Hey, you, what’s that sound?

“My personal feeling: motorsport is a story of men fighting each other on the track. The rest are tools to do it.”

— Will Buxton’s colleague, Roberto Chinchero

The Buxton Blog


OK kids…

Noise, or lack of it. Frankly I really didn’t want to have to write another article about this but here we go.

Toot Toot Mercedes tests its new "Megaphone" c/o James Moy Photography Toot Toot
Mercedes tests its new “Megaphone”
c/o James Moy Photography

Today in Spain, Mercedes is testing a new “megaphone” exhaust outlet on the W05. Some are saying it looks ridiculous. Some are saying it sounds the same but a little bit louder. Some are saying it makes no difference at all. I’m not there so I can’t tell you one way or another.

But long before I was a motorsport journalist, I was a musician. Classically trained at Worcester Cathedral, I grew up not only using my voice as a Chorister but I was also a brass player, starting with the Cornet at the age of 6, moving up to the Trumpet when my lungs got a little larger, before taking on what is widely…

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Senna Tribute Drive – 5/1/2014

My Tribute drive for Senna yesterday:


Will Buxton’s incredible Senna piece!

The Buxton Blog

I never met Ayrton Senna. I never even saw him drive in the flesh. And so I’m afraid that this article will give you no amazing new insight into him as a person or as a racing driver on the 20th anniversary of his passing. But May 1st 1994 changed my life forever, and would come to influence every day of my life that followed.

In 1994 I was a 13 year old chorister at Worcester Cathedral. As such, Sundays were always busy; Eucharist in the morning, home for Sunday lunch, then back to the Cathedral for Evensong. I sung so many times and for so many years in that magnificent place of worship that, over 20 years later, it has all pretty much merged into one. Except for that one Mayday.

I remember leaving the house to go and sing Evensong, wondering whether my hero was alive or dead…

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Styling it Out

Great thoughts on the early season struggles for Raikkonen and Vettel from my man Will Buxton.

The Buxton Blog

Vettel and Ricciardo Chinese Grand Prix c/o James Moy Photography Vettel and Ricciardo
Chinese Grand Prix
c/o James Moy Photography

The first four races of 2014 have been fascinating as Formula 1’s teams and drivers fight to understand and get on top of the enormous technical regulation shifts and the very different cars they find at their disposal this season. Some have adapted far better than others, and interestingly it is two world champions who seem to be struggling the most. Perhaps it is because of their pedigree that we expect them to be immediately on the pace and thus their apparent struggles seem all the greater, but to my mind the two drivers who have experienced the greatest issues in comparison to their team-mates are Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

From what I have seen on track so far this season, and using as simple an explanation in layman’s terms as I can, I’m going to try and explain…

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3 Things I Learned from the Senna Movie

As much as I love Formula One, I have to admit I only started watching it in 2000.  I’ve always been into motor sport, but as many of my fellow Americans know, exposure is low here, so it’s the sort of thing you either stumble onto (which is much easier these days with the internet, expanded cable, satellite TV, etc.), or someone shows you.  I was lucky enough to have someone show me F1 racing, and I was hooked from day one.

The above stated, everything I know about Formula One in the 1990’s, and more specifically about Ayrton Senna, was learned from the internet.  For the last 11+ years I’ve spent considerable time between races and in the off-season scouring F1 sites, Wikipedia, and YouTube to learn everything I can about the rich history of the sport I love.

But the internet – even with all the wonderful written content, amazing photos and infinite video clips – can only paint part of the picture for you.  Seeing something unfold on the big screen that you’ve only read about from various perspectives shines a whole new light on things.  From watching the body language between Prost and Senna to seeing the tears of Ayrton’s fellow drivers that fateful day at Imola — seeing SENNA on the big screen taught me some things (while reminding me of others) that I would have never fully realized without the aid of this fantastic film.

