By Carol M. Creasey
They did this with a combination of good strategy calls aimed at undercutting Max Verstappen, and Sir Lewis’ superb control of brakes and tyres. Toto Wolff said afterwards that he had no expectations of winning that day, but on this occasion he underestimated Sir Lewis.
Sir Lewis had been informed by his team over the radio, that Verstappen, who was on fresh tyres, would catch him by lap 50. He managed to stay ahead until lap 53, but when Max was close enough, instead of biding his time, with the impatience of youth he attempted an overtake, but Sir Lewis wasn’t going to make it easy. He moved over so that Verstappen could only complete the move by having all four wheels off the track, which is illegal.
Verstappen was told by his team to give the place back, as instructions had come from the stewards. He did so immediately, however, he flat spotted his tyres in the process and, as a result, was unable to get close enough to attempt another pass. Sir Lewis won the race, but does not expect Verstappen to make such a mistake again in the future. So, it looks like it will be a hard task for Sir Lewis to win his eighth championship. Or will it?
Many people comment that during the hybrid era, Mercedes has always had the dominant car, but this is not actually true. More specifically, not throughout the whole period. From 2014 to 2016 that might have been the case, as the championship was fought between Sir Lewis and his team-mate Nico Rosberg. Sir Lewis won the championship in 2014 and 2015, however in 2016 he lost the title to Rosberg. The mechanical failures on his Mercedes certainly did not help, and ultimately he lost the championship by 5 points, even though he had won ten races, while Rosberg won only nine. Thank goodness that the reliability of his car has been excellent ever since.
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In 2017, after Valtteri Bottas replaced Rosberg as his team-mate, Ferrari became a force to be reckoned with. Their car was very fast, and the advantage it had over Mercedes was that it went well at every track. Sir Lewis and Toto described Mercedes’ 2017 car as being “a handful” and “a diva. The car didn’t perform well at high altitude and on certain tracks it overheated, whereas Ferrari appeared bulletproof.
After taking the championship on four consecutive occasions with Red Bull from 2010-2013, Sebastian Vettel now wanted to win with Ferrari and, up until halfway through the season, it looked like he would. Sir Lewis had to find other ways to beat him. Strategy played a big part, as did keeping a cool head, so cool in fact, that he got into Vettel’s head, who then started to make mistakes. Also, there were times when the Ferrari broke down, but by then it was Mercedes’ turn to be bulletproof.
Sir Lewis’ greatest strength is his consistency and his ability to avoid making many mistakes. His maturity as a driver sets him apart and wins him races that he shouldn’t have won. It achieves him pole positions that on paper appeared not to be possible. No one on the grid can match his skill in wet conditions, as he had proven in Turkey in 2020 and in Great Britain in 2008, just to name a couple of his outstanding drives.
2021 is going to be another difficult year for him, but the harder it is, the better he gets. He has fought battles both on and off the track to be as outstanding as he is now, and I am wishing him the very best of luck because I know whatever happens, he will be giving his all. We are in for another very entertaining year!
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