So then, Abu Dhabi;
If Lewis wins or comes second to Nico he will be champion.
If Lewis fails to finish or is third and Nico wins, Nico will be champion.
And If Nico fails to win whatever happens Lewis will win the championship.
It’s that simple.
Is all about the Glory now, there are no hiding places left, no “Well I just tried my hardest but ....”. Win or bust, roll the dice, no playing safe anymore. It’s an intriguing end to the season which has seen these two totally dominate from the first practice session in Australia.
Who do you want to win ?
On the one hand you have Nico; after so many years being dismissed as purely a journeyman driver, there to make up the numbers with odd flash of something special. He’s stepped up to the plate this year with consistent and gutsy drives. But he’s also played fasted and loose with the rule book at times and thrown the odd rattle from the pram.
On the other hand you have Lewis; a driver that wears his heart on his sleeve who will go out there and thrash the car to the line if he has too. He’s had bad luck all year long and at the half way point of the season looked well beaten. But then he put a run of wins together and suddenly he was back in the hot seat.
How did we get here?
Nico; Ten poles, five fastest laps for five victories and two DNF’s
Lewis; Seven poles, seven fastest laps for ten victories and three DNF’s
Australia, Lewis easily on pole but a broken spark plug handed Nico the win
Malaysia, Lewis bounced back and dominated the weekend, Nico was second.
Bahrain, Nico tried to assert some authority but Lewis slammed the door in his face and took a superb win under the lights. Nico settled for second again.
China and Lewis on a roll now with three wins in a row, Nico still second.
Spain and Lewis makes it four in a row, Nico looked a bit grim on the second step of the podium again.
Monaco was all about Nico, who with a “mistake” on his last Q3 run, prevented Lewis from getting pole and demonstrates how far he was prepared to go for the title. Lewis stood on the second step of the podium this time with a face like thunder. A line had been crossed.
Canada and both Mercs hit trouble whilst fighting for the win, Lewis failed to adapt to the brake issue but Nico changed his driving style and brought it home second to Ricciardo and retained his championship lead.
Austria and Nico holds Lewis at bay for the whole race for another Merc 1-2
Britain and Lewis, feeding off the crowd roared home to an emphatic victory on home soil as Nico hits trouble for his first DNF of the season
Germany after Lewis had a big accident in qualifying; he fought back to third but could do nothing about Nico out front.
Hungary and this was Lewis’s drive of the season for me! The car burst into flame on his first Saturday qualifying lap and had to start from the pit lane as the rain began to fall on Sunday. Nico from pole took a comfortable lead as Lewis almost crashed at the second corner he got to, but he went on to spank the car round the wet track. He had enough time to tell the team what it could do with its team orders, then gives Nico a lesson in overtaking and defensive driving and ends up third after a quite magnificent drive. Nico was eventually fourth and looked stunned.
Then we get to the defining point of the season, Belgium.
Nico had made qualifying look easy, Lewis may have dominated the practise sessions all so far but it’s been Nico at the front for the parade lap on Sunday. But time and again he has failed to turn those poles into wins. Until in Spa, tired of losing the lead when the lights went out yet again, Nico “fumbled” his attempt to retake the lead and took Lewis out of the race. He still didn’t win either, Ricciardo drove to his third career win and on the podium Nico was roundly booed by the crowd. After the race, Lewis accused Nico of deliberately driving him off the road and Mercedes appeared to back the accusation, Nico admitted he had “refused to be pushed around” and would do it again to prove he was no pushover. Mercedes made him sit on the naughty step for week afterwards.
Nico, whilst leading the race made two unforced errors in Monza and handed the psychological advantage and victory to Lewis. Some red faced loons claimed it was all a Mercedes plot to penalise Nico for putting emotions before the team. I think it was more to do with the booing he got standing on the podiums at Spa. He was second again and still got booed
Singapore was Lewis at his very best; Nico’s car popped its wiring loom on the way to the grid and refused to reset however many steering wheels they replaced. Lewis just drove off into the distance as Nico stared at the telemetry from the pit wall.
Japan was wet, miserable and everyone was glad to leave. Lewis passed Nico with ease in the rain but there wasn’t much racing on show that Sunday. It looked like Nico was now going for the Prost route to the title; just keep coming second until everyone forgets your still there. Then pop up at the end and claim the big silver cup.