Ayrton Senna

Senna Movie Poster

1.  Senna’s commitment was awe-inspiring, and occasionally, downright frightening

I had read as much already, but to actually see Senna driving like a man possessed in his damaged MP4/5 in pursuit of Alessandro Nannini in the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix was absolutely thrilling; even though I knew the outcome of both the race and the championship.  With deranged front-wing and all, you could feel that Senna setting off again was not a move of desperation, but rather Senna going after what he felt was his birthright.  You can read the words all day long; but actually watching the driving, the demeanor, and even the more candid shots with fellow drivers, friends and family all highlight the determination and commitment that made Senna stand alone in his era.

2.  Prost was a bit of a dick at times

As the only man with 4 F1 World Titles to his name today, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for “The Professor”.  While most fans seem to side with either Prost or Senna, I choose to admire both for who they were and what they accomplished in their careers (admittedly, this probably wouldn’t have been so easy if you were watching them race during the period – particularly if you happened to be Brazilian).  Not too surprising for a guy whose favorite current drivers are Hamilton and Alonso; I don’t get too wrapped up in intra-team battles, particularly those where the F1 media themselves tend to pick sides.

With that said, seeing Alain Prost rub elbows with FISA president Jean Marie Balestre while fully embattled with Senna for the championship does distort the image of Prost I’d always had in my head.  I already knew about the Williams contract that stipulated that Senna could not be his teammate for 1993, and always thought this showed a bit of cowardice on Prost’s part, but seeing things like Prost trudging off the the race stewards office after each perceived injustice was a side of him I’d never have known without the film.  I am very happy that the film came full circle in the end, however, to show that Prost was both a Paul Bearer at Senna’s funeral, as well as a trustee for the Senna Foundation.

3.  Ron Dennis still has redeeming qualities I’ve yet to uncover

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate feeling for Mr. Dennis.  When he was basically a father figure to twice World Champion Mika Hakkinen for almost the duration of the Finn’s career, I always thought to myself, “What a great guy.  I’d love for my son to drive for Ron some day”.  Seeing Dennis come to tears as Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line in Malaysia for his first F1 victory was another “I like Ron” moment for me.  Soft-spoken, yet intense.  Pragmatic, yet emotional.  I have always admired Ron Dennis.

Then the 2007 World Championship came along, a brand-new driver line-up of Alonso and Hamilton, and everything went to hell; including my feelings for the McLaren team principal.  To be short about it, I saw a favoritism for Hamilton and a mistreatment of Fernando Alonso that completely turned me off.  The only great thing Ron did in this year was a quote he had while in Paris for the Spygate hearings involving stolen Ferrari technical data:

We have the best car, and we have the best drivers, and it’s our intention to win the World Championship.

Genius.  What a great line that was.  Unfortunately for Ron, then-Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen famously swooped in and took the World Championship in 2007 by a single point.

Having watched Ron Dennis for the last 11 years, I’ve learned quite a few things about the man’s demeanor, how he runs an F1 team, and how he treats his drivers.  So what came as a bit of a surprise to me when I saw the Senna film was how fairly he not only spoke about Prost and Senna, but how fairly he seemed to treat them as teammates at McLaren.  Listening to Ron talk about both drivers, he seemed equally impressed with both men, and I get the feeling he truly wanted the partnership to work out (it certainly had more time to grow than the Hamilton / Alonso partnership).  Sure, I’ve read things to the contrary from Prost and Senna fans alike, but as far as what the film shows and where the story goes, I was very impressed with how impartial and patient Ron was.  For me, he was back to the Ron Dennis I knew and admired when I first started watching Formula One.

At the end of the day, I’m not quite naive enough to let a documentary change the thoughts and opinions I’ve had about these colorful and interesting people in my years of watching F1 — Senna could be a bit of a bully, Prost even at his worst was a driving genius, and Ron is only human and has probably done many dastardly deeds I’ve never heard about — but I’m very grateful for this film for showing me a side of these 3 magnificent people that I would have never otherwise considered.

2011 European GP (Snooze Fest ’11)

I was fortunate enough to be on vacation for last weekend’s GP of Europe; the hotel I was staying at did not carry the channel I needed to tune in, and I didn’t bother streaming it.  Instead of waiting until I returned home to enjoy the recording, I decided to sneak a peek of the race results and summary.  I’m glad that I did.  I saved 2 hours of my life that would have otherwise been lost.

