This has been an incredibly weird Formula 1 season. First Nico Rosberg stormed out of the gate while his teammate, Lewis Hamilton stumbled. I thought for certain that this would launch Nico to the championship. Then Nico started struggling and started crashing into people and then whining about it. Lewis mounted an epic comeback and I naturally believed this was too much for the mentally weak Rosberg to handle. Now the tides seemed to have turned again. Hamilton has begun to struggle again while Nico racks up wins and Podiums. It doesn’t make sense.
For those of you who may have missed it Lewis had a Malaysian Grand Prix you missed quite a lot. It was drama filled from start to finish. Daniel Ricciardo won while his feisty teammate, Max Verstappen completed the Red Bull 1, 2. Nico’s 3rd was an impressive comeback after spinning in turn 1 as a result of some questionable driving from Sebastian Vettel. Rosberg would later receive a 10 second penalty for an ambitious pass on Kimi Raikkonen. However it meant absolutely nothing as Rosberg pulled more than a 10 second gap on Kimi. This is a completely different issue F1 needs to fix in the off-season. Why issue a penalty if it amounts to jack squat in the end? In any rate that is a discussion for another day.
The one noticeable exception so far is Lewis Hamilton. Who started on pole and dominated the early stages of the race. Poised to reclaim his Championship lead Lewis had built a 22+ second gap on Ricciardo. Victory seemed certain, but with 15 laps to go Hamilton’s engine grenaded itself, handing victory over to Red Bull. With Hamilton’s DNF and Rosberg’s 3rd place points the Championship gap has now risen to 23 points in favor or Nico. Hamilton was clearly frustrated after the race.
“I just can’t believe that there’s eight Mercedes cars and only my engines have been the ones that have been going this year,” Hamilton told TV crews. “Something just doesn’t feel right but there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s just odd. There’s been 43 engines from Mercedes and only mine have gone.
I’ve just got to move on. We did everything we could this weekend, I did everything I could. It’s a brand new engine, I’ve done one race with it. These next five races I know we’ve got it in us (to win the title), me, my engineers, my mechanics. But who knows what those next engines I have are going to do. Right now, I don’t even know if my car is going to make it. I’m just going to keep my head down and hope for the best.”
“Someone doesn’t want me to win this year, but I won’t give up. I will keep pushing.”
Look I get it, pretty much all of Mercedes’ engine failures this year have fallen directly on Lewis. The man is bound to be frustrated. But to come up with some left field conspiracy theory that someone is actively trying to sabotage your season is ludicrous at best. Mercedes is out to win a Constructors Championship, it does not help them to have 1 car fail. There is big money and prestige on the line. F1 is a world of arrogance, but no one would be so brash as to actually think they can win a title while simultaneously playing favorites with the reliability of equipment.
Niki Lauda who also happens to be one of Hamilton’s bosses chimed in. Complete with the usual direct to the point bluntness.
“I know Lewis very well, and he will not accuse the team,” Lauda told reporters. “This interpretation I cannot accept. What do you guys think, suddenly we start to sabotage? Why? It’s completely ridiculous and stupid. We work for both cars in the same way. All these questions are ridiculous.”
“He can mean anybody. This is a wide interpretation. If I am unlucky and I can’t find an explanation I say if there is a God then I have done something wrong or he doesn’t like me.”
“If a driver is upset … I have been upset a couple of times in my racing career and I said some rubbish. I don’t want to say Lewis said rubbish, but these things can happen. It’s emotion, which is fully acceptable and there is nothing wrong.”
Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe told Sky Sports after the race there have been no signs this year explaining why Hamilton has suffered so many failures.
“It’s difficult, this can be a very harsh sport but no failure is planned,” said Lowe. “We work as hard as we can to increase reliability and, in fact, we have year on year increased reliability. But for some reason, which is completely unrelated to any intention or any individual performance a number of things have fallen on Lewis’s car this year. Far more than any other car. We have eight Mercedes power units in the pit lane. For some reason, which honestly we have investigated, there is no pattern that would link that to why it should fall on Lewis’s car. That’s how things sometimes turn.”
At the end of the day I want to root for Hamilton, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Stuff like this makes it hard to continue to be a fan of his. His off the track antics irk me. His nearly constant whining is becoming tiresome. His self entitled-ness drives me mad. Here’s the thing though, I’m forced to root for him as I can not stand Rosberg. While Lewis may be cocky, arrogant, self entitled etc, he has earned that to some degree. Nico hasn’t, he thinks he can show up and get everything Lewis does because he’s Nico Rosberg. That annoys me most of all.
However when Lewis starts cooking up conspiracy theories in his own head it is a sign that he may be cracking. He took one on the chin earlier in the season. He roared back to take back the Championship lead only to see it slip away. I understand frustration but these comments are a worrying sign for any fan of Hamilton’s.
I’m still not certain who it will be, but one of the Mercedes Men will win the Championship this season. Then we can move on and hope that the new tires and aero regs for 2017 level the playing field. As much as I disliked their team during their dominant years I will be pulling for Red Bull in 2017.