Lewis Hamilton’s measured run to third place in Sunday’s superb inaugural Singapore Grand Prix night race reflected a sea change in the tactics deployed by the McLaren-Mercedes squad - and an approach which will be maintained throughout the remaining three races of the year in Japan, China and Brazil.
And, if it didn’t, then the team could not be blamed for failing to give it their very best shot.
Now, according to Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren’s chief operating officer, things are going to be different. On reflection the team now believes it adopted too aggressive a strategy during its 2007 campaign, this becoming a weakness which compromised its prospects of taking the title.
From now on, the team is determined to take the strategic view in its quest to put the championship title mathematically beyond reach as quickly as possible, even if that means not going for a win in every race.
“I think an inherent weakness in the team and Lewis last year was the overwhelming desire to win the race at almost any risk,” said Whitmarsh in Singapore. “And in truth that is more forgivable in Lewis. You would like to have that in a young racing driver.”
Seen as such, Hamilton’s third place in Singapore is a victory for the new corporate philosophy: “we didn't win but came away from here with more points than we thought but if you scout around you will not see the euphoria that we ought to have given the actual results. At the end of the day, another Grand Prix win is a great thing to have but we have just got to start piling the point against our biggest competitor.”
If Lewis can deploy this strategy to clinch the championship then the end will have justified the means. Certainly, Lewis has the upper hand after the Singapore race and Massa, licking his wounds after another Ferrari refuelling fiasco, is on the back foot now.