Lewis Hamilton, why ruin it?

I feel sad. The Monaco Grand Prix was a great race — easily the best of the season so far. At a track notorious for processions, Monaco was producing a corker.

Pirelli’s tyres held up for a change, meaning genuinely good racing through strategy, not cartoon-style degredation. The DRS is little use round here too, meaning it had little effect.

A beautiful move on Schumacher

DRS did play a role. But even so, passing into Sainte Dévote requires a massive pair, whether you have DRS or not. And that is just what Lewis Hamilton did. He pulled off a stunning move on Michael Schumacher that brilliantly caught the veteran off guard.

It was brave, but it was also perfectly judged. Both gave each other racing room. It was just the sort of passing that we want to see in F1.

Hamilton loses the plot against Massa and Maldonado

But sadly it went pear-shaped from there. It seems as though, after completing the move of the season, he seemed to believe he was invincible.

An over-ambitious move on Felipe Massa at the Lowes hairpin was a poor misjudgement. His drive-through penalty echoed that handed out to Paul di Resta who made a similar error.

Having damaged the Ferrari, Hamilton then opted to overtake Massa in the tunnel. It is not news that there is only one line through the dangerous and high-speed tunnel. Hamilton’s move forced the Brazilian onto the marbles and ultimately the barrier.

Then after the re-start, he attempted to repeat the move he made near the start on Schumacher. This time his target was Pastor Maldonado, but unfortunately this time target was meant in the literal sense. Hamilton barged straight into Maldonado, in the sort of move that only really belongs in a touring car race, if it even belongs there.

Post-race petulance

Hamilton’s excuse? It can be paraphrased: “Well, at least I was trying to race.”

I’m not buying that. There was plenty of excellent overtaking going on during the Monaco Grand Prix that didn’t involve punting others off. There were lots of examples of aggressive, but clean racing.

Hamilton managed it himself early on against Schumacher. But there was Schumacher’s move on Rosberg. Barrichello’s on Schumacher. Massa and Maldonado against Rosberg. Clean racing is possible, even at Monaco — no contact required. Check out the excellent highlights video at Axis of Oversteer to see them all.

But Hamilton couldn’t hold his hands up and admit that he had a bad race. He instead chose to question why he had been called to see the stewards at five out of the six races this season so far.

Here is a clue. Don’t cause three crashes in one race. Then you might not get hauled in front of the stewards. As it is, Hamilton is lucky not to have got the black flag for driving dangerously and ending the race of two other drivers.

Instead, Hamilton chose to “joke” that “maybe it’s because I’m black”.

A reminder of why Hamilton is so divisive

It’s too easy to blame the stewards. Worryingly, Hamilton seems to genuinely believe that he should be untouchable — that he can get away with whatever he wants.

Paul di Resta caused an accident, got penalised, and held his hands up after the race. He admitted that he made a rookie error, that he needs to learn from it and improve for next time.

For Lewis Hamilton? As Martin Brundle said in the BBC’s post-race F1 forum, the problem with Hamilton is that it’s always someone else’s fault. He has never been able to accept his mistakes, and he is always the first one to get straight on the radio and whine about non-existant instances of bad driving he has seen from other drivers.

All-in-all, this weekend has been a reminder of what made Lewis Hamilton such a divisive figure when he burst onto the scene in 2007. Back then his cockiness grated, but he was young and arrogant. In that sense, maybe it could be understood.

In more recent years, he seemed to have mellowed. He deserved to win his championship in 2008. Ever since he has done a good job at McLaren, and has managed to keep the lid on his post-race outbursts, even if he is quick to get on the radio to whine during the race.

But Monaco brought it all back to square one.

And it was such a fine start to the race as well. If he’d just left it there, his original, clean move on Schumacher would probably have ended up being my pass of the season. As it is, I have been left angered by the cockiness of a driver that really ought to know better by now.

1 comment

  1. An excellent appraisal of yesterday’s events – I’m frankly astonished that he thinks he was in the right in those incidents, as he clearly wasn’t in position to make the pass and both Massa and Maldonado were perfectly entitled to hold the racing line and shut the door.

    I believe this was all bubbling under after qualifying, when he thought Massa blocked him when in fact Massa appeared to do all he could to get out of Hamilton’s way at the first opportunity. The subsequent crash that disrupted Q1 meant he had only one shot, on cold tyres, but that was all down to bad luck, not to any wrongdoing by Massa.

    As Martin Brundle said, Hamilton really needs to stop the paranoia and lose that chip on his shoulder.