Friday, November 2, 2018

The Race to 5

There's no denying I'm a big fan of Scuderia Ferrari, from the early days with Mansell to that unforgettable Schumacher era, and with others like Kimi and Fernando of late, the team brings so much to the sport, many say if Ferrari ever left, Formula One should shut up shop. Now in saying this, I am a proud supporter of the two cars on the grid every race day and for many who have been following the World Drivers Championship battle this season, it's been all too familiar with Sebastian and his car showing great promise in the first of half of the season but failing dismally in the latter. While this year was a bit closer than last, the end result was evident from 5 races left on the calendar, it would have taken a miracle and some extreme bad luck  for Lewis Hamilton not to secure his 5th title. 

While both drivers fought hard this season, there can be only one winner and last weekend in New Mexico, Lewis Hamilton showed the world why he was the best at what he does. The Brit is an incredibly talented driver and even though his car was not the fastest, he made the most of it where it counted, around the bends and in qualifying securing more pole positions than Vettel or higher placings on the grid. He also had the backing of a great team who's strategies for every race weekend was near perfect, all of this helped him achieve his 5th world drivers championship and credit must be paid to him for achieving this accomplishment. 

However, I have a bone to pick with many about his rival Vettel. While he might not be everyone's cup of tea, the sport has painted him with a black brush in the latter half of the season. With Formula One's TV deal, most of the international stream has to put up with the rubbish that Sky Sports has to say. Sky Sports being British have a certain bias towards their own driver, even though they won't admit it. It's with this bias that many tend to dislike Lewis which is really sad because he is really a great driver. There were a number of incidents that contributed to Vettel's title challenge demise this year, some were faults by him, many by the team in terms of strategy etc but for most of it, it was just racing and at the end of the day, that is what Vettel is, a racer. 

Now if you hark back to Vettel's career when he just began, he took chances, made them count and hence he was so successful at Red Bull Racing, granted the car was brilliant but his driving played a big part in him achieving so much at such a young age, fast forward to present day and nothing has changed in his driving style, unfortunate for him he just had a lot of bad luck this season. In the clashes he had with the Red Bulls, both in Japan and Austin, both were recognised as racing incidents, and if you analyse both closely, he had a gap and in the case in Austin he had the better racing line but yet the Sky Sports team chose to label it as "rash", "dangerous", and my favourite "desperate" by Sebastian. It's like none of those former drivers they have on their commentary team ever raced before. There was an opportunity to overtake, he took it, it didn't work out, and most of the time its a 50/50 on what would happen and unfortunately for him, he spun on both cases. Then there was blame put on the car for doing what it did, it's like he could never win with these commentators. 

Karma soon came to bite them in the ass in Austin though, with VSC called in early on in the race, just after 12 laps, Mercedes brought in Lewis for a change in tyres as he was behind Kimi at the time and wanted to get his lead back after it was taken from the start and hopefully wrap up the title that weekend. The Sky Sports team saw this as a genius move and wondered why Ferrari didn't do the same, its as if they had amnesia and forgot all about how heavy on tyres the Austin track is. With a 1 stop strategy this would be disastrous for any driver! As the race went on, Lewis began to suffer, lost many places in the field and had to go back for a tyre change again, the commentary team didn't acknowledge Ferrari's reluctance to take the gamble and pit their cars early but rather focused on how Lewis saved his race but ultimately couldn't seal his 5th drivers title that weekend. 

It gave Ferrari and Vettel a glimmer of hope going into Mexico but even they knew it was all done and dusted even before the weekend began. As per normal in Mexico, the Red Bulls were on fire and secured a top two spot in qualifying, Ricciardo suffered mechanical failure again during the race but left the road open to Max Verstappen to claim his 5th race victory, with Hamilton finishing in 4th place, it was enough for him to claim victory in the drivers title challenge, some nice words were said between him and Vettel, which is always great to see, even though the commentary team want us to believe they hate each other. All is not lost for Ferrari though, they're still in for a shot at the constructors title with them trailing Mercedes Benz by 55 points, with Lewis wrapping up his title, we're not sure if he will be racing as hard as before and with Bottas having a point to prove after playing second fiddle the entire season, these last two races could be quite spectacular to see. 

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