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Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Arise King Lewis of America // Brit beats Vettel at his own game to continue North American dominance

Published

Lewis Hamilton highlights the American flag on his helmet (Austin, Texas)
Credit: VMM

After a Grand Prix that easily overcame expectations, we are left with a title fight and a disgruntled Lewis Hamilton showing that he can still deliver when he has a car half as good as his competitor. At the moment these drivers are in a class of their own, leaving the rest in their wake. Who knows how far ahead they’d be in a standard spec series? Austin provided a great insight into each of the three men’s great strengths.

Hamilton takes ‘one chance’ to beat Vettel in a straight fight

It was supposed to be a race where Sebastian Vettel rode off into the Texas sunset flanked by his reliable rear gunner Mark Webber, securing a third straight constructors’ title and all but guaranteeing Vettel’s own third title, even after Hamilton’s valiant qualifying effort got him within a tenth of the dominant German.

Even then it seemed an impossibility that Sebastian Vettel would be impeached at the top, with his success at breaking the DRS in the early laps and managing the gap. As well as that, the 'dirty side' of the grid that Lewis Hamilton was to start from, was seen as such a huge disadvantage that Ferrari decided to penalise their own driver to get them onto the clean side of the grid.

But Hamilton took it all in stride, accepted third place as he drove out of turn one and set about breaking down the Red Bull attack. He took two DRS assisted attempts to get past Webber and then began stalking the championship leader. He edged closer each lap but didn't make the rash move he occasionally has in his locker. Instead he waited until lap 42 when Vettel was held up in the high speed sweeps of the first sector allowing Hamilton to close right up and use his DRS to breeze past the Champion elect.

I have to say I keep falling out of love with Lewis with his moody attitude and dodgy decisions but then he comes out with a great underdog performance which makes you see what is so special about him. I'm writing an article about the best drivers in F1 at the moment, and there's no doubt that the top two are now competing for their third title. But Lewis Hamilton is undoubtedly the quickest driver in F1 at the moment. It will be interesting to see how much next year's Mercedes car holds his phenomenal speed back.

Jenson refuses to press panic button

DriverStartedFinished
L Hamilton2nd1st
J Button12th5th

When you consider Jenson Button’s weekend up against Lewis Hamilton, it seems like he was off colour but in actual fact, he may well have been the next best driver on the day. There were a lot of extraneous circumstances that cost Button’s weekend dearly. It would have been interesting to see where he would have qualified if his throttle pedal was working, and as a result, where he would have finished up.

As it was, he started twelfth, was one of those worst affected by the lack of grip on the left side of the grid, found himself boxed in on the inside of turn one and dropped to 16th. But then the fight back started. He showed Hamilton’s touch as he dived past the majority of the field. His move on Räikkönen showed immense class, as well as trust in his opponent as he stuck in around the outside of turn 12.

Lewis Hamilton may be out of reach for the man from Frome, but he has shown great skill when he has been at one with the car, and also showed on Sunday that he has an eye for an overtake.

Hülkenberg proves his worth

During the second half of the season I have become more and more impressed with the young German. Hülkenberg really does appear to be the hottest property in a midfield car at the moment, possibly even hotter than McLaren bound Sergio Pérez.

Nico gets the best from his Force India in Austin, Texas
Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

He has shown great pace in the past (just look at his pole lap in Brazil 2010) but is now showing that he can get the most out of the car on a consistent basis. It was pretty clear that the Force India was one of the slower midfield cars in Austin, even the Toro Rosso was arguably quicker and yet Nico managed to qualify eighth on the grid. He was one of the few to be punished by Massa’s penalty and drove a very solid race to eighth, as the faster McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus were too much for his Force India.

Perhaps the most impressive part of his drive was his battle with Kimi Räikkönen. After holding him off for a number of laps, they had a great battle in turn one and two. While Räikkönen may have conquered, it was great driving from the Hulk, giving Kimi just enough room and not causing an accident when many would have.

Senna helps his cause

It’s not often that Bruno Senna has been able to go head to head with Pastor Maldonado but he gave the Venezuelan a good run for his money in America. He was marginally slower in qualifying, and outraced him until the late stages. Maybe his better hand-eye coordination was aiding him in a battle that may hold the key to whether he’s on the grid next year.

Were it not for a long queue of cars ahead of Senna, he would have likely pulled away and secured a well deserved ninth place. But, unable to show his pace, Maldonado held on and made a lunge late in the race. It was great clean racing between the two but I can’t help thinking that Senna may have been more aggressive up the hill into turn one if it wasn’t against teammate Maldonado. Nonetheless, it was a stellar drive from the Brazilian.

