There’s no denying that Great Britain knows what it’s doing when it comes to Formula One. As a nation we’ve celebrated 10 different British drivers taking the Formula One World Championship title 16 times over the last 57 years. And that’s pretty impressive. What’s more impressive is the fact that we could potentially be celebrating a 17th title claim at the end of the 2016 season. The man to put GB even further ahead in the league table of winners? That will be Driver No. 44; Lewis Hamilton.
As it currently stands, Hamilton is part of an elite gathering of F1 drivers who have three World Championship titles under their belts. Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Hamilton’s idol, Ayrton Senna were all dominant in their respective eras (1960s to the 1980s). The only other driver to muscle in on the 80s and early 90s was Alain Prost, who claimed four World Championship titles between 1985 and 1993. And we can’t forget Sebastian Vettel, whose focused efficiency and skill saw him dominate four consecutive seasons from 2010 to 2013.
Of course, there’s nothing to be sniffed at in winning a World Championship just once. Keke Rosberg – father of Hamilton’s current Mercedes team mate and rival Nico – was a Formula One driver for eight years and won his only World Championship in 1982. As we witnessed in the 2015 season – and it would seem at the current mid-season break point – Nico could well be following in his father’s footsteps. His end of season resurgence in 2015 was as unexpected as it was exciting; where had he been for the first half of it? Would it be enough to topple Hamilton off his perch? Would we see a Rosberg name etched on the World Championship trophy 33 years after the first one? Alas, no, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen for him at some point.
Despite Hamilton doing enough for the first half of the 2015 season to make his Championship win pretty much secured – and to an extent, this season also – Rosberg’s ability to match him shouldn’t be discounted. Rosberg, like Hamilton, could drive his F1 car with his eyes shut. Both driver’s talents are evident at every race (excluding this year’s Spanish GP, which saw both of them claiming a DNF after a collision). Both have an innate desire to win. But, despite being in an identical car, Rosberg struggles to get as much out of his F1 W07 Hybrid as Hamilton does. Is it that Rosberg is deemed more of a driver while Hamilton is considered more of a racer? Is it a matter of confidence? It must be tough to know that you once had a 43-point lead over your team mate after only four races, whereas you’re now 19 points behind. Whatever the reason, statistics can’t be argued with, and our latest infographic shows the current state of play between the team mates.
The Formula One paddock is a hotbed of gossip and speculation every season, without fail. As teams start to consider their short and long term driver options for the seasons ahead, there’s always question marks over whether team stalwarts will put down roots or look to move on. The latest connection is Hamilton moving to Ferrari for the 2018 season when his current Mercedes contract expires. With Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne reportedly believing that Hamilton is currently the only driver who could give Sebastian Vettel a run for his money, the prospect of this partnership would make for a very interesting season, potentially being more hot than the Hamilton / Rosberg relationship. While the Mercedes and Ferrari camps are currently remaining quiet on this subject, Hamilton’s comment at the Monaco 2015 press conference on signing his contract – “The group of people that I have within this team…it was a very easy decision to make.” – could mean he’ll seek a contract extension with the German/UK based team providing he’s still happy to stay and that he’s still delivering an outstanding, world champion-style performance. All we know at the moment is that Hamilton is certainly delivering on what the Mercedes team demand from him and, if he stays on current form, that elusive fourth World Championship will once more be in his hands.