Luck – or rather, a lack of it – played its part in relieving Lewis Hamilton of his title last season. Perhaps that is a little harsh on Nico Rosberg, especially keeping in mind the saying that you make your own luck. But enough of saying, let’s dig into the matter.
Just think how different the Formula 1 landscape would be this season if Rosberg had failed to pip Hamilton to the 2016 title?
Rosberg would most likely still be Hamilton’s teammate, Massa would be sipping Martinis on the Copacabana beach (a leaving present from the team’s sponsor) and Bottas would be lead driver in the Williams camp.
However, that did not happen and fortunately this season we are finally getting the chance to see the match-up we have all been craving ever since a certain young German and Englishman burst onto the Formula 1 scene in 2007: Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have been the sport’s two main men over the last decade with Hamilton’s rock star lifestyle and Vettel’s mathematical approach winning them both an army of avid fans.
We’re finally getting the chance to see the match-up we’ve all been craving ever since a certain young German and Englishman burst onto the Formula 1 scene in 2007.
The two drivers’ styles are contrasting and almost hark back to the Senna/Prost styles of yesteryear (without the intensity the Brazilian and Frenchman shared), meaning we should be in for a treat this year. Hamilton himself is currently 10/11 to win the Drivers’ Championship this year in the Formula 1 betting but he, as well as anyone, will know that efforts must be doubled this season.
With Australia already done and dusted and teams now able to gauge where they stand in the pecking order, neutrals were delighted to see Vettel outlast Hamilton for his pit stop and thus comfortably control Hamilton for the remainder of the race. The title race is most certainly on, when many thought it had already been decided before a tyre had been turned.
Mercedes’ inability to catch up to the Ferrari of Vettel may cause the Silver Arrows a few sleepless nights but the data they gained will be invaluable. The wider cars are proving to be harder to overtake due to the larger levels of downforce the cars are able to produce, thus enabling faster cornering speeds: meaning getting close to a car in front goes a long way to ruining tyres quickly.
This is what happened to Hamilton after he emerged from the pits at the start of his 18th lap right behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. This allowed Vettel to generate enough of a gap to ensure he emerged from the pits with a healthy lead and fresher tyres for the remainder of the race.
However, it is unlikely Lewis will let that happen two races in a row, and the Mercedes team meeting after the race no doubt made for colourful listening. It appears Vettel is the only man who can stand in Hamilton’s way, with Bottas seemingly happy to settle for third. Vettel may head the championship early doors, but there is a feeling that Australia was a rusty blip from the Mercedes boys and girls.
Hamilton is still favourite for the title and rightly so, although he may find Vettel a tougher thorn in his side than former teammate Rosberg. Lewis may still have the slight advantage in race craft and car, but Hamilton versus Vettel and Mercedes versus Ferrari is finally on, after a ten-year wait.