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This past weekend I watched Lewis Hamilton win the Malaysian Grand Prix. No one is more elated to see Lewis shed the troubles of the past and come out so focused, determined and dominant than I was. He’s back in the hunt and proved that Australia’s DNF was merely a mechanical issue that is easily overcome.

Today I was reading some of the race reports and this story over at Sky Sports F1 sums up much of the British presses over-the-moon adulation for what, to me, appeared as a race victory in comprehensive fashion much like his teammate, Nico Rosberg, did in Australia.

Reading some of the comments from Fleet Street, you would think Lewis secured the championship such was his dominance and morale-killing performance on Sunday. I have a bad memory but I’m pretty sure Sebasitan Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are not stunned into submission. I don’t think anything Lewis did on Sunday has the top drivers quite as galvanized as the press would suggest.

Sure, Lewis is British and the media have been calling for his Schumacher-eclipsing domination of F1 since he entered the sport back in 2007. A quarter of the way through his first year, you’d have thought that he had already sewn up two titles by the way they were glowing about Lewis.

I have little room to talk because we don’t even have an American driver on the grid but I can say resolutely that if we did, I would not be ascribing victories, titles and accolades to him/her prior to them earning it.

Lewis is a very talented driver and a world champion. He could win a second title this year but we’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out. I’m elated for Lewis and happy that British fans are ecstatic about his return to form but let’s have some perspective here folks. Both Lewis and Nico didn’t miss the fact that Vettel was standing on the podium with them and this is a team who couldn’t complete three laps a few weeks ago.

“There is a line on Lewis Hamilton’s fastidiously decorated helmet – taken from the American poet and author Maya Angelou – which reads “Still I Rise”,” The Guardian wrote. “But for Nico Rosberg and the other Formula 1 drivers who trail in his phosphorescent wake there should be another message: Mind The Gap. The letters should be very large, and placed on the back of the helmet.”

Really? I hope they’re right but I think we should wait and see, don’t you? Maybe Williams F1’s Felipe Massa will come roaring back to claim that missing title from 2008 from Lewis on the last lap of a double points race…nah, just kidding.

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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.
  • I think it’s premature as well. Haven’t seen the race yet or looked at metrics, but by reports Lewis gapped the field quite easily. However, RBR for example supposedly looked great except end of straight speeds, Ferrari apparently tuned out their instability issues on the back end, Mclaren by reports have a huge package coming for Europe, and so on.

    I don’t have access to/understand how they tune these new PU’s, how aggressive the energy recovery is, throttle linearity, and all the other technical intricacies, but anecdotally, I’d assume the new tech is still being understood, and that potential gains are greatest from those behind. Added to the inevitable F1 development curves (massive), and 2 races, one w/ mixed conditions, one a street circuit and the first race, don’t set any tone for the entirety.

    Red Bull/Ferrari, perhaps Mclaren, should be feared, and it looks like FI/Williams, although perhaps less comprehensive packages, are skulking in the background if the big guys poop in their helmets on a race day.

    • I think one of the keys to this equation and a reason to get really excited about Lewis or even Nico is Merc’s ability to be light on fuel. Same for Williams too. Lewis didn’t over-drive the car or burn fuel and he managed the car very, very well so that adds to the giddiness for sure. He’s looking good right now.

  • Lewis has a good chance, that’s for sure. But there are still some credible contenders:

    1) Most obviously Nico Rosberg. His race wasn’t as perfect as Lewis’, but I see no reason why that won’t change. So far, he’s still leading the championship and Bahrain suits him very well. If Mercedes continues to dominate, he will be the main competitor.

    2) Alonso has once again made the best out of a mediocre start into the season, collecting as many points as possible. After two races, Lewis only has 1 point over Alonso. Looking at the past (e.g. 2012), Ferrari can turn a car from disaster to title contender, so one shouldn’t forget them.

    3) Vettel obviously is still in the race as well. He’s done a brilliant job in Malaysia and there’s no reason why Red Bull should’t be competitive. They’re throwing so much money at this, it’s hard to imagine they won’t be fighting for race wins soon (Toto said that every day in Malaysia, Red Bull received 60 crates from their factory…more than ten times as much as Mercedes).

    Overall, the British press once again falls into the trap of overhyping a driver. That may in fact have played its part in Hamilton’s fate. His main problem in the past seemed to be his psyche and it wouldn’t surprise me if all the praise during his first year got into his head, just as the fall from grace afterwards would have been much more severe.

  • I hadn’t seen that Mercedes were fuel efficient; is that a new disclosure, or something I missed? I’d seen the Ferrari consumption rumors, but not that Mercedes were good.. Scary if they’re power/driveable AND less thirsty.

    Tom, I was shocked seeing the results and Vettel w/ a Podium. I fully expected w/ heat and long straights, RBR would be in solid points but far behind. Wow.

    Re: Yup, British press is as nationalistic as ours (US.) I don’t know if every nation’s is the same regarding their sporting stars, but it does temper reading/viewing of the UK broadcasts; like every media form, grain of salt applies to them as much as everyone.

