Lewis Hamilton’s victory under the lights in Singapore yesterday, coupled with the demise of teammate and championship rival Nico Rosberg, has brought the race for the title back to square one. Three points the difference, five races to go, winner takes all.
The British driver was did not have it all his own way on Sunday, though. He was forced to pull out a huge gap over the rest of the field before making his third and final pit stop after the safety car came out at the worst possible moment. However, he did it with relative ease in the end, winning the race by 13.5 seconds.
Drives like these are what champions are made of, and Lewis has been pulling them out of the bag all season long. When he started way back in Germany and Hungary, he put it on the podium on both occasions. In Italy, when he dropped to fourth off the line, he fought back to beat Rosberg. And this time around, he had to wring every last tenth out of the Mercedes to gap the field. It was a titanic effort.
For Rosberg, his setback could not have come at a worse time. By the time of the Japanese Grand Prix, it will be ten weeks since the German driver last won a race – a drought that will unquestionably be playing on his mind.
This championship has hinged on reliability, but with both drivers having suffered two retirements, honors are even now, right?
Wrong. For Lewis, he has still be far unluckier than Nico, with his problems in qualifying at Hockenheim and the Hungaroring coming into play. Speaking to British TV after the race, Hamilton said that the score was still 5-2 to him in terms of hard luck. He wanted to make that perfectly clear.
And this is something that Nico also recognizes. In the cool-down room following the race at Monza, he spoke in Italian to his engineer about how Hamilton was “so damn lucky”. When he was told that he too would have his luck, Nico said: “No, I already had my dose of luck”. He thinks that he has missed his opportunities. Now that Lewis is back in the lead, Rosberg may have just cracked in the pressure of a championship battle.
The title fight is reset now, though. It’s a five-race championship – may the best man win. It will most probably go down to Abu Dhabi, given that a 50-point lead is a big ask for either driver, but the four races in the lead-up to that could be huge. Ultimately, both drivers know that a 15-point lead heading into Abu Dhabi – thus allowing them to finish second in the final race – would be good enough. Three wins in the next five races for either driver would be enough to make that happen.
Speaking to Sky before the race, Hamilton made a very interesting point. He said that if he were to retire from the race in Singapore, his championship would be over. However, if Nico fell foul of a problem, it wouldn’t matter so much.
Mathematically, Lewis is right. In the psychological battle for the championship though, it has swung everything right back in Lewis’ favor. If Nico doesn’t recover in Suzuka, it could become Hamilton’s title to lose.
Either way, you’re watching one of the greatest title fights in the history of this great sport. Savor it.