Lewis Hamilton F1 Drivers World Champion 2008

We waited, we were patient. All us long suffering British F1 fans but once again we’ve got a champion.

It’s been incredibly amusing the last few months reading articles in the media doing the good lad down but he delivered in the end although leaving it till the last corner-ish, of the last lap of the last race of the season is probably pushing it a bit.

Yes it was a tense race and two laps from the end Mrs Penguin did have some choice words for Sebastian Vettel but it all turned out alright in the end, although next season can we win it a bit earlier on please?

So the Penguin household is a happy one tonight. Lewis has won the Driver’s Championship although as a confirmed McLaren fans it’s a pity we don’t have the constructor’s title either but nevermind, we haven’t had a McLaren driver win the title since Mika Häkkinen in 1999.

Norberg Haug, boss of the Mercedes Racing Division was looking especially pleased I noticed. Think I also spotted a couple of tears from Ron Dennis as well.

So failing the FIA finding any reason to disqualify or penalise him we’re very proud of Lewis here and unlike some detractors in the press, never doubted his ability to bring it home.

That there driving round in circles thing

Hideously bad form of me not to have done a post about Formula 1 so far this season although it hasn’t been going that well so far.

However, it has to be noted that Lewis Hamilton’s drive in the British Grand Prix, that is now yesterday was something truly special to watch.

I’m stuck for a comparably dominant performance in a wet race but about the best would be Aryton Senna’s drive at the European Grand Prix in 1993 held at Donnigton Park.

Truly something special. Well cheered up my day that has.

Hellish week

Sitting here with the laptop on the sofa getting prepared to head off for an uncharacteristic early night.

I’m distinctly tired. Done a lot this week but sadly nothing really to do with the blog. Work’s been hard, meetings have been hard and to top it we’ve had the combination of visitors staying for the weekend with the start of the Formula 1 season.

So a brief synopsis is in order.

I’m knackered and need rest.

Still no answers to the 33 other questions that I asked Phorm that I was promised they would answer a week ago and have received further assurances of answers to. I would particularly like this as much of what is important regarding this issue is dependent upon those answers.

I’ve got through the weekend on somewhere around 6 hours sleep having been up all night for the qualifying and race for the Australian Grand Prix while trying to fit in work around it. Suffice to say, very happy with the results so far this season. Lewis Hamilton and McLaren lead the points tables and I’m very much looking forward to next week’s race.

I do have one gripe though. I’m not a big fan of Bernie Ecclestone and this whole concept of ‘night races’ in the Pacific area to fit in with midday European viewers is not my cup of tea either. Personally I like getting up in the middle of the night to watch the race (or simply not sleeping at all) it’s part and parcel of being a dedicated F1 fan.

Apart from that, if F1 fans from the Asia Pacific Region have to get up in the middle of the night to watch the vast bulk of races that are held in Europe then why should they have to do the same for races in their neck of the woods. It is after all a global sport.

That said, they did change the time of the Australian race this year meaning that rather than the convenient stay up late to catch the race at 1am GMT I had to wait till 4am which wasn’t good.

Went to the theatre today. To be more specific the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton to see the Solid Silver 60′s Show. It’s nice to occasionally remind oneself that there is a world outside of family commitments, politics and techie related stuff. Highlights were of course Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Titch who were a class act as usual but also Gerry and the Pacemakers. Not sure how well it would go down with fellow Wulfrunians to be caught singing ‘Walk on’(with hope in you heart) but there you go.

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Picked up on some breaking news from our German sources that has just gone out in the English press that Fernando Alonso is set to announce he’s leaving McLaren.

Good riddance to a person who has done their level best to damage my team throughout this year. He’s a miserable little individual who can’t out-race a Rookie. Formula 1 is a team sport and I’ve always admired the way in which McLaren have held to the principal of treating both drivers equally and letting them get on with competing on the track.

I’m sure he’ll end up in a team who seem so predisposed to stroking his overinflated ego but thankfully we don’t have to put up with another year of him. We’ll see how much he repays his new team at the end of next season with loyalty or am I an old cynic who just thinks given the opportunity, he’ll be off to whatever team he thinks will benefit his own self-interest at that time?

Good riddance Fernando, you won’t be missed.

Another weekend, another 1-2

The last few years have been a bit lean so far as us McLaren supporters go in Formula 1. It’s hard to imagine but it’s been a whole decade since we last won the Constructors Championship and nine years since we last got a Drivers crown.

As a distinctly ‘not football’ sort of person it’s always been a bit of an annoyance when considering the vast amount of media coverage that sport receives compared to my own sporting preference. As far as the British media has been concerned Formula 1 hasn’t really appeared on the radar for almost a decade and a half. Subsequently popular enthusiasm for the sport has been on the wane in the UK but it is curious this season.

