Originally posted by yr
My only point was that you cant consider a driver as "great" after only one season, even after having a best/equal best car and thus fighting for wins all year. For example Damon Hill was 3rd in WDC in his rookie year, behind Prost and Senna, but above Schumacher. Hill isnt one of the greates ever by any strech of the imagination but he was beaten only by two legends of the sport and he himself beat a legend in making, so that should give you some clue how much a great car can make it easier for the rookie to shine.
There are dozens of ways for LH to have only mediocre career despite his brilliant debut season. First one, and propably only bigger problem in his arsenal as a driver, was his total f@ck up when he had a chance to grab the title, that does raise some questions about his ability to deal with pressure. Perhaps it was because he was rookie, but it remains to be seen how he will cope if title is decided in last race and he doesnt have any points advantage, will he do mistakes again? Schumacher BTW had the same weakness, whenever WDC went to last race, he used to crash against the other title contender (94, 97) or stall on the grid (98) or just drove like it was first time in a racing car in his life (03). That didnt do much harm for his stats though as he had it his way in 94 and 03, rest of his titles came with more or less dominant car so he didnt need to deal with pressure. If Hamilton doesnt have such a luxury (have a dominant car for multiply years) he may have hard time winning the title even once.
Then there´s of course possibility of wrong career choises as was the case with Villeneuve, but I doubt that will occur unless Mclaren somehow drops the ball. That doesnt seem very likely, but who would have thought back in 79 that it will take 21 years for Ferrari to win title again? Who would have thought after Williams dominated sport in mid 90´s that they will not be even runner-ups for a decade, if ever again? If he then wants to change a team its not granted he will get a seat from current top team(s), just ask 2xWDC Fernando. Should he then stuck in midfield for rest of his career with Mclaren, he wont be rememberd after his career is over as a great driver.
That´s why one year is not enough to say anything more than "he had great debut year". Lets see some more of his career, ok?
Like Murray said: "anything can happen in F1 and it usually does".
Sorry to say but when a driver has a rookie season of the standard Lewis did, you can call them a 'great driver'. Up against arguably the best driver in the field, what more do you want? Talk about him cracking under pressure all you want but I think that's not really correct, rather take the season on a whole. All the title contenders made mistakes at some stage. Yet your crucifying Lewis for what exactly?
The comparison with Damon Hill in 1993 is interesting. IMO Hill was a great driver, again not a Schumacher or Senna but then again who is apart from them in recent times? Also one could say Damon shot himeslf in the foot also to an extent, rather than taking Ron Dennis' deal for 1998 at McLaren, he went to Arrows and things went downhill. Before that, Damon SHOULD have been the World Champion in 1994, he was robbed at the last race. 1995 he had a pretty average year but in 1996 won 8 races and the crown against another top drawer rookie in Villeneuve. Agree that Damon wasn't in the top 10 drivers ever but somewhere in the next tier, he certainly was. So while a great car of course throws a rookie automatically at the sharp end, you still have to perform. We've seen Hamilton and Villeneuve do so, we've seen other hyped up drivers (Frentzen, Coulthard, Fisichella.....etc) some not even in their first years, absolutely fail when the pressure to consistently win was thrust on them. So a great car DOES NOT make the driver. That's simply a myth created by some who know very little of how this sport works.
BTW your analogy of Schumacher cracking under pressure was rather hillarious. I agree he made some stupid decisions but given that, in 97/98 for instance he probably shouldn't have even been fighting for the title, I'd say its rather harsh. What he did at Jerez/Adelaide was not right by any stretch but I doubt he literally did what he did purely from the pressure. Look at what Ayrton Senna did at Suzuka 1990, that was 10 times worse than anything Schumacher did and I don't think it was Ayrton 'cracking under presure'......
In any case, I'm pretty sure it will be Raikkonen 'v' Hamilton this year, with maybe Alonso lurking also. I'll be interested to see your views if, in only his 2nd year, Hamilton pulls the World title off against your finnish hero. Should be excuses flying left, right and centre.