Many of Lewis Hamilton’s critics have mentioned that the reason he has done so well over the last two-years is down to the performance of his car. Whereas it is my belief that the driving ability of Hamilton is the key factor to his success and I will now attempt to prove my theory.
It is no secret that the MP4-23 of McLaren is one of the fastest cars in the paddock today, rivalled only by the Ferrari’s F2008, however as we look at other cars it becomes apparent that the driving style of each individual also contributes heavily to the times they produce during a race weekend. However, I am in no way saying that power, performance and reliability are just as important.
I will now attempt (to the best of my ability) to put Lewis in each of the different cars now.
Personally, I feel that Lewis would be cutting around the same times as he is now. The Ferrari, although, quicker in straight lines, and quicker to take-off, becomes slightly weaker than the McLaren in cornering and wet conditions. Overall I feel the pace he is getting in McLaren would be matched, with a possible improvement.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +0.200s (MAX)
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +0.00
This years car has proved to be very consistent for the BMW guys. Robert Kubica was obviously had a mathematical chance of winning the driver’s championship until China. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe the car is as quick as the MP4-23 or the F2008, but it certainly is the best of the rest. As for putting Lewis into the car, I feel the consistence and reliability of the car would be a great advantage to Lewis, and fill him with confidence on a race weekend, thus allowing him to open up. With the changes to the car for the 2009 season, it could well be up there with the McLarens and Ferrari’s.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +0.000s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +0.500s
Alonso has used this car to its best this year and produced some fantastic results, the two-time world champion is currently running around 0.500s – 0.700s slower than McLarens current race pace during qualifying. Some work for the 2009 season could see this improve and I feel we could see a lot more of Renault next season. Obviously Alonso, is without doubt one of the better pound for pound drivers on the track, however, if you add in Lewis’ aggression and youthful desire, I feel Lewis would produce some astonishing times for the Renault boys.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +0.200s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +1.000s
Not the best year for Toyota this year, several engine and chassis problems for the boys mixed with some driver errors have left the boys down in fifth. Either way some work on the car for 2009 and I believe Toyota could well be challenging BMW in next years standings. Although currently off McLarens pace by close to three seconds on average, if you add Lewis’ “do or die” attitude into the frame and also add his experience from one of the top teams, a pull back wouldn’t be out of the question.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +1.500s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +2.940s
Take nothing away from this team, Vettel has had some fantastic results this year and it shows that the team is on their way up and could well be a third and fourth place contender next year. Qualifying seems to be one of the TR’s stronger points with them not quite hitting the mark come race day. However Monza this year showed that with a good grid position, and well timed pit-stops that this team isn’t out of the mix. Again, reliability is an issue here, something the drivers do not have control over. It would be hard for Lewis to produce anything special in a TR until their reliability is controlled, looking at their 2009 car, I feel they will only be able to produce what Toyota have done this year, at a push, they may possibly tangle with Renault if the drivers are willing to take “Lewis style” chances.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +3.850s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +5.400s
Take away the unluckiest driver in F1 today, David Coulthard, and add the luck and passion of a younger driver, such as Lewis Hamilton and you have the makings of a top five competitor for next season. Aussie, Mark Webber has shown what he is capable of by scoring points in nine of the seventeen races this year, retiring only twice. The qualifying pace of the Red Bull’s is something that also needs to be looked at with only three looks at the front three rows after qualifying. Now, if we put LH running alongside Webber for next year, with engine reliability at a good rate this year, and with the addition of extra youth and agility as well of a handful of “Lewis luck” we could possibly see a nice top 5 finish for the team, easily challenging Toyota and a possible fight for position with ING-Renault.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +4.000s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +8.200s
Once one of the better teams in the paddock, the Williams boys do have what it takes to, once again, be up with the best. As of late, we have seen a mix of driver errors and reliability issue strike the team over the last six or seven years. Nico Rosberg has pulled out some good results in Australia and Singapore where he came third and second respectively. Team-mate Kazuki Nakajima has had a poor season not managing to finish a race any higher than sixth. Again, lets place Mr. Hamilton in the car, and we have the start of “The Damon Hill Years.” Add some pace to the car, a serious cash injection and you’re away.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +6.900s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +10.500s
Honda have had a ho-hum year this year, and to be honest without some serious cash, nothing fantastic will come of them next year. However, they have some good things going on down their, Barichello, given a reliable car, would be a fantastic driver, and Button has already proved he has what it takes. Barrichello has seen four retirements this year as well as a DSQ. A slightly more successful attempt from Button has seen only four retirements, yet, having said that, he is still down in eighteenth in the driver standings. The team in general have struggled with pace in both qualifying and races. Now, lets add Hamilton into the team in place of Button. Two enthusiastic drivers and the Hamilton effect would see some major cash injection from merchandise alone. This, in turn, would reflect in more reliability and the chance of a eighth or ninth position finish.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +8.600s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +11.300s
Finally, Force India
One of the most un-financed teams in F1. With some cash and some technical advances over the next few years and we could see some vast pace improvements. Qualifying has been the FI’s weakest quality and has seen them at the back of the grid for the lions share of races. With a whole load of retirements from Sutil and Fisichella and FI has probably had one of the worst seasons ever which has seen them at the bottom of the constructor standings. Lewis Hamilton then, what could he do for the team, bugger all to be honest. I think some serious cash and investment is needed before this team could really improve in both drivers and constructions championships. The only thing that Hamilton could add to the team would be luck and aggression and the chance taking that Lewis has become renowned for.
Predicted Time Difference from McLaren: +12.800s
Current Average Time Difference from McLaren: +13.500s
In closing, I feel, although drivers alone are not responsible for teams successes or downfalls, a clear advantage is gained by drivers who bring money with them through merchandise would result in better final standings for the constructors.