If I am to finish this series of posts before I take off for Australia, I need to hurry up. So let’s continue with the McLaren Mercedes team.
Lewis Hamilton – United Kingdom (England I believe)
Born: 7 January 1985
In F1 since 2007, McLaren
Best Result: 2nd 2007
Career wins: 4
Pole positions: 6
This time a year ago few people outside the F1 hard core circle even heard of Lewis Hamilton, several months later he was on the verge of claiming the driver’s title. Not everybody will agree with me, but it was his title to throw away, and that is exactly what he has done. Now he has another shot at it, but it will not be easy. After his pretty much faultless season (bar the last 2 races) the expectations and resulting pressure on him will be much higher in 2008. The British press and media “Hamilton obsession” is something that he probably could live without. It remains to be seen how will he handle all this when he is no longer considerd rookie.
Many consider Hamilton to be the de-facto McLaren’s number 1 driver. I would however be very careful with this sort of claims. Heikki Kovalainen did not go to McLaren to play a support role …
Hamilton does not seem to have much trouble adapting to driving without the electronic driver aids and he will very likely be one of the privileged few to fight it out for the title. He has enough skills to win the title but so have few others. If last season was tough, this one will be even tougher.
It will also be interesting to watch how he handles another season with very competitive team mate. The public blamed mostly Alonso for all the troubles last year, but one should not forget that it was Hamilton who decided to defy instructions from the team in Monaco and then in that fateful qualifying in Hungary …
Heikki Kovalainen – Finland
Born: 19 October 1981
In F1 since 2007 Renault, 2008 McLaren
Best Result: 7th 2007
Career wins: 0
Pole positions: 0
Podium: 1 (2nd in 2007 Japanese GP)
Unlike Hamilton, Kovalainen’s start to his rookie season was only just short of disaster. Whether it was the lack of F1 racing experience or lack of confidence, his performances early on last season raised some questions about his future. The turning point of his season was probably the incident filled Canadian GP where he finished 4th. From then on he more than matched his team mate Giancarlo Fisichella. He would probably still race for Renault if not for certain Fernando returning home. He was lucky that Nico Rosberg was not available, but he did land the McLaren seat and he looks ready to grab his chance. There are many in F1 circles who consider him to pose a serious threat to Hamilton’s title aspirations and rightly so. He does not go into the season as favourite to win the title and that may be his advantange … I see him as one of the dark horses this year.
F1Wolf’s prediction for McLaren drivers in 2008:
Very evenly matched pair of drivers, but whether the title goes to Maranello or to Woking, I think it will be in Finnish hands … Ooops