The Italian Grand Prix lived up to its passionate expectations as Lewis Hamilton overtook Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 45 and won the race, breaking the hearts of the Tifosis who were hoping for a Ferrari 1-2. They had witnessed the best qualifying session this season the previous day, which ended with Raikkonen setting a new record for the fastest lap ever in F1 in the ‘Temple of Speed’. With Hamilton leading the Drivers’ Championship with 256 points and Sebastian Vettel 30 points behind, it is safe to say that the Brit would successfully defend his title and beat the German to a fifth title if all goes according to plan for team Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. And here are the reasons…
- Vettel keeps shooting himself in the foot: Locking up into the barriers in Hockenheim, overshooting the turn in Baku, and coming out worse in an avoidable clash in Monza, Seb has buckled when he really needed to keep a cool head this season. Scuderia Ferrari’s SF71H cars are the best on the grid, but Vettel’s mistakes makes winning his fifth title this season an uphill task. He’s making the same schoolboy errors former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg made in 2015 in his tussle with then teammate Hamilton, a battle he lost. Meanwhile…
- Hamilton has the right mentality to get the job done: Lewis is a definition of courage under pressure as he does his best no matter the situation, while keeping his cool and waiting for an opportunity to pounce like a predator. He always gets one over his critics’ at the most crucial moments, turning negativity into positivity. Even with a package not as strong as Ferrari’s, he ekes out every bit of performance from the WO9 EQ Power +. His positive mindset should see him through, barring any mechanically-induced DNF in the race between him and Vettel for a fifth title.
- Bottas is now willing to be a ‘wingman’: Guess it didn’t hurt Valtteri Bottas this weekend to be an integral part of his teammate’s victory. ”First my mission was to hold up Kimi for a while, but then to end up on the podium…” the Finn said. Not that Kimi, another Finn, hasn’t been deployed this way in some races this season. But if Bottas keeps doing this for as long as the battle between Seb & Lewis rages on, Lewis then would be more confident knowing that his ‘wingman’ can be called upon in times of trouble.
- High overtaking possibilities in most of the remaining races: Obviously the SF71H has a better qualifying and race pace than the W09 EQ Power+ and it seems like a Ferrari would always start on pole in most of the remaining races (except it rains during qualifying). But if what we saw in Monza where Hamilton overtook Vettel and Raikkonen is to be considered, then the Ferraris may be vulnerable to overtakes from Lewis (and maybe Bottas) in Sochi, Suzuka, Texas and Sao Paulo, tracks with lots of overtaking possibilities.
It has been an electrifying season so far for fans and neutrals, the best season in recent years with Ferrari & Vettel pushing Mercedes and Hamilton all season long. Hopefully, it will go down to the wire. We already can’t wait for the Singapore Grand Prix.
By Ekwonye Osy Ernesto