Ex­perts give their views on big race

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JONATHAN MCEVOY

WITH the ti­tle fight be­tween Lewis Hamil­ton and Nico Ros­berg com­ing to a cli­max in Abu Dhabi on Sun­day, I brought to­gether a panel of ex­perts to dis­cuss the 2014 sea­son.

We met at the home of Bri­tain’s only triple world cham­pion, Sir Jackie Ste­wart, with Damon Hill, 1996 cham­pion and the son of dou­ble world cham­pion Gra­ham. There was John Wat­son, who, like Ste­wart, drove in an age when death was an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard and whose win at Long Beach in 1982 was achieved from fur­ther back on the grid than any other win­ner of the mod­ern era. Also on the panel was Karun Chand­hok, who raced with Hamil­ton and Ros­berg.

Jonathan McEvoy chaired the dis­cus­sion. The but­ler poured the wine.

McEVOY: Gen­tle­men, we go into the fi­nal race with Lewis Hamil­ton lead­ing Nico Ros­berg, his Mercedes col­league, by 17 points. Do we agree that if Lewis wins the ti­tle he would be a de­serv­ing cham­pion?

STE­WART: His­tor­i­cally the cham­pi­onship has been more warmly re­ceived when it has been achieved by the driver who has won most races.

The year has been rather spoiled by the dom­i­na­tion of Mercedes. But Nico Ros­berg has be­haved very well, pre­sented him­self very well.

I didn’t like Lewis’s be­hav­iour in Monaco (when he was angry at Ros­berg’s crash im­ped­ing his fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing lap).

That tainted my ap­pre­ci­a­tion of him be­cause it wasn’t one day that he sulked, but two. He should have been able to ride over it.

McEVOY: Did he not have any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion? Did Ros­berg mean to wreck his lap by go­ing off track?

WAT­SON: What Ros­berg did was make an er­ror and he then chose the best op­tion to mit­i­gate that. I don’t be­lieve he sat there and thought, ‘Ah, Lewis is on a qual­i­fy­ing lap, if I re­verse out it’s go­ing to com­pound the sit­u­a­tion so I am go­ing to do it.’

He might sub­se­quently have re­alised the ben­e­fit of what he did, but I don’t think it was pre­med­i­tated.

HILL: If he hadn’t been any­where near look­ing like get­ting pole po­si­tion and sud­denly set the quick­est time and then de­cided to pro­tect it, you could see it in a dif­fer­ent light. But he had dom­i­nated all week­end.

CHAND­HOK: Go­ing back to who de­serves the ti­tle, the last race in In­ter­la­gos was re­ally the first race that Nico won in a straight fight.

Yeah, Lewis fell off (the track) but he did so un­der pres­sure.

If you look at the races Nico won be­fore that, Lewis had prob­lems. In­ter­la­gos was the first time he gen­uinely had him beaten.

Based on that, it would be hard to say that Lewis is not the more de­serv­ing cham­pion. In terms of races, he has won 10-5. What has also sur­prised me has been Lewis’s abil­ity to think in the races.

Their reputations are that Nico is the one with the big­ger brain, Lewis is the brawn. But I think he has used his brain and picked his mo­ment. – Daily Mail

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