Why HAM was the man in 2017

F1 Racing (UK) - - IGNITION - An­thony Rowl­in­son Cre­ative con­tent di­rec­tor

So. Did Lewis ‘let him have it’? Or, less emo­tively, did Hamil­ton sub­tly gift Valt­teri Bot­tas a vic­tory in Abu Dhabi?

That was the nag­ging ques­tion left by a sea­son fi­nale which, rather un­for­tu­nately, proved to be by some mar­gin the dullest grand prix of the year, as Bot­tas cruised to an ap­par­ently un­trou­bled win, ahead of his world cham­pion team-mate.

The lack of ex­cite­ment on Yas Is­land stood in acute con­trast to the excruciating laps ground out last year, as Nico Ros­berg clung on to the se­cond place that would se­cure his world ti­tle. This time around the only con­tro­versy of note was the fail­ure of an in­ter­com sys­tem that left the me­dia corps in si­lence as the post-race in­ter­views be­gan. Not that we missed too much…

Re­gard­less, the point here is that the lack of drama as­so­ci­ated with an­other Mercedes 1-2 has been a fun­da­ment of an­other stel­lar Sil­ver year – but it’s been a facet no­table only by its ab­sence.

Peace, love and har­mony at Mercedes? Oh yes – and in marked con­trast to the ten­sion of in­tra-team re­la­tions through­out the Hamil­ton-ros­berg years.

With Bot­tas as his wing-man, Hamil­ton has ‘pre­sented’ at grands prix in an al­most be­atific state of grace this year: un­flap­pable and, as a con­se­quence, largely un­beat­able when he and the W08 tuned sweetly into each other’s groove.

And as you can read from page 54 he ad­mits as much: “I try not to con­tain any neg­a­tiv­ity in my life, no mat­ter what is writ­ten, no mat­ter what peo­ple say,” he tells us. “I’ve man­aged to build this kind of bar­rier to bounce off neg­a­tiv­ity be­cause I think love con­quers all and pos­i­tiv­ity con­quers all.”

Hamil­ton has been mocked in the past for be­ing so open with his feel­ings. But you know what? Given the way he has driven this sea­son, he’s earned his plat­form.

But, as any sports­man will con­fess, can­didly, main­tain­ing mo­ti­va­tional peaks is tough. Per­haps sub­con­sciously, Lewis is un­likely to have brought his ‘triple A’ game to Brazil and Abu Dhabi. He ad­mit­ted as much in con­tra­dic­tory com­ments about be­ing “not quite at 100 per cent” but also that he “gave it ev­ery­thing” to beat Bot­tas.

Valt­teri will bank the vic­tory, nonethe­less, for as Jenson But­ton ac­knowl­edges in our ex­clu­sive in­ter­view on p80, “when you beat Lewis you know you’ve done a good job.”

Hamil­ton was The Man this year – he knows it and his chief ri­val Se­bas­tian Vet­tel was gra­cious enough to con­cede that point.

Will he be so next year? Im­pa­tiently, we wait.

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