By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer
Lewis Hamilton trails Nico Rosberg by 33 points in the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship. With four races remaining, it is crunch time for the current champion. With 3 championships in his trophy case, Hamilton stands in rarified air amongst the F1 greats. Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and Jack Brabham all have three championships. More importantly, Sebastian Vettel, his contemporary, has 4. Hamilton needs to eclipse this mark if he is to be gauged as the best of his era.
So there is plenty on the table in terms of motivation for the British driver.
But this year, his teammate, Nico Rosberg, has upended the table and has command of a close, back and forth, tussle for supremacy.
Does Hamilton have a chance to eclipse Rosberg and grab his 4th world title?
Who in their right mind would count him out?
Although Rosberg has the momentum and the points lead, it would be downright foolish to write Hamilton out of this developing story. Hamilton might have Rosberg right where he wants him! With his back to the wall, Lewis Hamilton has the fortitude to focus and bring forth a comeback for the records books.
Lets look more closely at the championship from Hamilton’s standpoint.
Head to head this season, Hamilton has 6 race wins compared to Rosberg’s 9. Of course, this partially explains the small point differential between the two Mercedes drivers. Looked at more closely, it is actually Hamilton who has seen the podium more frequently with 13 podiums compared to Rosberg’s 12. Considering the difficulty Hamilton has had with the launch procedures and the myriad of technical and mechanical issues, Hamilton has actually performed quite strongly.
While Rosberg has had many races where he reached victory from the front of the pack, Hamilton’s season is one where he has yet to reach full song. He has constantly moved from the rear of the pack to gather a podium position. During these situations, Hamilton has actually honed his race craft and is primed for a head to head battle with teammate Rosberg. One can actually make a point that should the championship come down to a wheel to wheel battle, Hamilton has the edge as he has been involved in more thru-the-field battles.
Hamilton also has a dominant record at Circuit of the Americas which should provide an opportunity to close the gap to Rosberg in Austin. It is essential that he make his move now. Hamilton’s 3 race wins in 2102, 2014 and 2015 demonstrate that he is extremely comfortable at this track which should provide him with loads on confidence over the race weekend.
And if that is not motivation enough, heck, Taylor Swift is here so the musician in Lewis will certainly want to impress the pop princess!
The three race wins at COTA go along handily with his 3 World Championships! Anyone writing off this championship has forgotten the ability of the champion from Great Britain. With Austin being a track which is qualified as “racy”, there will be opportunities for Hamilton to make his way through the field from wherever he qualifies. With a strong qualifying effort and an equal start from the line, Hamilton can easily grab victory and place himself right back into the fight.
But this is where Hamilton has faltered this season. He must make a strong start, from a strong grid position if he is to put Rosberg off balance for the race. Without this, he may get tangled up in the efforts of Red Bull and Ferrari while Rosberg pulls a gap and controls the race from the front.
Be prepared for Hamilton to throw down at least one more major offensive in his attempt to make a battle for the 100 remaining points at hand in the championship. It all begins here in Austin this weekend! Expect Lewis Hamilton to make a play for the race win and wind up right back in the thick of the championship.