Tuesday, 23 September 2014

#F1 Singa-Poor joke in the title

I suppose it was about time Lewis Hamilton had the rub of the green, so-to-speak, in terms of reliability issues.  With Nico Rosberg in trouble from from the formation lap, Hamilton drove a faultless race from pole to capitalise on his rival's woes, bringing home twenty-five points to edge ahead of Rosberg in the World Drivers' Championship standings.  Talk of the race in Monza two weeks ago being 'a turning point' was not entirely misplaced, it would seem.

At least we get a chance to knock some of the nutty conspiracy theories on the head.  Earlier in the year, a few people were convinced Hamilton's mechanical issues were being orchestrated by the Mercedes team because they decided Rosberg would be a 'more fitting' World Champion.  Patently ridiculous though that is, it echoes the sort of nonsense we got used to hearing from some fans of Mark Webber who were convinced Red Bull were deliberately sabotaging Webber's car in order to favour Vettel.

Mercedes aren't deliberately going to fix one of their cars to have to retire from the race - costing their team, and one of their drivers, a decent haul of points.  They weren't 'sabotaging' Hamilton earlier in the season, and consciously favouring Rosberg for the title; I'd have thought that was obvious to everyone - but just in case it isn't, the issues on Sunday show that, more often than not, these issues do 'even out' over the course of a season.

However, this Championship is still wide open.  The momentum may have swung Hamilton's way; having taken the lead, he may well be the favourite for the title now - especially given his performances in the last two races, where he has looked absolutely unbeatable.  One statistic I'm not overly fond of seeing, however, is the comparison in the number of races won - Hamilton has won seven races this season, against Rosberg's four.  However, you don't win Championships by having more race victories than your teammate; this is a race series, not a one-off event, and Rosberg understands as well as anyone the importance of consistency over the course of an entire season.

What's going to be interesting now is Rosberg's response.  He seemed calm enough in the immediate aftermath of his retirement in Singapore, but this is the first time the reliability issues within the Mercedes team have really hurt his side of the garage, and with Hamilton inching ahead in the title race it will be fascinating to see how Rosberg handles the pressure.  I think he has the mental steeliness to cope well.

Ultimately, it could be the mechanical reliability which decides this Championship.  Is that fair?  Possibly not.  But Formula 1 has always been about designing ultimate racing machines - about technical prowess, as much as driver skill.  To say that the quality and durability of the cars shouldn't play a part in the competition is to misunderstand the sport.  Whether Hamilton or Rosberg ends up being crowned 2014 World Champion - because it will be one of those two drivers, whatever the Red Bull team say - can you really say whichever one of them wins it in the end won't be a worthy Champion?

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