Oh, I did watch the race; just at 4X speed.

Here’s hoping Silverstone has a bit more drama in store for we the fans.  I’m told Tilke had nothing to do with the design of that circuit.

Is new Twitter Pic too Patriotic?

Don't Tread On Me

New Twit Pic

The Man Vs. The Machine

Were there really four drivers left with a shot for title glory when Formula One came to Abu Dhabi in November 2010?  Or could it be that this year, much like last year, it will all come down to one man vs. one machine?

Man Vs Machine

Alonso vs Red Bull's RB7

The idea of a driver’s biggest rival being a designer rather than another driver is certainly not a new one.

Anyone who knows the period of Formula One history some dub Newey vs. Schuey certainly won’t need me to explain why this article is in no way a slight against Sebastien Vettel, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton or any of the other title hopefuls from this  year or last — just as the Newey vs. Schuey perspective certainly wasn’t a slight against driving greats Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, Jacques Villeneuve, or Mika Hakkinen.

Last year’s world title winner Sebastien Vettel, while always in with a shout at winning any given race in his RB6, never actually took the driver’s lead in the 2010 driver’s points standings until the checkered flag dropped at Abu Dhabi, giving him a 4-point championship win against last year’s second placed Fernando Alonso.

While the Red Bull RB6 may not have had the reliability of last year’s Ferrari, it certainly had speed to spare.  Red Bull were able to win both titles despite retiring from 5 races last year (twice from pole, and not all mechanical problems as we know), with Ferrari only retiring once each between their two drivers.

So what’s this all mean?  Why aren’t I talking about Vettel vs. Brawn, Massa vs. Lowe, or Button vs. Costa?

In my opinion, there are movable forces in F1, and there are those that refuse to be moved.  They can only be outright defeated.

In a career already mirroring Michael Schumacher’s in many ways, Fernando Alonso has come to Ferrari after a dry spell for the Scuderia, and after winning 2 world championships for another team.  In Schumacher’s prime, he was an immovable force — he was someone that would not be beaten at his own game.  If you wanted to beat Schumacher in those days (and a few did), you needed to design a car faster than the man himself.  Adrian Newey was able to do this on several occasions.

Just as Schumacher was, Alonso too, is an immovable force.  He will not be beaten at his own game, but design a faster or more reliable car, and he can be beaten to a championship.

Perhaps the only other immovable force I’ve seen in F1 for the last 10 years is the man behind these machines, Adrian Newey.  Newey designed chassis have one over 115 races since 1991.  That’s more races than has been one by constructor Williams since entering Formula One in 1978.  How’s that for impressive?

As Keith Collantine once said:

we’d have had a dull season’s racing if Schumacher had ever found himself in a Newey-designed car.

And if Fernando Alonso were ever to switch to Red Bull any time soon, I guarantee that season will be settled by the time Formula One travels to Japan.

Harried and Random 2011 F1 Season Predictions – PART III

Finally, I bring you Part III and the conclusion to my harried and random 2011 F1 season predictions…

Lotus T128

Lotus and their T128 are set to impress in 2011

10.  Some teams will impress, some will disappoint, and others will maintain the status quo.

Aside from what we think we’ve learned from winter testing, the best predictor of the 2011 Formula One season’s outcome will be the teams’ relative performances in 2010.  So let’s take our mind off the driver’s and constructor’s world championships for 2011, and instead simply think about how the teams will do compared to their 2010 performances.

Teams that will impress:

Team Lotus – When a driver like Jarno Trulli says things like “the car is a huge step forward” at the dawn of a new season, there’s reason to expect good things.  See, he never said that about his Toyota.  And he was right not to.

Despite the handful of seasons spent as Technical Director of Toyota F1, the now Team Lotus Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne has forged ahead with the Lotus T128 using a ‘clean-sheet’ approach rather than trying to evolve last season’s challenger.  Their Cosworth engine has been removed and replaced with the Renault power-plant.  Also brand new is their gearbox which is now supplied by Red Bull.  Lotus will be starting the season without KERS, but plans to implement the system 3-4 races into the season.  There’s every indication that they will see a marked improvement in 2011.

