Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The controversy nightmare surrounding Fric was avoided at Hockenheim – which meant the racing could do the talking. Therefore, it’s probably worth sitting down for a moment and reflecting on exactly what Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes said to him and the rest of us over the course of this year’s German Grand Prix.
"Daniel is doing unbelievable. He is 7-3 in the first 10 races with Sebastian, driving fantastically and battled very smart; it was a great fight"
Firstly, he’s still getting the raw end of the reliability. His brake failure in qualifying put everything on the back foot for Sunday, as well as his car at the back of the grid. And from then on, it was always going to be a case of playing catch-up to team-mate Nico Rosberg – a man who tasted home success, just like Lewis did a fortnight earlier.
Hamilton was due the luck he got at Silverstone – or rather, Rosberg was due a failure. But the Brit is still owed more if it’s all going to even itself out before the season comes to an end.
Which for the record, is a nice sentiment for sport – but rarely one that comes true.
Despite his difficult start, Lewis was still able to put his silver arrow on the podium at the end of it all – a terrific recovery drive, albeit with the aid of a few bumps and grinds along the way, especially off his old team-mate Jenson Button.
• Pole position – Valtteri Bottas: Officially the fastest Finn now on the Formula One grid, and currently worrying Red Bull over second place in the constructors’ championship.
• Stalling – Lotus: Rather bizarrely, it was Lotus who seemed most vocal about the loss of their Front and Rear Interconnected Suspension (Fric) system at the weekend. As if things weren’t bad enough for those at Enstone…
Still, those bumps and grinds cost damage to his car and ultimately time. By all accounts, he should have finished second – and then the gap would be closer than 14 points to his team-mate and championship leader.
At this stage of the piece, those few points can be easily made up with a good race or more of that evening up in the luck and reliability stakes.
Likewise if Hamilton loses out on taking his second world title by a margin of three points, then his over-eager slips at Hockenheim will be at the forefront of his mind.
Those are the margins we’re now dealing with – and Hamilton will know all about it.
• The early season threatened it – only for the optimism to look like it might have been misplaced.
But while Felipe Massa fights to stay on the track and in races – when will the Brazilian’s luck turn, by the way? – Valtteri Bottas is showing genuine class this season.
So much so, Williams finally have Red Bull a little worried over their second place standing in the constructors’ championship.
Admittedly, the gap is still sizeable – but between the two teams, they arguably have the two breakthrough drivers of the season so far. Between Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo, the future looks exciting.
• This column now takes its own mid-season break. But will return on Wednesday, August 20 – in time for a look ahead to the Belgian Grand Prix.