People say F1 is a cyclical sport, where success seems to rotate from one leading protagonist seamlessly to the next. Call it a trend.
Similarly, there has been a trend regarding when the season of competition takes until the final race in order to confirm the World Drivers’ Champion.
In 2008, we had Lewis Hamilton claim victory against the odds and in the final corner of the final lap no less. Two years later, Fernando Alonso was robbed of a third title spending the entire evening stuck behind Vitaly Petrov’s Renault in Abu Dhabi. What Nando would have given for a spot of DRS on that day in history. In 2012, Sebastian Vettel collided with Bruno Senna, only to eventually recover and once again deny Alonso. In 2014, Lewis Hamilton’s rocket start and Nico Rosberg’s reliability misfortune decided yet another title on deadline day.
Once every two years we get one of these thrilling spectacles to close the season. On that basis, we’re due one.
That omen is certainly bad news for Rosberg who, at the time of writing, leads Hamilton by 26 points and is staring down the barrel of a maiden World Championship. Not least, against a man who just twelve months ago had already claimed championship glory after blowing Rosberg into the weeds.
Hamilton fans – and the man himself – are quick to highlight the horrendous unreliability endured by car 44 so far this season. Two MGU-H failures in qualifying and the devastating engine failure in Malaysia have certainly left an indent on the Hamilton points total. The latter alone accounted for 25 points and would have seen the Briton take a two point advantage to Mexico.
HOWEVER, those who suggest that Rosberg would not make a deserving champion are simply wrong. And this, coming from a man who writes a sports OPINION blog. It’s almost always impossible to hold an opinion that is downright incorrect.
Rosberg has won nine races this year. That is a figure not yet amassed in one season by a driver who does not then go on to lift the trophy in December. Sure, his victories have come in races where he has controlled the lead from the front, but getting to the front of the pack and staying there is a skill in itself.
Correct, Rosberg hasn’t had to race Hamilton wheel-to-wheel enough this season. Right again, that the one time he did, he drove into the side of his teammate and threw away victory on the very last lap, (fantastic Austrian GP that was by the way!) However, Rosberg can only race those around him. If Hamilton gets mired by the pack off the line, that is his mistake – not Nico’s.
Based on past performances, even the most ardent Rosberg fans would have a hard job arguing that their man is the better overall racing driver. Hamilton simply has an edge in race craft. That is undeniable, but race craft and raw talent will only get you so far and won’t win every championship in isolation. It takes more to beat a competitive field – and a competitive teammate – each and every year.
What Hamilton does have in his armory though, is the experience that comes with being a three time World Champion. He has closed out titles in the past and knows how to deal with a final race showdown.
He can even call upon experience of winning on the final corner of the final lap – no one else in F1 history knows what that feels like!
The next three races will test Rosberg’s mental strength. He has adopted the mantra of taking “one race at a time,” but eventually thoughts of a maiden title will break through and ramp up the pressure to 11. Particularly if Hamilton wins the next two and brings the points margin down to 12 heading to Abu Dhabi.
Assuming the Briton nails Q3 in Mexico and Brazil and has successfully eradicated his miscommunication with his clutch, this scenario is certainly not out of the question.
If the sequence of a biannual title showdown is anything to go by, then don’t make any plans for the 27th November. It could be one of those years.