Category Archives: Lewis Hamilton

Formula One: Time for Mercedes to go Aggressive?

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The 2017 Russian Grand Prix looks set to be the race in which Scuderia Ferrari cement their status as the dominant force in the World Championship. Having won two of the first three races of the season, the Scuderia’s pace was unquestionable yet many felt AMG Mercedes Petronas still held an ultimate performance advantage.

However with Ferrari having locked out the front row in qualifying for the first time since 2008 at a circuit which Mercedes have dominated in recent years, it is becoming clear that the boys in red have overtaken the silver arrows in terms of out and out pace. Since the introduction of the current power unit regulations, ignoring a few erroneous races, Mercedes have been the dominant force. The team has adopted an approach in which only an inter team battle is considered as a threat. In so doing, in a bid to ensure equality amongst drivers, race strategies have been safe and mirrored on both sides of the garage.

With a genuine threat from Ferrari for the overall  2017 World Constructors Championship clear, has the time come for this to change? At this point in the season Mercedes and Ferrari are the only team capable of challenging for race wins. Red Bull Racing being the next closest team were 1.8 seconds of the pole lap time in Russia. In this situation the challenging team, in this case Mercedes have two choices; acknowledging the lack overall race pace, they could take adopt the same approach as Ferrari in qualifying and the race, with the hope that driver skill or mistakes will elevate performances, or they could switch to an aggressive strategy, splitting their drivers tyres compound section in the hope of interfering with Ferrari.

For Mercedes to maximise an interference strategy the team should have sent either or both Hamilton and Bottas out into Q2 on Super Soft tyre compounds, with Ferrari qualifying on Ultras softs. This move would have safely taken them through the session and allowed them to run much longer in the first stint of today’s race. In electing not to do this Mercedes opportunity to interfere with Ferrari today will be limited to a strong start, or adopting a two stop approach over the expected one stop norm.

Moving forward, in order for Mercedes to challenge for their 4th successive constructors championship they must adapt to the new norm and consider irregular approaches to race strategy. Simple accepting, ‘the second row was a the best we could expect’ is not good enough from a championship winning team.

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Formula One: Lewis Live Q & A

Presented by UBS, Lewis Hamilton takes part in a live Q&A with fans ahead of the start of the season:

 

Formula One: Pérez for Mercedes?

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With the shock announcement from 2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg’s retirement last Friday, almost every driver on the grid has been named as a possible replacement for the German. Nico’s decision came as a surprise not only to media and fans of the sport, but to his employers and rivals on the grid. Had there been an inkling from anyone that Nico may have taken this decision the contractual status of a number of leading drivers may be looking very different at this point in the season.

The Mercedes board will be keen to install a replacement driver as soon as possible to minimise the impact on the teams 2017 campaign and maximise driver acclimatisation. That being said, should Mercedes opt for a driver currently under contract with another team it is highly unlikely they will be able to work with said driver until the new year.

From an ease of transition perspective Mercedes could opt for one of their junior drivers in Ocon or Wehrlein. Whilst kind on the cheque book and simplest to implement, Mercedes require a driver capable of performing from at the very top level from the word go, it is undeniable the potential of both drivers is without question,  but it would be a risk to place them with the team from the beginning of 2017.

Realistically, this leaves Mercedes with little option than to approach drivers with existing agreements for season ahead. Toto Wolff has intimated he is reluctant to poach drivers from Ferrari or Mclaren, acknowledging the damage this could cause to future team relations in the lead up to strategy group negotiations with Liberty Media over the coming 36 months. This in theory removes Sebastian, Kimi, and Fernando from the equation. Whilst Toto did not explicitly rule out either of the Red Bull Racing drivers, it is highly unlikely either would be released from what are understood to be long term contracts.

This has left many to suggest Bottas has the most likely candidate for the seat. He is part managed by Toto Wolff and with Williams working in close collaboration with Mercedes a deal in theory could be easy to achieve. I see this to be quite unlikely. 2016 was somewhat of an underwhelming season for both Bottas and Williams. If the cliché of ‘you are only as good as your last race / season’ were to be applied. Bottas is not hot property and should not be regarded as the next best option.

