This years Formula 1 motor-racing season is well underway now, and I can’t believe that I haven’t had any blog entries on the subject so far! The main talking points, pre-season, were the fact that Michael Schumacher (7 times champion) had retired and that the reigning champion, Fernando Alonso, had switched teams and been joined by ‘rookie’ driver Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton is reigning GP2 champion, one of the ‘feeder’ formulae for aspiring F1 drivers, and generally highly regarded. His entry into Formula 1 with one of the leading teams was noted as a point to watch, as the team in question rarely (if ever) take a chance on unknown quantities (the fact that the team balanced having a rookie driver with securing the services of Alonso is fairly indicative of how they cover their bases!). The fact that Hamilton is of Caribbean descent was also a high profile subject, with many commentators drawing parallels to the impact that Tiger Woods had in the golf world. Four races into the season and Hamilton has not disappointed! Flawless performances in all the races so far have seen him leaving a lot of the nay-sayers munching down on their hats. He has not yet WON a race, but that seems only to be a question of when and where rather than if. In four races he has not qualified lower than 4th, he has not finished lower than 3rd, He has not finished lower than he qualified He is the first driver in formula 1 history to have top 3 finishes in his first 3 (and now 4!) races and he is now the youngest driver ever to lead the championship. Un-believably, in the British media (presumably because he IS British) there are STILL some nay-sayers suggesting that he is over-rated! Although I would agree that perhaps he has not been too pressurised and there is perhaps still a honey-moon period within the team I think that the only thing he has yet to prove is how he handles it when things go badly. Then again, if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t have to correct them, and so far he hasn’t made any! Before too long I would estimate there will be a race where he has technical problems in qualifying, or an engine change out will relegate him down the grid. Then, when he has to make up places past cars that he has already shown to be slower than his, we will truly see what he is made off and, I believe, the remaining critics will be silenced. The next race is the legendary Monaco Grand Prix, the most famous and glamorous of them all. Last year Hamilton won the supporting GP2 race there (Monaco will also be his F1 race début on a circuit that he has actually raced before and, in fact, he has raced around Monaco three times, GP2 last year and two F3 races the year before. He won all three races…..), and I can’t imagine that there would be a better place for him to see P1 against his name for the first time in a Formula 1 car. That Hamilton has produced the goods so far is perhaps less of a surprise than the fact that the Super Aguri team at the other end of the grid is performing better than expected. In fact, I would imagine that there are people in the Honda board room who are cringing that, using last years cast-offs, Aguri are performing better than the ‘works’ Honda team! Even my old favourite (and he is now the oldest of the current drivers!) David Coulthard has managed to pick up a few points with one of the lesser regarded teams. The championship still looks like a two team race, with Ferrari and McLaren being the class of the field this year. And at the moment you can take your pick from the drivers, as any one of the four WILL be champion this year. Raikkonen and Massa (at Ferrari) and Alonso (at McLaren), have all won races this season. Hamilton hasn’t won, but with three 2nd places and a 3rd he’s the only one of the four to have had top three finishes in all the races so far. Although it would be regard as shallow to be champion without a win, consistency counts. Consistency alone won’t win you the championship, but lack of consistency can certainly lose you the championship!

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