F1: Another Perspective – Back to Basics for Hamilton
With just ten points now separating the two Mercedes-powered titans of F1, race fans are once again questioning who will win rather than how Lewis Hamilton will win.
From the green light at the Red Bull Ring, a circuit at which Hamilton has often struggled, the pace and precision of Nico Rosberg came as a surprise. Unprepared as he was for this early onslaught, Hamilton saw his pole position start rendered meaningless as Rosberg only ever added to the yawning gap throughout the race.
Rosberg set for Glory
With much less to lose than Hamilton, Rosberg already has a psychological advantage over his teammate. The German speedster has also set the pace in testing at the Red Bull Ring.
Of the Mercedes duo, Hamilton has the greater level of aggression and enthusiasm, and is the more ‘natural’ Formula 1 driver. Meanwhile, Rosberg (in true German fashion!) has greater efficiency in his use of speed, selecting his moments to push the car to the limit of its capabilities, as evidenced by his blistering start in Austria.
Hamilton – Keys to Victory
To avoid a second consecutive defeat, the three key areas of the track for Hamilton are:
Abbey and Farm Curve: Hamilton must exercise caution and be sure not to attempt anything in desperation, should Rosberg’s testing form continue into the British Grand Prix. This part of the track has a gentle, but significant undulation which can destabilise the cars of less attentive drivers.
Brooklands: With clement conditions expected on Sunday, the preceding section of Aintree and Wellington Straight will favour pure speed over tactical nous, yet it immediately leads to Brooklands – a stern test of nerve and control for even the most seasoned Formula 1 driver.
Hamilton’s natural driving skills will be an asset with the quick gear change required, yet he must also be wary of Rosberg’s excellent handling abilities. Good handling will be a key to victory, as the cars begin to wear down during the closing stages of the race.
Stowe: It is at this point that the race leader can find himself under high pressure from the nearest rival, and Hamilton’s ability to create space and exploit racing lines could prove advantageous in this section if he is trailing to Rosberg with only a few laps remaining.
If, as forecast, dry conditions should prevail, then some leeway onto the Astroturf can also be utilised for a well-timed overtake. Under wet conditions, this would certainly not be the case.
The Sleeping Giant
Third place is quickly becoming the birthright of Sebastian Vettel, but Ferrari (by virtue of their ample resources) remains a threat to the supremacy of Mercedes. For that reason, it came as a surprise when Massa pipped the four-time champ to third place in Austria.
There was further triumph for Williams over Ferrari as Valtteri Bottas claimed fifth – a turn of events which contrasted greatly with Ferrari-driving countryman Kimi Raikkonen, who retired before a lap had even been run.
With every construction team now preparing for life with new modifications, Williams are starting to gain the attention of neutral F1 fanatics after fading into obscurity in recent years. Arguably, it was Williams that gained the most attention during the test sessions which took place in the week following the Austrian Grand Prix.
With winglet-gate the main talking point, Williams has clearly focused all its efforts on aerodynamic upgrades. Race-illegal winglets aside, the other upgrades proved to be a success story with the Williams car performing strongly and efficiently.
Technical crew are happy that the downforce is sufficient to compete effectively on the Silverstone circuit, and a failure for either driver to breach the top four on Sunday would be a huge disappointment. In particular, the recent form of Bottas in testing (if translated to Sunday’s race) would certainly put him in contention for the final podium place.
For live updates of the British Grand Prix, visit Motorsport24.com – race begins at 12:00 UTC on July 5.