Can Lewis Hamilton turn thirds into first?

Formula One 2011 Rd.15 Japanese GP: Lewis Hami...

Formula One 2011 Rd.15 Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) during race. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the first two races of the Formula One season a key question has emerged – can Lewis Hamilton become World Champion by finishing third in every race?  The Brit’s tactics are becoming increasingly clear.  He starts by qualifying on pole, thereby avoiding any potential trouble off of the start line.  He then works his way back down into third place in the race.  He places himself just far enough behind the leading drivers so as not to be tempted into anything rash and just far enough ahead of 4th place so as not to be under any threat.  By running in 3rd he also ensures that he is nowhere near his 2011 bête noire, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.  If, as happened in Malaysia, he finds himself inadvertently running too near the front, he wouldn’t want to just slow down and risk a possible tangle in being overtaken.  Instead, with a well orchestrated pit stop delay he can quickly and easily slot himself back into the appropriate 3rd place and run safely to the finish.

However, will third place finishes throughout the year be sufficient to secure him the champion’s crown?  The precedents are encouraging.  Using the points systems in place at the time, third spot on the podium in every race would have secured the McLaren driver the championship spoils in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

He would be the first driver to be Champion with no wins in the season, but after recent seasons, I doubt he’d mind.  So roll on China and another trip to the bottom of the podium and another step closer the end of season awards ceremony.

FORMULA ONE MUM

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