Wednesday 6 November 2013

Further thoughts on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

When you're down, try positive thinking
In Abu Dhabi last Sunday, for the second time in a week a Grand Prix did not go all that well for Lewis Hamilton. There were plenty of parallels between his Buddh and Yas Marina afternoons: spending much of the race tucked up in traffic, while his team mate - quietly it seemed - left him far behind.

In some senses Lewis was unlucky this time: missing out on a probable higher grid slot with a suspension failure-induced spin on his final quali run, and then being boxed in at turn one which resulted in him being P5 compared with his team mate's P2, from where his race unravelled somewhat. But despite these the man himself wasn't happy at his contribution to it all, and made little effort to hide the fact afterwards, stating among a few other things: 'Clearly with Nico (Rosberg)'s result the car's better than I'm able to bring home with's the same every race, so it can't be other people's fault.'

Lewis Hamilton - down after the Abu Dhabi race
Photo: Octane Photography
It's not the first time that Lewis has used a microphone as some form of confessional; to self-flagellate. And in many ways it's refreshing, in that we get the real him rather than PR speak, as well as that he - almost alone - doesn't as a default at such moments dip into the plentiful pool of F1 driver excuses for underperforming. We all know them: 'would have done better with my team mate's strategy'; 'KERS/gearbox/brake (delete where applicable) issues'; and - the ultimate time-honoured whinge - 'traffic'.

But still, while it's admirable that he doesn't delude himself I occasionally wonder if Lewis can take it rather to the other extreme, and that his tendency to beat himself up doesn't help his driving. It's amateur psychology I know, and different things work for different people, but it doesn't seem too new age to suggest that positive thinking helps most of us to perform at our best.

And according to ex-McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley, someone who has worked with Lewis at close quarters, his tendency to 'let his chin drop' (to coin a football phrase) does impact his driving and not in a good way. Following Lewis's public melancholy after the Abu Dhabi race Priestley had this to say on Twitter (apologies for use of Twitter speak, I'm quoting as originally was tweeted): 'V despondent HAM post race. He puts everything into his racing, but is 1 of those drivers whose emotional state's up & down like a yoyo. Thoroughly agree HAM wears heart on sleeve, gives 100% etc, but ultimate F1 driver can't let heart rule head. That's the chink in his armor.' Later he added: 'For those getting upset by my HAM comments, I've huge respect for him, but know him & know his performance is affected a lot by his mindset. That's all! I've seen it before in other drivers & none of them were world champs. Just saying he could benefit by learning to control it a bit more.'

Something for Lewis to think about, possibly.

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