With just two races to go, Lewis Hamilton knows that his title defence of the Formula One Drivers’ Championship is out of his hands. The Brit dominated both the Mexican and US Grands Prix with his teammate Nico Rosberg coming second both times. As long as Rosberg finishes on the podium in both the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, then he will take the title regardless of whether Hamilton wins. With 19 points between the pair, a victory in Brazil will seal the title.
After a slow start to the season, Hamilton built up what seemed like an unassailable lead of 19 points but a second run of poor form led to Hamilton conceding a two point lead to Rosberg after the Singapore Grand Prix in September. Yet Hamilton was on course to regain the advantage in the Drivers’ Championship when his engine broke down with just 15 laps to go in the Malaysian Grand Prix forcing him to withdraw from the race.
Speaking to The Guardian about his recurring engine failure after the Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton was both frustrated and bemused: “I just can’t believe that there’s eight Mercedes cars and only my engines are the ones that have gone this way.”
Having dominated qualifying, Malaysia would have been the perfect opportunity for Hamilton to wrestle control of the Championship.
Meanwhile, Rosberg managed to improve upon his performance in Malaysia and take home the win in Japan. While Rosberg benefited from Hamilton’s engine failures, there have been commanding victories from the German in both the Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix.
One of his worst performances was the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June where he did not have a problem with his car, but found that he “wasn’t able to brake in the same places and […] made too many mistakes”, as he told the BBC.
This may have also served as a blow to his confidence as, right at the start, he slipped from second to eighth and, while he was able to recover to claim third place on the podium, it was not enough to trouble Rosberg. Rainfall on the track made it difficult for Hamilton to get away, but this alone could not explain why Hamilton slipped six places. It was a momentary lapse.
In the following race in the US, Hamilton showed his spirit and came out top in qualifying, heading the field from start to finish. Eager not to make a similar mistake, Hamilton got away well from the off and delivered a flawless performance. He likewise did the same in Mexico and reminded everyone that the Championship race is not over.
Image Courtesy of Takayuki Suzuki