Former Jordan engineer Gary Anderson has warned Lewis Hamilton to think hard about he approaches the final two races of the 2008 Formula One world championship, pointing out just how easy it would be for the Briton to throw away a points lead for the second year running.
Hamilton took a seven-point advantage into Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, but left Fuji Speedway just five to the good after both he and main rival Felipe Massa endured scrappy outings. However, while the McLaren man toiled to finish twelfth around after his rash first corner move earned him a drive-thru' penalty to compound the spin he suffered at the hands of Massa, the Brazilian was able to recover from his own penalty to claim a somewhat fortuitous seventh place.
With Anderson believing that Ferrari continues to hold the upper hand in race conditions, he suggests that Hamilton needs to curb his desire to win the championship from the front. The Briton can still afford to tail Massa to the line in China and Brazil and take the title, and McLaren's demeanour in Singapore suggested that it had finally convinced its lead driver that circumspection was the way to go. Turn one at Fuji, however, seemed to suggest that Hamilton had 'fallen off the wagon', depite seeing a 17-point lead eroded at the same stage last season.
"There will probably be a lot of talk about the first corner incident, [as] a lot of people seem to feel that Lewis Hamilton is a bit more aggressive than necessary," Anderson wrote on the RBS Sport website, "But there's a fine line between being a hard driver and having a 'win at all costs' approach.
"Having not got off the start line as well as he should – whether due to the car or himself – he should have protected his position. That's how you win world championships, but it's not what we saw in Japan. Lewis relied on others to survive, [but] it would have been very easy for Kimi Raikkonen to turn in on him and finish his race.
"The team, or someone, should have a quiet word in Hamilton's ear. Okay, he's five points ahead, but lots of things can happen – like Heikki Kovalainen's engine blow-up – and a five-point lead can disappear very quickly. Hamilton didn't even show his two years' worth of experience at the Fuji Speedway – but he really needs to start showing it in the last two races."
Anderson admitted that it may not be easy for Hamilton to simply follow Massa across the line, particularly given the improvement in form being shown by both Japanese GP winner Fernando Alonso and championship outsider Robert Kubica, but admits that both contenders will make mistakes due to their inexperience.
"I'd rather have seen a more straightforward contest [in Japan], so that we could see who's really got the performance at the moment," he admitted, "On the other hand, if we had, I suspect we'd just have seen that McLaren and Ferrari are indeed completely dominant.
"The McLaren uses new tyres a bit better than the Ferrari, and they do better in qualifying as a result, [but] when it comes to race day, Ferrari has the edge. That's been the situation for the last two years, more or less.