Red Bull Racing – Red Bull Racing won both the driver’s and contructor’s championships in 2010, so how could they possibly do any better in 2011?

While many are expecting a season every bit as exciting and dramatic as last year, I’m personally concerned with the pace, kindness to tires, and now the newfound reliability Red Bull appear to have with their RB7 chassis.  With defending champion Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel of the #1 RB7, I do have a reserved fear that the 2011 World Driver’s Championship may be decided with a handful of races to go.

Sudden unreliability issues and a massive charge from the other top teams aside, there’s not much that would appear to be able to stop Red Bull from walking away with at least the constructor’s title for a second consecutive season.

Williams – Q: What do the Williams FW33 and Kate Moss have in common?  A: No backside to speak of.

Williams FW33

Baby got no back

This may be a case where it’s easy to say Williams will impress in 2011 simply because they underperformed a bit in 2010 (aside from Hulkenberg’s fantastic Brazilian pole), but the changes made to their car are relatively more aggressive than what we’ve seen from the Grove squad in recent years.  The Sam Michael designed FW33 turned quite a few heads in pre-season testing due to it’s compact rear end and sleek packaging, and I see this season’s risks providing rewards for Sir Frank William’s team this coming championship season.

Toro Rosso – In 5 years of racing history, the only guy named “Sebastian” to ever do anything worthwhile in an STR would be Herr Vettel.  He’s moved on to to big sister team Red Bull Racing, and Toro Rosso haven’t had a truly competitive driver since.  Or before, for that matter.

STR has proven that they can make a car capable of scoring points, podiums, or even an odd win at the hands of a quick driver in mixed conditions.  STR’s lack of grand prix points since the 2008 Formula One season has been largely due to the graduation of Vettel to Red Bull.  There simply hasn’t been a driver quick enough to show off what was once a half-Newey designed machine.

This season will mark the 3rd consecutive pairing of STR teammates Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari.  While most prognosticators tip Spaniard Alguersuari to pip his Swiss teammate in points for the coming season, there really isn’t much between the two Toro Rosso pilots at all.  In lieu of signing a fast, star driver to score points, STR has opted instead to create and put all their faith in what will be only the 2nd car they’ve designed all on their own.  Unveiled on February 1st in Valencia, Spain, the STR6 has looked very promising by setting some fast times in winter testing, and may very well be fast enough to encourage Franz Tost to sign a competitive driver or two for the 2012 season.

Teams that will maintain the status quo:

Renault R31

"Guys, can we make the front and rear end plates red instead of the black and gold we use everywhere else? Great! Perfect! Now it looks like shit!"

Ferrari – Is the status quo for a team like Ferrari really such a bad thing?  With one race to go in 2010, it was almost a certainty that we’d see Fernando Alonso take his 3rd world driver’s crown for his brand new team.  Yet as we all know, it wasn’t meant to be for the man from Oviedo and the boys back at Maranello.  Whether 2011 is triumphant, or tragic for the Italian squad, it’s going to come down to the last race once again.

2011 promises much more of the same for the Scuderia, unless of course broken man Felipe Massa can fix himself and take some points of Alonso’s rivals, OR more interestingly still, make a run at the driver’s crown for himself with Ferrari’s bullet-proof looking Ferrari 150th Italia.

Some pundits are saying that if Massa can regroup and get on with the Pirelli tires this season, it could cause problems by taking important championship points from Alonso.  But it may just be that he’ll come on strong this season to take points off Alonso’s rivals — a task he was either not up to, or not willing to do last season.

McLaren – The MP4-26 is behind in mileage and has shown some niggling problems during pre-season testing; but it’s highly innovative and will develop throughout the season at a rate faster than any other team’s car.  Change MP4-26 to MP4-25, and it’s all the same story as last year and thus, the “status quo”.

