Of Jinxes and Jetlags
I must admit, I was half deflated about the Austrian GP even on Friday night. I must admit I was suspiciously downbeat even after qualy sessions on Saturday. And when I told my wife at the start of the race „he is slow out“, I pretty much dozed off. I simply knew something is not right the whole weekend.
Now, I know that starting an article in first person is not the proper way to start, but, as it is, I have about dozen loyal readers, and I don’t care, it is how it is.
Everybody on this lovely, superb and high tech portal of blind admiration of everything connected to Lewis Hamilton, MBE, two time world champion and The Driving God, knows a thing or two about the jinx. We do it regularly on this board. Some of us even go to church in predestined time on race weekends. But, there are some tracks in this world that are jinxed for our Loisl. Austrian RedBullDieterHauptKleinBergerschleben track is slowly (or fast) becoming a jinx track. Somewhere in a vicinity of brazilian Interlagos, Monaco or even Spa. Yes, he won Monaco and Spa, but these are ilusive, slippery fish for Loisl to catch regularly.
Why it is so, I don’t know, but I presume tracks are like women, in a way that some that are beautiful are so distant and fickle, and no matter how hard you try, they evade you, until they settle for someone who is not even handsome or smart, and not even close to your potential, just in spite of it. That tracks are often Nico Rosberg’s territory. Nobody knows why, but they are. Except Toto, he knows a thing or two about clutch settings…clutching for straws at the matters of his Nico.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the track that Rosberg excells at. Monaco (Nico’s third home race), short and crazy, demands a lot of attention, precision and yellow flag or two at the qualys. Not a hard track to memorize and apply yourself properly. Interlagos (Nico’s eleventh home race), short and fast, demands commitment at the first turn and precision when you enter mickeymouse infield. Not a hard track to memorize and apply yourself properly. Bahrain International Circuit in Manama (Nico’s second home race), not a short track, but a point and squirt track, with a somewhat semicomplicated infield. Not a hard track to memorize and apply yourself properly. And by now, I ran out of the tracks that Nico the Boss Rosberg excells at. Do you, my lovely dozen avid followers, see what they all got in common? Yes, they are asphalt covered. And pretty much easy to drive. Not much of a challenge in them, except for the barriers at Monaco. And my theory, pretty much crush all of the talk about herr doctor Nico the Boss Rosberg is much more inteligent and versatile than soon to be Sir Lewis Hamilton.
And to make things more complicated, he lost on one of his fav tracks twice in a row, and needed his liebling Toto’s help to win on another this year. And somehow, after this funny Nascar-type-of-road-circuit Spielberg RedBull track, everybody and their cats are declaring that the fight is now finally on. Which fight? If there wasn’t Monaco GP blunder of a century race, the difference between two Mercedes drivers would stand at sobering 27 points. Not in Nico The Boss’s corner.
And to make things even more complicated, there is now a story doing rounds that Lewis Hamilton MBE, is doing regular trips around the world on the evening before the race (in his shiny red jet, that rich punk kid), and also regular flybys on some Jenner (take care Loisl, even they can’t tell if they were male before). Yes, he likes to travel, yes he enjoys life, but only he earned this right, and only he earned two championships to his name. If he was, for instance, suffering from a jet lag, he couldn’t even keep up with Vettel, let alone keep Rosberg honest during the race. That is how severe jet lag is, and in this grinder which is called Formula One, every tiny discrepancy in your mental and physical awareness can lead you to your early grave.
Yes, he got his permission from his Mercedes bosses to pursue his brand, be it clothing line or the music company, but he negotiated it himself, and I admire him for that. If anybody of us would be just ten percent in demand in proffesional life as he is….
But, and a big but it is, when I came across a piece of an article suggesting that Nico The Boss is taking over his duties at fast approaching second test of the year, again at the bland Spielberg track, I knew that this is the real mind game of a true champion. He knows this track is an anomaly, there is nothing smart that he can test aero wise on this two-corner piece of asphalt, and he knows that he has an „also ran“ driver sitting in sister Mercedes. And that is a pretty damning verdict for Nico Rosberg. But I don’t think he gets it yet. He is to high and mighty right now.
And now, sorry for the long wait, off to the race..
Nico won, Lewis was second, and Felipe was third, because Ferrari is still a Ferrari. Not an efficient anglo-german machine of nineties and early noughties, but still leggiero latin macho „manana“ style of team. Millions can buy you better engine and some fine engineer and a top four driver, but can’t buy you hard work and precision. Until you smarten up and buy some more engineers from that anglo-german circle. And perhaps another driver who knows how to speak and even pretend that he cares about the team that he drives for, not to mention who knows how to apply the gas pedal properly on his first laps out of the pits, or after the start. This time, Raikkonen almost got himself killed by a true world champion, but next time, I fear greater danger is on the cards from him, or drivers around him.
One time Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg prove that he would be an asset for that second seat at Ferrari, but I’m not sure Vettel would like it. I also don’t believe in stories about Ricciardo being on the radar of Ferrari, because Vettel would veto it. So, my guess, Ferrari is en route of hiring another Finn, who is good, but not good enough to present a threat to Sebbie.
Honda made another blunder, and they are pretty much sickening to watch. I was kind of relieved when I saw Fernando Alonso scaring the vodka out of Raikkonen, because that was the only scene where McLaren Honda looked threatening in all of the eight races this season. And also, it saved Fernando of misery of hearing the now infamous „Jenson, Fernando, pit, pit, pit, retire the car, there is a problem with MGU, MGK, ICE, CE, Turbo, Exhaust, Valvetrain, Piston….
So, my dear dozen (not dirty, but sweet) we’re off to the fabulous Silverstone, which is a track that is not so easy to memorize, and it’s corners are much more unforgiving. The kind of track for a proper racers, not some geeky point and squirt jockeys….
Maldonado finished second consecutive race in points. If he continue like that, Lotus can even cover it’s expenses on repair bills so far.
Verstappen kid is a proper hotheaded spoilt brat. He was again provoking a safety car, battling it out with an even greater spoilt brat, but this track was wider than Monaco. Kid is a bigger accident waiting to happen.
Hamilton endured a frustrating afternoon finishing 2nd after starting P1. The Red Bull Ring joins the Valencia Street Circuit and Korea International Circuit as tracks where Hamilton has never won and converted his only pole position at the track into a second place.
Jack of all tracks… in qualifying!
Hamilton managed to set a new record before lights out on Sunday. By setting pole position at his 21st different grand prix, he surpassed Prost and Vettel on 20, cementing his reputation as a one-lap master regardless of the circuit. The P1 slot also drew him level with Vettel to joint 3rd on the all-time list.
Despite the disappointing result in the grand prix, Hamilton matched another record by leading a lap in 17 consecutive Grand Prix sharing the honour with the legendary Sir Jackie Stewart.
Hamilton’s podium in Austria matched Fernando Alonso’s 15 consecutive podiums between 2005 and 2006. His total number of podiums is the same as Raikkonen at 78, achieved in 64 less starts. Senna’s total of 80 is within touching distance.