With the arrival of Lewis Hamilton and actually the prospect of a British driver winning races and in with a shot at the top prize suddenly the media are jumping all over it. Although admittedly with what can be seen as a reactionary approach in that the quality of reporting is a bit on the poor side. One can only conclude that editors saw fit to drop their F1 correspondents years ago and are now making do with people writing reports who know sod all about the sport.

What it also shows is the rather disappointingly short-sightedness and national bias of their approach. Like a bunch of vultures jumping on the back of success by a new British driver they show their insincerity for reporting. We’ve had close on 15 years of under-reporting on the F1 scene where interest in the sport has dropped. In that time we as a country may well have missed out inspiring some young person to take up the sport and come through to the top level. This accounts for nothing more than a parasitic relationship for which the media has had with Formula 1.

As for the actual coverage on television in the UK through ITV, a similar analogy can be made. This is not to consider that previously under the BBC coverage was any better. Thinking back to 80′s if I recall correctly we were treated to the race and qualifying for the British GP only. ITV did improve on that situation by showing qualifying although over sporadically in this place or the other. Dare the GP be held at a time that clashes with something of far more importance like Coronation Street or some cheap low budget mid-afternoon movie and it gets shunted to the baren wilderness of ITV4. This is hardly a commitment from a broadcaster who paid a rather substantial amount of money for the priviledge of broadcasting Formula 1. Contrast this to RTL (German Commercial Channel) who hold the rights to broadcast in Germany and incidentally who we watch the Formula 1 coverage on. They broadcast everything, race, qualifying, warm-up sessions and extensive analysis. Far too many times have the post race press conference been cut short or not shown at all on ITV because we have to rush off to Corri.

It will be interesting to see the renewed interest of the media has on viewing and interest in the sport by the general public. Will new fans be created, will some of the old fans whose interest has drifted away over the years return to the fold? Probably yes. Will young people take an interest in taking up the sport, quite possibly. How many potential talented drivers could we have missed out on in the past decade and a half because a (British) driver wasn’t up there and the media took little to no interest? It’s sad really but the attention is very welcome now, pity about the quality of reporting though.

Anyway, after a fair few years of frustration with regard to my own team not doing too well it’s turning out to be a quite enjoyable season with us now holding a 35 point lead over Ferrari and both drivers pulling a clear gap away from the rest at the top of the Drivers Championship. Looking forward to France.

The great Monaco conspiracy (update)

Just quick look back regarding the article I did the other day about claims in the British press, in particular the amateurish and ill-informed bit of nonsense from the Daily Mail.

The FIA have concluded their investigations and like most of the commentators out there who actually understand the sport, they concluded that McLaren had done nothing wrong. Can’t see many apologies in press coming forward very quickly. Still, never mind, leave the reporting on Formula 1 to those who actually know something about the sport eh?

The great Monaco conspiracy

Rarely do I take such an in depth approach to the Formula 1 results aside from various glee or consternation regarding how well my team; McLaren are doing but as there’s been a bit of a media storm today I thought it best to pen a lengthier evaluation as it is patently obvious that there’s plenty of media hacks out there who obviously know sod all about the sport.

For those who haven’t caught the news, it regards McLaren being referred for investigation by the FIA (that’s the sport’s governing body) on allegations of using team orders to allow Fernando Alonso to win the Monaco GP by telling Lewis Hamilton to back off.

I’ll deal with the poor reporting of this story to start off. The BBC and ITV (presumably because they’ve got people who actually understand the sport) do a fair, balanced and informed job. I’ll admit I only caught the story on German news so I decided to have a little look around our own press. I didn’t get far until I decided that some recourse to the complete crap in a couple of papers was needed. To be fair, The Sun did a balanced and fair report but then I got to the The Mirror.

It’s a short article but two things of note. Firstly, and this is probably indicative of the level of knowledge of a Mirror sports hack, but the name of the team, McLaren is spelled thusly, there’s only one ‘c’ in it although probably their brain is so plugged into football they can’t distinguish the difference. Secondly was the quote carried from the team boss that:

admitting that he he “virtually had to decide in advance” which one of the drivers would win Sunday’s race.

Note crappy typing again but the quote does give the impression that he decided who would win. I will return to this later when I get a bit more technical, which is obviously beyond the capabilities of your average sports hack.

On to the Daily Mail, and it’s here, although one would expect it, that fained outrage, or to be more precise, interpretations of events from a position of not knowing what you are talking about are blurted out without any regard for reality. I’ll just do a little demolition job on this article if you’ll let me.

