Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2016

How Hamilton can disrupt Rosberg’s title run

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has known since the Japanese Grand Prix that winning all the remaining races is his best possible route to the championship. But he’s also known that won’t necessarily be enough.

As long as Nico Rosberg keeps finishing in second place, he will take the crown. And that’s exactly what Rosberg’s done in the two races since Japan.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2016
Time for Hamilton to take matters into his own hands?
Time is running out for Hamilton. If he keeps up his current run of form and wins the remaining races he won’t win the title unless he also achieves the following: Get at least one car per race to separate him from Rosberg at the flag.

The Red Bulls have come close to helping Hamilton. Had the Virtual Safety Car not played into Rosberg’s hands in Austin he would have had to pass Daniel Ricciardo on the track. In Mexico it was Max Verstappen’s turn to put Rosberg on the back foot: he came close to making a pass on two occasions.

Hamilton must have rewatched those races through gritted teeth. Twice Rosberg could have lost points. Now there are only two races left.

If Hamilton leads a Mercedes one-two for the third race in a row this weekend he will go to Abu Dhabi needing to win with Rosberg finishing off the podium to become champion. Can Hamilton afford to wait until the last race to start thinking about how he could influence his team mate’s finishing position?

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The difficulty of slowing a rival

Has it been done before?

Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Suzuka, 1997

Delaying a rival in the hope another driver will pass them is has seldom been seen in F1. One notable example occurred at Suzuka in 1997.

Championship leader Jacques Villeneuve was racing under appeal following a yellow flag infringement in practice. The Williams driver took the lead of the race ahead of title rival Michael Schumacher and before the end of the first lap backed off his pace in the hope Schumacher would be passed by third-placed Mika Hakkinen.

Villeneuve’s plan began to go awry when Schumacher’s compliant Ferrari team mate Eddie Irvine came into play. Irvine swept past Hakkinen and Schumacher on the second lap and appeared on Villeneuve’s tail. Villeneuve let Irvine go and continued to drive around four seconds off the pace in the hope Hakkinen would pounce on Schumacher.

Hakkinen couldn’t find a way by, and dropped out of contention after pitting. Villeneuve’s pit stop then dropped him behind Schumacher, who went on to win the race with ease after Irvine let him through. Villeneuve took the flag in fifth but his exclusion from the results was later upheld. His blocking tactics had failed to pay off.

Holding Rosberg up, and hoping a Red Bull or Ferrari jumps ahead of him, may be Hamilton’s last and best chance to hold onto his crown. But this is tricky territory.

First, Hamilton would need to strike the fine balance of holding up his team mate yet doing so in a way deemed legal by the ever-watchful stewards. Even a reprimand could mortally wound Hamilton’s title hopes, as he has already picked up two this year and a third would incur an automatic ten-place grid penalty.

Second, Hamilton would have to slow Rosberg down without compromising his own race. A repeat of their Spain collision would play into Rosberg’s hands, as Hamilton must reach the finish to narrow the 19-point gap.

Finally, Hamilton needs to do all this while fighting the one rival who has the greatest opportunity to scrutinise everything he does: his team mate. It would be a lot harder to pull the wool over the eyes of a championship rival from another team.

But it may be the only remaining chance for him to win the title. So how could he make it work?

Where can Hamilton hold Rosberg up?

The first challenge Hamilton faces is how can he hold Rosberg up. The obvious difficulty is that slowing Rosberg down will bring his team mate close enough to use DRS, giving Rosberg an opportunity to overtake.

Holding up another driver is far easier at some circuits than others. Hamilton may therefore already be wondering which of the remaining two venues offers the best opportunity to hold his team mate up.

Waiting until Abu Dhabi could be a mistake. Yas Marina is wide with vast expanses of asphalt run-off. Two long DRS zones make overtaking more straightforward than at other circuits.

It may be easier for Hamilton to disrupt Rosberg’s race at Interlagos. Hamilton spent basically all of the last two Brazilian Grands Prix stuck behind his team mate so he’s well aware how tricky overtaking can be there, particularly in the narrow and sinuous middle sector.

But even so he could be vulnerable on the long drag to the start/finish area if he tries to slow Rosberg down too much. Cunning use of his energy harvesting and deployment may allow him to sprint clear when he needs to, though of course Rosberg will be anticipating such tactics.

The strategy implications

There are more complications. As we’ve seen before, Mercedes obey the convention of giving the first opportunity to pit to whichever driver is leading on the track. This is to preserve the running order of the two cars. If the chasing driver was first to benefit from the ‘undercut’ – the performance advantage of a fresh set of tyres – they could jump ahead of the leading driver.

But in races where one car has been holding up the other they have warned the leading driver to pick up the pace or risk losing first priority on pit stops. We saw this just a few races ago in Hungary and last year in China too.

