've got nothing.

Things I WOULDN'T Say If I Were... you know the rest...

"After Kimi did such a fantastic job, winning the last two races, to have it taken away from you, it's a bit cruel and probably not good for the sport."

Er, the season is over except for the shouting (in court). Now is a good time to take a long vacation, AWAY from press microphones and cameras, dude.

Ask yourself this question: will Ferrari promote the fact that they have the Constructor's Title, even though it was clearly handed to them due to rule-breaking by McLaren? Answer: of course they will. So if YOU (talking to Lewis here) were to get "handed" the Driver's Title due to rule-breaking by other teams, how would that be any different?

Answer: it's obvious.

Hey, it's okay to take the high road and say things like
"For me, I want to do it on the track and in style by winning the race, or after battling it out for the lead - fair and square." But fair and square are what running by the rulebook is all about. And if you win the championship because the other guys cheated (or got lazy), that's fair.

Preserving the integrity of the sport should be at the top of everybody's list. The FIA must enforce its rules consistently and without bias. If there is credible evidence that BMW and Williams were in violation, this should be an open and shut case.

Cruel for Kimi? What about you?

(quotes from Planet-F1.com)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Conspiracy? In F1? Unheard of!

Well, not according to this blog I stumbled upon. They lay out the concept that the races and results are all controlled according to plan. The basic premise is that the F1 governing body never intended to "let" Lewis Hamilton win the title this year. The blogger goes so far to say that McLaren intentionally "caused a reboot of his Engine Managment System in Brazil, ensuring he dropped to the back and had no chance of winning, but would provide a good TV show as he tried to overtake the rest of the field."

Wow. And if you think that's deep, the blogger takes it to another level, stating that "Lewis will win the F1 Championship, but not next year - that script is written as “a tough year fighting in the pack” with his championship coming in 2009. 2008 is “Alonso’s Comeback Year” when he will win, driving a Renault."

And there you have it. Sportsfans, place your bets.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Did I Say Surreal? I Meant 'Enter the Lawyers'...

So now I'm reading (from F1 Fanatic again... thanks!) that the stewards of F1 deliberated for SIX HOURS and they "said Williams and BMW teams were not punished because it was technically impossible to prove the temperature of the fuel within the car."

Come again?

Admittedly, I haven't read the current (or any, for that matter) Formula One rulebook, so I can only imagine what type of torture the language most go through in order to make such statements possible. And I am positive that in the coming hours and days, someone will explain it quite perfectly. As for now, unfortunately, I am stumped.

Here's my thinking: why am I even writing about this now, if they had no evidence with which to start all of this madness anyway? SIX HOURS of deliberation; what evidence did they have to discuss, if it was "technically impossible to prove the temperature of the fuel within the car"... ?

Did one of the stewards happen to put his hand on the fuel pod of Nick's BMW and go, "hmmm, that feels too cold!"... !

And are they implying a difference between merely "impossible" and "technically impossible"?

Further, apparently there's a "kerfluffle" about who gets to decide what the ambient temp actually is. Almost Clintonian, that line of defense. Hence the reference to lawyers; McLaren could appeal. Yikes. Maybe they can settle for $100 million?

Instead, I believe this is going to go down like the U.S. Presidential Elections in 2000: someone is gonna roll over and play dead.

Enter the Surreal: The Title May Change Hands

This is crazy. Now comes a report that some cars (at least one Williams and both BMWs) FAILED fuel testing and may be DISQUALIFIED. If this were to be the case, the rest of the driver in the field would move up and take those respective championship points... and Lewis Hamilton would win the World Driving Championship on a technicality. Here's the story from F1 Fanatic.


Hamilton: "It was all against me in the end..."

Now, I often complain when people take things out of context. So the first thing I have to admit is that the above quote by Lewis Hamilton (from this story on, you guessed it, Planet-F1.com) was quite literally removed from its contextual setting, and I did it on purpose because I thought it was/is a very interesting thing for the young man to say.

"All against me" sounds kind of like something Tupac Shakur would say, and this is probably the first time Hamilton has ever been compared to 2pac. In any case, the remainder of the article seems to be made up of Lewis-quotes, made during an interview with BBC Radio, that point to his mature ability to be sanguine about losing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the first driver to win the F1 title in his first year. I haven't seen or read any uncut interviews yet, but I'd really like to know if what has been reported so far really touches on what Hamilton is feeling.

Dude... wait. Whut?

I woke up (late) this morning and logged in, fully expecting to see the reports about Lewis Hamilton winning the World Driver's Championship in Brazil today. So you can probably imagine my reaction when I read this brief report at Planet-F1.com.

Raikkonen is the new Formula One World Champion? And Hamilton finished SEVENTH due to mechanical woes from his McLaren-Mercedes?

