Do you believe in karma? Back in 2008 Lewis Hamilton in McLaren won the Championship despite the fact that his main rival – Felipe Massa in Ferrari – won more races that season. Many non-Hamilton fans were furious. More reasonable people knew it wasn’t the first time in F1 history this happened (ask sir Nigel Mansell, for example), also they believed Hamilton would have been much more motivated at Interlagos’08 if there weren’t 7 points between him and Massa before Brazilian Grand Prix (back then the race winner earned only 10 points). In that case the title was Hamilton’s to lose.
In 2016 Lewis has lost the Championship despite the fact he has won more races throughout the season. His main rival and the newly crowned World Champion Nico Rosberg did the math and made the right strategy. The title was Rosberg’s to lose after the Japanese Grand Prix.
If you prefer curses over karma, then there is a Hungaroring curse. Last driver who won the Hungarian Grand Prix and the title in the same year was Michael Schumacher back in 2004. Since that time no driver could do the same. In Lewis’s case he won in Hungary in 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2016 but he didn’t win there in his champion’s years (2008, 2014 and 2015).
Finally, if you believe in hard work Nico did his job better than Lewis this year. Rosberg has had a great season on and off the track right from the start. The latter might be even more important. Hamilton is a very fast and very talented driver. Also Lewis is just brilliant in mind games (one may recall Hungary 2007 or Spa 2014, for example). So if Rosberg wanted to beat Hamilton he had to do something different, something more than just being faster on Saturdays and Sundays. And he did it. Nico was fast but not always, Nico learned from his own mistakes, he concentrated on each race, he stayed cool even after Spain accident and, as I already mentioned, he did his math.
Hamilton didn’t lose the title at Sepang. In my opinion the game of ‘if’ and ‘but’ is pretty stupid. If Hamilton won in Malaysia, if Vettel didn’t crash into Rosberg in Malaysia, if Bottas didn’t crash into Hamilton in Bahrain, if Rosberg was’t penalized in Germany, if two Mercedes didn’t collide in Spain, if Rosberg didn’t let Hamilton through in Monaco, etc. Too many ‘if’. There is an interesting analysis on f1fanatic.co.uk about the technical problems both Mercedes drivers had this season. By the way, reliability issues are also part of motorsport and if you like to put everything in the perspective of ‘good old days’… well, ‘in good old days’ cars broke much easier.
Don’t forget the seasons when Nico car failed more than Lewis, it is just racing’.
Hamilton did nothing wrong on the final laps. Yes, his tactic might seem dirty to some fans and former drivers, but it was also smart. He knew that win is not enough for him and he was in the position when he himself could have influence on his main rival’s result. He drove as fast as he wanted so Nico couldn’t attack him, even close the gap to use DRS, and at the same time Lewis drove as slow as he wanted so other drivers – Verstappen & Vettel – could catch Rosberg. It was a suspense that even Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of.
There is nothing unsportsmanlike in driving slow, it all depends on the angle at which you see this battle and the personalities involved. In 1992 Senna outraced Mansell using this slow defensive tactic. Many people still think that was fantastic. (Maybe sir Nigel Mansell would disagree with this as well). In 2001 again in Monaco Enrique Bernoldi in Arrows slowed David Coulthard in mighty McLaren. I think much fewer people were impressed (the least of all Ron Dennis and David Coulthard) by what that Brazilian did. More often you might hear that Bernoldi just ruined Coulhard’s race, drove like an idiot and so on.
In the end couple non-Mercedes thoughts about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I am assured Daniel Ricciardo had a chance to win the race if Red Bull took the risk of not pitting him so early. His 3rd position in the Drivers’ Championship as well as RBR’s 2nd place in the Constructors’ were secure, why not to gamble?
Force India clinched the forth position in the Constructors’ Championship! Wow! Great result for a non-factory team with limited budget. It’ll be tough for them to repeat this result next year with new rules and a rookie driver. On the other hand in recent years this team usually starts the season with very average results but raise its game in the second half of the season.