Russia was another unforced error from Nico and possibly the easiest win of Lewis’s career. Yet again Nico looked uncomfortable in second as the watching public woke up and wondered where the last two hours had gone!
The race in America was Lewis again taking the victory from the pole sitting Nico. The pass was cool calculated and once again made to look effortless. Nico shuffled up to his usual spot as the red faced loons claimed Lewis was now unstoppable.
But Brazil was all Nico, Lewis just didn’t have an answer to Nico who was always one step ahead of his team mate. When it really mattered Lewis made the unforced error and gave Nico a life line to the championship. Lewis stood on the second step for a change and claimed it was no big deal.
So here we are and in the end the double points won’t make a difference. The difference between the two is such that if this were a normal scoring round, whoever beat the other would be champion.
It’s been a great season on the track this year and I really hope we get a race that puts the cherry on the top of it all. What started as a season about lack of engine noise and “It’s all so boring when Ferrari don’t win”. Has turn into an enthralling, close, exciting battle between two well matched team mates. The team has generally let them get on with the racing, only when Nico over stepped the mark at Spa did they wag a finger and remind the boys there was a constructors title at stake too. The FIA has kept its Ban hammer under wraps for most of the season, with far too much going on off track to stick their oar into the results.
And unfortunately I think it’s those off track machinations that could well be what the season is remembered for. Formula one faces a crisis as the smaller teams fight for less and less money. We’ve lost Marussia but Caterham are supposed to be back for the final round in Abu Dhabi with a scratch squad of drivers and pit lane staff.
Sauber, Lotus and Force India are starting to verbalise their displeasure at what they see as the unfair division of funds between then top team and them. “Ferrari, Redbull, McLaren and Mercedes are well funded manufacturer teams, why do they get such a large slice of the TV and sanction fees” they ask. The FIA look at Bernie who shrugs and claims it’s the way of things.
And talking of Bernie, he has become increasingly erratic with his pronouncements this year. He started the year telling us all that we didn’t like the sound the new cars were making and he was sorry for us, then despite all the evidence he told us the racing was rubbish because Ferrari wasn’t winning and that’s what we really wanted to see, wasn’t it! Then almost smiling with glee as the two back of the grid teams fall apart, he told us that they were rubbish and they should have never been racing in the first place.
He told young race fans that, because they don’t buy Rolex watches or bank with UBS they weren’t wanted. Forgetting in his hast to get to the airport before the muddy scum on the banking perhaps, that they are the ones buying the billions of cans of Redbull and filling their cars with Shell fuel. His latest plan is to ban all social media and internet journalists from the F1 grid because they are generating free content which he cannot monetize. Demonstrating to everyone how laughably out of touch he now it with the modern world. There’s no official F1 instagram feed I can find, Facebook and twitter are devoid of interesting behind the scenes content. Team accounts are PR’d to the eyeballs and so asinine you have to wonder who is really delivering the content. If you did nothing but get your news of each race through the Redbull social media output for example, you would be under the mistaken belief that they have won every race this year and Vettel has already been crowned champion.
The F1 app in its basic free form gives you the leader board of the race with lap times and a massive banner offering to give you more information if only you would part with £30 a year.
The WEC app by comparison, for free gives you a leader board with gaps, laps times, sector times, onboard views in fact it falls over itself offering you content. The F1 app is there to make money for Bernie; if you do pay it’s very good I'm told. But I already pay Sky to watch the races live, now I have to pay to see where my favourite teams and drivers are? This disconnect between entertaining and informing the punters and just trying to fleece them for every penny they have it too great now. We are only welcome if we have money and lots of it. Poor people are not wanted and anyone giving away content to these free loaders is certainly not welcome.
Something has to change over the winter, or the whole thing will implode next year.
Right enough, don’t forget that this is a double points round for us too, Caterham are going to be there but I have no idea as yet who their drivers will be. I’ll replace the drivers you can choose from when I know, and they’ll be in race number order.
There is a rumour that Max might have bought himself one last ride.
Good luck everyone.
Oh and Alonso will finally sign for McLaren this weekend ;)