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After Hungary
Championship Standings:

Drivers' Standings

1 Lewis Hamilton 63
2 Valtteri Bottas 58
3 Max Verstappen 33
4 Lando Norris 26
5 Alexander Albon 22
6 Sergio Perez 22
7 Charles Leclerc 18
8 Lance Stroll 18
9 Carlos Sainz 15
10 Sebastian Vettel 9
11 Daniel Ricciardo 8
12 Pierre Gasly 6
13 Esteban Ocon 4
14 Antonio Giovinazzi 2
15 Daniil Kvyat 1
16 Kevin Magnussen 1
17 Kimi Raikkonen 0
18 Nicholas Latifi 0
19 Romain Grosjean 0
20 George Russell 0

Constructors' Standings
1 Mercedes 121
2 Red Bull Honda 55
3 McLaren Renault 41
4 Racing Point Merc 40
5 Ferrari 27
6 Renault 12
7 AlphaTauri Honda 7
8 Alfa Romeo Ferrari 2
9 Haas Ferrari 1
10 Williams Mercedes 0

Hamilton Makes Lemonade

by Scott Morris
Sunday, March 29, 2009


Lewis Hamilton made the most out of a bad situation, a sign of a true champion
"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!" It’s a cliché, but I am not sure what else would more fittingly describe Lewis Hamilton's drive in the Australian Grand Prix.

The McLaren team started out the season in lackluster pace, causing many to raise a brow of suspicion and levy accusations of "sandbagging." I was among them, watching the widely watched internet video of the practice starts where the Ferrari blew past the McLaren as if it were going the wrong direction. I looked at that video and thought that it was clear that Hamilton backed off the throttle as the Ferrari went past. I still think this was so, but it was probably to mask the fact that the McLaren was not going to keep up, so there was no point in making it obvious. Backing off the throttle left some speculation.

Lewis Hamilton's McLaren needs a lot of work to catch the Brawns
However, qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix pretty much eliminated any speculation of "sandbagging" as the 2008 World Champion qualified 18th, and was relegated to dead last after a gearbox swap, and then gained two spots on the illegally-winged Toyotas. Still, for a world champ, this might as well be dead last. On-track he was dead last as well, as the Toyotas started from the pit lane.

Now, I have said many times that the only measure of a champion racer is where he brings the car home at the end of the race. In F1 especially, nothing else really matters. There is no point for qualifying, there is no point for the fastest lap or laps led, or leading at halfway. There are no "lucky dog" provisions for gaining back a lost lap. If you are at the back, you need to make your way to the front.

Hamilton was outpaced by his own teammate the entire weekend as well. Kovalainen has been significantly faster than Hamilton on most occasions in pre-season testing and race weekend. However, Heikki came up a few parts short on his car early in the race, and Hamilton kept whittling away at the cars ahead of him, making passes in places where it seemed almost ill-advised. Well, in this race he wasn’t the only one doing so. Rubens Barrichello and several others seemed to hit almost everything in site. A number of drivers proved true the pre-season prediction that front wings would be easily and regularly knocked off cars. Teams must be preparing a half-dozen spare wings this season for each race.

Hamilton's wing seem to stay fixed to his car. All of the parts were intact at the end of the race. He had no off-track excursions and really had no spectacular moments compared to the rest of the field this day.

When the yellow flag came out at the end of the race due to the indiscretions of Vettel and Kubica, Hamilton was sitting in fourth place. Then, with another bad decision by another driver, he was promoted to third place in the final results.

"We've definitely not forgotten how to win," Hamilton said afterward. "Our strategy was perfect and the team did a fantastic job; considering the package we've got, I wrung every last ounce of pace out of the car, drove one of my best ever races and absolutely raced my heart out. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to drive in my life, but reliability was good."

It is precisely these kinds of performances that are silent punctuation on the career of a true champion. These kinds of performances are not the ones that people will seem to remember, as there was nothing obviously spectacular about it. That's 6 points for the season, during an era where the last few drivers championships have been decided by a slimmer margin.

Even in the years with Alonso, Schumacher and Raikkonen, it was not the wins that accounted for their margin of victory in the season's-end points. It was the points they brought home when they did not win, that made the difference.

If McLaren can catch up technically with the other cars, this podium result could be the deciding factor in another Hamilton championship. With McLaren's resources, I expect them to have a new diffuser fitted quite quickly. They have the same engine as the leading team right now. One has to wonder if they can make the improvement.  They have done it before when their car was not quite up to snuff. It is what makes the McLaren team so legendary. They have the ability to adapt and develop the car from race to race.

Just because they are off pace now, it is not cause to think that this season is a lost one for them. I think the rumors of their demise are quite premature. Especially with a driver that can bring home the points when the car is at its worst.

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