NOW they have a mechanical?? Ok, so what really happened? Crash.Net is calling it a "mystery glitch."

I need more details, but wow, that really sucks. I mean, it's cool for Ferrari... they kept the faith and it paid off. And it's great, obviously, for Kimi... he too never stopped believing in himself, drove the best he could and in the end, he was in the right place to take advantage of McLaren's huge faux pas. So congratulations are in order to Raikkonen and the entire Scuderia Ferrari.

Now excuse me while I go cry in my Wheaties for a couple of minutes.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

P1 in China

I'm just saying, well, what can I say? Words fail me. I am astonished. Just read this report on Planet-F1.com.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

$20 Million Dollar (USD) Man?

And now, with two races remaining in the season, comes the news that Mercedes McLaren is prepared to raise Lewis Hamilton's salary by something like 30-fold...! That's according to a story that appeared in the Daily Mail, and as reported here by Planet F1.com.

Well now... if I were Lewis Hamilton right about now, I would be smiling a-plenty! Geez, that was corny, but unfortunately, it was heartfelt...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hamilton wins the Japanese Grand Prix... and now leads Alonso by 12 points!

"To have held his nerve and kept his car on the tarmac when his World Champion team-mate couldn't, proved to even the sternest critic that it is not luck that has put him as firm favourite to take the drivers' title."

That, to me, it the takeaway quote from Planet F1.com's fantastic race report on the rainy Japanese Grand Prix.

I haven't written much since the penalty madness... I'll be weighing in with my thoughts on that later... but for now, let's savor todays victory!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Monza Qualifying: Mercedes McLaren own the front row

Fernando Alonso took P1, and it was apparently easy for him, according to this story from Planet F1.com. Lewis Hamilton was less than half a TENTH behind to take P2.

The Ferraris could only manage third (Felipe Massa) and fifth (Kimi Raikonnen), making it look like it might be a tough day tomorrow for the team from Maranello. BMW's Nick Heidfeld put himself beside Massa on row two by qualifying fourth.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Enough with the nonsense, let's get back to racing: Hamilton takes P2 in Turkish GP qualifying

Ferraris' Felipe Massa grabbed the pole for tomorrow's race, with Lewis Hamilton narrowly missing the top spot by only .044 of a second! Incredible.

In fact the times for the occupants of the first two rows (Ferrari and McLaren, naturally) are extremely close; little more than two-tenths separate them. One interesting quirk: while Massa, Hamilton and Kimi Raikonnen were on soft compound tires, Fernando Alonso mysteriously opted for the hard rubber; it netted him P4. Here's the story of qualifying from Planet F1.com.

Strangely, McLaren set up pitbox spaces for BOTH racecars, perhaps in an attempt to avoid repeating the "mistakes" of the last Grand Prix.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hey, I had nothing to say after all of that madness...

What a shame that Lewis Hamilton's third GP win be surrounded by all that "he said, he said" nonsense, especially since he apparently admits to some culpability. The past two weeks have been filled with inane stories of who did what to who when, and who said what to whom how. It's as if professionalism in Formula One took an August holiday.

The craziest story, in my mind, was this bit about Ferrari making a big dollar, under-the-table offer to pry Lewis out of Mercedes McLaren's clutches. 17 million pounds! Now, if I were Lewis Hamilton, that offer might make me pause to consider... but I'm NOT Lew and I'm sure he won't be tempted to piss off all of his British fans by turning his back on Woking; besides, he has wanted to drive for McLaren all his life... he's right where he wants to be. I'M the one with the fetish for all things Ferrari...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

And Then There Were Two

Two points, that is, separating World Driving Championship points leader Lewis Hamilton from second placed, and CURRENT World Champion Fernando Alonso. Just yesterday, the points gap was 12. What happened?

How about Alonso grabbing a well-deserved win in the rain at the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. The race report at the offcial F1 site said the race was rendered "almost farcical" by the rain.

Alonso passed Ferrari's Felipe Massa in the closing laps, robbing the red team of another victory. Third place went to ... wait, NOT BMW, but Red Bull-Renault! Mark Webber brought it home and got on the box for his troubles.

What happened to Lewis? Planet F1 has this report; fantastic kart races-in-the-rain notwithstanding, apparently Hamilton had a tough time keeping on track and off the grass... stay off the grass, man! Oh well, everyone was wondering when the rookie would make a mistake; I guess today was the day... but wow, dropping TEN POINTS in one race.... yikes. And thus endeth the podium streak at 9 races in a row.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ride along with Lewis... as he crashes!

Here's a fantastic, in-car sequence with Lewis Hamilton. Watch how his right front tires gives way, and the impact into the barrier... amazing! Great stuff courtesy F1 Fanatic.

