To tide us over during the F1 summer break VivaF1 set up another of their great Swap Shops, whereby a group of volunteers write for each others blogs in an exchange of ideas.
In this post, Robyn from RookieF1 writes about Lewis Hamilton’s up and down 2011 season.
Lewis Hamilton v. 2011
One thing that is sure about the 2011 season, it will go down in history as one of the most chaotic in recent times. This years we’ve had tyres that have forced the teams to reconsider the merits of qualifying, a flap that has a mind of its own and a boost button that has caused some major headaches for a particular Austrian outfit (although it seems to be contagious). There’s been the odd mid-season regulation change to halt the Bull ruining it for everyone (vehemently denied by the FIA of course), and then we have the newest batch of rookies putting their twist on respecting the old guard.
The rookie year of any driver is crucial; it’s all about creating performances that have teams knocking on the door for next year, or perhaps more importantly, to stop their current team giving them a premature P45. A quick perusal over recent Formula One history has Lewis Hamilton down as one of the most successful rookie drivers, coming within one tantalising point of winning motor sports biggest accolade on his first try in 2007. The second time around he got the job done on the last lap and since then the British driver has been left chasing another title. As it was in 2009 that Brawn and now team mate Jenson Button wrote the ultimate fairytale, and then in 2010 the Wunderkind stole it out from underneath everyone.
So what has Hamilton done this year to keep himself in contention? Until his second win of the season in Germany, Hamilton’s exploits have been prime journalistic fodder. Not to say his season has been an unmitigated disaster, he started the year in Australia by proving the car was more competitive than first thought from testing. He then went on to claim the first non-Vettel victory of the year, teasing us with a glimmer of hope. A fierce fight kept Vettel honest in Spain, around a track Red Bull was considered the strong favourites, so what has gone wrong? Not able to keep his aggression in check around two tricky circuits brought his unrelenting desire to win, at almost any cost, into the spotlight. In Monaco, the most globally exposed race of the year, he collided with Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado ending the latter’s race. But it was his poorly chosen comments to the world’s media and subsequent tête à tête with the stewards (he’s been involved with the stewards 8/11 races so far) brought the heat to his naturally aggressive driving style. Compounding the situation further in Canada, he spun Mark Webber and crashed into his team mate, this time ending his own race prematurely.
It was during the visit to Canada that an impromptu meeting with the ‘energy drinks’ company sent the media into a frenzy. Despite a win in Malaysia, Hamilton was faced with a surge of criticism from experts, past drivers and fans. Lewis Hamilton’s brief visit to the Red Bull energy station to talk with team principal Christian Horner is still circulating, and will continue to do so until the ink dries on a new contract. A 15 minute get together outside the McLaren bubble threw the F1 world, Hamilton is a McLaren man through and through, cut him and you’ll see he runs on rocket red and chrome. He certainly wasn’t there to congratulate Red Bull on their success, so was he there to build a safety net for his ‘get out’ clause? Whatever the reason rumours abound regarding his future, some cautioned against a rash decision, although after Monaco his pit crew may have wanted a break from their starring role in the blame game. Others have taken it upon themselves to fuel the fire; Red Bull apparently can’t cope with two ‘world class’ drivers, but Ferrari is open to a Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton reunion. Could Hamilton be tempted to switch his shade of red for something more Italian?
Until such time that multi-million Euro question is answered we can appreciate the post-Canadian Hamilton instead. Since his Canadian escapade a new version has emerged, one with a more positive outlook due to a rather intensive PR lesson perhaps? But he hasn’t strayed far from his inimitable driving style, still keeping in touch with the stewards and literally in touch with some of his fellow drivers. It is no secret that the 2011 version of Lewis Hamilton is as divisive as ever, providing the twitterati with endlessly retweetable quotes and the press with countless ‘exclusive’ articles. It may be borne out of frustration from not repeating the euphoric 2008 campaign again, or it could be the continuing rise and dominance of a certain German that echoes his own career. Both Vettel and Hamilton were spotted early and brought through the ranks into a team that has subtly moulded itself around them.
Either way, with an 88 point deficit to consider over the summer break, lessened PR responsibilities and a sunnier disposition could make his second half altogether more rewarding.