McLaren Man Hits Regrets At 100

Hockenheim is where McLaren will have both of its drivers hitting 100 races in Formula One. Jenson Button already drove past the landmark occasion at the season-ending Chinese GP in 2005, but Lewis Hamilton will arrive at the 100 club at this weekend’s German Grand Prix.

After a strong first two seasons in the sport, Hamilton was a strong contender in both the 2007 and 2008 championship, performing even better in his maiden year than he did when he won the world title in 2008. Some, such as Jackie Stewart, loudly claimed that it was not inconceivable that he could match or even beat Michael Schumacher’s record of seven championship titles. 2009 began a period where such claims began to look unfounded. McLaren began the year more likely to battle with the then-straggling Force Indias than the leading Brawn GP team, who Button was then part of. McLaren fought back and were in contenton for wins in the second half of the season but it was too late.

He’s seen many podiums and wins in his career so far

2010 saw improved form but Hamilton was never truly a favourite in a year which saw his new team-mate Jenson Button largely match him more often than not. 2011 was dominated by Red Bull and it is only in 2012 where McLaren started the season as the fastest car for the first time since 2008. Aside from an opening round win from Jenson Button, the team have not made the most of their opportunities and have seen their car fall behind Ferrari and Red Bull in the pecking order.

Retirements, disqualification and even a trip to the medical centre in 2007 have also been present

Hamilton has had nine of his eighteen wins after his title-winning year in 2008, a fact which is surprising considering the talent which he holds. Problems off the track, particularly in 2011, have meant that he has not always been focused, but he feels that he has always been prepared for his goals and is hopeful his team will turn their fortunes around when asked if he could have done more in the past few years:

“Yes. I can’t deny it, putting aside the fact that I’m very proud and grateful that I’ve had the chance to be competitive in a competitive car.

“But if I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be the driver that I am.”

“Every year, I feel like I’ve prepared myself and had the mental ability and skill to have won more but, just with the circumstances, we haven’t been able to do so. It’s been a tough 10 or 15 years for this team.

“I’m waiting for that time when they have their highest point. I hope at some stage it’s our turn.”

It started calmly between Alonso and Hamilton but developed into a rocky road as team-mates at McLaren in 2007

When battling in close quarters at such high speeds, it is inevitable that frictions will develop between drivers. None more evident than in 2007 between then-team-mates Fernando Alonso and Hamilton. In the most heated pairing since the days of Senna and Prost, Alonso felt that he wasn’t getting the same treatment as his team-mate and walked out of the team after just one season. Hamilton is still seen as the enemy in Alonso’s native Spain, but relations have become friendlier between the two drivers, and Alonso came out on Friday saying that the Englishman is the rival whom he respects the most, while also backing McLaren to get on top of their current struggles:

“Why do I talk about Hamilton when McLaren has been in crisis for a few races?” said the Spaniard, “Because he always manages to get something extra from the car, even when he looks like he’s in trouble. And then McLaren is always a team that, even when they take a step backwards, can always take two steps forward.”

In the build-up to Sunday’s German Grand Prix, McLaren’s driver has said that the 100th GP is a special event to be remembered. and that his six seasons have flown by:

To think that I have done 100 grands prix, it just feels so unreal,” he said. “Of course it means something; to get to 100 is very important.

“I didn’t notice my 10th, my 20th, my 50th, or any of the others. It just went by so quickly. When you’re having a good time, time flies by. And the years have gone by very quickly. I’m in my sixth year of Formula 1, that’s insane,” he said. “It feels like it’s gone quicker than my Formula Renault years, Formula 3, and GP2. My six years in Formula 1 feels as long as my two years in F3.

It feels very similar to that, but obviously it’s a lot more races. It’s great, and hopefully I have many more races to do in the future.”

Hoping for many more winning seasons

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