Formula 1 fans who wanted to see the 2015 Championship go down to the wire will have felt short changed, but will have at least been impressed by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. Yes, the Drivers’ Championship has been won earlier before, but with Rosberg‘s current form it’s surprising the battle didn’t last longer. Where was that fight when it mattered most?
Nico’s resurgence over the past couple of races has been impressive. He first reclaimed his qualifying crown on Saturdays and has now been on pole for five consecutive Grands Prix. He’s also won the last two Grands Prix and taken second in the Drivers’ Championship. He puts it down to hard work and improving every little detail he could. Lewis says that something changed on the car and that he needs to understand it better. The last time Hamilton dominated both Saturday and Sunday on a race weekend was Monza back at the start of September. This was shortly before Mercedes had the post-race tyre pressure ‘discussion’ with Pirelli and the stewards.
Speaking of Monza, should we all be wearing red in the hope of a greater 2016 championship battle? If you are tiring of Mercedes’ domination then Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari could be the best hope for a more competitive front end of the grid in 2016.
While Hamilton couldn’t get past Rosberg on Sunday in Interlagos, we did get to see the incredible talent of Max Verstappen. However, until he gets into a top car the excitement he displayed will be confined to the mid field. The same could be said for several drivers in the top-ten battle. The strength in drivers is there, the strength in the Constructors’ Championship is not.
The rookies that we have seen this year have been some of the best that have arrived in Formula 1. I am a fan of the talents of Carlos Sainz and had he not been team-mates to Verstappen then people would be getting more excited by his overtaking ability and will to succeed.
Yet again on race day, though, he was let down by the car and, as he eloquently put it, he “will still be a rookie in Interlagos this time next year”. His Toro Rosso came to a grinding halt on his outlap and, after being towed back to the pits, it retired for good on the first lap of the race.
Felipe Nasr is also a driver who can be quick if the car is to his liking. He showed that with his performance in the first race of the year in Australia where he finished an impressive fifth. He rarely puts a foot wrong on circuit and other teams will be looking at him for the future. His Saturday showing wasn’t stellar after he blocked Massa on a flying lap and was given a three-place grid penalty. He claims, though, that Sauber had told him that every car on the track was on a slowing-down lap. They were clearly wrong.
Talk in the paddock has also centered on Haas F1, the new American team for next year. They seem to be the best-prepared new team F1 has ever seen, they have two experienced drivers and they have the might of Ferrari onside.
Ferrari’s the only team to have properly challenged Mercedes this year and, as I mentioned, could be the only true threat to them in 2016. I sat down with Vettel on Thursday to do an interview for the BBC and I was met with a reflective, humble version of the four-time world champion. Sebastian might not agree, but I think he needed a couple of years of not winning regularly, or fighting for the championship.
Since winning his last championship in 2013 he has grown up immeasurably. He has two children and he made a brave call to join a team which, at the time, was enduring their worst season in 21 years. They hadn’t won a race since 2013. After doubting his own ability during 2014 he decided the time was right to move on.
2015 has made it abundantly clear that we need more drivers and teams in with a chance of winning a Grand Prix. Should we blame Mercedes for not giving Lewis Hamilton an alternative strategy to win the Brazilian Grand Prix? Why should they with Rosberg comfortably in the lead? Despite Mercedes’ rule of giving both drivers the same strategy to ensure fairness, they do want to provide good racing and a show for the fans. A point cemented when you think of the wheel-to-wheel battles Hamilton and Rosberg have had this year.
Let’s hope the others catch up, provide strong racing and challenge the Mercedes cars. Ferrari did this on Sunday through its strategy and while Vettel wasn’t fast enough to win, Hamilton wasn’t able to go onto ‘Plan B’ because the Ferrari driver was quick enough to worry the Mercedes pit wall.
Mercedes has received a lot of flak for dominating, but why should they? They have done a better job than the others who must catch up. We live in hope that they do.