By Steve Ashfield
Twice in the past three seasons the winner of the Formula 1 Driver’s Championship has finished over 100 points clear of their closest rival. That compares with the period between 2006 and 2008 when the title wasn’t decided until the last race of the season. So despite the dominance of Mercedes this season are we going to see a fascinating conclusion to the 2014 Championship?
Of course this is a season like no other with the ‘It’s a Knockout’ style double points available in the last race. With Lewis Hamilton closing to within four points of team mate Nico Rosberg, after winning the British Grand Prix, a showdown in Abu Dhabi looks extremely likely.
It’s not just the fact that the two Mercedes drivers are now neck and neck in the title race that has re-ignited the season. It’s the relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg that is fascinating. I was watching the interviews with both drivers this week discussing how the British crowd helped Hamilton win at Silverstone. Rosberg was quick to add that it was his broken gearbox that really gave Hamilton the win. Tongue firmly in cheek or was Rosberg being adamant that if his car stays healthy he’ll most definitely win the title this year.
Hamilton insists he isn’t playing mind games with Rosberg even though he questioned Rosberg’s nationality this week. It was a just a joke says Hamilton who’s hardly likely to become the next John Bishop when he retires. Perhaps the Monaco rather than the British Grand Prix was his actual home race. He says this year’s title race is “obviously fiercely competitive” and he’s right but it’s not an easy situation when a championship is being decided between two members of the same team.
At least team rules won’t play a part in deciding the champion. It’s all down to the cars and who can handle the pressure best. Hamilton may well be a former champion but since that win he’s never managed to finish higher than fourth in a season. A rivalry with Rosberg over the title is bound to give him flashbacks of the 2007 season when he finished second to McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso and that wasn’t exactly a happy team that season.
It’s even newer territory for Rosberg who has never finished higher than 6th in a season, let alone find himself leading the title race. Will the second half of the season provide tensions that he’s never experienced before, especially with the ludicrous rules for the last race? Only time will tell.