Hope He's Okay

Lewis Hamilton had to be airlifted to a hospital after what was described as a "huge accident" during Saturday qualifying for the Grand Prix of Europe. Hamilton has already checked in with the media, saying he's "fine."

The team will wait for results from a CT scan to determine if Lewis will race tomorrow.

This dramatic accident by the first black man to win a Formula 1 race coincidentally comes on the heels of a similar fate to befall his American motocross doppelganger, James Stewart, the first black man to win a major motocross championship. Stewart crashed hard in practice last Saturday at the Unadilla around of the American National motocross championship, and also had to undergo a CT scan procedure. Also like Lewis, James is waiting to determine whether he'll compete in this Sunday's race.

The universe works in mysterious ways.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to tell that I am a Lewis Hamilton fan

Well, of course there is the name of the blog. But better still is my reaction to his third place finish at the British Grand Prix: I wrote NOTHING.

By any objective measure, scoring third place points in a Formula 1 race is a BIG DEAL, especially for a "rookie" like Lewis. But after 2 wins in 8 races, and after sneaking to the pole at Silverstone, even a somewhat sophisticated fan like myself could be found guilty of high, perhaps TOO high, expectations.

Yeah, I thought he was gonna win. Wire-to-wire, even. Yeah, I conveniently ignored the facts that both Raikonnen and Alonso had him covered in qualifying until that last minute magic thing. And yeah, I was disappointed, my heart sinking with each lap as Kimi and Fernando continued pulling away from Hamilton after the second stops.

So I just didn't feel like doing my normal quickie race re-cap with link to my favorite article at Planet F1.com. I just went on about my weekend. Oh well. At least I'm not making any excuses.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Silverstone Madness: Hamilton takes the pole!

Even after his own team mate, Fernando Alonso, tried to unsettle him with mind games at the start of the third practice session, Lewis Hamilton clocked a fast lap of 1:19.997 at the very end of qualifying to take a dramatic P1 for tomorrow's British Grand Prix. Here's the full story courtesy Planet F1.com.

Hamilton will share the front row with Ferrari's Kimi Raikonnen, who turned a 1:20.099 lap. Alonso starts in row 3, P3, beside the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa. BMW takes their now-traditional position of "best of the rest", as Robert Kubica qualified fifth.

In winning the pole, Lewis became the first British driver to do so at his home Grand Prix since 1996.

And here's the interesting statistic of the day: each time Hamilton has started from pole, he as gone on to win the race. Silverstone will explode if that happens!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

It's 3rd place for Hamilton as Ferrari takes the day in France

Pit strategy came to the fore in today's Grand Prix of France, which saw Ferrari take the top two steps on the podium, with Kimi Raikonnen getting the win over his Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton kept his podium streak alive, and more importantly, stretched his championship points lead, by carding third place. Here's the story from Planet F1.com.

So what about the British Grand Prix next weekend? Says Lewis, "The Ferraris were very quick this weekend but I still think we can take it to them in the next race."

If I were Lewis Hamilton, the one race I would absolutely want to win in my rookie season would be my home Grand Prix. If Hamilton pulls of a win there next week, I believe the fans at Silverstone will lose their minds!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

French Grand Prix: Hamilton tops third practice, but loses pole to Felipe Massa

Lewis Hamilton was able to place his McLaren-Mercedes in P2 in qualifying today for the French Grand Prix, neatly splitting the Ferrari's of pole sitter Massa and third-place Kimi Raikonnen.

P4 went to the BMW of Robert Kubica... good to see him back in the car after that horrifying crash in Montreal.

Shockingly, Fernando Alonso ended up in the FIFTH row in P10, after encountering a gearbox problem during the third qualifying session. Prior to his retirement, though, he had yet to break 1:14, so it appears that he was not quite on the pace of the top three.... he should have been able to sit on the second row if not for the mechanical.

P2 is a good spot for Hamilton, as he has already proven to give Massa problems off the line and into the first turn at earlier races. Tomorrow's event at the Magny-Cours circuit should be outstanding!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Willy T Ribbs: "People ask, 'Is that your son?'"

Lol, here's a very amusing and informative article by Robin Miller about the first (and only) black driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, Willy T. Ribbs, found over at the Speed Channel's site.

One of the best quotes from Ribbs was about his fondness for Lewis Hamilton: “I’ll say this though: I haven’t watched F1 since Ayrton Senna died, but now I won’t miss it because of that kid. I am so proud of him.”

Have a gander; it's good stuff.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What say ye now, Jacques?

