Lewis Hamilton came much closer to his first World Championship this weekend by securing the Chinese Grand Prix victory ahead of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.Lewis need only finish 5th or better irrespective of what Felipe Massa does in the final race at Brazil to secure his first Title.
The race was an exercise in discipline for Lewis which has been a bit of a question mark for the young man since his ground-shaking entrance into Formula 1. Last years battle saw Lewis enter the final Grand Prix with a 7 point lead, the same as this year, and lose the title by one point due to impatience and youthful exuberance.
This weekend Lewis looks as if he has been listening to McLaren Principle Ron Dennis. Lewis drove a measured and mature race with impeccable precision. Clearly the Ferrari’s of Felipe Mass and Kimi Raikkonen had nothing for the McLaren this weekend but even with that fact, Lewis looked much for like the learning sophomore he is than the rookie-form he has shown earlier this year. Lewis’s demeanor and perspective in the post-race interviews were also measured, and lacked the foot-in-mouth moments that have plagued his past interviews containing comments laced with ego, bravado and over-the-top claims (more born from immaturity than real big head motivations).
Lewis may have had a cliff-edge moment in his career following the Japanese Grand Prix of two weeks ago. He may have finally figured out that Ron Dennis and McLaren know more about this ‘racing’ thing than either he or his Father Anthony will ever know. He may have learned that knowing what not to say is more important than what to say and that discipline is the crucial part of his race craft that is missing right now. Ron Dennis is completely focused on the title in Brazil even to the point of ignoring any chance of the Constructors Title. Lewis is in great shape for Brazil and if he continues to ‘listen’ to Ron Dennis, he may just find himself the youngest F1 World Champion in history. The odds are good and given Lewis’s performance today, I would safely hedge that bet. The potential trouble for Lewis may have nothing to do with Ferrari at all. It could come from the hands of Fernando Alonso or a BMW fighting for 4th through 7th should Lewis not take the lead and stay ahead of both Ferrari’s.
Honorable mentions must be made to Fernando Alonso finishing fourth, BMW salvaging a bad weekend in fifth and sixth as well as Timo Glock in seventh. One wonder where Jarno Trulli may have finished if he wasn’t punted by Sebastien Bourdais on the first lap.