Among the many opinions and rumours put forth regarding Lewis Hamilton's state of mind after last weekends Australian Grand Prix, none have analysed the man himself, instead choosing to focus on the here and now after another Hamilton mishap.
How times change. After the mundane show of Sakhir, Hamilton must have been privately gleaming at the fact that his 2010 début had begun with a podium, after being the best part of a whole second slower than the rampant Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. Fast forward two weeks to the metropolitan city of Melbourne, and one small piece of "over-exuberant" driving later, and he was nicked. Minus a rather smart looking Mercedes.
The race itself was the perfect analysis of the two sides of Lewis Hamilton. On the one hand, we see perhaps the bravest and most combatant of drivers scything his way through the field and providing us with some much needed action after the much-castigated race in Bahrain. On the other, the tendency to rely on the team instead of being the thinking man's driver (as showcased by Jenson Button's self-imposed strategy). Lewis is the first to thank those around him when things go swimmingly, yet it is the fact that he is also the first to question them (publicly) when things do not go his way that is most worrying.
Which brings us to the crux of the matter. Is Lewis Hamilton a chancer? A small boy who is more attuned to the rough and tumble of a cadet kart race? There is no doubting that Hamilton has talent in abundance, a fierce will to win and a natural raw talent that few drivers are ever blessed with. There are numerous occurrences since his explosive entry into Formula One in 2007 where it is obvious that whilst the raw speed and exquisite car control is there, the emotional maturity and clarity of thought behind the wheel, is not. Not yet, at least.
Hungary 2007: Hamilton disobeys a team request to let his team mate Alonso through in qualifying.
China 2007: Hamilton does not take initiative, despite his rear tyres being shredded (quite literally). Must rely on team to tell him when to pit, resulting in abysmally late call in for a tyre change.
Brazil 2007: Is in a safe 4th position at the start of the race, which would guarantee him the title - yet inexplicably tries daring manoeuvre around the outside of Alonso, resulting in an excursion off track.
Canada 2008: Fails to notice red light at end of pitlane, ploughs into Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. Race over.
Australia 2009: Is again led and perhaps coerced by team to mislead race stewards.
Australia 2010: Has the right to tell team that he does not need extra pitstop, yet bemoans decision to pit him when it becomes apparent that a second stop was not needed.
Hamilton has the sheer single-mindedness and competitive streak to win many, many races and titles, yet he must begin to also apply that authoritative attitude to his dealings off-track as well. Perhaps all of these attributes will come with age and experience, for once he figures out how to apply calmness, assertiveness with his team and rationality on and off-track to his inventory, he will become a very potent threat indeed. Only when these characteristics become a part of Lewis Hamilton will the accusations of quasi-fatal driving by Mark Webber, the running into back of cars in the pitlane, the often destructive way of using his tyres, finally subside. Then we can talk about Lewis Hamilton the man, and not Lewis Hamilton the excitable young boy.
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