Taking all of this into consideration I believe the best placed driver on the grid to replace Nico Rosberg for 2017 is Sergio Pérez. With 101 points, and 2 podium finishes in 2016 Sergio Pérez was the best performing non works Mercedes driver. He lead the Force India team to their most successful year in history, finishing 4th in the constructors championship scoring points in 16 events over the season. From a pure performance perspective Sergio Pérez has to be regarded as a genuine contender for the seat.

Over and above on track performance, Pérez is highly attractive from a commerical perspective. Mexico is a hugely important market for Mercedes, the car maker is looking to double car sales in the country by 2020. Having a national hero behind the wheel of a Silver Arrows would support this strategy.  Beyond this Sergio Pérez brings his own sponsors to a team. Mercedes are not a team struggling for budget, but opening doors to the Slim family (Telmex Group) will be more than welcome.

Of course Sergio recently signed a one year extension with Force India which in theory locks the Mexican in to the team until 2018, however were Mercedes to offer the services of Wehrlein alongside a discounted Power Unit I am sure an agreement could be found.

Sergio Pérez is a changed driver from the man who replaced Lewis Hamilton at Mclaren in 2013. He has proved his consistency and ability to work with a team during his time with Force India. He deserves another opportunity with a top team. He is the most logical option for Mercedes.

Would it prove to be a threat to Lewis Hamilton? Only time will tell. His has a unique ability to manage tyres and with the huge shift in regulations coming for 2017 this attribute could prove invaluable. At this time Sergio Pérez’s management have declined to comment on the possibility of such a move, but there should be no doubt they will be evaluating any opportunity should it arise.

Formula One: Hamilton back behind the wheel

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Following the conclusion of the 2016 Formula One World Championship, Lewis Hamilton has returned to the cockpit this morning to take part in the final assessment of 2017 Pirelli tyre compounds and sizes.

As per regulations Lewis Hamilton is completing the test in a modified W05. This test session should serve to draw a line under rumours around Lewis’ relationship with the team following his approach to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix over the weekend.

Further details around the test will be issued in the coming days.

Hamilton will complete the morning session, with Pascal Wehrlein completing the afternoon session. Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari are also taking part in this final 2016 evaluation of 2017 Pirelli tyres.

 

Formula One: Do we want a clean fight?

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With an incredible nine wins a piece, Nico Rosberg & Lewis Hamilton head into the final round of the 2016 Formula One World championship knowing whichever driver takes their tenth win of the season will be crowned world champion….

….except they won’t.

After a season in which Nico Rosberg has elevated himself from the accomplished team mate to the formidable championship challenger, and the combined misfortune of half the grid seems to have fallen the way of Hamilton, simply winning on Sunday will not be enough to secure a forth world championship for the Brit. Every self respecting F1 fan will be more than aware of the finishing positions each driver must achieve relative to the other in their quest for the championship, but for the sake of clarity the simplest way of looking at things if Lewis wins, Nico must finish at least 3rd to be crowned champion.

The Mercedes AMG Petronas W07 will be remembered as one of the most dominant cars in F1 history. True, the reliability of one of the cars has been rather questionable but there has been no circuit in which the W07’s dominance has genuinely been in question. There is no reason to expect Abu Dhabi will be any different. The team and drivers can, with some confidence, expect to find themselves on the front row of the grid on Sunday.

So how will the drivers approach the race? Lewis has an incredible track record around the Yas Marina circuit and heads into the weekend on the back of three straight wins. Since Lewis’ retirement in the Malaysian Grand Prix Nico appears to have been secure enough in his championship position to not feel the need to push for outright wins accepting he does not need to win another race this season to seal the championship. Will we see a repeat of this on Sunday? Does Lewis believe the best he can do is simply get his head down and win the race and the leave the outcome of the championship to fate. Could Nico see a return of his form from earlier in the season and dominate Lewis removing any possibility for Hamilton to do anything other than accept 2nd place both in the race and the championship? Or will either driver try to change up the race to influence the result for their rival?
Knowing Lewis MAY be considering an aggressive approach, could Nico take matters into his own hands and end both his own and his team mate’s race in the first corner by simply driving into him? Nico appears to have taken on a much more aggressive approach to his racing and defending this season. Securing his championship in this manner should not be ruled out. And would anyone blame him?

