By Carol M. Creasey
Despite Sir Lewis Hamilton‘s continued success and seven world championships already achieved, doubters (mostly from members of the Press) continue to question whether his performance is down to his car or his talent and ability.
Most of these journalists seem to know little about Formula One, because the people who do know, like other drivers, continue to heap praise and show their respect for what he has achieved.
Firstly, Max Verstappen seems to have revised his opinion that “anyone can win in that car” and he is now stating that Sir Lewis is “one of the best ever”. Recently, when George Russell stood in for Sir Lewis at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, and performed very well, Verstappen was asked by a journalist why Mercedes didn’t put Russell and Valtteri Bottas in the cars, instead of Hamilton, to save a lot of money. The Dutch driver scoffed at the idea saying “because Lewis makes the difference”.
His changed attitude towards the accomplishments of Sir Lewis could well stem from the fact that in the first race of the 2021 season, Verstappen was fastest in practice and qualifying, and was tipped to win the race in the fastest car. But with clever strategy, and the ability to make his tyres last, Sir Lewis and the Mercedes team managed to hold the Dutchman off to win the race.
Another of Lewis’ rivals in the past, Charles Leclerc, who managed to earn himself pole positions and win some races when his Ferrari was more competitive, also praised the seven-time champ. When Verstappen stated that Sir Lewis’ success is due to having the fastest car, Leclerc refuted the statement saying: “I think his resumee speaks for itself, and I don’t think he is in that position by chance”.
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Those that know will realise that to win championships, just having the fastest car is not enough. Sir Lewis makes very few mistakes, is consistent and he keeps calm when others are panicking, especially in wet conditions. The Turkish Grand Prix in 2020 was an example of this. Having started from sixth on the grid with again, not the fastest car, Sir Lewis inched his way up the grid, keeping his car on track when others were floundering, to provide another masterclass drive. Red Bull was faster on that day as well, having qualified second, but Verstappen could not stop himself from spinning, along with many others, including Bottas in the other Mercedes.
More praise for Sir Lewis came from Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali, who has hailed Sir Lewis as an incredible role model, and has said he hopes he will continue in Formula One in 2022. He stated: “Lewis is an incredible driver, an incredible man, and an incredible athlete. But there is more than that. He has given F1 a different dimension that is beyond the sport”.
Next week we have the second race of the season at Imola. Mercedes know they don’t have the fastest car right now, but they do have Sir Lewis, and he will be giving his all to try and make that difference, and keep winning. What an exciting season we have before us!
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