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  Debate

Debate

Without Peter Bonnington, would Lewis Hamilton have achieved his legendary status in F1?

The odds were against him, but Lewis Hamilton came through at the British GP. On Saturday, he could not get the pole position as his own teammate George Russell beat him to it. Then, during the Main Race, he fell behind Lando Norris for a good part of the race, and the rain did not help matters. But as the true 7x World Champion that he is, Hamilton crossed the chequered flag with his 104th Grand Prix win, and his engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington was one of the first ones to congratulate him over the team radio.

After 945 long days, Lewis finally slammed the door shut in the face of his critics with his British GP victory. But the 39-year-old was hardly alone on this journey as Bono was always with him during each of the outings where the Mercedes driver failed to impress. The long wait made both Lewis and Bono more eager for the Briton’s win on British soil. As Hamilton completed his cooldown lap, he exchanged some tear-stained words with Bonnington as the two prepared to get up to the Silverstone podium to receive their awards.

While it looked like both Lewis and Bono were crying while congratulating each other on their much-awaited win, Ted Kravitz enquired about it later on. Bonnington told Kravitz jokingly, “I wouldn’t say crying, I had something in my eye!” But it is true that the Silver Arrows race engineer is very much invested in Lewis Hamilton‘s career as they have been working together since 2012. Before Lewis joined Mercedes, Bono was the Senior Race Engineer for the German legend Michael Schumacher as well.

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Did Peter Bonnington's tearful message to Lewis Hamilton just hit you right in the feels? React!

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Acknowledging the hard work and sweat Bonnington put into ensuring Hamilton’s win, F1 pundit Tom Clarkson discussed the role of race engineers and other ‘unsung heroes’ in the sport. These are the people who work tirelessly, managing the race strategies, communicating and getting responses from the drivers, checking the weather planning tire changes accordingly, etc.

Speaking on them, Clarkson expressed on ‘F1 Nation’, “I believe that Race Engineers are first and foremost psychologists. They need to have the stick-and-carrot mentality. At times, you need to be a teacher, at times, you need to be the best friend, the biggest critic, and the absolute biggest supporter at each and every time until the last minute in the last lap you’re working together.” Then, the Formula 1 commentator picked up the examples of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s race engineers to further prove his point, but how?

Clarkson discusses Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s rapport with their race engineers

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While Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are extremely successful racers in their own rights, a lot of hard work goes into their cars from the pits where the cameras don’t reach. Hamilton’s only connection to his team during the race is his engineer Peter Bonnington. For Max, it is his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase. Speaking on the relationship between the two multiple Championship-winning drivers and their race engineers, Tom Clarkson said, “This relationship between Bono and Lewis is a very interesting one I think. It also went equally with Max and GP. It’s like this relationship is the rock in the ocean.

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While Bono has stood by Lewis when he won 104 Grands Prix, the Briton has also seen the Mercedes racer deal with the heartbreaking results of the 2021 Championship fight against Verstappen. Meanwhile, there was a time when GP Lambiase was applauded by Christian Horner for his way of dealing with the reigning World Champion. Horner had said, “I think to race engineer Max Verstappen, you’ve got to have strength of character because he is one tough customer.” This shows that 43-year-old Lambiase knows exactly what Max Verstappen needs to proceed to the front of the grid.

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Thus, Max and Lewis have the support of two highly experienced race engineers while they chase after Grand Prix wins. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc‘s race engineer is new to the business. Bryan Bozz used to be the Ferrari performance engineer prior to his joining Leclerc’s crew because the former race engineer, Xavier Marcos left. Now, Leclerc is at a disadvantage compared to Verstappen and Hamilton because he needs to establish a new rapport with Bozz.

Do you think this can hold the Monegasque from beating his rivals in the World Championship this season? Share your opinions in the comments below.