Here's a great article found over at F1 Fanatic, comparing Lewis Hamilton's amazing first season run to the 1996 Formula 1 debut of Jacques Villeneuve. Former World Driving Champion Villeneueve, many of you will remember, was most recently seen pooh-poohing Hamilton's success as "luck." Yet when you compare the two side-by-side for the first seven rounds, it reads a little like this:

Hamilton - seven races, seven podiums, two poles, two wins.
Villeneuve - seven races, four podiums, one pole, one win, two DNFs.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Seven races, seven podiums..."

And two astonishing wins. So says this write-up over at Planet F1.com.

When it comes to Father's Day presents, Lewis Hamilton really knows how to deliver!

The amazing thing about Hamilton's Indy win (er, excuse me, "U.S.G.P") was that he prevailed despite the tremendous pressure applied by his own teammate, two-time World Driving Champion Fernando Alonso. Lewis got out front when he needed to most, during the final qualifying session, and held his line throughout the entire race.

Who on earth will win in France?

Two in a Row!

Lewis Hamilton has just one the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Speedway! More to come...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

P1 x 2

Today, June 16th, marks the second Saturday in a row that Lewis Hamilton laid down the fastest lap in Formula 1 qualifying. And just six days after winning his first race.

Fernando Alonso shares the first row, the Ferraris claimed row two, and Nick Heidfeld put his BMW in row three, alongside Heikki Kovalainen in his Renault. Here's the story at Planet-F1.com.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hamilton third in first practice at Indy

Fernando Alonso sits on top of the leaderboard in P1, with a 1:11.925, followed by a BMW, of all things! Yes, Nick Heidfeld put the Bimmer in P2, followed closely (less than 3 tenths) by Hamilton in P3.

And, wonder of wonders, ANOTHER BMW sits in 4th! Where the heck are the Ferrari's? Raikonnen is in 5th, while Massa sits in seventh. But it's still very early in the process.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ron Dennis: "This was a straight out, full on, tremendous achievement..."

So says the Man at McLaren, regarding Lewis Hamilton's Sunday drive in Montreal. Full article at Planet F1.com.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

"... there is no denying that F1 has entered the Hamilton era."

Pretty heady stuff, eh? Well, I didn't write it; that line is in this article over at Planet F1.com. In any case, what a day. June 10, 2007: the day that marks the first Formula One victory by a black man. And of course, it is incidentally the day that Lewis Hamilton wins his very first Formula One race. At Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, no less. In only his sixth start, no less. And with this win, storming into a reasonably significant 8-point lead in the Driver's Championship classification.

Congratulations, Lewis. And congratulations to the Vodaphone Mercedes-McLaren organization. Here's to many more first place finishes!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Hamilton takes pole position for Montreal!

Wow. Lewis Hamilton earned his first ever F1 pole in qualifying at the Canadian Grand Prix, setting a laptime four-tenths of a second faster than his teammate.

The other surprise: while Sato wasn't able to keep his place from practice three, Nick Heidfield put his BMW on the second row of the grid by qualifying third, separating the Mercedes-McLarens from the Ferraris, who qualified in fourth and fifth.

It's gonna be some race tomorrow!

Hamilton tops Practice Three in Montreal

"Our Lewis", as the British rags like to claim him, has topped the leaderboard in the incident-shortened third and final practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton recorded a fast lap of 1:16.071, besting Kimi Raikonnen's 1:16.459 and teammate Alonso's 1:16.465. The second Ferrari, driven by Massa, was in fourth (of course) with a "devilish" 1:16.666.

The surprise of the session? Takuma Sato putting his Super Aguri in the fifth place spot with a 1:16.864.

'Course, this is just practice... on to qualifying!

Mario Andretti: "I look at Hamilton's situation, and I salivate..."

Leave it to the great Mario Andretti to come up with the quote of the year. He made the Pavlov-ian comment during this interview over at Planet F1.com.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Must See Hilarious: the "Hamilton Hype-ometer"!

Over at F1 Fanatic, Keith Collantine has developed the "Hamilton Hype-ometer" to track just how nutty the British press is getting over "Our Lewis". Here's the second "update" of the, er, tool...

Funny stuff!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Parade in Monaco: M-M start, finish 1-2

Some have called it a "snorefest", a rather poor name for the flashiest and most famous Grand Prix of the current season. In any case, Lewis Hamilton finished right where he started, in second place behind his pole-winning teammate, and this adds up to his fourth consecutive second place finish and his fifth podium finish in five starts. Here's the story from the official F1 website...

Now I am sure that the buzz about Lewis will be about "when will he win one?", and it is appropriate, in that although Hamilton and Alonso are technically tied for the driver's championship with 38 points apiece, Alonso is considered the leader because he has won two events this season.

On to Canada!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Uh-oh for Ferrari: McLaren owns the front row at Monaco!