As I’ve eluded to in my Top 6 Reasons Why McLaren Fans Shouldn’t be Worried in 2011 post, I really do feel the weight of McLaren’s 2011 prospects will fall heavily on one Lewis Hamilton’s shoulders.  I do not subscribe to the theory that Jenson is going to be much kinder to his tires and won’t have the same degradation, or perhaps even number of stops as Hamilton will.  I’m not willing to just assume that in what will be only his 5th season of F1, Lewis Hamilton has completely peaked as a driver, and cannot learn new things like controlling tire wear and making the necessary tweaks to his often aggressive driving style.

But in fairness to all my dear Jenson Button fans who do not think I give him enough credit:  Yes, he’s a nice guy, he drives pretty smooth, and his freckles are really cool.  For the sake of entertainment, I really do hope to see some good intra-McLaren duels this year, and perhaps initially, Hamilton will struggle with the new Italian tires and we could see Jenson Button out in front after several races.  But Lewis Hamilton is more than just a lead-footed gambler.  Assuming he’s learning from the mistakes he makes, he’ll finish on top of Button by season’s end.  That could be quite moot, though, as both may finish the season outside the top 3 in points.  Again.

Get well soon, Kubica

Well-wishes for Kubica on the McLaren

Renault – Front-exiting, diffuser-feeding exhausts and John Player Special-ish livery certainly aren’t the status quo for Renault.  Innovation however, is.  The Renault R31 in both creativity and form put it instantly ahead of last year’s R30, but the loss of Robert Kubica’s driving services will certainly neutralize some of the performance gains expected by Renault’s latest challenger for the forthcoming season.

Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld will be piloting the R31 for the whole of the 2011 season in what could prove to be one of the dullest intra-team battles of the season.  With Heidfeld’s experience and eagerness to show what he can do in a top-tier car – and Petrov’s aversion to tarmac – it could be a whitewash for the German over his Russian teammate for the 2011 season.

Sauber – Low-fuel qualifying runs in winter testing haven’t fooled me, but many are predicting a return to decent form with the Sauber team and their James Key designed C30.  With Ferrari powering both their engine and KERS units, the C30 will likely maintain it’s place as a front-running backmarker.  The car may perhaps weigh in a bit heavier than last year’s C29, with all the new sponsor stickers slapped onto it.  Glad to see the team with some early sponsorship; sad to see Burger King gone from the sidepods.

Another interesting forecast is that rookie driver Sergio Perez will give early challenge to Kamui Kobayashi, and will perhaps up the ante all season long.  I think both drivers will have plenty to prove, and Sauber’s teammate war may certainly be one of the most entertaining of the year.

Teams that will disappoint:

Mercedes MGP W02

From a second off the pace to Red Bull fast in just 1 test session?

HRT – If you expect more from HRT this year than last, you’ll be disappointed, too.  As already predicted in my Harried and Random 2011 F1 Season Predictions – PART I, I don’t believe the team will score a point in 2011.  I’m told the F111 was launched 9 days ago (I must have been doing something else), but the car was unable to be fully assembled or tested due to key suspension components flown in being held up by Spanish customs.  That, my friends, is disappointing.

Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi will perform as they usually do (Karthikeyan coming off a 6-year racing hiatus), but in an even slower and mishandling car than usual.  HRT’s driver line-up may have improved slightly, but with the 107% qualifying rule making it’s return for the 2011 season, we may see a few Sundays where an HRT F111 won’t line up for the race.  And if recent speculation about their financials is to be believed, the team may not finish out the F1 season.

Force India – Every year Vijay Mallya tells us the Force India will go from top of the mid-field to bottom of the front-runners, but it just hasn’t happened yet.  Are they standing still with development again on their VJM04?  Or has their driver line-up been long-suffering because Adrian Sutil is a bit overrated as a measuring stick?  If rookie Paul di Resta can give Sutil a run for his money in 2011, we may just find out that the Force India chassis hasn’t been the problem all along.

Virgin – The new Marussia Virgin “MV”, fangy-looking logo seems tough.  Aggressive.  Fast.  Therein lies the disappointment.

