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The Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton show didn’t disappoint in Japan and after the race, the young Mclaren driver suggested that he was having difficulty with his mirrors…if you can call them that.

Lewis Hamilton touched Felipe Massa, who was having his own adventurous dive on the outside into the final chicane, and said he had no idea the Ferrari driver was there. He explained that his mirrors vibrate like crazy and it’s difficult to see anything.

I can believe that lock, stock and barrel. I’ve seen the mirrors from on-board camera shots and it’s not easy to see anything to be honest. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has added some explanation to Lewis’s comment. AUTOSPORT has the story:

“By comparison to the old school of 20 years ago, they are big,” said Whitmarsh. “But in terms of vibration, probably we don’t do enough.

“If you talk to any driver going along the straight, they are not great. Normally you will see them for picking out colour: ‘there is a piece of colour behind me that means there is another car’. Maybe it is something we have to look at.

“I think Lewis was distracted at the time, he knew he had a puncture, and he knew he was nursing a car, so I think you can always have bigger mirrors, you can always have better mirrors, you can always have better positioned mirrors and you can always be more attentive to using mirrors. But it is one of those things.”

So you can always have better explanations, you can always be more specific in what you’re trying to say and you can always stop beating around the bush for a possible explanation as to why your driver hit another driver. Sheesh, that’s almost full-bore Ronspeak right there.

Let’s be fair—I really don’t think it’s that easy to see in the mirrors but when you add it all up, I think it was simply a racing incident and Massa wasn’t fooling anyone with the attempted pass on the outside of the chicane. The two drivers just seem to be mired in the same performance bracket that finds them close to one another on the circuit come race day (as Paul pointed out in our most recent podcast).

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Jack Flash (Aust)

    Seems crazy, doesn’t it?
    In F1 world, with all the Tech and design talent at there disposal, why are cars still using 19th Century silvered glass mirrors? OK, they have blooming coatings, but that’s as tech as they get!
    What is so hard about heads-up display (bottom left and right visor pos) fed from gyro-stable hi-res mini cams pointing from the mirror locales?
    Smaller, clearer, consistent, reliable, and ~150 grams weight! WHY NOT? JF

    • F1Sommelier

      Absolutely brilliant point! The teams spend 10 of millions to develop technology. For them to take current technology and adapt it sounds very doable.

  • tom

    The point is: When you’re unsure whether or not there’s a car, you have to assume there is. Lewis has proved time and again that he doesn’t do that…remember how he crashed into Kobayashi in Silverstone for example.

    Having said that, I don’t think this is enough to punish a driver, but it is enough to clearly place responsibility on Lewis’ shoulders.

    • SuperSix-1

      Ok…do you say the same about jenson in canada then??

      Going by your comment…that also means that you find jenson was at fault in canada.

      -Or is it that your theory only applies to Hamilton?

  • Downforce

    Unsubstantiated Lewis quotes “we don’t need no stinking mirrors” and was also rumored to have said “whatsa behind you or beside you doesn’t matter”

  • Alex

    With the proximity sensors available for vehicles as humble as the family mini-van it does raise the question why F1 doesn’t come up with some sort of system to alert a driver as to another car’s proximity. There could be a light display in the cockpit that would indicate which rear quarter an approaching car could be on and it’s closeness. The camera idea is worth a look as well. It appears from just looking at a driver’s sitting position that peripheral vision wold be severely limited so anything to help a driver’s awareness of other cars would have a safety benefit as well.

    • nofahz

      The FIA already has a rear facing camera installed, why not run an in helmet HUD. Too much added weight to the helmet under 5G breaking could be a valid concern but seems like a valid idea.

  • UAN

    “I think Lewis was distracted at the time, he knew he had a puncture, … ”

    Talk about spin from Whitmarsh. Lewis had the puncture on lap 9, but the contact between Massa and Hamilton happened on lap 21, though he was getting set to pit. Hamilton seems to get distracted a lot in the car recently.

  • J0J0

    Lewis is just wondering how the auditions in the USA X-Factor are going.

  • Benalf

    the cameras are already in place. Those awesome images of the rear of the cars…where yo can see who’s behind you….on TV can be displayed somewhere on the cockpit (or near it) to allow the drivers to be aware of their sorroundings. Mirrors are not necessary anymore. IT’s just another classic gadget kept on the cars ’cause the FIA is reluctant to take action, just like football and the instant replay or in-goal balls detector technology…

  • SuperSix-1

    I find SOME of the comments laughable…..especially from some armchair viewers who seem to ‘know it all’.
    What I find ‘ironic’ or more like ‘moronic’ is that some people who sit on their couches thinking they know how to drive an f1 car better, what in involves and how easy it is.
    -Dont forget…we also speak/comment in hindsight.

