Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lewis Hamilton - classic F1 2011

Lewis Hamilton picks his five all-time favourite races ahead of the British Grand Prix, in the latest instalment of BBC Sport's classic Formula 1 series.

This year, we have asked all the drivers to make such a choice, and we are serialising them before each race to whet your appetites for the action ahead.

The drivers have taken different approaches to this task so far.

Multiple world champions Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, for example, chose a mixture of their own races and events that resonated with them from before their own time in F1.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, by contrast, did not take his own races into account at all.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Hamilton - like reigning champion Sebastian Vettel before him - has gone for his five favourite races from his own F1 career. And what a selection it is.

Hamilton has been F1's most exciting driver since he entered the sport with a bang in 2007, and in that time he has produced drives that are not only among the best of his era, but will stand the test of time as all-time great performances.

His five choices reflect that, and you can watch him discussing his choices with F1 presenter Jake Humphrey in the video embedded immediately below. He starts off by talking about this season's Chinese Grand Prix.

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Hamilton has included a couple of career landmarks because of what they mean to any driver - a home race, a Monaco win, for example - so not all of them would necessarily be on a list of the five greatest drives of his career. But at least three of them would.

His superb wins in Belgium 2010 and Hungary 2009 do not make his list, nor is there a mention for his breathtaking qualifying lap in Japan last year.

Nevertheless, I'm sure many could make a case for the other two as well, and all are stand-out performances from a man even his team-mate Jenson Button describes as "super-talented, one of the best drivers Formula 1 has ever seen".

Hamilton has not ranked them himself, either in order of preference or in order of status, so I have done so myself, after discussing their merits with our F1 commentary box producer Mark Hughes.

In what we perceive to be reverse order of merit, they are as follows:

5. The 2008 Monaco Grand Prix
Hamilton has chosen this because, he says, as a grand prix driver "you always remember your first Monaco". He undoubtedly drove superbly to win in mixed conditions, but the victory owed a lot to luck.

He crashed into the barrier at Tabac corner on lap six, damaging a rear wheel, as rain began to fall more heavily. But he managed to get the car back to the pits undamaged, enabling him to take on more fuel and delay his final tyre change to dry tyres until he had built a winning lead.

4. The 2007 Canadian Grand Prix
Hamilton made an instant impression in his debut season in F1, overtaking his team-mate Alonso around the outside of the first corner at the first race of the season in Australia.

After a series of increasingly impressive performances, and podium finishes in every race, his maiden victory came at the sixth race of the season, the Canadian Grand Prix.

It was a dominant performance, leading from lights to flag, despite four safety cars, and such was Hamilton's superiority that it appeared to completely unsettle Alonso.

The Spaniard went off at the first corner after the start disputing the lead with his team-mate and, most uncharacteristically, ran off the track there a further three times during the course of the race, eventually finishing seventh.

3. The 2007 Japanese Grand Prix
Run in horrendous, monsoon-like conditions on the Fuji Speedway in the shadow of Japan's iconic mountain, this was the first real indication that Hamilton had the almost supernatural ability on a wet track that marks out the truly great drivers.

He led the race throughout, coping well with a safety car intervention, while other drivers - including Alonso - were caught out by the rivers of water that were running across the track or the appalling visibility.

Hamilton joked with Humphrey that seeing his team-mate, with whom he was at the time disputing the world championship, had crashed was one of the reasons he remembered the race so fondly.

He describes it as "the race in the wet in Fuji where Fernando crashed".

"That made it great, did it?" Jake asks.

"Yeah," Hamilton says with a laugh, before adding: "No, it was a great race because it was the trickiest conditions. And you've got a two-time world champion who's been racing a lot more than me and he's put it in the wall. And the others who were trailing around and struggling, to have those races and keep the car on the track in those conditions, it doesn't compare to anything."

2. The 2011 Chinese Grand Prix
Hamilton's only victory so far this season was the result of a breathtaking drive, in which all his raw pace and daring overtaking skills were on display.

He chased Vettel down in the closing laps and passed him brilliantly into the 150mph Turn Seven to take the lead. That was impressive enough.

But the win hung on an equally stunning overtaking move on Button earlier on, diving audaciously down the inside into Turn One at the last possible moment. The two came very close to disaster, Button having a wobble as he noticed his team-mate was there and took avoiding action.

"Every moment was amazing," Hamilton remembers. "To express what you feel in the car, you can't put it into words.

"I race a Formula 1 car. It's crazy to be able to even say that. I've been racing since I was eight and now I've got my own F1 car that I can race and help develop. I feel very privileged.

"When you're in that race and you feel you've got the car beneath you, overtaking Vettel, the world champion, was amazing - and also doing it in a place where he didn't expect it.

"It's definitely one of the best grands prix I've had."

1. The 2008 British Grand Prix
Hamilton was brief on the subject of this race, his first and so far only win in his home grand prix, describing it as "wicked". Another way of looking at it is as one of the greatest wet-weather performances in F1 history.

It was a drive that reminded onlookers of Ayrton Senna's iconic victory at the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park, Michael Schumacher in Spain in 1996 or Jackie Stewart's at the Nurburgring in 1968 - a day when one man is on a completely separate level from his competitors.

In treacherous wet conditions, Hamilton was at times four of five seconds faster than anyone else. It was, as McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said at the time, "an astonishing performance".

Highlights of that memorable afternoon are embedded below, with beneath it links to short and extended highlights of Mark Webber's victory for Red Bull in last year's British Grand Prix.

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Short highlights of Canada 2007, Japan 2007, Monaco 2008, Great Britain 2008, China 2011 and extended highlights of the 2010 British Grand Prix will be broadcast on satellite and cable from 1500 BST on Wednesday 6 July until 1830 BST on Friday 8 July. They will be broadcast on Freeview from 1040 BST until 1240 BST on Friday 8 July.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2011/07/lewis_hamilton_-_classic_f1_20.html

Max Jean Stefan Johansson Eddie Johnson Leslie Johnson Bruce Johnstone Alan Jones Tom Jones

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