Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Interviewing Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton is resigned to the fact that his formula 1 world title defence could last only a handful more races and the McLaren driver has anointed fellow-Briton Jenson Button as his heir apparent.

“I think Jenson’s got a great chance, a great shot at it so I wish him all the best,” Hamilton told Reuters in an interview at the McLaren factory when asked who was going to win the championship.

“I think if I were to wish anyone (else) to win, it would be him.”

Click here for the full text interview, or see the rough cut video above.

Button-Hamilton turnaround exposes sham of F1 driving talent

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Here Mitch Phillips gives one view of the current state of Formula One while below Alan Baldwin has a different take on the argument.

Imagine if Usain Bolt returned to the track this year only to find that all his rivals had developed new starting blocks and suddenly the triple world record holder and Olympic champion was not even good enough to make the final of this year’s world championships?

Hey Mitch, Formula One drivers are more than talented…

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Here’s Reuters motor racing correspondent Alan Baldwin’s reply to Mitch Phillips’ piece above

There’s no sham about the driver talent, just the simple fact that you can’t show it off without having the car as well. But that’s self-evident. The best jockey isn’t going to get anyhere in the Derby on a donkey.

The focus is on Hamilton now

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McLaren’s suspended suspension (also known as a slap on the wrists) for lying to stewards allows Lewis Hamilton to get on with what he does best and that is fighting for the championship.

A three-race ban would have just about ended the 24-year-old’s chances, which had not been looking too good anyway even without any sanction.

Have McLaren been punished enough already?

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hamiltonMcLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh celebrates his 51st birthday on Wednesday and it doesn’t look like being much fun.

You can bet he would rather be anywhere else than appearing before Formula One’s governing body in Paris to take the rap for his team ‘deliberately misleading’ race stewards.

Trouble in Woking for McLaren

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When Lewis Hamilton won the Formula One title last November, it seemed like he and McLaren had unlocked the door to a new era of success.

One can only look back now and marvel at just how wide of the mark that particular prediction now appears.

Listen to Lewis

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Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of third place from last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in yet another controversy to hit the sport only days after the season-opener.

The governing International Automobile Federation says race stewards “felt strongly that they had been misled” by Hamilton and his McLaren team over what was said in a post-race enquiry in Melbourne.

Hamilton stripped of Australian GP podium, what next?

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I’m losing track of all the twists and turns of the Formula One season – and we’ve only had one race.

First the points system controversy, then the diffuser row. Now world champion Lewis Hamilton has been stripped of his third place in Melbourne for deliberately misleading race stewards.

Sports picture of the week

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Greg Bos, Reuters Sports Pictures Editor, chooses an outstanding picture from last week:

“It’s not the action that counts here, but the photo opportunity of a formula one driver playing cricket. You can draw your own conclusions whether or not Lewis Hamilton would be able to break into the England cricket team. They could sure use some help.”

New F1 rules risk two-tier championship

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Formula One teams conducted a global audience survey over the European winter whose salient finding was that ‘F1 isn’t broken, so beware over-fixing it’.
 
They suggested nevertheless that the scoring system should be tweaked to increase the reward for winning races by offering 12 points for a victory instead of 10.
 
The governing FIA has ignored their proposal and decreed instead that this year’s title should be settled by race wins with points serving only as a tie-break and to decide the placings from second onwards as well as the constructors’ championship.
 
That may sound neat enough but it jettisons some of the sport’s more cherished principles such as the idea that the championship should also reward mechanical reliability, consistency and teamwork over the course of a season.
 
 In the past, if you had a car that expired in a haze of smoke more often than it won races then the chances were that the championship would be going elsewhere.

Now, a driver could in theory win five races and retire from all the rest and still end up as champion — five or six wins being the minimum requirement for the title over the past decade.
 
While Lewis Hamilton would not have been champion last year under the new system, since Ferrari’s Felipe Massa won more races, the McLaren driver could find the new system beneficial in the current circumstances with his team struggling to get their car up to speed.
 
Even if he is woefully off the pace and fails to score points in the opening long-haul races, all is not lost. If McLaren pull something out of the hat by mid-season, he could still win enough races to be in with a shot even if his points tally is nothing to shout about.
 
The downside of course is that the season could be over very quickly if a driver does as Nigel Mansell did in 1992 and Michael Schumacher in 2004 in winning the first five races in a row.
 
That is only going to make life more complicated for us reporters, who will now have to explain how it is that the man with most points is not necessarily leading the championship. Simply printing the points standings isn’t going to tell you who is actually on top.
 
An example: Massa was five points behind Hamilton after last year’s Japanese Grand Prix with just two races remaining. And yet under the new system, he would have been leading the standings on race wins 5-4.
 
Or how about this? BMW-Sauber’s Robert Kubica would have been only fourth on race wins after last year’s Canadian Grand Prix despite being ahead of everyone on points. And yet, because wins only count for the title calculation, he would have been second overall had the championship ended there and then. First, second, fourth? Confused?
 
One could argue that last year’s championship would still have gone down to the wire if the new format were to be applied retrospectively but it would have been a yawn rather than the nail-biting last lap thriller that we all remember.

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