They say your biggest rival in Formula One is your team mate. And when your team mate has just got pole at your home GP, you do have to dig deep and pull out something special if you are not to be eclipsed.
Luckily for Lewis, his Finnish teammate is showing all the signs of being another Fisichella – fast over one lap, but scared of all the other cars and drivers when out on the track. Scared to overtake. Too tentative to try. I mean, look at how Alonso in a far less competitive car managed to keep Kovalainnen behind him for so long that Kimi Raikkonnen was able to score enough points to maintain equal first in the WC standings.
But what of Lewis himself? Just having a weak teammate doesn’t really mean you lap everybody up to 3rd place, and finish 66 seconds ahead of the second pace finisher, a remarkably well disciplined Nick Heidfeld who was once described as “being as fast as Schumacher over a single lap” based on their days in the Mercedes Benz junior DTM team.
Another ten laps and Hamilton could have lapped the field. Everyone. Including second place! Let’s hope he relaxes a bit now, Lewis has been a little over-eager at times this year, and it has cost him.
Perhaps he should take up golf – that’s a sport in which the harder you try to hit the ball, the less well you actually do so. But hit the ball when relaxed, and it seems to go miles with little effort. Don’t give up your day job, though, Lewis – we want you to continue racing for Britain for some years – and to be the first Briton since Sir Jackie Stewart to win more than one World Championship.
Ron Dennis has gone on record as saying that Heikki was in “poor physical shape” when they inherited him from Renault. So it is possible that it isn’t balls but brawn that Heikki is missing.
It certainly seems like it is Brawn that Ferrari are missing though. Stefano Domenicali seems to be overly challenged on the strategy front, and has made many mistakes this year. The Ferrari does actually seem to be the fastest car out there, and in Raikkonnen they have one of the fastest drivers around. But if even Honda can get on the podium when Ross is around, perhaps Ferrari will live to regret their witch-hunt of British employees.
As for Alonso, he was a long way behind, wasn’t he? If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen they say. Time for Alonso to hang up his gloves then and just support the Spanish football team and that Wimbledon winning tennis player who will now take up the mantle of most revered Spaniard. Already Alonso is sowing dissension within the team with his threats of leaving, his veiled attacks on Renault, his lack of team spirit. He does like to be the Prima Donna, though, doesn’t he?
Meanwhile, the two wiser dinosaurs of Formula One, Coulthard and Barrichello both had rather different races. Coulthard, in the same car that his team mate qualified in second place in spun out on the first lap, but he really hates racing in the wet even more than he dislikes his back end sliding around. On the other hand, Rubens Barrichello in a car that frequently qualifies in last place, or not far from it, managed to finish on the podium! A brilliant tactical switch to full wets for the short period of rain saw him lapping some 12 seconds a lap faster than rest of the field at one point, and with Brawn’s brains and Rubens’ racecraft who knows how well Honda could soon start doing.
But the day itself belonged to Lewis. He deserved to win, and his composure towards the end of the race was what he needs to remember the rest of the season. He’s a great driver, but over-confidence and over-driving are things he needs to continuously guard against. He can make a small difference to the performance of his car, but even he has to realise that sometimes scoring those extra points for fourth or eighth is more important than going for a win and perhaps in risking everything, achieving nothing as he has done already three times this year.
The second half of the season could be interesting!