As Mercedes look miles ahead six rounds into the F1 season, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are verbally sparring up in the press hoping for either one to buckle.
After the Monaco GP where, from pole, Nico took his second win of the season, the German has a slight advantage on top pf the F1 standings. After winning the first race of the season he has played second-fiddle to Hamilton there after – as Hamilton won the next four races and looked on course for a possible win number five until Nico decided to step in during qualifying. With Lewis not finishing in the first race in Melbourne, Australia, this has left Nico with a 4 point advantage at the top after winning in Monaco.
As Lewis was finishing his last qualifying lap, Nico decided as he was on provisional pole to ‘run off’ the circuit past ‘Mirabeau’ which instantly brought out the fluttering of yellow flags ending Hamilton’s chance of pole on his last ‘hot-lap’. BBC F1 pundit’s David Coulthard gave his assessment:
The words exchanged in the new conferences afterwards told their own story, a story where both team mates are almost on the cusp of ‘verbal-fistycuffs’ – trivial pantomime none the less.
After much deliberation Nico was cleared of any wrongdoing and won from pole around the twisty road circuit of Monaco. Mind games have a long steep history in F1. The verbal duels had pundits, journalists, and historians salivating at these very quips or mentally rummaging using ‘total recall’ of past golden dialogue in later years. If it wasn’t Lauda v Hunt, Villeneuve v Pironi, Senna v Prost, or even Schmuacher v Hill, mind games were forever present within the sport and for many decades.
Hamilton is a truly gifted F1 driver but it is his almost inevitable outbursts – especially after a race – that show this truly damning flaw. Nico has a more reserved demeanor with a knack for qualifying, but seems to falter when it matters on race day. Even with Lewis having 4 poles this season both seem to go on from strength to strength leaving all others behind.
No matter what happens next both will have journalists all over the world prying for as much information as possible. Furthermore, with the continued media frenzy it would not be surprising if internally Mercedes want a German champion driving a German car by the end of the season. It may not be as out in the open as Sebastian Vettel’s favouritisim at Red Bull but Mercedes supremo Toto Wolff will deep down want to please the bosses at Mercedes and favour Nico more than Lewis.
As the season continues it will be fascinating to see more epic duelling both on and off the track. And as Hamilton’s negativity takes hold, this will show certain egotistical wranglings with Nico that could easily rip holes into his first real chance of a first World Championship since 2008.
Liam Cairns, Pundit Arena.