Radio buttons, Hockenheimring, 2016
Hamilton could run the risk of Mercedes intervening
Mercedes say there will be no change in the way they operate their strategy for the remaining races. Regardless of the fact the constructors’ championship has been decided, the team will understandably continue to prioritise getting the maximum score for each car in the race.

Therefore if Hamilton is going to try to back Rosberg up he needs to choose his moment carefully.

The opening laps of the race would be one opportunity. It would be too early for Rosberg to make a pit stop and the field behind them will not have spread out, leaving him without a ‘pit window’ in which he could make a stop and come out without a car immediately ahead of him. However Hamilton will probably only be able to afford to do this for a few laps.

A mid-race Safety Car, after which drivers usually run to the end of the race on a suitably durable tyre, could give another chance to slow Rosberg’s pace and bring rival cars within range. Similarly the closing stages of a race, at which point little can be done to alter the race strategically, would be a useful time to edge Rosberg back towards any chasing cars.

However all of these scenarios rest on the assumption that Hamilton can get in front of Rosberg in the first place. And while he has done so in recent races, he has not out-qualified Rosberg in any of the three previous races in Brazil since they became team mates at Mercedes.

Hamilton’s championship situation means he will have to start thinking about how he can disrupt Rosberg’s race. That will add a fascinating extra dimension to the final rounds.

But unless Hamilton raises his game in Brazil this weekend all these considerations could become irrelevant. And that would seal the title for his team mate.

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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78 comments on “How Hamilton can disrupt Rosberg’s title run”

  1. Hans Braakhuis
    8th November 2016, 12:01

    I think, only rain can help Lewis to win title this year.

    1. Well the long-range forecast for Sao Paulo may offer some encouragement for him there. As usual the race weekend weather forecast will be up on Thursday once more accurate data is in.

    2. How could it help Lewis if Nico is one of the fastest drivers in wet conditions?

      1. Sem (@05abrahamsemere)
        8th November 2016, 12:59

        I think you’re thinking of Britain and US gp’s 2015 which happened to be the only races where Rosberg showed a greater turn of speed at some stages in the race (in the US gp 2015, he was faster the whole race I give him that). However, the occasions where he has not been faster are considerably more (Australia 2014 qualy, Malaysia 2014 qualy, China 2014 qualy, Hungary 2014 race, Japan 2014 race, Malaysia 2015 qualy, Austria 2015 qualy, Monaco 2016 race, Austria 2016 qualy, Britain 2016 race) In many of those races, he was 0.5-1 second lap slower than his teammate – in fact in Monaco he was 2-3 seconds a lap off the pace off his teammate, despite Mercedes confirming there was nothing wrong with his car. So, questioning Rosberg’s ability relative to Hamilton in the wet is a valid point, given the fact that Hamilton has been considerably faster on many more occasions than Rosberg in the wet.

        1. Evil Homer (@)
          8th November 2016, 13:11

          Um, yeah I was in Monaco this year…… I did think Nico was driving a go-kart for a while :)

          I hope Nico wins this one and we get the second father & son World Champions! If Lewis grabs it, well many cudo’s there of course!

          I cant wait for Brazil! I hope the Mercs dont go to dirty tactics ………………. (said before) … this is f1.

          Go Dan for the win, mix it up Aussie!! Let the Mercs battle for lesser points!

        2. Why does everyone say Nico was fast in the wet at Silverstone last year? He wasn’t. Maybe he was quick in the initial stage when it started to drizzle lightly and the others in front started to lose temp in their tires. Let’s not forget that prior to that sprinkle of rain, he was almost 2-3 seconds behind the Williams of I believe it was Massa.

          1. You really need to watch that race again then.

          2. Hamilton got from 3rd to 1st just by pitting and then the williams that were ahead of him pitting a bit later. He didn’t overtake either of them. As Rosberg pitted, he came out just behind Bottas and Massa. (both of the Williams had pitted too I think. But he very quickly managed to overtake get past both Williams. Which Hamilton didn’t as it was his pitstop that got him ahead. Rosberg wasn’t as quick as Hamilton but I have to say his performance was still very good and he was fast.

          3. @thegianthogweed, I wouldn’t say that Rosberg managed to pass the two Williams that quickly after his pit stop – Rosberg’s first stop was on lap 21, but it wasn’t until lap 39 that he finally passed Bottas and he only passed Massa on lap 41.

            It’s true that Rosberg caught and passed the Williams duo reasonably quickly after it began raining, but that is perhaps more of a reflection of what a truly dreadful car the Williams was in wet conditions (bearing in mind that Massa finished 36 seconds behind Hamilton and Bottas was over a minute behind by the end, such was the rate at which they lost ground).

