British racing legend welcomes ‘exciting’ Hamilton as youngest World Champion but says he should never have won the title;
McLaren defend ‘disciplined’ Brazil tactics
Lewis Hamilton’s touch-and-go charge to fifth place in Sunday’s thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix did not deserve to earn him the World Championship. That is the verdict of four time championship runner-up Sir Stirling Moss who was disappointed to see the Briton abandon his characteristically aggressive racing style as he tip-toed to championship glory.
Hamilton entered the history books on Sunday as the youngest world champion in Formula One, and the first British champion in over a decade, following a nail-biting climax to the final race of the 2008 season in Brazil.
With only one lap of the race remaining the British hero found himself out of the money in sixth place behind Toyota’s Timo Glock after light showers intervened in the dying laps.
Hamilton’s championship rival Felipe Massa crossed the line in first place, prompting huge roars from his Brazilian supporters who, along with Massa’s family and the local boy himself, believed they were witnessing the first Brazilian champion since Ayrton Senna in 1991.
But as Hamilton navigated the final few corners he approached and passed Glock, who was struggling in the conditions, to take fifth place, and with it the title.
“He shouldn’t have been in that position,” Moss told Forumula1.com. “If he’d been allowed to drive as he normally does – aggressively and quickly – he wouldn’t have been in a situation where we’re thinking is he going to make it or isn’t he.”
“I mean he lined up fourth but finished fifth and I thought that was very disappointing. He was very very lucky to get the title. I think he deserves it because he’s done so well during the year, but he certainly did not deserve it on Sunday.”
Moss blames team orders for Hamilton’s nearly-moment and reckons the McLaren driver would have had a far easier ride to the title had he been allowed to do what comes instinctively to him as an aggressive racer.
“I was disappointed because he didn’t go into that race as he normally would: as a racer. He went into the race to make the numbers up.”
“I think it was probably team instructions, but I think the instructions were wrong. They (McLaren) were very lucky to get away with it. I mean let’s face it, if Glock hadn’t had the wrong tyres on he (Hamilton) would never have done it. It shouldn’t have been like that.”
However, McLaren insist that they couldn’t have expected anything more from Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s chaotic race.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s Chief Operation Officer is adamant that Hamilton’s ‘disciplined’ approach was precisely what was needed to enable him to clinch the title.
Speaking exclusively to Forumula1.com Whitmarsh responded: “Like everyone at McLaren, I have huge respect for Sir Stirling. He was a wonderful driver in his time, and remains a legend of our sport.
“Lewis drove a superbly disciplined race in extremely difficult conditions in Brazil, and did what was required to secure the drivers’ world championship.
“Felipe, too, drove brilliantly to win the race, and I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the quality of his driving throughout the season and the impressively sportsmanlike way he handled the disappointment of finding out at the last minute that he hadn’t won the drivers’ world championship.”
“But, as I say, Lewis did exactly what we asked him to do, from a highly technical point of view, which is how you have to operate in 21st century Formula 1.
“When Sir Stirling says, ‘If Glock hadn’t had the wrong tyres on, he [Hamilton] would never have done it’, it’s important to remember that the reason Timo had the wrong tyres on is that he hadn’t stopped to change them; had he done so, he would have dropped back anyway.”
Whitmarsh added that Hamilton’s success needs to be looked at in the context of a full Formula One season.
“The reality is that the world championship is fought out over 18 grands prix, not just one, and Lewis won superbly in Australia, Monaco, Britain, Germany and China, showcasing the racer’s instinct that Sir Stirling so rightly admires in him.
“So, yes, it was touch-and-go at the end, but 12.5 million viewers watched the Brazilian Grand Prix in the UK alone and I’m sure that they’d all agree with me that what they saw added up to a fantastic evening’s TV entertainment.”