Hamilton's Frustration: Should The Korean Grand Prix Have Started Sooner?

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIOctober 24, 2010

YEONGAM GUN, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 24:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes drives during the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit on October 24, 2010 in Yeongam-gun, South Korea.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Who's got spirit? Lewis Hamilton's got spirit.

Yet no one else seemed raring to go in South Korea as the rain lashed down causing race director Charlie Whiting to begin the first 15 laps behind a safety car, over the course of 80 minutes. This included two stand still periods as the cars formed on the starting grid waiting to be given orders.

In the first foray into the drenched new track it was visibly tricky for all involved. The spray from one car to another meant that visibility was minimal. It was not the worst in history, by a long margin, yet it was treacherous.

The second display of safety car domination however lasted desperately longer. This seemed to owe in part to the drivers dictation of Charlie Whiting. He stalled on bringing the safety car in for well over half an hour.

It emerged through radio transmission that Lewis Hamilton was giving the all clear. At one point he cheekily claimed that intermediate tires would soon be needed.

Sadly the likes of Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel proclaimed otherwise.

In a track that was quite clearly improving though, was this just a ploy to take the initiative away from the Mclaren team? Lewis Hamilton looked to seize upon the opportunity of having a car that traditionally would excel in wet weather conditions.

His fourth place could seemingly be edged into a possible win, given the uncertainty of the Ferrari's and Red Bull's in rain.

The ever cautious Jenson Button seemed to halt Hamilton's opinion, however, as he too proclaimed that the track was not accommodating.

Then we caught wind of a neutral perspective from Renault driver Robert Kubica, who further enhanced the idea that accidents would happen if the race was to lose the safety car.

Maybe a chorus of 'I told you so' was required when the action eventually got under way and indeed a multiple number of collisions occurred.

The most notable was championship leader Mark Webber's error in judgement, which sent him hurtling off the racing line and into a crash that thrust a mountain of misfortune upon an unexpecting Nico Rosberg.

Jarno Trulli also tapped Bruno Senna, and Adrian Sutil saw his race end when an adventurous overtaking manoeuvre went astray.

So would scenes have been any more dramatic if the 'race' had begun 15 laps earlier? If the drivers had not had so much of an influence over the decision to stay behind the safety car would we have been given a greater opportunity to witness a more fulfilling Grand Prix?

On this occasion Charlie Whiting can be defended. The conditions were certainly not on a par with recent scenes in Malaysia and China.

Yet this track in Korea had not been worn in the way other rookie events are. There were no preliminary events from other formulas and the track portrayed the negative aftermath of a late finish.

This coupled with the lack of grip consequentially meant that driving under wet weather conditions became more unappealing.

If something had happened, if a fatal accident had occurred then the eyes would have been solely on Whiting. His credentials were on the line. So he played it safe, and that can be understood.

Even if to myself it appeared obvious that Hamilton seemed the most level-headed and competitive. He embodied the charisma of a Formula 1 driver perfectly. On an unaccomplished track and under such conditions he could see that a race to be had.

Compared to his rivals his opinion was one that we hoped would gift us a spectacle sooner.

I couldn't help but feel or detect that his rivals opinions were an aid to stalling the inevitable.

Maybe they were of the opinion that the longer they could keep their title challengers behind them, the less time they would have to defend their lead. Hamilton and Button would have been afforded a much smaller opportunity overtake.

In hindsight if Whiting had given the go ahead sooner, then possibly Red Bull could have ended the weekend in the opposite direction from their final situation.

Vettel's engine blew up just short of three hours after the race was due to begin. It is easy to say therefore that he could have finished if things had been controlled differently.

Whilst I can subsequently understand the decision to spend the first quarter of the race in a formation, I do believe that in future events the control should drift towards the likes of Whiting.

We watch the sport for the spectacle. Nothing excites us more than a wet weather race, especially in new territory. And if Lewis Hamilton could see the passion and determination to race under such conditions then the rest of the field possibly need to toughen up.

After all we want a sport full to the brim of not only excellence, but of risk. To be a Formula 1 driver means you are on a pedestal where you put your supporters as a high priority.


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