Massa vs Webber holds the key to Brazil

There’s no doubt. In Brazil, we are not on Red Bull turf. Or Ferrari turf. We are on Felipe Massa’s ground. Not only is it his backyard but he is also electric in São Paulo. With him back on form, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was on the front row.

If he does outqualify Alonso, which is absurdly likely in Brazil, will Ferrari use the Austin trick or will they use Le Mans tactics, using Massa as a hare to try and push Vettel to test the reliability of the alternator.

In a dry race, I’m fairly confident that Vettel will lead Alonso home, perhaps with a McLaren in there too, so the use of teammates will be crucial in the title chase. It may well come down to how well each team uses it assets best (and yes that includes Toro Rosso). Of course a wet race throws everything up in the air, but I ridicule the idea that Vettel will struggle in the wet. Remember what conditions his first win, and first Red Bull win, came in. Regardless of the circumstances, it is a tough challenge for Ferrari, but it is far from insurmountable, particularly as they are not above fighting dirty.




  • But Hamilton took it all in stride, accepted third place as he drove out of turn one and set about breaking down the Red Bull attack.

    has to be up there as one of lewis' best drives in f1. patient, controlled, focussed and deadly. loved watching every lap.

    His move on Räikkönen showed immense class, as well as trust in his opponent as he stuck in around the outside of turn 12.

    the quality of overtaking in austin was second to none. you wouldn't believe it was the same field of lunatics hell bent on driving each other into the walls just two weeks earlier. most passes seemed to stretch out for several corners, maybe half a lap. great stuff.

  • Hamilton has a thing about North America, he results are all victories or DNF's. A 5:2 ratio at that. A good race for the opposite reasons to Abu Dhabi, overtakes everywhere, most if not all clean and not all DRS based.

    If I were Mr Rosberg I'd be quaking in my boots and investing my $12M contract wisely.

  • Interesting fact I learned this weekend: Hamilton has a house in Colorado. *begins stalking*.

    I'll have to watch the race on TV as well, but it was really cool sitting there seeing Lewis creep ever closer, lap after lap.

  • Definitely a good drive from Lewis. That car had no right to win that race.

    there's no doubt that the top two are now competing for their third title

    I totally disagree with that. Vettel is being flattered by superior car and having Adrian Newey in his corner. For me Hamilton and Alonso are the best two drivers with Raikkonen very close to them. Vettel has undoubtedly been the most effective driver at racking up points but I don't believe that his results are a true reflection of his ability or contribution.

    Hülkenberg really does appear to be the hottest property in a midfield car at the moment

    Hulkenberg's pre-F1 record is genuinely outstanding. I am sure given a competitive car he is capable of winning titles. I predicted 3 or 4 years ago that one day Vettel would not be seen as the top German in F1.

  • I totally disagree with that. Vettel is being flattered by superior car and having Adrian Newey in his corner. For me Hamilton and Alonso are the best two drivers with Raikkonen very close to them. Vettel has undoubtedly been the most effective driver at racking up points but I don't believe that his results are a true reflection of his ability or contribution.

    I grant you that Vettel is being helped a lot by Adrian Newey. However, look how much better he has done than Webber in the last 2 and a half years. You don't get to better than a 1 in 3 pole ratio and a 1 in 4 win ratio just with a good car. Alonso is clearly number one in my book, but I don't back Hamilton as one of the best in F1 at the moment. He is for sure one of the fastest, but he has too much baggage and goes missing in races far too easily. Kimi may well join that group but I would like to see a complete season from him, which we'll probably get next year. He was being easily beaten by Grosjean in the first half of 2012 and now he's 100 points ahead of him.

  • That car had no right to win that race.

    Care to explain more? I don't understand. How were the McLarens deficient?

  • I grant you that Vettel is being helped a lot by Adrian Newey. However, look how much better he has done than Webber in the last 2 and a half years.

    Tell that to all of Schuey's Benetton and Ferrari teammates.

    ;)

  • Care to explain more? I don't understand. How were the McLarens deficient?

    The McLaren was strong on race pace but look at the practice and qualy times, I've never seen such big gaps between first and second in practice. Red Bull set their car up to get the front row and rtun away early, if they can't do that, they snooker themselves.

  • but I don't back Hamilton as one of the best in F1 at the moment.

    Hamilton as a rookie matched Alonso despite not knowing most of the circuits or ever having experienced an F1 race weekend before. You have to be extremely good to compete with Alonso in any circumstances but to do it as a rookie is beyond belief. I don't believe Hamilton is any worse now than he was then.