It's almost race time in the beautiful city, and those diamonds must have worked their magic: Merceces-McLaren teammates Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton qualifed 1-2 to control the front row of the grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Monaco. Here's the story from Planet F1.com.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa settled for third, with a time just .06 slower than Lewis! In fact, Lewis says he could have been much faster, maybe even taken pole position, if he weren't held up by Mark Webber in the Red Bull car on his final hot lap. Yes, Lewis had something to say about that.

In any case, as the qualifying article states, "McLaren got their first pole of the season and their first front row for a long time. The chances of overtaking into the first turn, Ste Devote, on Sunday are not good, but stranger things have happened in F1." So if the boys in silver and red can stay out of the barriers, they're probably looking at another strong finish. Pit stop strategies will be key.

And what happened to Kimi Raikonnen? The Finn made a huge mistake in the second qualifying session, clipping a barrier hard. He had to settle for 14th (!) on the grid. He definitely has his work cut out for him tomorrow.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hamilton on Monaco: "I remember the first time I drove through there I just shouted in my helmet as I was so excited."

Planet F1.com has a great interview with our man Lewis, as he talks us through a lap at Monaco. Go and enjoy the read; Hamilton provides some great insight on the famous course.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hamilton leads the pack at Paul Ricard

During multi-team testing on day one at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, Lewis Hamilton topped the lap charts, clocking a time over a second faster than second place Toyota pilot Ralf Schumacher. Here's the story from the official F1 website. Felipe Massa in the Ferrari could only manage 6th place.

The Formula One teams were testing on the track's "2D SC" configuration, which is supposed to replicate the tight teams the drivers will face at nextweekend's Monaco Grand Prix.

So what does this all mean? Probably nothing, as the F1 testing rules limit the teams to testing only one car per day. And, as they say, the hold the races for a reason. Test times are great, but all that really matters is who takes the checkered flag.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

More superlatives... as if any more were needed

Four podiums in the first four races. Sole ownership of the championship points lead in only 4 outings. And now this, from those folks at Planet F1.com: "...[Hamilton] has again etched his name into the history of the sport, becoming the youngest driver since Bruce McLaren - founder of the team he drives for - in 1960 to stand on top."

Oh lord, what will the naysayers go on about this week? Who knows, but as for the man himself, Lewis went with the obvious:
"To come out of only my fourth grand prix leading the World Championship when I'm racing against the top drivers in the world, is just incredible."

Well then.

Here's a full race report from the Scotsman.com. Enjoy!

Holy Toledo! Hamilton leads the title chase!

Lewis Hamilton's second place finish at the Grand Prix of Spain netted him a big 8 championships points, and that, along with Fernando Alonso's third and Kimi Raikonnen's dnf, was enough to vault him into sole ownership of first place in the championship standings!

I mean, that's just incredible. More to come...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hamilton P4 in Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying

After shocking the Formula 1 world by "winning" the first and final practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Spain at Catalunya, Lewis Hamilton was finally overtaken by his teammate, two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, and BOTH Ferrari drivers, Raikonnen and Massa, to wind up in the fourth position on the grid.

Felipe Massa squeaked by Alonso late in the final qualifying session to take the pole, so the front row is Ferrari/McLaren-Mercedes, and the second row is the same. Less than 4 tenths of a second separates them!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Hamilton: "I am still your average young guy..."

Here's a great interview of Lewis Hamilton, conducted by those great folks at Planet F1.com. In it, Lewis touches on his family and friends' reaction to his astounding success, as well as his feelings about the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Well, it didn't take long for the "Backlash" word to appear...

I guess I didn't want to be the first to point this out in print, but I pretty much knew it was coming.

This editorial by Peter Gill from Planet F1.com is the first time that I've seen the concept of a Lewis Hamilton "backlash" actually spelled out, although all one had to do was read some of the letters and comments that have been flooding F1 websites since the last GP. Seems some people are very upset that our man Lew is receiving so much attention from the press. And not just the motoring press, but the mainstream as well.

"And he hasn't even won a race yet!", they fume. And so it goes.

Well, if I were Lewis Hamilton, not only would I try my best to pay the naysayers no mind, I would reflect on the very similar circumstances that have surround American motocross and supercross champion James Stewart. Stewart, now at the age of 21, has just last week achieved what some writers call the "ultimate prize" in American dirtbike racing when he clinched both the American Motorcyclist Association's Supercross (stadium motocross) national championship as well as the FIM's World supercross championship, becoming the first black man (or African American, if you prefer) to do so in the history of the sport. Yet, unlike Hamilton, James Stewart is no rookie. Despite his very young age, this is his SIXTH year racing professional motocross, AND he has won a championship in every one of those years, except for 2005, when injuries and illnesses prevented him from taking a title.

