F1 2015 Driver Review: Lewis Hamilton

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Continuing MotorSportsTalk’s review of the 2015 Formula 1 season, we bring you the first of our driver capsules, starting with three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 19
Wins: 10
Podiums (excluding wins): 7
Pole Positions: 11
Fastest Laps: 8
Points: 381
Laps Led: 587
Championship Position: 1st

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

What is there to say about Lewis Hamilton that hasn’t already been said? The Briton enjoyed a truly brilliant season, claiming ten wins en route to a third world championship that saw him emulate hero Ayrton Senna.

Hamilton was at his brilliant best at the beginning and in the middle stages of the year, leaving Nico Rosberg answerless. Wins in Bahrain and Canada were particularly impressive, but his finest hour came on home soil at Silverstone. He perfected his tire call in wet conditions to claim an emphatic victory and send the home crowd into raptures, kick-starting a run of six wins in eight races that would be crucial in the title race.

Winning the title in Austin was fitting for Hamilton, given his affinity with the USA, but his greater affinity for partying and being a celebrity caused a downturn in form at the end of the year, as did the better-suiting of the 2016 car updates to Rosberg. Three straight defeats to Rosberg have given the German driver plenty of momentum for the new season.

Hamilton won’t care though. This has been a year in which he has hit new heights both on and off track, living life in the fast lane. Seeing an elite sportsman perform at such a level is something we should relish.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

“Hammer time” rolled on into 2015, and to be honest it seemed the World Championship for him was never really in doubt. The only major hiccup in the opening half of the season came at Monaco, courtesy of a team strategy error, and the only race he really seemed completely on the back foot compared to teammate Nico Rosberg was at Austria.

As it was, the opening nine-race stanza produced a total of 18 podiums between the two of them, and Hamilton ended ahead in six of the nine races. There was enough of an early edge to continue the grasp on the title, and Rosberg failed to win after Austria until his three-race tear with a better comfort level in the chassis to end the year.

It was fitting that Hamilton clinched his third title in Austin, in a country he has embraced, and then fully appreciated the magnitude of the moment. You can say he did too much off track – he certainly shared enough, via his social media channels – but I think Hamilton’s smart enough to understand what to share, now, as a 21st century driver embracing the 21st century mediums.

All the while, he’s got the driving chops to match some of his peers in the past, and must now be fully recognized as an all-time great if he wasn’t already.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.