    Vettel has comfortaly beaten Webber over the piece but tthere have been several factors that favoured Vettel. The team and Helmut Marko have him as their clear favourite even to the point that they will argue black is white. The whole world blamed Vettel for taking out Webber in Turkey a couple of seasons ago but despite irrefutable evidence the team backed Vettel all the way and blamed Webber. The team has undermined Webber to Vettel's advantage by incidents like the Silverstone wing. Each driver had one new front wing. Vettel broke his but the team took Webber's and gave it to Vettel.

    As well as all that Webber smashed his body up pretty badly which meant he was not able to deliver his normal level of performance. History tells us serious injuries have an effect beyond the time you would expect.

    All of this means Vettel's performance is not as impressive as it may appear.

  • The McLaren was strong on race pace but look at the practice and qualy times...

    Never look at practice times as an true indication of pace for a GP weekend.

  • Hamilton as a rookie matched Alonso despite not knowing most of the circuits or ever having experienced an F1 race weekend before. You have to be extremely good to compete with Alonso in any circumstances but to do it as a rookie is beyond belief. I don't believe Hamilton is any worse now than he was then.

    I agree partly, I think that Alonsoo was effected a bit by not being clear number one, that was his worst season on form (mistakes in Canada, Spain, Japan). Also I think Hamilton let's his emotion effect his driving so he isn't as consistent as he was.

    As for Vettel, even with a Red Bull, you don't get to be a triple world champion as an average driver.

    Never look at practice times as an true indication of pace for a GP weekend.

    I'd agree with you but you can't ignore a 1.5 second lead

  • I don't believe Hamilton is any worse now than he was then.

    on a good day i agree. korea last year, austin this. but you get the impression having a teammate as easy going as button doesn't motivate hamilton in the way alonso did. i suspect the so-laid-back-he's-horizontal rosberg won't help much either.

    Also I think Hamilton let's his emotion effect his driving so he isn't as consistent as he was.

    agreed.

  • I'd agree with you but you can't ignore a 1.5 second lead

    Well actually you can, because he came 2nd in the race -- and the Grand Prix is the only thing that pays dividends.

    i suspect the so-laid-back-he's-horizontal rosberg won't help much either.

    Possibly. I'd argue that the biggest potential issue Hamilton will encounter at Mercedes is their ridiculously top heavy structure.

    Aside from that, I expect Hamilton to destroy Nico next year.

  • Aside from that, I expect Hamilton to destroy Nico next year.

    as is ever. time will tell. if the car is lemon and lewis has to start the first three races from 14th or worse, who knows what it'll do to his state of mind.

    if f1 was as straightforward as you make it out to be, no-one would watch. the variables, unknowns and the unpredictability are what make it so compelling.

  • as is ever. time will tell. if the car is lemon and lewis has to start the first three races from 14th or worse, who knows what it'll do to his state of mind.

    Lewis has been there already and if anything 2009 proved to be one of his stronger years when his McLaren was at its weakest. I never at any time said F1 is straight-forward - I just don't particularly rate Rosberg in any way shape or form.

    if f1 was as straightforward as you make it out to be, no-one would watch. the variables, unknowns and the unpredictability are what make it so compelling.

    Maybe for some, but I’d rather variables a little less manufactured than DRS and overly soft tyres.

  • Maybe for some, but I’d rather variables a little less manufactured than DRS and overly soft tyres.

    fair enough. doesn't alter the fact that nico might not be the pushover that you suggest.

    i remember when the expectation was that jenson button was the man about to be 'destroyed' by hamilton. the was no destroying to be had in the entire three years the pair were at mclaren. you just never know.

  • i remember when the expectation was that jenson button was the man about to be 'destroyed' by hamilton.

    Oops, guilty.

  • i remember when the expectation was that jenson button was the man about to be 'destroyed' by hamilton. the was no destroying to be had in the entire three years the pair were at mclaren. you just never know.

    And I was the one of the few who resolutely said Hamilton would not destroy Button in the slightest.

    ;)

  • And I was the one of the few who resolutely said Hamilton would not destroy Button in the slightest.

    of course you were ;)

  • of course you were ;)

    Actually I was adamant that Button would more than hold his own against Hamilton. Never doubted it at any stage.

  • Actually I was adamant that Button would more than hold his own against Hamilton. Never doubted it at any stage.

    i know you did. i'm not doubting you. i know you absolutely have f1 sussed.

  • i know you did. i'm not doubting you. i know you absolutely have f1 sussed.

    Woh there, I've never implied that any stage, but I was always confident that Button would work well at McLaren.

    Going back to Rosberg / Hamilton, I just think we've seen the best that Rosberg can offer. He's a decent modern Frentzen-type, but can't imagine him doing any better than that.