Let’s start with the headline, ‘Ace Hamilton gets a raw deal’. Now come on, how emotive can you get. However you evaluate the facts of the story, it’s a bit much to stretch it that far, but hey, this is the Daily Mail so what should we expect? Well, followed by this:

The only time Lewis Hamilton was allowed to draw level with Fernando Alonso was post-race when they sat together in the people carrier taking them from the pits to the paddock.

The point of this dig is? No, nothing to do with the story, a simple little scene setter for the rest of the article.

Even by the standards of the big losses suffered inside the famous casino around which yesterday

Lewis Hamilton, not the Tiger Woods of Formula 1

I’m going to disagree with Phil on this one but more from the perspective that he’s admittedly not a Formula 1 follower and has probably picked up on this through the reporting of the mainstream media.

The only tenuous argument to suggest this to be the case is that Tiger Woods is of an Afro-Caribbean background and so is Lewis Hamilton and they’re both in sports dominated by predominantly white males. I’m not going to discount the potential spin off that Lewis Hamilton could become a great role model for for young Afro-Caribbean males but I would put it in a different context which probably illuminates on my own perspective of issues of race.

Unlike many who have suddenly been awoken to the existence of Lewis Hamilton I’ve actually been following him for many years. Mainly because I’m a supporter of McLaren Mercedes who he drives for and so I get all the magazines that have been highlighting his development since a young age as one of only a handful of drivers who the team have been sponsoring through their driving careers.

What effect he will have, at least hopefully from my perspective is to raise the interest in Formula 1 in Britain which for over a decade has been flagging. Partly due to the dominance in that period of a certain Michael Schumacher which ironically elevated the interest in Formula 1 in Germany to unheard of levels but equally because despite we as a country holding the largest number of Formula 1 drivers championship crowns, the crop of drivers we’ve produced of late have been at best mediocre.

Going to do a bit of a run down, sorry if you disagree but purely my own take on it. The big hype the last few years was all around Jenson Button. Sorry, seems like a nice enough guy but he just doesn’t have it from pretty much every angle you consider. David Coulthard, too much into the lifestyle, just doesn’t deliver. He had exactly the same car as Mika Hakkinen during the seasons that he won the World Driver’s title and was way behind, not even a good enough support driver in the second season losing the constructors title to Ferrari. Damon Hill, well yes he won the Drivers title but did he infuse people with his ability, no, because to be fair he wasn’t that good a driver, he was simply lucky that the year he won he had a car that was so supremely superior to everyone else’s that he only had his team mate to beat and that was Coulthard. Almost forgot Eddie Irvine. I thought he was great from a personality perspective but still nothing outstanding as a driver and of course had the problem of being partnered with Michael Schumacher where he was outclassed as a driver even despite rumours of contractual agreements.

No, to see the last time there was a British driver with some real pulling power that infused the crowds then you have to go back to Nigel Mansell and again he wasn’t a truly great driver. He had a habit of breaking the cars with an overly aggressive driving style which probably accounts for only one title although it should have been two.

I’m going to say that Britain has lacked a truly great talent in Formula 1 since James Hunt, an innately talented driver with an admittedly larger than life personal life but definitely one of the great drivers.

It’s nice to see Formula 1 getting some more attention in the press but sad as it might seem it would only take a crash or two or a couple of breakdowns for all this media adulation to turn to criticism. I sometimes wonder about why the British media acts in this way.

I went into this season having Hamilton as my favourite driver, not only because he’s driving for my team but for the first time in over a decade and a half it was refreshing to be supporting a British driver for a change.

I didn’t want to expect much because it’s a big step up from GP2 racing to F1 but so far he’s exceeded all my expectations and that makes me rather happy. His drive last year from last to first in the Turkish race was probably one of the best in the history of GP2 where cars are much more equal and the difference is very much more down to the driver than in F1.

What I didn’t spot in the media is the little fact that since the Bahrain GP on Sunday he has now beaten every single driver in the field in an actual race which is nice.

My predictions for the season. Well, it would be nice to see him as world champion but I won’t expect it because it’s never been done before but what I do expect to see is that he will come to dominate the team. Despite having a double world champion as a team mate, irrespective of whether Fernando Alonso gets more points by the end of the season.

Hamilton is simply a lot smarter, understands the professional corporate mentality of McLaren to a much higher level than Alonso and so for me I will look forward to finally being able to support a British driver for a change and what colour his skin is is irrelevant to me.

I’ll finish on what roughly Ron Dennis the boss of McLaren said about him (can’t be bothered to look up the exact quote). That McLaren aren’t doing this as some stunt to have the first black driver in Formula 1. He’s there simply because of his sheer talent and ability, his race/ethnicity is irrelevant, McLaren are in Formula 1 to win and that’s why Hamilton is there.