Earlier this week Nico reflected on his approach to the 2016 championship and how he plans to carry that into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
“In Brazil, after the race, I was joking that I would still be taking things one race at a time. But, the more I think about it, the more that’s actually not as crazy as it sounds. I have to treat this like any other race. Doing a good job on a Grand Prix weekend is always a challenge. Nothing in this sport is easy, so this won’t be any different and I still have to go all out for a good result.
The closer it gets, the more I’m feeling excited. It will be a big battle and hopefully the fans will get a great show to end the year.
I will give it everything to end the season with a win.”
Of course the team will publicly deplore any actions their drivers take to imped the progress of each other, but after sealing the constructors championship back in Suzuka will they really mind? Viewers of the Brazilian Grand Prix would be forgiven for thinking Max Verstappen won the race so little airtime was given to the dominant Silver Mercedes finishing ahead of him. If Mercedes want exposure, which let’s face it is one of the primary reasons they are in the sport, perhaps their drivers working to manipulate the others race result is the best way to achieve this.  Whilst they might not support any efforts either driver may take to increase pressure on his team mate, they might feel they owe their drivers the freedom to approach the conclusion of the drivers championship as they see fit.
In the build up to the Grand Prix Toto Wolff has commented:
“As a group, we now have one very important final duty this season – to give Nico and Lewis the platform they need to battle it out to the flag. Both of them have been exceptional and either one would make a worthy Champion. It’s been a gruelling year for us all, with a record-breaking calendar and the added challenge of a new regulation set to prepare for in 2017. After such a battle of endurance, the winner can say without doubt that they earned it. We are all excited to see who that will be. May the best man win.”  

So what could Lewis do in the race? In the lead up to the weekend he was quoted as saying:
“I can’t and won’t give up. You never know what might happen.
I’m approaching this weekend the same as I do every race. I want to win and I’ll give it everything to finish the season on a high.”
Assuming he is the pole man and manages to maintain this position at the start of the race with Nico in second, would he look to back his team mate into the clutches of his rivals? Ferrari will desperate to close out the season with the best possible result, and the Red Bull Racing duo will be fighting tooth and nail for supremacy as they head into the winter break. Nico won’t want any of those drivers anywhere near his car during the race and so would be unlikely to battle too hard for fear of a race ending incident. Realistically one or more of them getting past Nico is Lewis’ best chance of taking the championship.

Yes, anther factor to consider is that statistically Nico is long overdue a mechanical issue in his W07, but Lewis can’t and won’t bank on statistics finally falling his way. Any issue Nico faces could hit him as well.  I’ve read a lot of articles recently asking if Nico Rosberg is worthy champion. To my mind, if you’re leading the championship at the end of the season you are champion. Simple as that. There is no worthy or not worthy. Whoever that may be they deserve all the accolades and respect they will receive.
So what kind of race do we want to see on Sunday? I for one don’t want to see another demonstration of Mercedes dominance. We’ve seen twenty of those races already this year. I want to see tactical excellence from two drivers at the very top of their game. Ignore the team calls, ignore the critics, you have a championship to win and a championship to lose, be the master of your destiny and give us a truly historic race.

Formula One: Advantage Hamilton -Tyres Available for the Mexico GP

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Lewis Hamilton heads into the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix both in pole and with a significant strategic advantage over championship leader Nico Rosberg. In setting his fastest Q2 time with only a single set of tyres, Lewis has a fresh set of the preferred, soft compound for the race. Rosberg struggling to find optimal set up in the session elected to run twice leaving him with no unused soft compound tyres for the race.

Electing to start the race with the supersoft compounds, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will also have a fresh set of the optimal soft tyre compound in the race. Should they leapfrog either or both of the Mercedes duo at the beginning if the race they could pose a strategic challenge to the Silver Arrows.

 

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Formula One: Hamilton talks to the fans

A relaxed Lewis Hamilton took part in a Facebook Live event hosted by Mercedes AMG Petronas sponsor Epson earlier today. During the session Lewis took live questions from followers across social media.

Sharing insights on his favourite circuit, Macau and the Nordscheife, details on how a mistake in qualifying in Brazil 2015 cost him pole, and how he values having an input in the team look, it could be suggested the session was of higher quality than interviews conducted by professional elements of the media of late.

With the FIA calling Lewis Hamilton to the Thursday drivers press conference for the second race in succession it will be interesting to see if the media can extract a similar level of engagement.

