There are no shortcuts to be a F1 world champion. In the final race of this year, it will be a showdown between the two Mercedes drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
The Brit remains the in-form driver having won the last three races – yet, he trails Rosberg by twelve points. The difference illustrates what a stunning season the German driver has had thus far. And, irrespective of what Hamilton achieves, a place on the podium is enough for Rosberg to win his maiden driver’s title.
Let’s turn back to 2010, the final race at Abu Dhabi had three contenders to win the driver’s title. Fernando Alonso led Mark Webber by eight points. And, further seven points away was Sebastian Vettel.
We all know what happened, neither the Spaniard nor the Aussie won. The underdog Vettel won the race purely because he drove as though he had nothing to lose.
The pressure of the title showed on Alonso and on Webber and in the end Ferrari came out as the real losers, as one of the two Red Bull drivers benefitted. It was the defensive strategy by Ferrari that costed Alonso the driver’s title. The way I look at it, Rosberg is in a similar position to that of Alonso (from the 2010 season). If he must win, then he needs to bring his controlled aggression on the track and not merely look for the third place.
The Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo have shown their pace and they might challenge the Mercedes for the podium places – clearly, they do not have anything to lose.
In a way, Hamilton is in similar position and although he has the driver’s championship to lose, he knows he can only win the race and hope Rosberg finishes outside of top three. Beyond that, the three-time champion cannot do much.
I have been critical of Nico Rosberg in the past. However, I have praised him this season for changing his attitude and being ruthless on most occasions on the track. In fact, I am rooting for him this season after having observed his drives throughout the year and not to forget, the ‘luck’ factor.
So, the final race of this season will be defined by how Rosberg performs.
Does he have the zeal to fight for the title or will he scoot around to finish third? For that, we must wait on Sunday for the season finale at Abu Dhabi.
The points scenario –
Lewis Hamilton (355 points) Nico Rosberg (367 points)
|If Hamilton finishes||Then Rosberg needs|
|1st (380 points)||3rd (382 points)|
|2nd (373 points)||6th (375 points)|
|3rd (370 points)||8th (371 points)|
|4th (367 points)||Rosberg is the champion|
P.S – Some interesting facts
1. If Nico Rosberg were to win the 2016 driver’s title, he will become the second of the father-son combo to have won the title after Damon Hill clinched it in 1996.
2. Interestingly, Graham Hill won his first driver’s title in 1962 (he also won in 1968) and Keke Rosberg’s first title was in 1982. A 20-year gap in both cases of fathers and sons winning their first driver’s title (if Rosberg were to win the title).
Image – Morio