The MVR-02 along with pilots Timo Glock and rookie Jerome d’Ambrosio will suffer from the mere fact that the car is designed solely by a computer, and not an Adrian Newey.  Not even a guy who looks like Adrian Newey actually runs the computer, just some guy named Nick.  If the car proves more reliable than the HRT, then they may not finish stone last this season.  Glock will handle d’Ambrosio with ease.

Mercedes – Let me read you some pre-season news headlines from a reputable F1 news source:

Mercedes currently outside top ten – Haug

ESPNF1 Staff
February 21, 2011

Mercedes can catch Red Bull – Brawn

ESPNF1 Staff
March 10, 2011

Brawn admits to pre-season worries

ESPNF1 Staff
March 15, 2011

Is Mercedes GP schizophrenic?  I just don’t believe that a single new aero package brought the MGP W02 from “a second off the pace” to able to catch Red Bull in just a week’s time.  I do believe all of the Mercedes GP quotes about being worried ahead of the season, however.

Nico Rosberg will again be pairing with and beating 7 times world champion Michael “Should’ve Never Came Back” Schumacher on points for the season.  And though I suspect a surprise podium from each of them this year, I feel the downward slide since Brawn’s 2009 successes will only pick up speed for the 2011 season, and like those of Sauber, their occasionally fast lap times during winter testing were due to very low fuel in a bid to impress, but ultimately mislead and disappoint.

11.  Fernando Alonso will win the 2011 Driver’s World Championship.

Alonso Celebrates

"Victory will be MINE!"

Finishing the job his efforts and machinery would not allow him to last year, Fernando Alonso will hoist up the Ferrari marquee to championship glory in 2011.  This will make Alonso the youngest 3-time world champion, and the last 3-time champion we’ll have crowned since the great Michael Schumacher himself.  Love him or hate him, it’s quite easy to argue that he’s just 5 championship points and some iffy tire pressures shy of 4 world titles already.

Just as last year, Alonso will start off 2011 in winning form, but will keep up the charge and learn from the mistakes of the 2010 mid-season slump.  While Massa will have an improved season and make a title run for himself, he’ll be mathematically out of the title challenge with a 2 or so races to go, and the points he takes off Alonso’s rivals will be invaluable in securing the title for the Scuderia.

Think I'm wrong?  
Have your say in the comments!

Top 6 Reasons Why McLaren Fans Shouldn’t be Worried in 2011

McLaren MP4-26 in Berlin

"Ain't she a beaut, Clark?!"

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This article was originally intended to be the “Top 10” reasons for McLaren fans to feel good going into 2011, but I could only come up with 6.  Apologies.

If you have access to an internet-enabled web device and decided to read about F1 in the last 2 days, then you already know that McLaren, their drivers, and most of their fans are cautiously pessimistic about the impending 2011 World Championship season.  Tweets, news, and statuses were all doom and gloom about the MP4-26’s performances and limiting running thus far in testing, and so in turn were McLaren’s prospects according to many a worried fan for the upcoming season.

Well, fret not my tea-drinking Macca friends from o’er the pond.  I’ve come all the way from Amarika to give you my top 6 reasons why McLaren fans shouldn’t worry a bit about the upcoming Formula One season.  It will be a cracking, spot-on banger!*

*I don't know what any of that means

REASON 6:  The MP4-26 is the best-looking car – again

To clarify, best-looking is not synonymous with fast-looking.  But the MP4-26 – as the McLaren challenger has been for the last 14 years; ever since the MP4-12 was launched in 1997 – is the most beautiful machine on the grid.  Sure, I realize this doesn’t affect performance and therefore points scoring potential, but dammit, it should be worth at least 5 bonus points per season.  McLaren and their livery design team take what others treat as just a 200mph billboard with pinstripes, ghastly colors and goofy tribal shapes and turn it into something truly beautiful — every year since 1997.

McLaren MP4-12

Are you starin' at my McLaren?

