RACING

TREMAYNE: Why Hamilton’s gritty P4 in Baku was a timely response to his critics

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Lewis Hamilton is the F1 version of the great British interwar king of speed George Eyston, known as The record holder. Hamilton holds far too many records to list here, but suffice it to say he jointly holds the record for seven F1 World Championships with Michael Schumacher, as well as those for race wins and pole positions (by fortuitous clarity , 103 of each).

But even his most ardent fans are beginning to wonder if he will break any more records this season. And there is a very special one that he must fervently hope to keep.

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F1 NATION: Horner, Ricciardo, Norris & more look back on Azerbaijan GP as Verstappen extends title lead

Since the inauguration of the FIA ​​Formula 1 World Championship in 1950, there have been 34 champions: Giuseppe Farina; Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari; Mike Hawthorn; Jack Brabham; Phil Hill; Graham Hill; Jim Clark; John Surtes; Denny Hulme; Jackie Stewart; Jochen Rindt; Emerson Fittipaldi; Nikki Lauda; James Hunt; Mario Andretti; Jody Scheckter; Alan Jones; Nelson Piquet; Keke Rosberg; Alain Prost; Ayrton Senna; Nigel Mansell; Michael Schumacher; Damon Hill; Jacques Villeneuve; Mika Hakkinen; Fernando Alonso; Kimi Raikkonen; Lewis Hamilton; Jenson Button; Sebastian Vettel; Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen.

But in that moment Lewis has done something none of them have succeeded in: he has won at least one Grand Prix in every year he has competed in F1. Even in years when he had mediocre cars, including 2009 and 2013, he managed two and one respectively.


Hamilton holds the record of being the only driver to win a Grand Prix in every season he has competed in – but can he extend that record this year?

Like all topliners, there were times when its presence in the cockpit gave some less-than-excellent machines a cachet a lesser driver wouldn’t have been able to bestow. Wouldn’t some of Ayrton’s McLarens, or Michael’s Benettons, have looked less stellar without hands on the wheel?

Again, getting the most out of the best machines is every driver’s goal, and are we criticizing Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc for the superb job they are currently doing for Red Bull or Ferrari?

READ MORE: 6 winners and 5 losers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Who leaves Baku the happiest?

I mentioned here before that one of my favorite quotes was from boxer Jack Dempsey, who defined a champion as “someone who gets up when he can’t.” I’m sure Tyson Fury would be good at explaining exactly what that means.

And this season we see Lewis having to do just that, with a tough and uncomfortable car to drive. I’m not surprised there are some in the F1 paddock who think he was “getting going” on Sunday night as he struggled to get out of his Mercedes after a solid run to fourth place.

We are all cynical to greater or lesser degrees, and you tend to choose those whose words you tend to believe, and those whose words you regard with, say, a greater degree of caution. In the past, there have been champions who liked to get upset and point out how difficult it all was, but I never saw Lewis as one of them, or as someone who could act in certain ways for political purposes.


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George Russell has managed a top-five finish in every race this season with another podium finish in Baku

My old boss, Wesley Tee, who owned Automotive Newscould be… difficult, say, on certain issues, and whenever there was a disagreement over page numbers or content, he often resorted to a bit of doggeral that said something like, “Two men looked at through the bars of the prison, one saw darkness, one saw stars.

And so you can see in two ways the fact that George Russell often got the better of his legendary teammate, with generally better qualifying, twice as many podiums and 99 points to Lewis’s 62. starting from George, but in my book that does not mean the end of the road for Lewis nor, as some of the cruelest scribes have chosen to suggest this week, that he is ‘turning the corner’.

Pedal to the metal, and the car from every angle imaginable, and a heart that never gave up? Isn’t that the kind of magic that excites us all?

READ MORE: A return to Montreal and a Ferrari looking to bounce back – 5 scenarios we’re excited about ahead of the 2022 Canadian GP

Toto Wolff was his usual candor over the weekend and pointed out that Lewis had happily taken on the role of trying out the various components and setups, and while they sometimes prove beneficial, Mercedes is currently in the situation as they try to get their car to behave with the planted grace of a Red Bull or a Ferrari – and very often the experiments have led to dead ends or yielded only mixed results .

It’s racing. It seems Lewis’ car did worse than George’s last weekend, but you can’t deny the commitment or determination of either.


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Nigel Mansell driving the recalcitrant Lotus 93T in 1983

Their struggles reminded me of Nigel Mansell’s battle with the first turbo-powered Lotus, the 93T, at the Race of Champions in 1983. It was one of the most horrific F1 cars I’ve ever seen. , and Nige’s progress with her along the pit straight and the dive into Paddock Bend was the motoring equivalent of battling alligators.

But like George and Lewis on Sunday afternoon, he never gave up. It’s that champion thing, and it always pisses me off when people put down those who have it.

It’s in the midst of such challenges that you see a runner’s true colors. Remember how Gilles Villeneuve used to extract speed from the turbocharged Ferrari 126C2 in 1981. Pedal to metal, and the car from every conceivable angle, and a heart that never gave up? Isn’t that the kind of magic that excites us all?

READ MORE: 5 reasons why F1 fans are still in awe of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve


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Gilles Villeneuve driving the Ferrari 126 in 1981 – a show of heart and determination

I remember years ago one of Jackie Stewart’s Paul Stewart Racing F3000 drivers dropped out of a race at Spa because the car was hard to drive. Jackie doesn’t often use harsh language, but I always hear her exasperated response, loud and clear: “***********!” I had to drive the BRM H16!

I would say Lewis’ third fastest lap on Sunday – 1m 47.044s, against Sergio Perez’s 1m 46.046s and Max Verstappen’s 1m 46.050s, and George’s 1m 47.177s – is a pretty solid indication that Lewis has neither dropped out or lost his ability to drive quickly, and his overtaking en route to fourth place was his usual, patient and clinically well-executed job. What was invisible until then was the courage that pushed him to the end.

I would call it driving a champion.

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