Abu Dhabi finale from a fan’s view.

It is points that count. The driver with the most points in the end of the season claims the champions’ crown. And this driver is the deserving champion. Number of wins, poles and fastest laps – they are for the statistics.

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.

‘You don’t win the championship by luck. Nico won the championship today. He’s a deserved champion.
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.

‘I am a sportsman no I would not do this. This is wrong sorry’.

 

‘Lewis was doing an awesome job at that. He nailed it perfectly. He was pushing in the first sector to make sure I don’t come close where it’s possible to overtake, and then sandbagging in the rest. So that just made it unbelievably tough out there’.
/Nico Rosberg/

 

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.

russian version

Abu Dhabi finale from a fan’s view.

Spielberg from a fan’s view.

The most controversial topic of the Austrian Grand Prix is of course the collision between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the race. Yes, they collided again. But before I share some thoughts on this topic I want to highlight another one: the stunning performance by Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein.
For the first time this season young German has found himself on a familiar track. He used to race at Red Bull Ring as DTM driver. This fact alongside with the unpredictable weather and the inability of some drivers to race within the limits of the track helped Wehrlein not only get to Q2 but to repeat the best starting position for Virgin/Marussia/Manor/ by taking 12th on the grid (as Jules Bianchi did at Silverstone in 2014). Even if this was all Wehrlein would already be given praise. But Pascal went on to score his first point and give the team its second points finish in its six-year history.

NB: Unlike Wehrlein it’s not enough for Nico Hulkenberg to be really good on Saturday.

Well, all of this might not have happened if the stewards penalized Wehrlein for reversing on the grid prior to the start of the race. Moreover the stewards could’ve cancelled the start, giving the drivers an extra warm-up lap, and then there would’ve been a race with only 70 laps. And everything might’ve ended differently for everybody including Mercedes duo.

If top teams haven’t pay attention to Wehrlein yet, from now on they will look closely on a young German’s progress. But (there’s always a ‘but’): Pascal Wehrlein would make an awful ‘number 2’ driver. The German’s teammates and rivals in DTM might agree with that statement. On one hand there’s nothing criminal in the driver’s desire to be the leader and the winner. Only this way one can become a champion. On the other hand, the management of every top squad must decide very thoroughly which driver they see as a leader and which as a good team player. For example, if Mercedes decides to replace Nico Rosberg with Pascal Wehrlein, they might find themselves in a situation very similar to the battlefield we saw in McLaren in 2007.

Ok, Mercedes. I think the problem inside the German squad is that they cannot control both their drivers. The team can control only 1 of their drivers – and it’s Nico. Rosberg is a great team player. Everything goes wrong when Nico starts to bare his teeth. After the collision between Rosberg and Hamilton on the last lap of the race in Austria Totto Wolff was terribly disappointed. Instead of a guaranteed 1-2 the team almost got the second double DNF this season. Wolff even threatens to introduce team orders. But Mercedes have already used team orders: this season in Monaco Rosberg was told to let Hamilton through. And Nico obeyed. Moreover after the race Rosberg said that was the right decision to make.

What about Lewis? The Brit doesn’t ‘like’ team orders and I don’t think he will obey any orders. He is here [in F1] to win no matter what the price is. Well, actually nobody can blame Lewis for that. He is talented, quick, impertinent. He is the triple world champion for God’s sake. He sets himself above the team and above his teammate. He can do whatever he wants, the team will always find excuses for his actions. After all people don’t worship Patrese, Barrichello, Coulthard or Berger. Team players don’t win the championships. But people do worship Senna, Schumacher, Prost and Vettel.

Probably this season is the last chance for Nico Rosberg to join the Hall of Fame. And the only way to do so is to continue to fight with Lewis, with the team, to continue to ‘bare his teeth’. He has no time and real opportunities to start all over again in any other team. There are no vacancies and every team already has their lead driver.

It’s good that Nico fought with Lewis in Austria. He lost that battle, he even got a penalty for his actions afterwards. But it doesn’t matter. To keep fighting is the only way to stay ahead in the championship. And if Nico lets the Monaco situation repeat, or if he cannot stand the outside pressure (like we saw after Spa’14), or if he lets Lewis force him out of the track (remember Canada’16 or USA’15)… Well if let any of these happen he’ll lose the championship long before the last Grand Prix of the season.

Spielberg from a fan’s view.

Baku From a Fan’s View.

Baku is a street race so it is understandable people would like to compare this circuit with Monaco. But Baku is not Monaco and will never be. Baku is more like Valencia, including the fact that both circuits hosted the Formula One European Grand Prix. And it was really frustrating to watch pretty dull Valencia-like race after such a colorful qualification the day before. I wasn’t expecting the mayhem like that in GP2 but at least some fighting, maybe couple drivers’ errors here and there, pressing, something exciting… but no, only unfair (in my humble opinion) DRS overtakes.
Anything remarkable? Sergio Perez’s qualifying and the race, Nico Rosberg’s brilliant ‘Grand Slam’, sub 2 seconds pit-stop by Williams and radio Hamilton.

Perez put his heart and soul into this race. Without his mistake in FP3 Checo would have started from the front row and who knows what would have happened in the 1st corner.
There is always a list of who could be a new Ferrari driver, and Sergio Perez might be on the top of this list. His two fantastic podiums in Monaco and Baku this year put him ahead of Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, Stoffel Vandoorne and other hundred or so possible candidates to replace Kimi Raikkonen. By the way, it was Raikkonen with whom Checo fought for the podium in Baku. And yes, Kimi got a penalty and Perez knew about it, but anyway Checo successfully passed Kimi on track and it was really more satisfying [as Perez said himself after the race].

To tell the truth Iceman has had only 1 good year in Ferrari and it was back in 2007. It seems that afterwards Kimi lost his passion, his ‘hunger’ for the game. The Finn was great after his comeback with Lotus and he earned another contract with the ‘red team’, but he is a good team player now, good number 2 driver, not the man who fights in every single race on every single lap. And maybe the team is happy and doesn’t want to replace him as everybody thinks. When Kimi is great everybody knows he’s great, but now Kimi is just good. Let’s hope Ferrari could give him an engine to fight in Spa. (And of course, it’s so easy to judge from the outside.)

NB: Raikkonen spent 3 years with Ferrari in 2007-2009, and now it’s the 3rd year of his second term with the Italian team.

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I thought radioban was introduced so the driver could cope with the car all by himself and in this case it was strange to hear all the complaints. After the race Toto Wollf admitted there were similar problems with both cars. Unfortunately we don’t know the content of Rosberg-Mercedes pitwall dialogues, but we all have heard “radio Hamilton”. Funny thing the drivers wanted to be more independent and now some of them think it’s dangerous. Come on, “Let’s just get our head down and focus on the job”. Sometimes it seems the Brit doesn’t like to race if he’s not fighting for the top-3.

That’s it. Oh, wait. Nico Rosberg completed the 2nd ‘Grand Slam’ in his career (the previous one came just 4 races before in Russia, Nico loves former Soviet Republics). And it seems no one cares because Mercedes is such a dominant force today that it goes without saying that their driver should be the fastest man on track, should win poles and races and lead every single lap.

 

Baku From a Fan’s View.