We all wish we could see the future, right? How great would that be? And how much fun would that be? But after the initial week of this newfound special ability my guess is it would become less and less interesting.
After you picked all six horses to place, broke the bank at your favorite casino, found out who really was the right one for you, or collected your winnings for Powerball, Mega Millions (or whatever lottery you play on a weekly basis), knowing the future just wouldn’t be that much fun anymore. For what is life if you know every detail or event that will happen before it does? Boring. Lifeless. Life is about chance, about a leap of faith, about the pain of making a bet and getting it wrong or the thrill when it all comes together and you’re spot on.
We all thought we knew who was going to win the championship this year didn’t we? We were all convinced, after the fourth win in a row, that it was all over weren’t we? How much fun was there in knowing that? For us super geeky F1 fans there is always plenty to go over in regards to the details of F1, but I daresay for most race fans the details just don’t do it when it comes to keeping F1 interesting and probably more so for the American crowd.
That is why going into this weekend’s race, despite the fact that Mercedes will be the odds on favorites yet again, there is truly something to get excited about. What seemed to be a forgone conclusion, that Lewis Hamilton was going to run away with this championship, is anything but that. In fact it just might be the opposite.
What Happened To Lewis Hamilton?
In an earlier piece I said that Lewis had a date with destiny. I was convinced that Nico Rosberg was not up to it. In outright pace it would appear to me Lewis Hamilton is faster than Nico Rosberg. How about a small review? Hamilton started the year with a pole, added to that another three more pole positions, a streak of four wins in a row, plus two second-place finishes and on paper Hamilton should be ahead on points.
In fact you only have to review the staff picks here at Formula1Blog.com to see that the majority shares this theory of Hamilton’s superiority. So why is Hamilton behind his teammate in the standings.
The race wins tally is Hamilton-4, Rosberg-3. The problem is two big fat DNFs for Hamilton in addition to the poles and the wins. This of course is the simple explanation for Hamilton to be behind the guy we all think is just a bit slower. But we all know nothing is ever that simple particularly when it has to do with F1.
Is there something else that is contributing to the change of fortunes for this season’s two protagonists? F1 commentator and all-around expert Murrey Walker thinks so. According to Mr. Walker it is thinking vs. emotion and as of right now thinking is winning out.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, this long time pundit puts it this way, “I don’t think it is unfair to say that Hamilton is a lot more emotional about it and that can affect his driving,”
He continues, “The more he is beaten by Rosberg, the more it could hypothetically hurt him emotionally, and that brings about more pressure.”
Finally Mr. Walker gives this appraisal of where the two parties stand currently. “In a nutshell it is going to be very, very difficult for Hamilton to win the championship because Rosberg is a thinking driver. Hamilton is faster but I don’t think he is cleverer than Rosberg,”
Could This Be Nico’s Championship Year?
Picking up on what Murrey Walker has said, I have to disagree a little. There is no way the championship is over (this weekend’s race only marks the halfway point) and no way Hamilton is at that much of a deficit. It is twenty-nine points to be exact, just over a race win and anything can happen and it usually does.
We have seen many times it only takes a little mistake from either the driver or the team to derail a perfect plan and Rosberg is off the podium or worse, out of the points paying position.
I have never seen a driver be entirely lucky for the whole year. Nico is due some bad luck.
But Mr. Walker does bring up a valid point and one that I have criticized Hamilton for in the past. One must temper one’s emotions or they will be one’s undoing. How was that for a little eastern ‘they call me grasshopper’ philosophy.
One thing is very clear now; this will not be a runaway season for Hamilton as we all might have been lead to believe due to the string of wins that he put together early in the season. Whatever you, me or the pundits believe, let’s just throw that all out the window as of right now because no one seems to be able to predict the future when is comes to the Mercedes teammates.
There is, as has been expected, the beginnings of a divide between Hamilton and Rosberg. I for one don’t believe it is as dramatic as the press would have us believe. Hamilton did look pretty mad in Monaco but to make comparisons to Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost just seems inaccurate.
However, back in April Hamilton revealed to the press that both sides of the garage seemed to have no issues sharing data. Now here we are a few months on and Toto Wolff, the team principal, has gone on record to say transparency is suffering.
