It’s been a very topsy-turvy year so far for Lewis Hamilton, as he continues to battle with Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg for the 2016 Drivers’ Championship. The Englishman, looking for a third straight title, battled back well during the summer, after Rosberg started the season in scintillating fashion. However, since the summer break, his German teammate has had the upper hand and has managed to extend his lead over Hamilton to 23 points with only five races to go.
This is the third successive season where the two Mercedes drivers have been locked in battle for the title. Rosberg will be desperate to come out on top, having finished second to Hamilton in both of the last two seasons and especially after the two have had plenty of public flash-points since Hamilton joined the team in 2013.
The constant squabbling, pressroom conflicts and on-track flash-points have added an extra spice to a sport which could have gone a bit stale, with Mercedes having such a dominant car compared to the other teams. Whichever Mercedes driver comes out on top after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Hamilton/Rosberg rivalry is sure to go down as one of the most storied in F1 history.
Unlike the previous two seasons, where Rosberg has fallen victim to the motor racing gods of fate, Lewis Hamilton has endured a multitude of car problems. Last weekend’s engine inferno, which cost the Englishman certain victory, was just the last in a long list of issues which seem to be persistently pestering Hamilton, bringing any momentum he tries to build up to a shuddering holt.
Hamilton sought answers after this latest setback, claiming someone – or something – clearly didn’t want him to win the Championship this season. But to suggest his car troubles are down to some kind of sabotage and conspiracy are quite absurd. It’s simply down to faults in the car itself.
The lap before Hamilton was forced to retire in Malaysia, he was experiencing a lack of power. According to Mercedes, this drop in oil pressure going into the engine caused “big-end bearing failure”, resulting in 02.engine combustion.
This wasn’t the first time mechanical faults had cost the defending Champion valuable points in his quest for another title. Gearbox problems resulted in Hamilton starting from the back of the grid in China. The instalment of a third power unit before the Belgian Grand Prix also meant Hamilton would have to battle from the back of the field once again.
By contrast, Nico Rosberg has had a fairly untroubled run in the Championship so far, apart from that untimely spin in Malaysia last weekend. I don’t think anyone, apart from Hamilton, would begrudge Rosberg a title win, having played second fiddle to Hamilton since he took Mercedes second seat. Hopefully, those flames from his engine in Malaysia will ignite the fight in Hamilton and we will be treated to an epic battle for the title over the final few months of the season.