Hill On Hamilton

No one can doubt that Lewis Hamilton has the talent to be a top Formula 1 racer. Some might say that he already is, despite only having three races under his belt. Arguments reign over whether the early success of the rookie Brit is down to his talent or the high calibre of his car, but that s not what I want to talk about today. 

I think one of the major questions that surrounds the new guy is whether he is going to be able to take the pressure. It s coming at him from all angles McLaren s expectations are high, specifically Ron Dennis, and British fans are ravenous for someone to pile their hopes onto. 

Previous world champion Damon Hill has spoken out in both sympathy and concern for the spotlight that is now facing the young driver. “I was simply not prepared for the amount of attention I received during my F1 career. Lewis will find that whatever he s currently encountering will be multiplied by a factor of five when he starts winning races. You can t turn it off, so you need a strategy for coping.” 

It s a common occurrence for people to get where they want in their careers and then find the media intrusion too much to cope with. Fernando Alonso has never been shy about admitting he hates the publicity side of things and really just wants to get in the car and drive as fast as he can. 

Lewis Hamilton has the added protection of Ron Dennis his mentor and father figure in the world of motorsport. But some think shielding him from the media does more harm than good. Former team owner Eddie Jordan has spoken out about Ron s decision to keep Hamilton from doing grid interviews in both Malaysia and Sepang. Did the sponsors have a say in that? Wouldn t it have been fairer to go and talk to another driver rather than film Lewis Hamilton NOT talking?
Jordan goes on to say that media interviews keep F1 running, and without that interaction the fans will soon switch off in frustration. 

An interview with Ron Dennis was published in F1 Racing magazine this month that commented on Hamilton s first race and how Ron really felt for him. He said he could read the pressure and the nerves, even if it was only faint and no one else could see it. 

I certainly couldn t. You have to hand it to Lewis. He s still quite young and seems to be handling the pressure incredibly well. The pressure to do well, the pressure of wondering what s going to happen when it doesn t go well, the pressure of just knowing that everyone is talking about you. So far, he still seems to be the level-headed driver that won race after race in GP2. But does that level-headed attitude come from blatantly ignoring the press? We ll just have to wait and see as the season progresses.

F1 Stars The Fittest

You d be forgiven for thinking that Formula 1 drivers really don t need to be all that fit. They just have to turn up for twenty or so weekends a year, drive a car, then go home and revel in their healthy bank balances.

When F1 first started, way back in the 1950s, you would find drivers passing their middle ages as fast as they passed the finish line, and it wouldn t make any difference.

These days, it s all about being the youngest and being the fittest, both of which should add up to being the fastest. You can blame Michael Schumacher for that – he was the main instigator of doing masses of off-season training, including running, weight lifting and hundreds and hundreds of sit ups.

The team doctor at Toyota, a man called Riccardo Ceccarelli, wanted to prove to all sportsmen that his guys were the best. He decided the best way to prove such matters would be to put test driver Franck Montagny in a fitness test against Australian football player Brendan Fevola.

The head to head took place this week, with many tests taking place to prove the true fitness of 26 year old Fevola, and 29 year old Montagny. The results were interesting, with the AFL star having stronger legs, in a leg power test, and faring better in a vertical jump test, but Frenchman Montagny was way out in front on the exercise bike.

The doctor, Ceccarelli, confirmed that F1 drivers have better aerobic capacity and are pretty tough in both leg and upper body strength as well. They also have to be able to withstand tough sporting conditions, including dehydration, heart beats raised to 200bpm, and having to think faster than the car itself.

I think it s fair to say that F1 is not perhaps the easy sport we might have thought it was.