Hamilton heads into F1 mid-season break with resurgent lead over crestfallen teammate Rosberg
Lee Gormley | August 1, 2016
2016 Formula 1 season so far
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg began the 2016 Formula 1 season in fine fashion, storming to success in the first four circuits of the new campaign and opening a commanding Driver’s Championship lead.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) July 31, 2016
Although, the German’s hunt for a maiden world title has since hit many stumbling blocks, with the 31-year-old seeing his previously promising 43-point dominance evaporate, with teammate, rival and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton incredibly overtaking him.
The British steerer looked set to relinquish his F1 crown in the early stages of an enthralling season to date, but he has battled on and impressively fought back from 43 points behind Rosberg to currently lead his stablemate by 19 going into the summer break.
Now, with a month-long break, Hamilton will head off on his summer holidays full of confidence and momentum. Rosberg, meanwhile, will have plenty of time to reflect on what went wrong and how he can bounce back upon the campaign recommencing in Belgium on August 26th.
Rosberg capitulation hands Hamilton initiative
Rosberg started the campaign by earning impressive victories in all of Australia, Bahrain, China and Russia, looking very much like a man on a mission to lift clinch his first ever Championship crown, which he is now 4/1 with Coral to achieve.
Although, following those four consecutive wins, a pivotal moment in this exciting season occurred during the Spanish Grand Prix, as Rosberg and Hamilton collided and crashed out of proceedings in Barcelona.
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) July 31, 2016
Hamilton had managed to secure a podium position in three of the opening four races of the term and was relentlessly trying to pass his teammate on the very first lap on Spanish soil. It ended in disaster for both Mercedes men.
The outfit’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda called the incident “stupid” and blamed Hamilton for being “too aggressive” in his approach, having earlier gained pole position in qualifying. This coming together proved to be a more damaging blow to Rosberg.
Since the incident, the German driver managed to add just one more GP triumph to his season tally with victory on the European circuit. Hamilton, however, has gone from strength to strength, earning six race wins after the Spanish collision.
Hamilton hungry for more success
Hamilton’s brilliant season revival, and Rosberg’s complete collapse into second in the current overall standings, has seen the Briton become a huge odds-on 1/5 favourite to claim a fourth world title and third in a row.
The 31-year-old finished the first half of the campaign in control by prevailing in the German GP; a bitter blow to his teammate Rosberg, who endured a five-second penalty for causing Max Verstappen to go off track.
“It was a really tough one today,” Rosberg bemoaned after a disappointing homecoming. “It just completely went wrong at the start with a lot of wheel spin.
“I thought it was a good battle [with Verstappen]. I was very surprised I got penalised, I didn’t expect that at all.”
The German’s initial penalty was also bizarrely extended to eight seconds after Mercedes’ stopwatch failed when Rosberg pitted to take his penalty, adding to their driver’s misery.
Hamilton’s win on his teammate’s home Grand Prix added to his success in Monaco, Canada, Austria, Hungary and a jubilant return to Silverstone when triumphing on the British track too. The reigning champion now looks to have a firm grasp on what would be his fourth F1 crown.
Red Bull duo battling back
There has been plenty more drama and excitement around drivers other than Hamilton and Rosberg too, of course, with Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo having finished strongly before the break.
Teenage sensation Verstappen produced the moment of the season so far in Spain back in May, as he capitalised on the Hamilton and Rosberg crash to triumph to become the youngest race winner in F1 history at 18 years of age.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) July 31, 2016
The Belgian-born Red Bull prodigy then also finished second to Hamilton in Austria and on British soil, while he settled for third in the final outing in Germany before the summer lay-off.
His Australian teammate Ricciardo finished on a high too, earning a podium place in Germany and Hungary, adding to his top three finish in Monaco in May. Those impressive showings mean a consistent Ricciardo is up to third in the standings, followed by Verstappen in sixth.
The Red Bull pair will hold high hopes for the second half of the campaign, with Ricciardo set to resume at 200/1 for Championship success, while teenage steerer Verstappen is 500/1 in what should be a thrilling conclusion to the term.
Ferrari falter as Vettel suffers decline
As the Silver Arrows cruise with Hamilton as the front runner and Red Bull start to knock on the door, Ferrari have been faltering so far this season, with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel sitting fifth in the standings.
The German would have hoped to continue his previous dominance of the sport when signing with F1’s most famous outfit, but that hasn’t been the case, as he failed to record a podium finish in the final three tracks before the break.
Back to back podiums very happy with 2nd today! pic.twitter.com/0qia1ynyvm
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) July 31, 2016
Although, Vettel did manage to rally himself into the top three in all of Australia, China, Spain, Canada and Europe, while his teammate Kimi Raikkonen has achieved that feat four times so far.
Red Bull’s double-podium finish in Germany meant that the resurgent roster have overtaken Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship too, adding to the Scuderia’s woes.
Further down the standings, Britain’s Jenson Button lies in 15th place, while McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso sits two positions above with just 24 points so far, though he was involved in a horrific crash in Melbourne last March.
Much-liked Spaniard Alonso has since recovered from the frightening incident on Australian soil and will aim to get further points on the board upon the season return.
Proceedings are set to race back onto our screens late August, with Hamilton hoping to maintain his remarkable run in the Belgian GP, while Rosberg looks to recover from a disastrous few months in what should be a cracking campaign conclusion.
Remaining Grand Prix dates
Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, August 28th
Italian Grand Prix – Monza, September 4th
Singapore Grand Prix – Singapore, September 18th
Malaysian Grand Prix – Kuala Lumpur, October 2nd
Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka, October 9th
United States Grand Prix – Austin, October 23rd
Mexican Grand Prix – Mexico City, October 30th
Brazilian Grand Prix – Sao Paulo, November 13th
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina, November 27th
Driver’s Championship top 10
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes, 217
Nico Rosberg – Mercedes, 198
Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing, 133
Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari, 122
Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari, 120
Max Verstappen – Red Bull Racing, 115
Valtteri Bottas – Williams Martini Racing, 62
Sergio Perez – Sahara Force India, 48
Felipe Massa – Williams Martini Racing, 38
Nico Hulkenberg – Sahara Force India, 33