It occured to me last night that the star of this weekend's Grand Prix festivities at the tedious Nurburgring circuit was Lewis Hamilton. This is quite significant, considering that, for those of you who don't know, he's not even a F1 driver. Hamilton is a young (English!) racing driver, who from a very early age has received support and development aid from McLaren. This is unusual. Most people thought Williams went out on a limb when they signed a 19–yr old Button to race, with only two years of car–racing experience beneath him. However, McLaren had decided to take Hamilton under their wing in the late nineties when he was only 12 years old, with a view to develop his career. That's impressive, and I believe unprecedented to this very day. He's also black, which is notable only because bizarrely I can't think of any decent black racing drivers…you'd think that there would be more, considering most of the world's top athletes, with the required pyhsical build for Grand Prix–style racing, are black.
Happily the McLaren arrangement appears to have produced results. Over the weekend Hamilton seems to have totally embarrassed the opposition in the GP2 support races, preceeding the main F1 race. This has caught the attention of the media, which is a great help in securing a young driver a seat in F1. As one of the favourites for this year's GP2 title, I'm glad to see that Hamilton has delivered on the promise that McLaren saw in his pre–teen racing career. How many sporting protoges over the years have let the thoughts of future brilliance go to their head, and then simply vanish from the scene?
I watched the Grand Prix yesterday with some of the Motorsport clan, and someone commented that Hamilton would probably win an F1 race before Button. I wouldn't be suprised if this was to be the case. I think Prodrive may already have a seat for 2008 earmarked with Hamilton's name, and I'm hopeful it won't take them too long to give Honda a spanking…
As for the Grand Prix itself, Nico Rosberg (who won the GP2 series last season…spot a trend here :–)?) was probably the stand–out performer, even if Schumacher put in one of his classic "I'm going to win five titles in a row"–type race performances. We were hoping that Rosberg, starting from the back of the grid, was in fact going to go for a 0–stop strategy…there's nothing like surreal race tactics to liven things up ;–). However, he did eventually come in for fuel just after the half–way mark of the race, having made his way up into the points…fifth place, I think.
We were dismayed when he stopped again, not much later, for another scheduled pitstop. You'd have thought that considering he did the first half of the race on one tank of fuel, he'd do the second half on one tank as well. No matter. However our dissapointment was removed when he emerged in 7th place, ahead of Montoya. On the same 2–stop strategy as him! From the back of the grid! Excellent work indeed…now all he needs to do is qualify well and that's a race win in the bag. Hope springs eternal….;–)