But, very similar to what Mr. Hamilton is experiencing at this very moment, Mr. Stewart suffered (and some would say, CONTINUES to suffer) a certain amount of fan backlash. I would go so far as to actually call it enmity. Severe dislike... even hatred. Because while some media types have tried to explain the behavior away as being part and parcel of typical boorish sportsfan antics, when reading some of the comments posted on motocross internet bulletin boards, or some of the letters sent to motocross publications, it becomes clear that much of the attitudes displayed have little to do with on-track performance and more to do with perceptions of personality.

Just as Lewis Hamilton brought with him a number of lesser racing titles before he turned a wheel in his first Grand Prix, James Stewart was a record-setting amateur motocross champion prior to his very first professional race. And while Hamilton took an astonishing third place finish in his first GP, Stewart finished second in his first Supercross event. Much was made of Stewart's performance; he was "too agressive" according to some... this after only his first race!

And just as with Lewis, the media descended on James and wrote article after article... and this further fueled the "backlash."

What to make of all this? Personally, I believe that thinking about it too much will be detrimental to one's health. Some people just don't like to see other people have success, that's the bottom line. Some folks have a tendency to find the negative in the positive, rather than vice versa. For them, the glass is not only half-empty, it's likely to spring a leak at any second! Just ignore them, Lewis Hamilton; you've got plenty of good folks on your side.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hamilton: "I just hope that I’m still able to walk on the streets."

If I were Lewis Hamilton, I'd probably be concerned about the same thing. Now that the rookie Formula One driver has made history (again) and in three races, is vying for the championship points lead, his popularity in his home country has probably grown a "wee bit." At the post-race conference, Times reporter Ed Gorman asked Lewis to comment on his grand achievement and speculate on what "the reception is going to be like" in England.

Hamilton replied, "I think the support is growing and I’m looking forward to getting to Silverstone and seeing how many fans will be there, but it’s great. I’ve not experienced it yet so it will be new to me, and I just hope that I’m still able to walk on the streets."

I can't wait to see the new nicknames the British press dream up for him!

Hamilton goes 3 for 3...!

At the Grand Prix of Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton became the only man in the history of Formula One to attain 3 podium finishes in his first three races, after finishing second behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Even more notable is the fact that the finish places Hamilton in a three-way tie for the championship points lead, which he now shares with his Mercedes-McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Here's the update from Formula1.com. More to follow.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hamilton: "To go into my third race in F1 and be on the front row is an amazing thing."

This kid is amazing. Or maybe to put it better, he's having an amazing start to his debut F1 season.

He has qualified on the front row for the Grand Prix of Bahrain! And as if that were not enough, Lewis is actually disappointed that he did not take the pole! Here's the story from Planet-F1.com.

Hamilton second fastest in Bahrain practice!

I am actually not sure what to make of this news, but Lewis Hamilton clocked a 1:33.540 to Kimi Raikkonen's 1:33.527, making him the second fastest driver out of two sessions during practice for the Grand Prix of Bahrain.

Hamilton's Mercedes-McLaren teammate, reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso, posted a 1:33.784, good enough for fifth place.

And all I can say is "Wow." Let's see what happens during qualifying...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lewis talks you through a lap at Bahrain

I really like the Planet-F1.com website; they consistently get the good stuff. Here's an article in which Lewis Hamilton describes what it's like to drive a lap at the Bahrain International circuit, a track on which he raced... and won... in 2004 (driving a Formula 3 racecar).


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More about that guy Arundell...

First, I should have known better than to get my racing info from a general newsie.

From Crash.net I learned, number one, that his name has TWO "L's". And in this article, the author points out that Mr. Arundell podiumed at Monaco and Holland in 1964. And he was out of F1 after only two seasons.

No wonder I never heard of him...

Who was that two-podium winner in '64?

In an earlier post, I wondered aloud about the identity of the driver that had, 43 years prior to Lewis' stunning finish on Sunday, claimed two podium finishes in his first two GP starts. Well, according to this article from the Telegraph Online, it was a gentleman by the name of Peter Arundel, who was racing for Lotus at the time. Arundel gathered two third places finishes in the first two races of his Formula One career.

Never heard of the man.

Now Damon Hill weighs in: Hamilton will "win a race" this season...

Former World Champion Damon Hill had praise for Lewis in this article at Planet-F1.com, saying that a win for the young Brit is probably in the cards this season. Said Hill, "Somewhere between now and the end of the season, that's going to happen and then he'll grow in stature and start to see himself differently, and we'll all start to see him as a championship contender."

Hill's kind words went even further:
"I think Lewis is probably the closest we've got to a guy who can dominate and be at the top for a long time," he said. Nice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Haug: "...expected to be at the front."

Mercedes motorsports head Norbert Haug was pleasantly pleased by the Mercedes-McLaren 1-2 at Sepang this past weekend. The last time McLaren pulled that off was back in 2005 at the Brazilian Grand Prix, according to this article at Planet-F1.com.