    The mirror debate has been going on for years…but it seems like just cos this one includes Hamilton…some feel its yet an another opportunity to bash the guy and quote untrue statements.
    Its also been said by most inc the pundits for years that mirrors are totally useless in F1 – but offcourse…as this one includes Hamilton..obviously for this moment & probably only for this moment…its been made out that theres nothing wrong with the mirrors in F1 and that this is yet another invalid excuse.

    Personally I feel that the driver behind needs to take a large responsibility on where he places his car behind & the pitwall should be more vocal in advising their drivers.

    When coming up to tight corners its unrealistic for any F1 driver to keep an eye on his mirrors when trying to negotiate tight turns….all drivers know roughly where the guy infront will place his car coming up to a turn – so the driver behind is in a position where ‘he knows more than the guy infront’.

    -Even us norms cant even do it in our cars driving at crawling speeds when approaching roundabouts on public roads!
    -If you keep an eye in your mirrors then the chances are that you will plough into the car infront.

    HUDs are very unrealistic at the moment – That wont come in for at least another 5-10 years min as it wouldnt be easy to implement in F1 right now.
    Many factors to consider: R&D; Weather/daylight/nightlight visibility; helmet safety compromise; how to pack the technology into the helmet and keep weight down and prevent safety structure being compromised. Could the extra technology & components create more danger to the driver if involved in an impact etc?
    – Also implications on cost etc?

    For now I think more can be done by the teams/pit wall as they have all the info at their disposal.

    BUT the bottomline is….
    This is RACING…If you find solutions to all the niggles in Formula 1 then it will end up turned into one whole life-sized scalextric set…..which is currently the direction Formula has been going in the last few years – What a big shame!

    • Changing_conditions

      People accuse Hamilton fans of being blind, yet I think Hammy-haters are just as blind if not more.

      Hamilton is in front of another driver and they touch, comments say it was Hamiltons fault.
      Hamilton is behind another driver and they touch, comments say it was Hamiltons fault.
      Hamilton is beside another driver and they touch, comments say it was Hamiltons fault.

      Take Kobayashi on Hamilton, I think Kobayashi should have backoff but most people said Hamilton cut him off and it was all Lewis fault. Yet when Vettel did it to Button(Susuka)they say it was Harsh/rude but fair. Schumacher does it to Hamilton(Monza) the comments called it racing. Ok these two incidents never ended in a touch/crashed because the persuing car got off the gas or moved out of the way.

      • tom

        There’s a difference between cutting in in front of another driver and putting him in the position where he has the choice between backing or crashing and pushing another driver off the track where he doesn’t have any choice.

        Look at the Kobayashi crash for example:
        http://blog.so-net.ne.jp/_images/blog/_1d8/harry-landscape/Ham20should20left20more20room..jpg

        Koba was always there, Lewis moved to the left abruptly, giving Kpba no choice whatsoever. Obviously it was not intentional, but it was stupid, it was certainly Lewis’ fault. He knew that Koba was in his vicinity somewhere, so if he was unsure where exactly he was, he can’t pretend as if Koba doesn’t exist…

        • SuperSix-1

          What I found really interesting during the pre-race show (bbc – Japan) was that David Coulthard admitted that after he saw more footage of the Hamilton/Kobayashi Spa incident, he now fully blames Kobayashi for it.

          Its very interesting that both DC and Brundle have now changed their opinions of blame for a couple of Lewis’ incidents.

          Brundle originally blamed Lewis for the maldonado clash in monaco, but just a couple a days later after watching other footage…hechanged his mind & fully blamed maldonado for turning in too early and closing the door.
          …You can read it in Brundle’s post Monaco GP blog on the beeb.

          • tom

            The Maldonado case is certainly debatable. I don’t have it memorized in detail, but I remember that back when I saw it in the race, I though that it was a 50/50 thing where both drivers were aggressive and ended up colliding.
            But no way Kobayashi was at fault. I think the image I posted pretty much proves it.

        • Changing_conditions

          Am sorry at which point does Hamilton turn sharply into Kobayashi. This footage shows hamiltons cockpit and he dosn’t turn his steering wheel towards Kobayashi.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_Du9X-NTqU

  • MIE

    Before this season started and the introduction of all the ‘overtaking aids’, I posted on here that one way to encourage overtaking was to abolish the rear view mirrors on the cars. As can be seen by Whitmarsh and Hamiltons comments, they aren’t that good. Without them in place we would get less weaving from drivers in front (unless they are going to comprimise every lap) there would be no point in changing line down the straight to ‘break the tow’ if no-one was behind. The overtaking driver would need to be sure that he was much further alongside before the turn-in point, as he could be sure that otherwise the driver in front wouldn’t have seen him.

    Simplistically, it works on bikes, and in karts. Very close racing with little contact. It should be possible for it to work in F1. I am of the opinion that mirrors do more harm than good, drivers only use them to work out where to block their opponents, not when to give them space.

  • ewh

    He should have used the Force.