There is no doubt Lewis Hamilton will be on top of the world again

Posted on June 14, 2011

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Lewis Hamilton is coming under a lot of fire for his behaviour and for his racing over the past few race weekends.

Brilliant or dangerous? Credit: McLaren.com

And the 2008 world champion has apparently willfully poured fuel on the fire by heading off to meet Red Bull boss Christian Horner after qualifying in Canada, without being too cautious about who saw him.

Hamilton is contracted to McLaren until the end of the 2012 season so this nod down the pitlane is odd, especially at a time he’s being publicly criticised for a series of errors.

In Monaco, he topped a pair of accidents with inflammatory comments in post race interviews. The media may have made more of the Ali G comment than was perhaps deserved – it was clearly a joke, albeit an atrocious one – but it was an insight into Hamilton’s state of mind. He made swift and fulsome apologies and arrived in Canada having done an ok patch up job.

The expectation of many was it would be back to business as usual for a supreme talent, at the circuit where he claimed his first Formula One victory and has always run well. And yet Hamilton found himself involved in a series of incidents before crashing out after touching team mate Jenson Button – inevitable as soon as Hamilton drove into a gap which was never there and always shrinking. It left him on the sidelines for the race of the year so far.

So what’s happening? Is Hamilton not as brilliant as he was lauded after his 2008 championship victory? Is he dangerous, as Niki Lauda has controversially suggested?

Or is he still the relatively inexperienced but prodigious talent he always was – but one who is stuck in a car which is far from quickest and leaving him frustrated? A driver being atrociously advised?

I’m a huge fan of the way Hamilton drives and the way he races. He pulls off overtaking moves most other drivers would not even imagine, let alone attempt. He’s been involved in a lot of incidents this year – but don’t forget Sebastian Vettel was dubbed the “crash kid” last year and his 2010 didn’t end so badly.

Moreover, I think in outright pace, Hamilton is among the top two or three men on the grid. In identical cars I feel his only competitor would be Fernando Alonso and we know what happened when the two of them were paired up at McLaren.

Were Hamilton driving the RB7 alongside Vettel, I believe he would be winning. By a margin. Vettel is a brilliant talent and he’s had the rub of the green this year but no-one hustles a car like Hamilton. He can almost always find that extra tenth. The pair of them together would be a terrifying prospect and whatever Horner says about the potential clashes I’m sure he’d do anything to make it happen.

So will Hamilton come through this rough patch? Of course he will. Will he win many more races? Yes. Will he win further world titles? Almost certainly. Will he be a McLaren driver in years to come? I have my doubts. He’s been with the Woking team since he was a teenager but I sense he needs – and perhaps wants – a change.

It’s still unlikely but I wouldn’t be very surprised if Hamilton is at some point in Red Bull overalls, perhaps even next season. Any contract can be broken for a price and I’m sure, were he so minded, Dietrich Mateschitz could come up with the cash.

And whatever happens in the future, the 2011 McLaren is fast enough to deliver Hamilton victory and I don’t think it’s far around the corner.

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Posted in: Formula One, News