Haug also said, "Alonso confirmed to be the most complete driver in F1, and a debut like Lewis Hamilton's is the stuff dreams are made of."

Well said.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Another amazing statistic about Hamilton

From this Planet-F1.com article comes this: apparently is has been 43 YEARS since the last Formula 1 driver has been able to claim two podium finishes in his first two Grands Prix. That would take us back to 1964, I believe. Who was the driver?

Lewis says his next step? To win.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Hamilton says he "tricked" Massa...!

Here's a funny story. Lewis claims he tricked Felipe Massa into outbraking early in the Malaysian Grand Prix. And he then apologizes!

If I were Lewis, I might not have admitted something like that to the press, but just joked about it in the paddock with my team. No need to get Massa all riled up and seeking revenge...!

Second Place in his second race!

Wow. Just finished watching the live lap times from the Malaysian Grand Prix, courtesy "The Official Formula 1 Website", Formula1.com.

I missed the start, but apparently Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were able to get into first and second pretty quickly. Felipe Massa tried to make a move on Lewis early on, but couldn't make the pass stick. Alonso and Hamilton ran 1-2 until it was time for the first pit stops. Alonso pitted first, leaving Lewis in the lead, albeit briefly.

On lap 20, Lewis pitted, took on fuel, another set of softs and made a front wing adjustment. He rejoined the race in third and promptly set fast lap of the race.

Lewis took his second stop on lap 39, while running in second, about 8 seconds adrift of his teammate Alonso. He took on the hard tires and rejoined in 5th.

Alonso pitted on lap 40, Massa on 41, Raikkonen on 41.

In any case, after a flurry of pitstops by all the top teams, Alonso and Hamilton regained their 1-2 placings. However, either the hard compounds favored the Ferrari, or Raikkonen was particularly motivated... either way, he steadily closed on Hamilton. By lap 50, Kimi was only 3 seconds behind Lewis.

By the end of the race, Raikkonen closed to less than a second, but Hamilton held on for second place. Second place in only his second race!

How long since the last McLaren 1-2? Good job, guys!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Hamilton qualifies 4th at Sepang

After setting fastest time in the third and final practice session, Lewis Hamilton clocked a 1:36.045 lap to notch 4th position on the grid for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Fernando Alonso (Mercedes-McLaren) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), respectively, filled the top three slots on the grid.

Massa set a time slightly more than a full second faster than Hamilton, at 1:35.043. Yikes. But Hamilton mentioned during the post-qualifying press conference that he could have gone even faster:

"The car is working well and I think we could have had two cars on the front row. However when I came to Turn Seven it had started spitting with rain a little bit. I had experienced this at the test last week and knew it could be slippery, so I eased off a small amount. Apart from that everything went smoothly, and I’m confident for the race tomorrow. I’m on the clean side on the track and will aim to make a good start." (from Formula1.com)

Smart move to lift a little and still maintain a great qualifying position.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Hamilton 3rd fastest in Malaysia practice...

Lewis clocked a fast lap of 1:35.712 to record third fastest time in the first practice session on Friday at the Sepang circuit. Hamilton ranked right behind teammate Fernando Alonso and two places behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Interestingly, Lewis was a smidge quicker than the Australian Grand Prix winner, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Here's Lewis' quote from the post-practice press conference, taken from Formula1.com : "This is my first Malaysian Grand Prix, but I got to know the circuit well during last week’s test. The heat and humidity are as I expected and have trained for. The practice today was pretty straight forward, and we made further steps. The circuit conditions are constantly changing which makes it challenging to find the right balance. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”

The Mercedes-McLarens bookended by the Ferraris. It's gonna be a great race!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Hamilton: Starstruck by... Eddie Murphy??

This is a great (but old... 2006) interview of Lewis by Grandprix.com, in which one of the things he says is that he was never fazed by the great racing stars of the day but, "If I met Eddie Murphy or a movie star it would be like 'Wow!' but when it comes to motor racing I don't think like that."

I think that's hilarious.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Mansell: "No Doubt..." Lewis will win a Title

If I were Lewis... I'd DEFINITELY listen to Nigel Mansell.

Mansell, one of Britain's great motor racing heroes, was recently quoted in this article I found over at Sporting Life. Said Mansell, "He's already with one of the best teams in Formula One. If he stays at McLaren and the team stay as competitive as they are, I have no doubt he will win a World Championship."

Has Nigel been reading my mind or what?

And Mansell offered some words of advice for the young driver... and they had nothing to do with driving technique:
"The only thing I would tell him publicly is try not to get caught up in the razzmatazz of F1 and get side-tracked from your objectives of getting podium finishes and winning races."

