It’s just ‘four races from 21’ so ex­pect F1 to hit high gear

CityPress - - Sport - MICHELLE FOS­TER sports@city­press.co.za

As For­mula 1 (F1) con­spir­acy the­o­rists hit high gear, Mercedes has rub­bished sug­ges­tions it is de­lib­er­ately ham­per­ing Lewis Hamil­ton, while in­sist­ing the Brit can fight back. And fight back he will! Nico Ros­berg was the first to say, af­ter his fourth vic­tory from four for this sea­son, that it is just “four races from 21”.

That means there is still a to­tal of 425 points to play for, with Hamil­ton’s 43-point deficit just a tenth of that.

In 2012, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel trailed Fer­nando Alonso by 44 points be­fore a run of four straight vic­to­ries in Sin­ga­pore, Ja­pan, Korea and In­dia pushed him up into the lead.

James Hunt was 38 points be­hind Niki Lauda in 1976 when dis­as­ter be­fell the Fer­rari driver and Hunt fought back to take the ti­tle.

A decade ear­lier, in a 10-race sea­son, John Sur­tees re­tired from three of the first five races to fall 20 points be­hind Jim Clark. He won two of the last five and added two run­ner-up re­sults to pip Clark by eight points. Clark re­tired from three of the last five.

So it can be done, it has been done and it is not as if we are even half­way through the sea­son. Even Hamil­ton’s win­less streak is not that much of a con­cern.

The Brit last tasted the vic­tory Champagne in Austin last sea­son. That makes it six months since he has won a Grand Prix and he’s had a run of seven races with­out a Sun­day P1 to his name.

How­ever, Hamil­ton has had droughts in the past, two con­sist­ing of 10 suc­ces­sive races with­out vic­to­ries.

Brazil 2008 started a win­less run that he broke at the 2009 Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix, while he had an­other pe­riod of 10 races with­out a win from Bel­gium 2013, which he ended at the fol­low­ing year’s Malaysian Grand Prix. He went on to win the 2014 world ti­tle, show­ing that even his win­less runs can end in glory.

So what is the big con­cern? Well, that would be re­li­a­bil­ity and in­ci­dents.

Last sea­son, it was Ros­berg who had a tough time of it. He was keep­ing Hamil­ton hon­est through­out the open­ing half of the sea­son, only to fall off the podium for the first time in Hun­gary af­ter be­ing clipped by Daniel Ric­cia­rdo.

An engine is­sue in Italy meant a point­less Sun­day, while his Rus­sian Grand Prix ended when he re­tired from the lead with a stuck throt­tle.

No one blamed Mercedes for pick­ing on Ros­berg. They just ac­knowl­edged that at times in For­mula 1 a driver has a few bad races.

Ros­berg’s woes not only played into Hamil­ton’s hands, but boosted his con­fi­dence and the Brit raced to his third world ti­tle.

This sea­son, it is Hamil­ton’s woes that are play­ing into Ros­berg’s hands and boost­ing his con­fi­dence. First-lap in­ci­dents for the Brit, cou­pled with engine is­sues in qual­i­fy­ing, have bol­stered Ros­berg’s ti­tle chances as he has raced to four largely un­chal­lenged Grand Prix wins.

But as he pointed out, it is just “four races from 21”. – TEAMtalk Me­dia

PHOTO: CLIVE MA­SON / GETTY IM­AGES

DRIVER’S SEAT Nico Ros­berg of Ger­many shakes hands with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, while Lewis Hamil­ton of Great Bri­tain ap­plauds af­ter the For­mula 1 Grand Prix in Rus­sia

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