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Lewis Hamilton Returns to His Reckless Ways: Massa and Maldonado Pay the Price

Craig ChristopherAnalyst IMay 30, 2011

MONTE CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Ferrari leads from Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at the Monte Carlo Circuit on May 29, 2011 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that Lewis Hamilton has an evil twin who, once or twice per season, drugs Lewis, hides him in a cupboard and then goes out to impersonate him.

When the twin—let’s call him Evil Lewis—comes out to play, mayhem ensues. He makes outlandish statements, drives like a stock car racer and is completely incapable of accepting any part of the blame for any incident that he’s involved in.

Evil Lewis first showed up during qualifying, coming out early to try to post a time after the stoppage and, in his eagerness, came out a minute early and sat at the end of pit lane waiting for the track to re-open. Inevitably, Evil Lewis’ tyres and brakes cooled, leading to him missing the chicane and having his one qualifying lap disallowed.

Not that it was Evil Lewis’ fault. It was the engineers who gave him bad advice—apparently against his better judgement.

When the race started, Evil Lewis was caught napping by Michael Schumacher at the hairpin, trapping him behind the German until tyre wear caught up with the Mercedes pilot.

By then it was too late, Hamilton’s race was over.

And that’s when Evil Lewis came out to play.

At his best, Hamilton is a superb driver—fast, aggressive, but tempered with a maturity borne of experience. That Lewis has been the dominant player over the last year and a half and is a far cry from the raw explosive talent that blew his first chance at a championship and came close to repeating the mistakes the following year.

The last 18 months have seen this new, more mature Lewis behind the wheel.

When frustration takes over, however, all bets are off. The Lewis of old returns—Evil Lewis—and starts making rash decisions and trying impossible overtaking manoeuvres, often ending in disaster.

Such was the case in Monaco.

The overtaking move that he attempted to put on Felipe Massa was, at best, ambitious and realistically impossible to pull off. It’s actually difficult to imagine that he could have actually made it around the hairpin from his angle of entry.

When the inevitable collision occurred, Evil Lewis blamed Massa for turning in on him. The reality is that Massa’s Ferrari actually helped Evil Lewis around the corner although he mortally wounded his car in the process, which led to him being off-line in the tunnel and ultimately into the barriers.

The stewards saw the incident through the eyes of rational observers and penalised Evil Lewis for the transgression. Much to his chagrin.

But he wasn’t finished yet. In the closing stages of the race, after the red-flagged period, Evil Lewis took another desperate dive up the inside of Pastor Maldonado at Ste. Devote forcing the unsuspecting Williams driver into the barrier and destroying Williams’ best finish for the season.

The cause of the accident? Evil Lewis blamed Maldonado for turning in on him.

That earned him a 20-second post-race penalty which made absolutely no difference to Evil Lewis’ race result and seems disproportionate when compared to the impact on the Williams driver’s day.

Although the race finished without further incident, Evil Lewis wasn’t done for the day.

When talking to the media after hearing of his second penalty, Evil Lewis quoted Ali G’s oft-quoted “Is it because I is black?” when asked why he thought he was penalised.

It was an example of the sort of gallows humour that Brits are noted for, but it struck a sour note with the stewards, fans and the media and is just the sort of thing that has caused him problems in the past.

In light of the day he had been through, it was one more bit of pain that he should never have put himself through.

But that’s just another day at the office for Evil Lewis. Let’s hope we don’t see too much of him.