Motorsport Monday: Hamilton Seizes on Rosberg Misfortune to Reignite Title Fight

I’ve never been one to really believe in the saying that “what goes around comes around”. Certainly I hope it’s not true — mostly because last night in my Federer-induced depression I may have burned down an orphanage — but with Lewis Hamilton’s victory in the 2014 British Grand Prix, maybe I should double-check my smoke detectors.

So with that in mind, let’s get to recapping the stories from yesterday’s race, before a horde of angry nuns show up on my door-step.

Reliability Woes Finally Come Rosberg’s Way as Hamilton Cruises to Victory

To sum up Lewis Hamilton’s victory at yesterday’s Grand Prix, you don’t have to go much farther than that expression. Heading into Sunday, it seemed things would only be going from bad to worse, after the Brit committed a blunder of epic proportions by pulling out of his final run in qualifying, allowing teammate Nico Rosberg to steal pole on a rapidly drying track. Besides Rosberg, Hamilton found himself behind four other drivers, making his prospects increasingly bleak to close a championship gap that was already at 29 points.

What happened on Sunday was half-miracle, half-masterclass for Hamilton. There’s no denying his excellent start, that saw him gain two positions before the race was halted by Kimi Raikkonen’s massive crash at the end of the very first lap. After the restart, an error from Kevin Magnussen and some meek defence from Jenson Button had him in second, and Rosberg was well within his sights. Hamilton was in superb form from then on out, taking the gap from a max of 5.3 seconds down to 2.8 by the time Rosberg pitted for fresh rubber. Losing 1.4 seconds to the German is his own pitstop, it seemed Hamilton would have to keep making his own luck — how wrong we were.

Five laps later, on lap 30, Rosberg reported his gearbox was stuck in fifth gear. Just like that, Hamilton was in the lead and Rosberg was out. Instead of looking at a 29-point gap turning into a 36-point one (7 points between first and second), Hamilton is looking at just a 4-point margin to the top. Consider the championship back on.

The question now is, what can we expect going forward? Especially with this year’s new regulations, the cars are more volatile than they’ve been in a very long time. No one seems to have a complete grasp on the hybrid engines, nor how they affect the other components on the car (gearbox, brakes, etc), which makes every race something of a crapshoot. And while you do feel bad for the drivers when such misfortune happens, there’s no denying that as fans it makes for a much more exciting watching experience, because no-one is ever safe.

World Class Driving, Whingeing, Highlights Battle of Champions

If we were robbed a battle for the lead on Sunday, there was no cause to complain about the consolation prize. The fight for fifth between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel was a scintillating display of wheel-to-wheel racing that saw both drivers draw the ire of the other.

If you were wondering why the fight was for fifth and not a position higher up the grid, that was because the weight of their massive balls had both drivers at a disadvantage. I still have no idea how they didn’t come together at some point during this epic battle, but I guess that’s why they’re out there driving, and I’m sitting here making jokes about burning down an orphanage.

Besides the obvious skill at play, it’s always interesting to hear what the drivers are saying while they’re going at it. One of the things that’s great about F1 is that we get to listen in as the drivers take out their frustrations on their fellow competitors. Both drivers were quick to get on the radio and accuse the other of exceeding track limits in their attempts to stay ahead, which added a bit of amusement to the duel as the two went tit-for-tat. The thing for me is, that as much as F1 drivers are often faulted for being ‘divas’ or exceptionally hot-headed, but there’s times like this fight between Vettel and Alonso — where we get to see AND hear what’s going on, that you appreciate it’s just not that easy to keep a level head when you’re fighting for position, while also trying not to get killed at 250 kph. All I know is, it hasn’t always been easy for F1 to conjure such levels of phenomenal entertainment, so you’ve gotta take it when you can get it.

Raikkonen Crash Skirts Fine Line Between Excitement and Tragedy

While it’s certainly not NASCAR, crashes are undoubtedly an appealing element of the F1 spectacle for casual and hardcore fans alike. There’s something in all of us that loves to see rampant destruction, and several machines worth millions of dollars colliding into each other and the environment certainly satisfies that desire. There’s just the unfortunate reality that such occasions put at risk the lives of actual human beings, and it’s their fates in such an event that essentially alter the reason why — or if — we want to see a replay.

Kimi Raikkonen’s crash at 47G into the barriers is about as brutal a hit as you’ll see in motor racing, and yet perhaps the most calamitous part was watching his Ferrari spin back onto the track afterwards, directly into the path of other drivers. It’ll undoubtedly be a feature of many highlight videos of the 2014 season, and yet it’s incredible how close we came to tragedy. Marussia’s Max Chilton in particular was very fortunate not to be hit by a loose tyre — an injury that had killed Henry Surtees, son of 1964 world champion Jack, in 2009.

F1 has now gone two decades without a driver fatality, and that is undoubtedly due to the tremendous efforts to improve safety in the sport, but it’s on occasions like these where we are reminded the risk of tragedy is still very much present. Particularly if cockpits continue to remain open to their current extension, it seems only a matter of time before a driver falls on the wrong side of such misfortune. It’s something that needs to change, sooner rather than later.

 

Next up: Germany, July 18-20. How will Rosberg respond in his own backyard?

 

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