As reported by ESPN F1 after the Austrian GP, “Nevertheless, [on Saturday] the team had a bit of a moment. After FP3 we weren’t in good shape and the atmosphere wasn’t like in the races before. We see that it’s getting very competitive, that transparency is suffering a little bit and we need to make sure that this is not detrimental to the team. We need the knowledge of the whole group in working together in the zone, the drivers and the engineers on both side of the garage.”
This is only a guess but could Hamilton have lost some of his momentum due to the fact that Rosberg has found an advantage and gained his own momentum? While car data is still free flowing, what each driver is doing over each lap is now not free flowing. Rosberg by his own admission really excels at the technical aspect of driving an F1 car and choosing not to share this information might have a knock-off effect on Hamilton’s engineers. It is only a guess.
Hamilton for his part always just gets in the car and drives the thing at the absolute limit. But sometimes this is not enough; sometimes it is the thinking driver that comes out on top vs. the faster one.
One more thought in the context of the drivers and their relationship and that of the team, and please don’t hold back if you think I’m off my rocker. This is definitely coming out of left field and requires an affinity for conspiracy theories. I’m not even sure if the COO – that’s Chief Opinion Officer – will not just delete this right out of the post, but here it is: Can there be any chance that nationality is playing a role in this?
For the life of me I cannot recall where I read just a couple of sentences that caught my eye. The gist of the point was: Could the Anglo German team (with an emphasis on the German part) be favoring the Austrian driver over the British driver if only in the smallest of ways?
The irony is, that’s exactly what Fernando Alonso felt McLaren were up to during his title campaign in the year he partnered Hamilton. To put it bluntly, Alonso was convinced the British team was favoring the British driver at his expense.
Remember, Alonso’s complaint was never really with his rookie teammate, at least not until Hungary, but was with Ron Dennis and by extension the team. I can very easily see key personnel in a team having an influence over what happens, or does not, on either side of the garage.
We don’t even need to go into Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel and one Mark Webber.
Have We All Misjudged Nico Rosberg?
OK, back to the real world. What if while we were all misjudging how much Lewis would walk (drive) all over his teammate, his low-key, friendly, well-mannered teammate, we were also misjudging Nico Rosberg as well? Maybe that happy-go-lucky smile was cloaking something else? Something that until it was pushed up against a wall was not so obvious. A killer instinct.
After all, Rosberg stood up quite well against Michael Schumacher. It is safe to say that for the most part Rosberg outraced Schumacher all three years they were partnered. Could it be that Rosberg is not only just as fast as Hamilton, but also possesses that very same quality that Hamilton has? That quality that was very much on display when the former McLaren man would not yield to a seasoned two-time world champion while in his rookie year
This is the same quality that Vettel showed us in full effect back in Malaysia last year in the multi-21 affair. This was a quality the aforementioned Schumacher had in spades and a quality that is always associated with Alonso. Gerhard Burger calls it selfishness, but he means killer instinct. Maybe with Rosberg it is not so apparent, not so in your face. Maybe Rosberg is a quiet killer, subtler, stealthier and therefore more of a threat.
Couple this with Rosberg’s deep understanding of the data and the technical side of things, his consistent driving and good luck so far, maybe Mr. Walker is onto something in regards to the son of a world champion driver having an advantage
A True Indicator Of Where This Championship Is Heading
The British Grand Prix is up next and the set-up could not be better. Here are just a few of the particulars. British driver in the fastest car on the grid. British driver befallen by bad luck and needs a win. British driver can win his home grand prix for a second time. Most drivers never even podium their home GP once let alone win it once, forget a repeat. British driver has something to prove. British driver has unfinished business. Recalling last year, British driver was on pole and was leading, emphasis on was…
What else you might say? Last year’s winner is the British driver’s teammate. Ouch.
British driver’s teammate is on a roll and will be looking to take complete control of the championship. I can already see the drama starting to unfold.
Ten races to go and 250 points on offer, 25 of them are available this weekend and clearly things are starting to get personal. It would be one thing if both of these drivers were together fighting the Red Bull duo, but they are not. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are fighting just one and only one driver this year for that big shiny trophy with some very special names inscribed on it. My guess is the pendulum will be swinging back and forth until the very last race; at least that is what I am hoping for.