            @xtwl, the comment made by Kgn11 is correct about the fact that, when it initially began to rain, Hamilton was initially lapping more quickly than Rosberg – it was as the rain began to intensify that the situation progressively reversed until Rosberg was the quicker driver. It wasn’t a clear cut situation, but rather a dynamic one where different drivers were quicker as the conditions varied due to the progressive intensification of the rain.

          4. anon, maybe it was the fact that the Williams was so bad in the wet that made it easy for Rosberg. He still did get past them very quickly but just much later in the race. I should have worded it differently. But like you say, will it have been the rain that made it easy to pass both Williams in just 3 laps?

          5. @thegianthogweed, I would argue that the rain created a sudden significant difference in performance in Rosberg’s favour as the lap times of the two Williams drivers worsened much more rapidly than Rosberg’s times did.

            Bottas’s times, rounding to the nearest tenth, around the lap that he was passed and the laps that followed were as follows.

            Lap 36: 1m39.3s
            Lap 37: 1m39.1s
            Lap 38: 1m48.7s
            Lap 39: 1m49.3s
            Lap 40: 1m45.6s
            Lap 41: 1m43.0s
            Lap 42: 1m42.9s

            Massa’s lap times for the comparable laps are as follows:
            Lap 36: 1m39.3s
            Lap 37: 1m38.9s
            Lap 38: 1m47.5s
            Lap 39: 1m48.2s
            Lap 40: 1m45.7s
            Lap 41: 1m44.2s
            Lap 42: 1m42.6s

            Rosberg’s lap times were as follows:
            Lap 36: 1m39.1s
            Lap 37: 1m39.3s
            Lap 38: 1m48.7s
            Lap 39: 1m47.6s
            Lap 40: 1m42.8s
            Lap 41: 1m41.9s
            Lap 42: 1m39.2s

            As you can see from the times, it was around lap 38 that the track conditions began to worsen significantly.

            On lap 39, which is the lap that Rosberg passed Bottas, he was 1.7s faster than Bottas on that lap, was 2.8s faster on the next lap and 1.1s on lap 41.

            Against Massa, the lap time difference on those laps was 0.6s faster on lap 39, 2.9s faster on lap 40 and 2.3s faster on lap 41 (when he passed Massa).

            By the time that you get to lap 42, Rosberg was lapping in the order of three second a lap faster than the Williams duo – that is a very sudden shift in relative performance in the order of just a few laps, as we’re now talking about a performance differential measured in seconds rather than just tenths on laps 36 and 37 (just before the rain began to fall heavily).

        3. Wow, your reply was really comprehensive and supported by a lot of references. Yes, I was thinking at the two 2015 venues you cited, but also to some other occasions, wich I’d need to review for being precise like you.
          Anyway, I don’t think Hamilton is weaker on wet, I was only reminding Nico is not that slow on wet like many seems to think.
          Monaco ’16 to me is really, really strange, and I can’t believe Nico was racing in “normal” conditions (but I’m not talking af any sabotage now). For sure, if Lewis was in same trouble, I don’t think he would let Nico pass. Nobody seems to remember Rosberg did an extraordinary thing letting pass his only title rival.

          1. Sem (@05abrahamsemere)
            8th November 2016, 20:33

            Yes, I agree Nico’s wet ability is often underrated….he performed very well in those two races (Britain 2015 and US 2015 races + Spa 2014 qualy) and doesn’t get enough credit in those races. Having said that, I had forgotten to include Australia 2013 qualy (Hamilton qualified 0.5s up on his teammate in his very first race…in the wet!), Malaysia 2013 qualy (Hamilton qualified over a second ahead of Rosberg in his second race….in the wet!) and Spa 2013 qualy…my point simply was that looking back over the last four years as teammates, Hamilton outperforms Rosberg in the wet qualy & races held at around a ratio of 4:1 in Hamilton’s favour. This is a significant statistical result that merits pointing out…

      2. Rosberg one of the fastest drivers in wet conditions? I’ve watched his entire career and don’t know where you got that from. He’s competent, no way as bad as Massa always was, but not one of the rain masters by a long way. Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Kimi, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and probably Verstappen are all better than him in the wet. Maybe a few others too, it’s debatable

        1. @montreal95 Well, apart he got his 1st win under rain, I was referring to races like Silverstone ’15: as soon as it started to rain, when everybody were on dry tires, Nico began to lap 2 seconds faster than anyone else on the track, rapidly passing both Williams and catching Lewis who was 10 seconds ahead!
          I also think some others are better than him on the wet, but disagree on wich others… I’d say Button and Perez, for example, but, as you said, is debatable ;-)

    3. More chance of rain in the desert!

      1. @eurobrun Unless it rains on Sunday in Sao Paolo. Then, all bets are off given the previous rainy Brazilian GP’s experience

    4. That or a battle with Verstappen…..

  2. I think holding Rosberg would be a bad strategy for Hamilton – especially in Brazil. Rosberg could (and should) drive aggressively against Hamilton in Brazil – if Nico manages to overtake and win, he’ll clinch the title. If he hits Hamilton and they both retire, he’s an almost certain champion. And even if he himself retires due to aggressive driving, he’d still become a champion, if he wins in Abu Dhabi.

