Lewis Hamilton can party hard if he wins the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton, fashionista that he is, consults his mirror image on a regular basis and next time he does so he might ask himself an uneasy question. Should he lose his Formula One world championship here on Sunday, or in Abu Dhabi two weeks later, will it be because , his Mercedes team-mate, beat him or because he defeated himself?
Most likely, he will tell himself: “Neither.” He will tell himself he would have won his fourth world title, and his third in as many years, if not suffering reliability issues. He has a point. Rosberg has been much luckier this season, defying the silly adage that fortunes even themselves out in the course of a long season.
Hamilton, ruefully, will point to the third race of the season, when he attempted to respond to Rosberg’s victories in the first two races in Australia and But he was hit with a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change and then an engine failure in qualifying placed him at the back of the grid. An engine change in Spa meant that Hamilton again started from the back of the grid. And just as he was about to resume control of the season with a commanding performance, his engine exploded with just 15 laps remaining. Without those setbacks, Hamilton would be champion.
However, the British driver is partially to blame for the position he now finds himself in: with a lead of 19 points, Rosberg merely has to win here – as he has done in the previous two seasons – to take the title for the first time; Hamilton has to win here for the first time in nine attempts to carry the battle to the last race of the season.
Five times this year Hamilton has made bad starts. That is not bad luck. Race officials have spiced up the regulations this year, so it is the driver who has to work out the right clutch settings. Rosberg has got on top of this, Hamilton has not.
Then there was the race in September, when he seemed off form. After Malaysia, we had the in Japan, when Hamilton made a mockery of the official drivers’ press conference by playing with his smartphone, using the image-messaging service to place bunny rabbit ears on his team-mates. He then of another media briefing and completed a difficult weekend by finishing third in the race.
And, of course, Hamilton being Hamilton, he has driven absolutely brilliantly. In the summer he won six races out of seven, to overturn Rosberg’s 43-point lead and take a 19-point advantage himself. He has also been untouchable in the last two rounds, in and
A mixed season, then, for the most gifted driver in F1 and there are those who feel he should row back on his celebrity lifestyle and even think again of taking on a management team. Interestingly, his original manager, his father, Anthony, with whom he split professionally in 2010, does not agree. He said earlier this month: “Most kids have their tantrums at 15. Lewis had his when he was world champion because he wasn’t allowed one at 15.
“He’s good for the sport and I promise you anybody else would be doing exactly what he is doing if they got the chance. I know I would. You can’t live like a monk in . I’d have the plane, the cars, the women, all of it.”
He added: “If he’s come from a party and then races a few days later, and has a really bad day, he might come second. On a good day, he is two-tenths quicker than anyone. On an exceptional day he is half a second faster. He has so much in abundance.”
That is the truth of it. We must accept Hamilton on his own terms. Two men, Hamilton Sr and McLaren’s exerted strict controls over the prodigy, who later signed for Simon Fuller’s XIX management company. But then he left to look after his own affairs and Mercedes, unlike McLaren, have adopted a largely hands-off approach, although they did speak to Hamilton after the weekend in Japan. They are unlikely to change anything now.
The team’s motorsport executive director, Toto Wolff, said: “Lewis is a rock star racing driver and he does not only deliver in a car, he delivers for the brand in his life outside of the track. If somebody is without fault, very corporate, very polished, with no edges, his personality will not be as big and therefore not as good for the brand.”
Besides, we should remember that Hamilton can still win this championship, despite his bad luck and his few off-moments. And if he does not do so it is easy to see him coming back to win next year’s title by a wide margin.