It’s a fairly tenuous game drawing parallels between two very different careers, but watching Lewis Hamilton during last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix reminded of another driver I admired a more than decade ago.
He also arrived in the world championship with a bang, defying his relative inexperience to record brilliant results early on and carry that momentum into an early world championship.
Like Lewis, he was regarded as the fastest man out there, yet like Lewis he couldn’t always turn his speed into victories, partly as a result of his car letting him down, partly as a result of making mistakes while sitting on – and beyond – the edge.
The man I refer to is Colin McRae and, while I fully accept the two are leagues apart in personality and their chosen branch of motorsport, I also see another parallel that could be looming large – and that is that, for all his talent, Colin never added to his world championship tally.
While Colin went through season after season of astounding highs and lows, mixing brilliant victories with heart-wrenching mechanical failures or (less often than many suppose) driving mistakes, other drivers picked up world titles; in my mind Tommi Mäkinen, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg were never quite as ultimately fast as the Scot, but they all won titles when he didn’t. Quick as he could be, Marcus Grönholm’s early championship success owed more to consistency than blinding pace.