    And Lewis… he does seem a little immature, unsure/insecure in the spotlight. To me, the most comprehensively-talented driver on the grid, but mentally not as stout. Whether raw intelligence, work ethic, or to me more a mental fragility/sensitivity, one wonders whether he’ll have a downturn mid/late season that opens the door for other drivers.

    Lewis’ car control and agression, Vettel’s robotic consistency and race-awareness, Alonso’s tenacity and race-judgement, and the development skills of whomever’s best… Wow.

    Kimmie’s FIA conference-interviews, for good measure…

    • Re: Fuel efficiency
      During the race, they did show fuel usage numbers this time around and Hamilton was constantly using the least fuel…at least among the top 5 or whatever amount of drivers they were showing.

      Re: Nationalistic media
      I would think that the local drivers will always get more coverage everywhere. But I think England is particularly good at going way over the top…kinda like their football (soccer) team is always a title contender come the World Cup, only to crash out in a humiliating fashion.
      Back to F1, from a German perspective, there was kind of a similar thing happening with Schumacher, but you’ll have to remember that he was the first German to win the F1 championship EVER. There really weren’t many genuine talents in F1 before him…There was Schumacher’s idol Stefan Bellof who died in Eau Rouge before he could make a dent in F1. Before him Jochen Mass was talented but never championship material and before that we’d have to go all the way back to Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips who got close to the championship before he died in a crash. And that’s pretty much it…You’d have to go back to before WWII with great drivers like Hermann Lang, Bernd Rosemeyer and of course Rudolf Caracciola to find anything similar to today.

      But with German drivers winning 11 of the last 20 championships and with many German talents being in F1, it has really normalized. Sure the media loves to have a Sebastian Vettel and they probably focused a bit too much on him over the last couple of years, but they’re not worshipping him to the degree Hamilton was worshipped. By the same token, they’d never be as mean spirited towards him as the British media was towards Hamilton when he had a bad time.
      Also, while the German media did play up the Hill-Schumacher antagonism, they really haven’t done so since. They respected Alonso (and still do) when he was beating Schumacher, Häkkinen is still well loved around here and they never painted Webber as the bad guy next to Vettel.

      • They do, I think it’s a simple as them being excited about Lewis on the return and I can’t blame them but it does seem OTT given the circumstances and after the last hurrah in 2007, I’d think they would tone it down a bit. Maybe time to fly over a Turkish opera again?

  • jiji the cat

    if Lewis wins Monaco, he will be a force, however if Nico does it again, you can expect him to go on and win the championship. For me its all about Monte Carlo with these two drivers. It is going to be the track that will show the best these two drivers have to offer, and the track will both reward and punish severely.

    • What a fitting race for the equalizer. :) We said before the years started that Fernando and Kimi might not be the best teammate dust up to watch, it could be Lewis and Nico. :) Regardless, should be fun to watch, wonder if Merc will have their own Multi 21 moment. :)

    • Yes, Monaco could be telling. But then again, Monaco is unique unto itself, no? I don’t think Nico is going to pale at the challenge. Watch for him to run a very methodical championship chase. Winning is good; consistently finishing high in the points will win a championship, though. I still wonder a bit about Lewis’s psyche if he has few setbacks. Maybe his head is screwed on securely this year. Would be nice to see him not fire himself from the championship hunt.

      Have been wondering: is your ‘jiji the cat’ moniker from Hayao Miyazaki’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service”? Nice to know there is another Miyazaki fan on F1B, if so.

      • Regarding Lewis’ psyche, he seems to get along really well with Niki Lauda. Indeed he might be the sort of “mental coach” Lewis needed.

      • Brody

        I wouldn’t worry about Hamilton’s psyche if he has a few setbacks this year, because he drove well in 2012, and didn’t have a meltdown even with all the disappointments that he had experienced that year. The loss of 2 races while comfortably leading, pitstop mistakes one of which cost him a pole position, and possible win at Spain, and mechanical failures, while none of these factors were his fault, nevertheless scrapped a reasonable chance of Lewis securing the 2012 WDC. I didn’t see any problems that he had in 2013, while 2014 is off to a good start.

        Lewis’s psyche is just fine.

      • jiji the cat

        Miyazaki all the way. i’m an animator and the handle fits well. I also have a black cat named jiji.

  • Rapierman

    Until the results prove to me otherwise, the order of most likely winners will be:

    1. Hamilton
    2. Rosberg
    3. Vettel (Obviously, RBR learned something in Australia)
    4. Alonso
    5. Hulkenberg
    6. Magnussen
    7. Button
    8. Kvyat
    9. Massa
    10. Bottas

    I’d put Ricciardo up there, but it seems that either RBR and/or the FIA are out to screw him over….but what do I know? I’m just a tick paranoid sometimes.

  • gsprings

    It happens in America,people are giving dale Jr. The NASCAR championship,just because he started the season hot

    • IT does indeed…although I’m not giving it to Dale Jr. I think he’s got a long way to go to be hailed as the champ. Besides, we know jimmy will nip it in the end. :)

  • Very good. Wait and see till next Sunday I would say.