Wednesday 20 September 2017

Hamilton losing track of trailblazer Vettel – Prost

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

MOTORSPORT Tom Cary in Abu Dhabi

On a day when Lewis Hamilton said rather gloomily that he might never win another world championship – and, even more incredibly, that he would not be too bothered if he never did – one of Formula One's greats warned the 2008 world champion that his fears could be well founded.

Alain Prost knows a thing or two about thinking one's way around a racing circuit. 'Le Professeur', as he was known in his heyday, was famed for his cerebral approach to his craft, which propelled him to four world championships despite driving in the era of Ayrton Senna, arguably the greatest talent in Formula One history.

So when Prost says that Sebastian Vettel, the new four-time world champion, is going to enjoy next year's radical new engine regulations, and that Hamilton may suffer by comparison, it is worth taking note.

"The way Sebastian works with people in the team, we know that he is doing little things different to the rest," Prost said at a technical briefing given by Renault to educate journalists on some of the finer points of the switch to 1.6-litre turbo engines next year.

"That gives him an advantage and makes him more confident. On the other side, there is a guy like Lewis who is more of a pure racing driver. But I think he (Hamilton) should change a little bit and look into other things because he could be surprised.

"Before, you had the car in your hands. It was a raw package. But now it is a package that will suit someone like Sebastian."

It seems it is difficult to overstate just what an impact the new 'power train' is going to have on the racing next year, with the introduction of a far more powerful energy-recovery system meaning that drivers will have to think carefully about when and how to deploy the power at their disposal.

"I consider Lewis as one of the quickest drivers, maybe one of the best," the Frenchman said. "But is he using his full potential? Maybe not. Maybe next year he will find another motivation, but at the moment he is finding it very hard to beat Sebastian."

"I have confidence we'll be competitive next year but you never know," Hamilton wrote in his BBC column.

"Maybe circumstances mean that I never win the world championship again. A while ago, that would have been a scary thought, but it isn't so much any more." (© Independent News Service)

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix , Live, tomorrow, Sky Spts F1, 11.30/Setanta Irl, 12.55

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