Michael Bailey: One more quiet word for Lewis Hamilton
It seems a few of us have been left asking exactly what has gone wrong with Lewis Hamilton?
While Jenson Button continues to blossom at the Woking outfit, his arguably more talented McLaren team-mate has seemingly lurched from one controversial clash to another – whether his fault or not.
The latest spat came at the weekend in Singapore and was most definitely Hamilton's fault, as Felipe Massa – not for the first time – saw his ambitions in qualifying and Sunday's race severely dented by some flailing carbon fibre controlled by the 2008 world champion.
Given Massa's reaction in the post-race interview mixed zone, the Brazilian clearly thinks Hamilton needs to think about his driving – and the Ferrari man was critical to the media as well: 'How many races this year he did this? He went in the wrong direction and he paid for it, and he never learned. He is not learning.
'I tried to speak to him after but he didn't listen to me. I called him two times but he didn't listen, he (walked) past me. He didn't even look to me.
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'When I saw him, I said, 'very good job, well done'. Like that you will win many championships!'
Not a happy man, Felipe.
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In truth, Hamilton's results have been reasonable – only two retirements, two wins and another two visits to the podium.
But this is Lewis. A man who can carve a field open at will – something he showed at other times on Sunday.
Earlier in the season it was Niki Lauda claiming Hamilton's driving was erratic and dangerous – which did smack of being a slightly over-excited response.
This weekend it was Jackie Stewart chipping in with his words of wisdom.
'I am a bit confused because he certainly knows how to drive and has a very large amount of natural talent,' Stewart told Autosport.
'But if Lewis is going to be a great driver he cannot have serial incidents. None of the great drivers ever drove in that fashion.
'He has all the skills but somehow he jumps out of gear mentally…I think he needs to think about his mind-management. He has the skills and abilities, but unfortunately he is having too many incidents. Michael (Schumacher) has had the same problem but the greats, the Fangios, Jim Clarks, Niki Lauda, myself, we didn't have many accidents.'
No doubt, a cleaner season would have put Hamilton closer than the 17 points he sits behind his team-mate – while some of the off-track issues that were around in 2010 have not been there to affect him this year.
Yet one of the best drivers to watch on the current grid does need to get a grip before the whole situation starts to overshadow why Lewis is worth watching. You suspect the man himself, who comes across as sensitive – almost fragile – and self-critical, will have the same thoughts when he gets those quiet moments to himself.
Not that McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh seems overly concerned: 'As a team we have got to try and get better, Lewis has got to try and get better as a race driver.
'But from five times through the pit lane to score valuable points, and get a strong fifth place like that, it was a great drive today.'
• Team Lotus were happy to boast their best race to date in Singapore – so said Tony Fernandes, and he was probably right. But for Jarno Trulli being taken out by Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso, the Norfolk marque could've been in for strong finish down to pace alone.
Clearly those final upgrades to the T128 had a positive effect, while Heikki Kovalainen finishing above Vitaly Petrov's Group Lotus-backed Renault will have raised a smile or two around Hingham.
But the best weekend news for Team Lotus was long-awaited confirmation they will have Kers from next season – a lack of which has cost them at least 0.3 seconds per lap in 2011. Red Bull will provide the technology, alongside Renault engines, until 2013.
Meanwhile, Team Lotus officials apparently have the go-ahead to ask for a name change in time for next season. No team will stand in the way of the request – although Bernie Ecclestone may still need convincing.
But if the change means losing out on substantial F1 funding as part of the current Concorde Agreement, those at Team Lotus may yet need to work out what the best course of action really is.
• There were no big celebrations from Red Bull – although the plans would have been in place – yet Singapore in effect sealed the drivers' title for Sebastian Vettel, pictured.
It may not be the most exciting way to win races – nine of them in 2011 – but it takes a champion to stick your car on pole (11 times from 14 weekends) and win with such consummate ease. He has been a real class apart.