  • Woh there, I've never implied that any stage

    my point is that sport is beautifully variable. you don't know.

    you argued earlier that one should "Never look at practice times as an true indication of pace for a GP weekend."

    what never, ever, ever, ever?

    sometimes a lot can be extrapolated from f1 practice times and sometimes it can't. there are few absolutes in f1. nico might do great next year, and the fastest man in fp1 on friday might just win the race on sunday. we surmise, we debate, we can talk for hours and hours about all sorts of things, but in the end it's just one opinion against another.

  • you argued earlier that one should "Never look at practice times as an true indication of pace for a GP weekend."

    What use is the opinion based on absolutely no facts whatsoever though? I might as well produce English-Dog language dictionary based on what I know about the sounds of dogs barking.

  • As for Vettel, even with a Red Bull, you don't get to be a triple world champion as an average driver.

    I am not saying he is average just that he is not as good as Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen.

    on a good day i agree. korea last year, austin this. but you get the impression having a teammate as easy going as button doesn't motivate hamilton in the way alonso did. i suspect the so-laid-back-he's-horizontal rosberg won't help much either.

    Having Kovalainen as a team mate didn't hamper his performance. The two of them got on famously and still play golf together. Give Lewis a car that is remotely capable of winning and that suits him and he will get the job done.

    fair enough. doesn't alter the fact that nico might not be the pushover that you suggest.

    Lewis and Nico raced in a karting team owned by Nico's father. When McLaren wanted Nico Keke told him to have nothing to do with it because going up against Lewis would not be good for his career.

    I didn't think Button would get near Hamilton but the two of them don't have the same kind of history that next year's Merc drivers have.

  • Okay chaps, back to your respective corners. Let's hand the thread back over to its intended purpose.

    I was glad to see Grosjean doing a bit better in Brazil. Granted he threw his car off the road for no reason whatsoever, but at least he didn't take anyone else out while he was at it!!

    Senna did well, and he was allowed to participate in all the sessions, which might have helped somewhat. I wonder if he'll be granted the same luxury for his home race.

  • I was glad to see Grosjean doing a bit better in Brazil. Granted he threw his car off the road for no reason whatsoever, but at least he didn't take anyone else out while he was at it!!

    Woh.... telling the future!!

    ;)

  • Woh.... telling the future!!

    :)

  • Oh god, if that happens I'll be in so much trouble :)

  • Give Lewis a car that is remotely capable of winning and that suits him and he will get the job done.

    but not every year. the 2010 mclaren was a more capable car than a look at lewis' points would lead you to believe.

  • but not every year. the 2010 mclaren was a more capable car than a look at lewis' points would lead you to believe.

    sorry. the 2011 mclaren.

  • sorry. the 2011 mclaren.

    I am too far in the future, you are too far in the past.

  • but not every year. the 2010 mclaren was a more capable car than a look at lewis' points would lead you to believe.

    I think that year (no numbers so I can't be wrong) the car suited Jenson better where as Jenson himself said recently this year's car suits Lewis much better.

  • I think that year (no numbers so I can't be wrong) the car suited Jenson better where as Jenson himself said recently this year's car suits Lewis much better.

    agreed entirely. but it was a car capable of winning and he didn't get the job done (and he admitted later personal issues affected his racing)

  • agreed entirely. but it was a car capable of winning and he didn't get the job done.

    You missed out the second part of what I said. That car suited Jenson better

    Give Lewis a car that is remotely capable of winning and that suits him and he will get the job done.

  • You missed out the second part of what I said. That car suited Jenson better

    i read what you said, but i don't agree, history suggests he needs more than just a fast car. he talked extensively of button's 'happy bubble' and needing one of his own. in 2011 he had a fast car, but his head wasn't in the right place. i can't find a decent quote offhand, but this'll do:

    I've just been a bit unfortunate and I've got my own problems. They affect everything you do, the things you say, the way you act, the groove you get into - hamilton

    there's much more to making lewis fast than simply giving him a car he can drive. it's not that straightforward.

    www.bbc.co.uk/spo…formula1/15674872

  • The McLaren was strong on race pace but look at the practice and qualy times, I've never seen such big gaps between first and second in practice. Red Bull set their car up to get the front row and rtun away early, if they can't do that, they snooker themselves.

    Adam B, you are spot on about the Red Bull strategy.

    I disagree on the assessment of the McLaren's pace. (The track was greener than green for the entire weekend, therefore the practice times were irrelevant. Hamilton was only a tenth off of pole. "That car had no right to win that race" seems a little strong to me. I'm looking all over the sector times, trap speeds, etc., looking for a slow McLaren. I can't find it. No big deal.)

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