Lewis Hamilton is just a couple of points away from becoming a three-time world champion after his win in Sochi this weekend, with Nico Rosberg falling to third in the drivers championship.
Truth be told I wrote off Nico’s chances of winning this year in Singapore last month. With seven races remaining and Lewis Hamilton’s dominant form, it just didn’t look like it was going to be possible even if Hamilton started to receive some bad luck that allowed his teammate to close the gap last year.
Nico just hasn’t shown the excellence of Hamilton at any point this year for me, at times looking fifth best out there compared to Vettel, Ricciardo, and Verstappen. Now it seems set in stone as Vettel overtakes him in the drivers championship in inferior machinery, and even though I’m willing to be rational with his ‘luck’ this season, in the same car it should’ve been easy for Rosberg to mount some sort of challenge to Hamilton.
Whether its being a team player or worrying too much about Ferrari and Mercedes’ end result, Rosberg looks to have thrown away this opportunity, which perhaps speaks volumes about Vettel’s efforts this year in the scarlet red car.
Thats more than can be said about his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who threw away Ferrari’s mathematical shot at the constructors title after crashing into Valterri Bottas on the final lap. It looked all too optimistic from Kimi, who frankly should’ve known better having been within the second window for DRS. If he’d bothered to watch the support races he would have known about the other overtaking opportunities in the latter stages of the lap, which I’m sure a driver of his calibre would’ve pulled off.
Anyway, Mercedes take another deserving constructors title, and the men and women at Brixworth can celebrate for their exceptional efforts this year and in previous years getting this team to the dominant level it’s at now.
Moving on to another company that does its job exceptionally well, TecPro. If you don’t know who these people are they make the barriers you see around the circuit that protect the drivers from having any serious accident with an ARMCO barrier. And this weekend they definitely earned their money with major incidents in F1, GP2, and GP3 at very high speed corners.
The one with a lot of you will probably be aware of is Carlos Sainz’s big hit with the barriers on Saturday morning. The protection he was able to gain from the TecPro that allowed him to escape unharmed and without concussion was remarkable, after such an absurd accident. But the ones in GP2 and GP3 at turn 3 involving Jordan King and Alex Fontana respectively.
What I wasn’t a fan of was the response time from the marshals. Nobody attended to Fontana, and when it came to attended to Sainz it took until the Medical Car arrived on the scene before anyone attempted to recover the driver. Serious questions need to be asked about Race Control’s procedures this weekend, not just on the marshalling front but how they allowed GP3 Practice to take place in near night conditions on Friday on a slippery wet track.
They had small windows to play with, but it was exactly this situation that led to Jules Bianchi’s life-ending crash in Japan last year.
Moving on to Red Bull, and it seems their drivers will be shouting “YABBA DABBA DOO!” at the start of each race next year since their management has failed to find a donkey to bolt into the back of their 2016 chassis. Toto Wolff said something really interesting on the Sky coverage pre-race when justifying why Mercedes agreed not to supply them, citing the conflict of image and branding between the two companies.
Ferrari are also unwilling to supply them for competitive reasons – unsurprisingly – which leaves them with two options; stay with Renault or switch to Honda power. It’s more than likely to be the former since the team are committed to the sport until 2020, and frankly it would be one of the worst PR moves for them to pull out and use their justification as “because we’re not winning races anymore” despite dominating the latter parts of the V8 era.
Finally I must say a word about McLaren rookie Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian took the GP2 title on Saturday after what was a dominant display of form all year in the series. A quick glance at his Wikipedia results page tells you all you need to know about this upcoming F1 star, and with him being helped by Fernando Alonso, I can see him entering F1 with a bang in the not too distant future – hopefully as early as 2017.
F1 heads to Austin next, where the crazy US fans embrace the sport with open arms. Its also prime time, which if you were going to win a championship would be pretty good timing on the ratings front.