Experience Matters


Talent will take you far. Sometimes you may even win on pure talent alone. Typically, the young thrive on their talent. Talented young men think they have all the answers. They are bullet proof. Lando Norris is 21 years old. He thought he had all the answers on Sunday when the rain peppered the track at lap 49. Lando was in the lead. He had led the most laps in the race. He had the fastest lap of the race. He was holding seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at bay consistently keeping at least one second between himself and Lewis. When the rain came, he was given the choice to change his tires. He chose wrong. Conversely Lewis was ordered to change his tires. He didn’t want to. However, Lewis followed orders. He won the race. Lewis Hamilton won his 100th race.

Formula 1 is a team sport. Teams need great engineers building great cars. Teams need great principals calling the right shots. Teams need talented drivers. Every driver in Formula 1 is talented. Championships are won when the drivers, team principals, and engineers perform at a high level on a consistent basis. Legends are made when all three elements perform on a consistent basis year in and year out. Great team principals anticipate variables and think about how to defeat those variables. Sunday’s known variable was the weather. Everyone knew it might rain during the race. Toto Wolf, the principal of team Mercedes, kept a close eye on the weather. He knew exactly when to strike. Lewis Hamilton was not the best driver on Sunday, yet he won the race. He won because Mercedes was the best overall team on Sunday. The car was good enough for a podium finish and was running well. Lewis was talented enough for a podium finish and he positioned himself to strike at the opportune moment. The rain came, and Toto made the right call to change the tires with only 4 laps to go. He correctly anticipated that the rain was there to stay. Lando and McLaren opted to stay out on the track, ultimately dropping them from first place to seventh place. Experience builds good situational awareness and judgement calls. Experience builds trust within the team. Experience won the day for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

Sunday’s race was one of this season’s most exciting races. Max Verstappen started 20th on the grid due to an engine change penalty coupled with the penalty assessed from Monza. Mysteriously Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes also opted for an engine change dropping them from seventh to fifteenth. Some speculate this occurred to slow Max down. If that is the case it didn’t work.

Sunday’s starting grid featured Lando Norris on pole, with Carlos Sainz and George Russell in second and third respectively. Lewis Hamilton was in fourth. During the first lap, Carlos Sainz quickly took the lead and Lewis was shuffled to seventh place opting to drive safe given all the traffic at the first turn. Lewis quickly took sixth place and slowly worked his way up to second place with excellent driving and even better tire management strategy. Max slowly worked his way through the field. During lap 13, Lando retook the lead and did not give it up until lap 51 when the rain hit the track. Carlos Sainz pitted on lap 15. Apparently, Ferrari thought this was a two-stop race. Carlos Sainz was not happy when he realized the rest of the field was working a one-stop strategy. Sainz being in position to finish third on Sunday is a testament to his driving persistence, mental toughness and driving skill.

The umbrellas went up during lap 46. Max was in seventh place. Sainz was 34 seconds off the lead in third place. Lando was holding Lewis at bay with a one second interval. Lando slipped off the track in lap 47 but maintained first place. The rain started coming down harder around turn 5 of the track. Max pitted in lap 49. Lewis followed closely behind and also changed to rain tires. Meanwhile the team principal for McLaren asked Lando his thoughts on changing to rain tires, and Lando said no. He ended up regretting that choice.

It was nice to see a fist pump between Max and Lewis at the end of the race. There is a mutual respect between the two drivers. It was also nice to see Ferrari on the podium. It has been a while. You learn more from your losses then your wins. At least you should. Losses are important. Losses help you gain experience, especially if you learn from the loss. A talented Lewis Hamilton won a championship for McLaren in year two of his Formula 1 career. Lewis won his next championship 6 years later during his second year with Mercedes. Five years of losses built important experience. Lando Norris is only 21 years old. Sunday’s race will be burned into his memory. Hopefully Lando and McLaren will learn from Sunday’s mistakes.

100 wins is quite an accomplishment. It is a testament to the consistency, talent and experience of Lewis Hamilton. Every time he climbs into the cockpit of his car, he is setting a record. Only two points separate Max and Lewis. We are all looking forward to the Turkish Grand Prix on 10 October.

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