Exclusive: Lewis Hamilton and the art of overtaking
Salvador Dali, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock - sometimes, art can be very strange. Lewis Hamilton is one of a distinguished line of great abstract and surreal artists. However, Lewis works with neither brush, paint or sculptor's tools, but with a steering wheel.
Autoblog pored over the videos from the first four races of the F1 season and found the McLaren driver had produced 32 masterpieces - that's how many cars he overtook from Bahrain to China; a figure higher than any other F1 driver at the same grands prix.
Having just taken the overall lead in the drivers championship, Hamilton will be looking to increase his grip on the standings this weekend with maximum points at Monza, a circuit that favours the McLarens over their close rivals, Red Bull Racing. However, With the narrow track offering few opportunities to pass, overtaking chances may be at a premium. which for Hamilton might be frustrating.
The Briton has a well-deserved reputation for getting past his rivals, so in an exclusive interview with the current world championship leader and 2008 World Champion, Autoblog UK discovered more about the art of overtaking as well as Hamilton's thoughts on the season.
Autoblog UK: Lewis, low fuel qualifying on almost empty tanks made its return this season. Has that presented a real challenge for you, the driver?
Lewis Hamilton: Absolutely. It's probably the best moment of the race weekend, when the team pump the tank dry and you go out to improve your time, completely on your own. In contrast to the last few years, there's no extra 10 kilos of fuel in the tank, which can cost you two tenths of a second and which you, the driver, can't get back. It's great to go for the max – max, max, max. It's just so cool.
Autoblog UK: In the first couple of races, you produced more overtaking manoeuvres than any other driver. Is overtaking an art form for you?
Lewis Hamilton: Overtaking is an art. Not just in Formula One, but in any kind of racing generally, whether in go-karting or in any other series. It's a special thing that not everybody can master. A successful overtaking manoeuvre needs a lot of consideration and calculation regarding the distance to the man in front. It's probably one of the most complex situations you can find yourself in during a race but it's still my favourite.
When I'm behind another driver, I have to know what my car is doing but mainly I'm looking at the track and not at my opponent. I'm aware of him but only on the periphery, and although I've got my eye mainly on the track, I know when he slows down and then I brake too. I react to what he's doing all the time. It really is a weird experience.
To highlight Hamilton's overtaking prowess on the race track, clock on the video below to see some great moves from earlier this season.
Autoblog UK: Do you think about who you have in your sights, about his strengths and weaknesses?
Lewis Hamilton: No. When I'm behind another driver, I just want to get past him. Sure, if I've got some experience of the way he drives and know that he might simply go into the side of me, then I try to give him a wide berth. Apart from that, all drivers are the same.
Autoblog UK: What do you think of the new rules for 2011 – will some of the satisfaction for a successful overtaking manoeuvre be lost, if you can simply go by at the touch of the KERS button or thanks to an adjustable rear wing system?
Lewis Hamilton: I've no idea. We haven't done any testing yet, nor have the rules been finalised, so I don't really know and can't comment. I like things as they are and just hope that all these rule changes will help to develop the sport, so that we can continue to give spectators a cracking show, just like this year.
See more highlights from Hamilton's 2010 season in the gallery below.