Solid advice.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How the death of Senna affected Hamilton

Another great read from the Guardian, this one found at a site called Buzzle.com, recalls how deeply moved Lewis Hamilton was when he heard the news of Ayrton Senna's tragic death. Mind you, Hamilton was only 9 years old at the time...!

From the article (written by Donald McRae): "I was nine when Ayrton Senna died, and he was my hero. I remember racing that weekend in Hoddesdon. My dad had a small Vauxhall Cavalier and a trailer at the back. We'd sit in the Cavalier and wait for my turn to race. And that day my step-mum came over to tell us Senna had just died. It hit me hard - but I never liked to show emotion in front of my dad. So I went behind the trailer and cried. That was the turning point of my life - because when you're so young, you believe people like Senna are invincible. And then you realise that they're also mortal. It made me understand I need to make the most of my talent."

Years later, he used his deep respect for Ayrton to help prepare for a Formula 3 race at Monaco: "With my engineers I watched an old Senna lap at Monaco. It was far harder to be an F1 driver then, and he basically drove the lap one-handed and had to correct the car four or five times. But he was still a second quicker than anyone. That's how he drove - on the very limit or just over it. That's what makes me want to be like Senna. Like him, I'm trying to be the perfect driver."

If I were Lewis Hamilton... I'd be pretty darn happy, that's for sure!

Didja hear what STIRLING MOSS and NIKI LAUDA said?!

I'm just saying, If I were Lewis and these two PINNACLES of motor racing praised me in the same way... well, whoa. Here's what they said after Hamilton's Australian debut...

Stirling Moss, I mean, SIR Stirling Moss: "He's a racer, not a driver. And he's the best thing I've seen in formula one since I came into it in the early 50s."

Three-time World Champion Niki Lauda: "He drove like he'd been in formula one for years, and the outstanding part of it was that for two thirds of the race he was quicker than the quickest man in formula one - because Alonso, with two championships in a row, is today the best guy and Hamilton had him under control. I've never seen anybody perform in his first race like he did."


Moss also said: "His greatest quality, in my opinion, is his humility. He's won so many things on the way up, in karts and so on, but there's no arrogance about him and in today's world that's rare."

These quotes were lifted from this article by Richard Williams for the Guardian online.

The Kid is Pretty Cool

One of the many, MANY articles that have been written about Lewis, this one in Singapore's "The Electric Newspaper" is so nice and thoughtful, it took me by surprise.

I learned things I didn't know about Lews:
- that his younger brother suffers from cerebal palsy
- that his girlfriend's name is Jodie Ma (could this be her blog?), and they've been together two years
- that, at the age of only 10, he was the youngest national karting cadet champion in Britain's history

And I also learned that this kid Lewis is, at the age of 21 or so, a better man than me.

Fast in the Wet at Sapang

So, Lewis set the quickest time in testing at the Malaysian circuit on Thursday under wet conditions (here's the report from Planet-F1). What does this mean, seeing how Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso sat out the session?

Well, it means Lewis can drive the MP4-22 pretty darn quick when it gets slippery. Let's leave it at that until we see what happens during actual qualifying.

(photo from Planet-F1.com)

Friday, March 30, 2007

First race... Third Place!

Okay, if you follow F1 at all, you know I'm late to the game with this blog. The first race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix, was held two weeks ago, and everyone who's paying any attention at all know that Lewis qualified fourth and finished on the podium in third.

There have been tons of articles and interviews and opinions and historical notes and all that foof. But I had to address that race before I could move on to current events, so forgive me.

That said... I must also say this: if I were Lewis Hamilton, I'm not sure if I would have been quite so gracious in all of those interviews. After crushing everybody in the 2006 GP2 series and killing 'em in the 2005 Formula 3 Euro championship, my ego would be a little more, shall we say, "demonstrative?"

Good on you, Lew.

2007 actually started in 2006

On the day after the Thanksgiving holiday here in America, on what's known as "Black Friday" or the busiest shopping day of the Christmas holiday season, on Friday, November 24th, 2006, the press release from Vodafone McLaren Mercedes read:

"Long-term McLaren and Mercedes-Benz protégé Lewis Hamilton has been confirmed as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racing driver and will make his debut at the opening round of the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship in Australia. 21-year-old Lewis will join World Champion Fernando Alonso racing the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-22 during the 2007 season with both Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett continuing as test drivers."

And with that, history was made as young Mr. Hamilton became the first black racing driver to contest the World Driving Championship.

Being a black man and an autoracing enthusiast myself, I thought it would be fun to follow Lewis' first season as if I were in his capable driving shoes. Fantasy F1, if you will. Just having fun... I hope you'll join me for what promises to be a very exciting season of top notch autoracing.