Not for the first time, the Formula One season has been dominated by a single team. Luckily for fans – and that’s the most they can ask for these days, given the skewed car-to-driver performance ratio – the season hasn’t been dominated by a single driver. That has been the case quite often in the last decade, but this time, it’s two drivers (again) from the same team – Mercedes.
Nico Rosberg is sick of being a bridesmaid. He has finished second to Lewis Hamilton in two consecutive drivers’ championships now, and they aren’t even friends anymore. So, one could be forgiven for feeling really sorry for him around a month ago, when the Brit three-time champion once again went on a championship tear: Hamilton won 6 out of 7 races (including 4 in a row) between May and August, 2016, to run away with the championship lead after Rosberg won the first four races of the season. It seemed like Hamilton was only finding his groove for the first few races, and it would have only been a matter of time before he took matters into his own hands. It always seemed like it depended on Hamilton, and not Rosberg, as to how the championship would go. So after winning at Monaco, Canada, Austria, Britain, Budapest and Germany, many of us began to yawn again, convinced that this was no more Rosberg’s championship to win. It never was, perhaps.
And then, after the July break, it all turned around. Rosberg won at Belgium, Rosberg won in Italy and Rosberg dominated and won at Singapore this Sunday. Three races in a row, and he is back in the lead – by 8 points, after the worried Brit finished third behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Just like that, Hamilton’s sizeable lead, which went to almost 30 points, is gone. And Rosberg has now won 8 races out of 15 this season. It’s a wonder that he is still only 8 points ahead despite winning more than half the races – but that has been down to Hamilton’s podiums, even when he isn’t performing too well. At Singapore, he struggled, but drove well to secure third place.
The two Mercedes drivers have won 14 out of the 15 races this season between them. That’s as dominant as it gets. The only non-Mercedes race was won by teenager Max Verstappen back in May in Spain. With 6 races to go, Mercedes could end up winning 20 out of 21 possible races in the calendar year – an unprecedented achievement, and surely a record of some kind. It’s down to these two, once again, and this time it doesn’t look like Rosberg will crumble. He wants it bad, especially after being well in the hunt at this point for the last two years now. But Hamilton, always touted as the superior driver, has known how to close it out – he has won Championships, and he knows how to perform when the pressure is on. Rosberg isn’t used to leading so late in the season, and it could all come down to his German temperament, his nerves, and his guts, especially with some showstopping tracks to come: Malaysia, Japan, USA, Mexico, Brazil, and of course, the last and final race of the season, Abu Dhabi.
Nobody can bet against it going down to that race. If it does, this will be a successful season – for both, fans and drivers alike.