From sidepod (title) sponsors West, to Johnnie Walker, and now Vodafone – no car has a better-looking paint scheme than the McLaren.  Even when it just said “Mika”, “David”, “Kimi”, “Juan”, or “Pedro” on the side, it was still the sharpest color-scheme around.  It’s all in the sidepods, baby – it’s all in the sidepods.  And now that they’re U-shaped, we should all feel like that’s going to make it faster over time and (for reasons unknown to myself and fellow non-engineers / aerodynamicists) shouldn’t be surprised when we see other teams changing their own sidepod profiles throughout this season and next to match the McLaren U-Pod.

REASON 5:  One of your drivers is named ‘Lewis Hamilton’

He’s about as “gangsta” as…  well… a British racing driver; but damn he’s fast.  And entertaining behind the wheel.  And perhaps most importantly, he’s damned ballsy, too.  Surely McLaren fans must feel the same amount of reassurance as I do fear when Lewis is on a charge through the field with his next target in sight.

And for the record, he won Spa 2008 fair and square.  That tremendous drive from a 2nd year pilot in mixed conditions against the likes of the one they call “the ICEMAN” was epic.  Lewis gave the position back and then some, slowing while crossing behind the Finn from left to right whilst out-smarting and later out-braking veteran Kimi that rainy day in Belgium.  That should be gospel coming from an Alonso fan.

Lewis Hamilton

Luck does not come into it

I assure you, it’s every bit as awkward to compliment Hamilton when you’re an Alonso fan as it is for Hamilton fans to say something nice about Alonso.  Lucky for me (while puzzling for others), they’re my 2 favorite drivers.  When you have Lewis Hamilton driving for you, it’s a reassuring feeling.  Sure, he might make a dumb mistake or 2 a season where he bins the car, someone else’s in the pit lane, or just dumps it in the gravel during a high pressure race; but it’s all the times in between where he’s pure magic.  He’s the outright fastest driver in the sport, and he would have won WDC last year with 2 races to spare had he been given the RB6 to drive.  Much like his counterpart at Ferrari, Hamilton doesn’t need the best car.  It just needs to be good enough.

REASON 4:  Nobody gets on with development throughout the season like McLaren

In the last 10 years, McLaren have continually managed to demonstrate that not only is the car they end the year with radically different from the one they start the year with, but it’s generally much faster, too.

Sure, recent testing restrictions have infringed upon McLaren’s ability to close or increase the gap throughout the season, but even still 2010’s challenger usually got a bit better every race.  No reason to expect less this year.  And there’s every reason to expect good development feedback from Button, too.

REASON 3:  McLaren invented the F-Duct

Need I say more?  Sure it’s banned for the 2011 season, but still…  they came up with it.  Who knows what other ideas are on the MP4-26 that don’t require a plainly visible snorkel?

McLaren F-duct

Not to be confused with the D-duct or N-duct

REASON 2:  Dennis may be “gone”, but he’s still looking over Whitmarsh’s shoulder

While seeing Ron Dennis on the McLaren pit wall isn’t exactly a sign of encouragement for some McLaren fans, it is for me.  See, under the control of Ron, McLaren has won 10 Driver’s World Championships.  If my math is correct, that’s 10 more championships than Martin Whitmarsh has won as Team Principal.

I realize Ron Dennis is tackling many new ventures not associated with grand prix racing, but I also happen to know 5th-hand that his mouth is in Whitmarsh’s ear.  He may not be wearing the white shirt and Kenwood headset much anymore, but he still wants McLaren to win, and he’s keeping a close eye on the happenings in Woking and around the F1 calendar while advising Whitmarsh and other team personnel.  And lastly, Lewis is like a second son to Ron; Mika of course, being the first.  I’m not really sure how Mr. Dennis feels about the 3 children he actually has…

REASON 1: They’re due

Last 5 years of WDC teams and drivers:

  • 2006 – Renault – Alonso
  • 2007 – Ferrari – Raikkonen
  • 2008 – McLaren – Hamilton
  • 2009 – Brawn – Button
  • 2010 – Red Bull – Vettel

If you study the pattern carefully, you’ll understand why Hamilton and McLaren are due for WDC glory in 2011:

Championship Calculator v2011

Championship Calculator; version 2011