Soaking up the sun and dancing with scantily clad festival goers, Lewis Hamilton is one driver letting loose this summer break having turned his 43-point deficit into a 19-point advantage.
Hamilton headed to Barbados for the annual Crop Over festival to start his summer break, taking some much needed downtime. And well he should.
The World Champion’s early season disappointments are nothing but a memory, and perhaps a motivation for what is to come, as he chases down a fourth World title.
Although after round four of this season, the Russian GP, it appeared as if Hamilton’s chances of a hat-trick with Mercedes were all but over as he trailed Nico Rosberg by 43 points, the pendulum began to swing in his favour in Monaco.
That grand prix marked Hamilton’s first win of the campaign, and since Monaco he has added another five wins to his tally giving him a record of six in the last seven. Not bad for a driver who some believed had lost the plot in the wake of his 2015 title-winning Austin GP triumph.
Such has been the turnaround that Hamilton was able to take the lead in the standings for the first time in Hungary, and seven days later cemented his P1 as he pulled 19 points clear of Rosberg.
He is, however, having to contemplating the grid penalties that await as throughout this season he has been plagued by reliability woes, most notably in qualifying for the Chinese and Russian GPs where turbocharger failures put him well down the order.
A fifth turbocharger and fifth MGU-H were fitted onto his car in Austria, meaning one more of either will trigger a grid penalty.
Should he fit the sixth unit of both at the same grand prix it will be a 15-place drop, however, should he fit them one at a time then each will earn him a 10-place penalty.
And although Hamilton says that will hand Rosberg a free Sunday afternoon drive, should he take the hit at the Spa-Franchorchamp circuit, history says he can still win the grand prix.
One of Formula 1’s fastest tracks, and one of the best to overtake, Michael Schumacher came from 16th on the grid to win the 1995 Belgian GP. It is possible, and if anyone in today’s field can do it, Hamilton can.
Added to that only three of the last ten Belgian races have been won from pole position, which one can conceivably say will go to Rosberg in Hamilton’s absence.
So while Mercedes may be stating that the title race is not over, that is coming from the same boss who insists that the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari can still challenge for the crowns.
Given that third-placed Daniel Ricciardo is 84 points off the pace and has yet to win a grand prix this year, one has to be hard-pressed – or determined to create excitement where there is none – to say the Aussie, or any of his rivals, are even remotely in the chase.
There will be nine grands prix in a 13-week period when Formula 1 returns from the summer break of which Hamilton won five last season, and six the previous year. In that same period Rosberg won three in 2015 and just one a year before.
Form and stats say this World title is going Hamilton’s way.
Article by Michelle Foster
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