Valterri Bottas was once viewed as the messiah of F1. He was destined to rise above the rest of the field and challenge for the vacant seat at Mercedes once Rosberg or Hamilton left. We were told that he will be a World Champion one day.
A World Champion he may yet be but for now he is currently killing classic races by allowing Rosberg to win by default by punting off Hamilton at turn one. When will Lewis catch a break and when will the annoying Rosberg fans stop exclaiming their boy has been reborn when he was only won two races because of bad luck happening to Hamilton even though Hamilton showed plenty of evidence over both weekends he clearly had the pace on Rosberg. “His head is clearly not in it” claimed one poster on a particular forum. A comment as misguided as this would usually make me chortle. This time it made me angry, it shows how some people are so determined to try and make these claims about Rosberg while the sun shines that they deliberately misrepresent how the race result happened and spin it to make it look like Rosberg won in a straight fight. A frankly ludicrous suggestion.
So let me set the record straight on what really happened so far in 2016. Rosberg has won 2 races by default. Hamilton clearly has an inherent pace advantage over Rosberg and Ferrari are a good half second back.
Thinking away from the top 2 teams for a moment. I was impressed by Stoffel Vandoorne, although I was expecting to. I have watched him since the start of his GP2 career and although that’s because I am a rather avid follower of GP2 rather than Vandoorne himself. A lot of new drivers come from there so if I want an idea of whose next years rookies might be then watching GP2 is usually a good place to start. And the benefit watching GP2 also gives you an idea of how they will fair in F1. For instance when Nasr finished 5th in Melbourne last year some people called him a future WDC. I knew after watching him bottle taking a first GP2 win until his third year in GP2 when he still didn’t win the title, that Nasr has a long way to go before he can develop the nerve and the bottle to win a race let alone a championship. Back on topic to Vandoorne, he was one of those drivers who rocks up in GP2 and just oozes quality. He took a sensational first win on debut, in Bahrain no less. And then in his second year he doddled his way to a title. Now, that is not that impressive as winning the championship in his first year like Lewis did. And I don’t think Vandoorne will be as good as Lewis. But he has shown he has the temperament and pace to become a challenger one day and maybe a serial race winner. I wouldn’t nail on that WDC because it is always hard to tell how someones career will pan out, indeed it is unlikely he will race again this year. But I will be very surprised if he doesn’t find a race seat for next year.
Qualifying once again was a stain on F1’s reputation. As our very own GoldenColt said, the easiest thing to do would have been to revert back to the old 2015 style system, which means this is the one route F1 will not take. We can only really speculate as to why this mess has happened but it has all the hallmarks of being a pawn in a much bigger struggle for power in F1. Some have said that Todt and Ecclestone didn’t want to lose face by reverting so quickly to the old system. But they are only looking more incompetent by insisting that we either stay with this system or try something even worse. What is worse they seem to be in flat out denial of the fact that nobody wanted qualifying to be changed. They seem to insist that people didn’t like the old one. When the vast majority of internet polls show that the 2015 system is the most popular qualifying system amongst the fans.
It’s a huge shame because the whole fiasco marred possibly one of the greatest laps in F1 history. Some said he cracked under pressure, some say his head is not in it, others say he is not as hungry as Nico is this year. Absolutely rubbish. The second Q3 lap from Hamilton on the back of messing up his first was one of most sublime performances you could ever witness in qualifying. The lap was shown off-board live and was visibly an awe-inspiring lap, helped with the theatrical sparks under the lights. And it was a massive kick in the teeth for those calling these new cars too slow as Hamilton circulated the Sakhir circuit in record time. I’ve watched the laps again and again since, and I think the case can be made for calling it the greatest lap since Senna in Monaco.
This is Sabjit signing off, see you after China.