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Hamilton admits to having handled F1 rookie season badly

As he seeks to re-instate himself at the top of the pecking order again in F1 2010, McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has conceded that he perhaps mis-managed his debut campaign in the top flight alongside Fernando Alonso three years ago...
Lewis Hamilton has conceded that he perhaps 'misinterpreted and misunderstood the goals' at McLaren-Mercedes during his rookie year in F1 in 2007 – an acrimonious campaign that degenerated to such an extent as to prematurely drive embittered team-mate Fernando Alonso out of the team come season's end.

The recipe of the reigning double world champion alongside an ambitious and highly-rated debutant at Woking that year on paper had all the ingredients for a highly successful challenge, with conventional wisdom going that the apprentice would learn from the master in order to equip himself to be able to launch his own all-out assault on glory the following season. Only things didn't quite work out that way.

Not only was Hamilton faster than Alonso had anticipated, but he also seemed to have precious little inclination to play the subservient role of second fiddle to his illustrious team-mate, immediately generating tension inside the team, with the spectre of 'team orders' rearing its ugly head in Monaco. By the time the hostilities spilled over onto the track with a tit-for-tat qualifying spat at the Hungaroring mid-summer, the pair were scarcely any longer on speaking terms, with the Spaniard very publicly claiming that he was not being treated on equal terms.

There followed an unsavoury episode during which Alonso allegedly attempted to blackmail team principal Ron Dennis over the espionage row, and when the fierce in-fighting and mutual disdain culminated in both drivers missing out on the crown by just a single point to Ferrari rival Kimi Raikkonen at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix finale at Interlagos, for the Oviedo native it was the final straw. Never mind the fact that he still had two years left remaining on his contract – he was off.

Hamilton's subsequent team-mate Heikki Kovalainen has also made noises about McLaren being very much the Briton's team – to the detriment of the man inside the other cockpit – and fears have been expressed that in entering the lion's den as it were, reigning F1 World Champion Jenson Button is simply lining himself up to suffer a similar fate in 2010, unwittingly preparing himself to simply be chewed up and spat out.

The 2008 title-winner, predictably, disagrees, and whilst he recognises with the benefit of hindsight that errors were made three years ago with regard to the manner in which he handled the situation alongside a driver of similar calibre to himself, the 25-year-old is adamant that he had learned from his mistakes and that he and his fellow countryman have already struck up a strong working relationship.

“It's different [now],” Hamilton stressed in an interview with BBC Sport. “We've learned from experiences and we (he and Button) understand each other very well. At the beginning of my first year I was up alongside the two-time world champion, and he was seen as the guy to win the world championship. I think at the time I misinterpreted and misunderstood the goals and the understanding of how the team worked.

“Since I've been here, they do everything to give us individually the best package possible. I've never had more than the guy next to me; we've always had equal opportunity, which is the greatest thing in a team. It's not easy to manage that, because one guy can be ahead of the other.

“Inevitably people say things sometimes when they haven't done so well. You say things out of anger; you say things that you potentially don't mean. That's how I see it from the others.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MP4/22, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/22, Canadian F1 Grand Prix, Montreal, 8th-10th, June 2007
Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MP4/22, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/22, Malaysian F1 Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 6-8th, April 2007
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/22, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MP4/22, Indianapolis F1, USA, 2007
Barcelona, Spain, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren Mercedes - Formula 1 Testing, Barcelona
02.02.2010 Valencia, Spain, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren Mercedes - Formula 1 Testing, Valencia
Jenson Button (GBR), Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren MP4-25 Launch, Newbury, GB, Vodafone, Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton (GBR), Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren MP4-25 Launch, Newbury, GB, Vodafone, Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton [Pic credit: McLaren]
McLaren, 2011 launch, [Credit: Crash PA]
Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher and the 1996 Ferrari F310
Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso - Mercedes, McLaren
George Russell, Mercedes junior programme, [Credit: Mercedes]
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Ayrton Senna - McLaren. 1993 Donington Park

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Piercarlogassolini - Unregistered

March 05, 2010 4:01 PM

This is an example of why the rest of the F1 field should worry, the child is growing up. (I'll exclude SV from 'the rest of the field', I think the capacity is the same in him). In a cleaner, calmer McLaren (team), Hamilton could break all the records out there. I'm a fan of no-one may I remind you, this is just how I see it.

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