Kids and Motorsport

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Some of my earliest childhood memories are of watching Formula One on the TV with my dad. Sitting together to watch our heroes racing against each other on a Sunday afternoon created a very special father son bond, something we have maintained to this day. From the moment my children were born I’ve been looking forward to the day I can start taking her to racing events with me.

Over the past year I have set about forging a career in motorsport, whilst the financial aspect of this career choice is taking a bit more time to come together than I might have hoped, developing a network within the industry is coming along nicely. It was through this network I found myself in the position to be able to take my daughter (6) and eldest son (3) to the closing rounds of the European F3 championship and DTM championship in Hockenheim last weekend.

As a bit of a racing obsessive it is very easy to forget the intricacies of motor racing and just accept them as a given. Taking the time to explain them to my children made me take stock and start to question a few of the accepted norms.

This first occurred when explaining qualifying. When the DTM cars first went out on track my daughter, Isabelle, asked if they were racing now. I explained, they were out driving as fast as they can to decide what position they will start the race in. Without any hesitation, she replied “so the fastest starts as the back?” to which I explained the opposite was the case “but that’s boring, no one will overtake like that” came her reply. It’s such a simple point, but entirely fair. If the fastest start first how can we expect an entertaining race? Don’t get me wrong I completely take on board the traditionalists view of going racing, but it’s very hard to argue with a child’s logic.

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Our tickets for the weekend came from friends in an F3 team. At short notice they had arranged Paddock tickets for us. When we arrived at the circuit our host took the time to meet us at the circuit entrance and take us over to the paddock on the back of her quad bike. My son, Ben, would tell you, as he has all his friends, that was the real highlight of the day! Being given paddock tickets for a race is and will always be, a huge thing for me, but when it came to watching racing Isabelle made another observation. “why can’t we sit in the Stadium [grandstand]?” my reply “We don’t have tickets for the grandstand, we’ve got a good view of the track here” to which she replied “but there are so many empty seats, why can’t we just go and sit there?” Again she made a valid point. Why do fans simply accept empty grandstands and find a hill to watch the racing on. Sure I could have paid for a grandstand seat, but to be honest I wasn’t sure they would sit through an entire race. If circuits have empty seats, and fans sitting around the circuit, why not just open up the grandstands. Create a positive atmosphere and people will be more encouraged to come again, and pay for other activities at the circuit.

On to the racing itself, DTM worked fantastically for kids, well for my kids at least. During qualifying we each picked our favourite car, by colour of course, Isabelle went for the Pink Mercedes (Mücke Motorsport, Chrisitan Vietoris, & Lucas Auer) I went for the Red & White Shell BMW of Augusto Farfus, and Ben went for the Yellow BMW post van driven by Timo Glock. Each car has a digital read out on the side window displaying the drivers position in the race. Each lap Isabelle and Ben had to tell me what position their car was in and if they had move up or down from the last lap. As the race progressed this developed into telling me the position of the Red Bull cars, or the make of the car in first. The race flew by and despite our drivers not winning both Ben and Isabelle were able to explain the race to an impressive level of detail.

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Supporting the F3 and DTM was the Porsche Supercup, it was impressive to see that in addition to huge hospitality areas, Porsche had invested in creating a road safety area for young children. Children were given a tutorial on crossing roads safely and watching out for traffic lights and other simple road signs, then given 20 minutes to roam around a specially laid out circuit in peddle powered go karts and scooters. Whilst for an adult it might not sound overly riveting, my kids loved it. Plus, it gave me a chance to sit down for a few minutes!

Overall my first experience of Motorsport with children was positive, The DTM set up feels far more family friendly than my experiences of Formula One, there are activities for all ages, teams and drivers are happy to make time for you and the racing is easy to follow and not too long.  Leaving the circuit Isabelle talked about what she had enjoyed during the day and what our next racing experience would be, casually mentioning informing me I’d be taking her to a Formula One race to meet Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. No pressure then!

Formula One: Lewis gets inked

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Who says current F1 drivers don’t have a sense of humour? In a promotional campaign for Mercedes AMG Petronas sponsor Epson, Lewis Hamilton demonstrates the capacity of Epson printers by getting himself covered in ink!

Whilst Lewis might not have had the best of seasons so far on track, his profile continues to grow with brands and advertisers clambering over themselves for access. Lewis’ willingness to embrace this form of campaign should be remembered when media outlets question attitude.