Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 World Championship in 2008. It was the final rung on the ladder which allowed him to claim the greatness which his father and others, Ron Dennis and company, saw and nurtured in him. We will all agree that the time, effort and obviously considerable sums of money, invested in the Briton, were all well worth it. The fans of the sport (F1) will willingly concur with the aforementioned position and I am certain they will tell you that he brought an energetic, determined and bold driving style to the sport which we thoroughly enjoy. Lewis Hamilton is still a joy to watch on-track, especially if he has to slice and dice his way through usually stunned and hapless opponents.
Despite his success with McLaren, it was common knowledge that he was not having the dream vacation he anticipated that his years with the outfit would have provided. Conspiracy theorists will immerse anyone willing to listen, in tales of underhand tactics, sabotage, etc. all designed to achieve Hamilton’s decline. That debate will continue to trade words for years to come, but whatever prompted his actions, Hamilton saw it necessary to exit his boyhood dream-team (McLaren) and hop over, in 2013, to a German wagon – Mercedes AMG.
The logic surrounding his choice was not transparent, so it left a significant portion of his fan club bewildered, stunned and definitely uncertain of what the future held. Hamilton, however, was not perturbed. Apparently his crystal ball revealed promise, hope and the dawning of a new, fruitful day (season).
Mercedes AMG absorbed the new-for-2014 technical regulations which would govern the sport and built an AMG monster when everyone else was busy building a Lada! Mercedes was fast from Round 1. The Race-Results sheet shout a frightening tale if your team is not clad in apparel brandishing Mercedes AMG. When the German GP ended, the 2014 season completed 10 Rounds and the Mercedes AMG drivers, Hamilton and Rosberg won 9 times. Ricciardo was the only alien who was allowed to enter the gates of Mercedes dominance. He won in Canada.
A rocket scientist is not required to explain that Hamilton, when he fled McLaren and embraced Mercedes AMG, had, at the fore of his mind, thoughts relating to the potential the team had to serve him a World Championship on a carbon-ceramic platter! The fact that his teammate was Mercedes’ seasoned campaigner, Nico Rosberg – a German – possibly sent a red flag or two flying. But I am of the view that Hamilton thought that if he delivered on the circuit, the deciding factor between both drivers, re-their quest for the championship, would centre around their performance during the race itself.
Despite leading in the win column (5-4), Hamilton was a handful of points behind Rosberg when the Hungary GP arrived. The desire to overturn his deficit must have been paramount in his thoughts. But even the best laid plans are often times ambushed. Hamilton’s spell of bad luck resumed its assault. A fire burnt his qualifying ambitions. He had to start the GP from pit-lane! Rosberg was smiling all the way to the bank – pole-sitter!
The Hungary GP was a spectacle worth watching, thanks to the weather intervening, which created strategy-changing conditions and the actions of over-zealous drivers, forced Safety Car periods which added heightened intrigue. When the spinning, incorrect strategy employed and teams simply ‘dropping the ball’ subsided, Hamilton charged his way through the pack. Alonso, at one stage thought he was in with a chance to win but Ricciardo drove to P1 in a spectacular and thrilling fashion.
But not before an incident involving the Mercedes teammates left the F1 world mortified. Hamilton started from pit-lane. He spun, survived and went on a scalp-hunt! He, along with others, benefitted from Ericsson’s mishap. Rosberg suffered and the team was forced to redesign their strategy. Two more Safety Car periods introduced crafty pit-stop tricks from the teams and a reshuffled order, saw Alonso, Hamilton (yes) and Ricciardo in the lead at different intervals. When Ricciardo stopped on lap 54, he handed the lead to Alonso and Hamilton rode in his slip-stream , in P2 (remember Hamilton started from pit-lane).
Rosberg’s change in strategy saw him wearing better rubber and he was able to close the gap to Hamilton. I was expecting fireworks but not from the pitwall. Mercedes AMG, when they saw Rosberg gaining on Hamilton, asked him (Hamilton) to essentially let his teammate pass him. What? Bearing in mind that the teammates were locked in a World Championship battle and Hamilton started from pit-lane and fought tooth and nail to P2, the request was not only callous, it was inconsiderate and short-sighted!
In refusing to lift, Hamilton, in my view did the right thing. If he did anything else he would have jeopardised having the race-result he sought and Rosberg would have been presented with the opportunity to distance himself even further in the points race. The last time I checked, both drivers were racing for the World Championship and the request which was made would have obviously given one of the drivers an unfair advantage.
Hamilton, like Siri, denied the request and kept driving like the demon behind the wheel we know he is. He extinguished the threat from his frustrated teammate who was bold and shameless when he asked – “Why isn’t he letting me through?” Apparently he forgot that to win a World Championship, defeating your opponent on the track is a requirement. Ricciardo disrupted the party and smiled all the way to P1, Alonso P2 and ‘pit-lane boy’, Hamilton P3.
Hamilton should not lose sight of his target – the World Championship – but he is human and that call made by the team, which asked him to move aside, in my view, can only be described as Lewis Hamilton’s rude awakening!
Who do you think Mercedes AMG wants to win the Championship – Rosberg or Hamilton?
Cecil Munroe Gleaner On-Line Writer