TREMAYNE: Why Hamilton’s gritty P4 in Baku was a well timed riposte to his critics

Lewis Hamilton is F1’s model of the good British inter-war pace king George Eyston, who was often called Le Recordman. Hamilton holds far too many data to listing right here, however suffice to say he collectively holds the document for seven F1 World Championships with Michael Schumacher, and in addition these for race wins and pole positions (by some serendipitous neatness, 103 of every).

However even his most ardent followers are starting to surprise if he’ll break any extra data this season. And there’s certainly one of his personal very particular ones that he should dearly be hoping to keep up.

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For the reason that FIA Formulation 1 World Championship was inaugurated in 1950 there have been 34 champions: Giuseppe Farina; Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari; Mike Hawthorn; Jack Brabham; Phil Hill; Graham Hill; Jim Clark; John Surtees; Denny Hulme; Jackie Stewart; Jochen Rindt; Emerson Fittipaldi; Niki Lauda; James Hunt; Mario Andretti; Jody Scheckter; Alan Jones; Nelson Piquet; Keke Rosberg; Alain Prost; Ayrton Senna; Nigel Mansell; Michael Schumacher; Damon Hill; Jacques Villeneuve; Mika Hakkinen; Fernando Alonso; Kimi Raikkonen; Lewis Hamilton; Jenson Button; Sebastian Vettel; Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen.

However proper now, Lewis has finished one thing that none of them managed: he has received a minimum of one Grand Prix yearly he has competed in F1. Even within the years when he had poor vehicles, notably 2009 and 2013, he managed two and one respectively.

Hamilton owns the document of being the one driver to win a Grand Prix in each season he has competed – however can he lengthen that document this 12 months?

Like all topliners, there have been instances when his presence within the cockpit has given some less-than-great equipment a cachet a lesser driver would have been unable to bestow. Won’t a few of the McLarens that Ayrton drove, or Michael’s Benettons, have seemed much less stellar with out their palms on the steering wheels?

Once more, profiting from the most effective equipment is each driver’s goal, and are we criticising both Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc for the excellent job they’re at the moment doing for Pink Bull or Ferrari?

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I’ve talked about right here earlier than that certainly one of my favorite quotes was by boxer Jack Dempsey, who as soon as outlined a champion as “anyone who will get up after they can’t.” I’m positive that Tyson Fury could be properly capable of clarify precisely what which means.

And this season, we’re watching Lewis having to do exactly that, with a automotive that’s troublesome and uncomfortable to drive. I’m not shocked that there are some throughout the F1 paddock who consider that he was ‘placing it on’ on Sunday night time as he struggled to get out of his Mercedes after a powerful drive to fourth place.

We’re all cynics to better or lesser levels, and also you have a tendency to choose and select these whose phrases you are likely to consider, and people whose you regard with, let’s say, a better diploma of warning. There have been champions prior to now who appreciated to ham it up, and stress how onerous it had all been, however I’ve by no means seen Lewis as certainly one of them, nor as one who may act in sure methods for political acquire.

George Russell has managed top-five finishes in each race this season with one other podium at Baku

My previous boss, Wesley Tee, who owned Motoring Information, may very well be… troublesome, let’s say, over sure points, and every time there was disagreement over web page numbers or content material, he would typically resort to a little bit of doggerel that ran one thing like: “Two males seemed by means of jail bars, one noticed darkness, one noticed stars.”

And thus, one can look two methods at the truth that George Russell has typically been getting the higher hand over his legendary group mate, with usually higher qualifying, twice as many podium finishes, and 99 factors to Lewis’s 62. By any commonplace that’s nice going from George, however in my guide that doesn’t spell the tip of the highway for Lewis nor, as some the crueller scribes selected to recommend this week, that he’s getting “previous it”.

Pedal to the steel, and the automotive at each angle conceivable, and a coronary heart that by no means gave up? Isn’t that the kind of magic that enthrals us all?

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Toto Wolff was his normal candid self over the weekend, and identified that Lewis has fairly fortunately taken on the function because the one who tries the totally different parts and the totally different set-ups, and whereas they often show helpful, Mercedes are at the moment within the state of affairs as they attempt to make their automotive behave with the planted grace of a Pink Bull or a Ferrari – and fairly often the experiments have led down blind alleys or given solely certified outcomes.

That’s racing. It appears to have been the case that Lewis’s automotive behaved much less properly than George’s final weekend, however you’ll be able to’t gainsay both man’s dedication or resolve.

Nigel Mansell on the wheel of the recalcitrant Lotus 93T in 1983

Their struggles have jogged my memory of Nigel Mansell’s battle with the primary turbo-engined Lotus, the 93T, on the Race of Champions again in 1983. That was one of the vital horrible-handling F1 vehicles I’ve ever witnessed, and Nige’s progress with it alongside the pit straight and the dive down Paddock Bend was the automotive equal of alligator wrestling.

However like George and Lewis on Sunday afternoon, he by no means gave up. It’s that champion factor, and it at all times irks me when individuals belittle those that have it.

It’s within the midst of such challenges that you just see the true colors of a racer. Keep in mind how Gilles Villeneuve used to squeeze pace out of the turbo-powered Ferrari 126C2 in 1981. Pedal to the steel, and the automotive at each angle conceivable, and a coronary heart that by no means gave up? Isn’t that the kind of magic that enthrals us all?

READ MORE: 5 causes F1 followers are nonetheless in awe of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve

Gilles Villeneuve on the wheel of the Ferrari 126 in 1981 – a present of coronary heart and dedication

I keep in mind years in the past, certainly one of Jackie Stewart’s Paul Stewart Racing F3000 drivers stop a race at Spa as a result of the automotive was onerous to drive. Jackie doesn’t typically resort to harsh language, however I can nonetheless hear his exasperated response, loud and clear: “***** ******! I needed to drive the BRM H16!”

I’d say that Lewis’s third-fastest lap on Sunday – 1m 47.044s, to Sergio Perez’s 1m 46.046s and Max Verstappen’s 1m 46.050s, and George’s 1m 47.177s – is a stable sufficient indication that Lewis has neither given up nor misplaced his potential to drive rapidly, and his overtaking en path to fourth place was his normal affected person, clinically well-executed work. What was hitherto unseen was the sheer grit that saved him going to the bitter finish.

I’d name {that a} champion’s drive.

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