    In my opinion, the best strategy for Hamilton is to pull away from Rosberg (if he can), win the race and just hope that something happens to Nico.

    1. @hotbottoms – I agree that Hamilton should just try and drive into the distance and hope for the best but I’m pretty sure he’ll try something at some point.

      I don’t think Rosberg will be too aggressive though – if he retires and Hamilton wins the race, it puts it back in Lewis’ hands. A win for Hamilton in Abu Dhabi would guarantee him the title. If Rosberg finishes 2nd in Brazil, he’s in control because Hamilton can win the race in Abu Dhabi and Rosberg knows he only needs to finish 3rd.

    2. @hotbottoms

      I would have to disagree. Rosberg is playing the safe route of just aiming for 2nd place finishes in the last 2 races, and Lewis should really capitalise on that. If he can take pole and lead the race by turn 1, I would hope he would try to get under Rosberg’s skin by slowing him down in to the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

      Everyone here says that the pressure is on Lewis, but honestly, I think Rosberg is under more pressure as he has never been in this situation before. Over the past few seasons we’ve seen Hamilton is mentally, the tougher of the two, and I expect him to try and beat Rosberg psychologically in this race. Interlagos always throws up drama regarding changing weaather conditions, SC periods, etc .. so if Lewis can add more pressure by disrupting Rosberg’s race, there is a very high chance he could crack under pressure.

      If Lewis can get Rosberg’s point lead down to 6 points by the end of Brazil, then my money would be on Lewis for the title. It would also setup a great show for Abu Dhabi as both drivers would be going for the win, as compared to Rosberg’s safe and boring approach he intends to maintain for the rest of the season.

  3. This article is a masterpiece of sneaky mystification.

    “And that’s exactly what Rosberg’s done in the two races since Japan.” suggests Rosberg is a pusillanimous driver who fears challenging his rival, and does not take in any consideration he was fighting for win in Austin choosing a different strategy before VSC ruined it, while in Mexico he simply seemed to have less power than his team-mate (maybe due to 3 extra engines Hamilton “stole” in Spa…)

    “Had the Virtual Safety Car not played into Rosberg’s hands in Austin” …not to mention VSC favoured Hamilton for the whole season as it was used every time Hamilton was in front of his rival, while, with Rosberg ahead, Charlie seemed to prefer normal Safety Car, that allowed Hamilton to make his “magical” come-back(s) (sorry, i don’t know if plural is correct)

    Anyway, Hamilton does not need suggestions for “getting in Nico Rosberg’s way” as he did a lot of time in the last 3 seasons, banging wheels whit him, pushing him off the track, and never getting any penalty…

    I tought media of my country were partisans, but i can see that it is like this everywhere.

    1. Whoa there. Easy tiger.

      “And that’s exactly what Rosberg’s done in the two races since Japan.” suggests Rosberg is a pusillanimous driver

      Rosberg has done the minimum required to stay in the title hunt, whether by intent or circumstances, and the history books won’t care too much how he gets the title (if he does). Keith’s not alluding to his mental state with his statement, from my reading of it. We’ve seen both drivers show great mental fortitude, so it would be naïve to cast aspersions on their mental toughness.

      I don’t know whether Keith does it intentionally or not, but he always seems to end up pairing off competing articles – some weeks ago there was one which called out how Rosberg getting the title will complete a nice father-son hierarchy, in close conjunction to one talking about Hamilton’s title efforts. Now, we have this article to balance off the other recent one about how Rosberg can win the title at Brazil. Either way, its very fair reporting.

      I’m not sure if your comment is just showing your bias and paranoia, because I see neither of those in the article itself.

      I was about to sign this post off with the statement “may the best man win“, but rather than reopen yet another excruciating discussion on the semantics of the word “best”, let me sign off saying “may the driver with most points win!

    2. ‘Pusillanimous’ is a great word and I’d love an excuse to use it, so if that’s what I was accusing Rosberg of I definitely would have leapt at the opportunity. But I’m not, I’m just pointing out he did finish second in the last two races and that is all he needs to do in the remaining two to win the title.

      That’s the basis for this article which rather than being ‘sneaky mystification’ (another great phrase!) is about whether it’s actually possible for Hamilton to interfere with Rosberg’s races in the way he needs to. I think the fair conclusion to draw is that it’s far from straightforward.

      But Hamilton may not be able to rely on circumstances to help him because, as the Virtual Safety Car case shows, it can come down to nothing more than the luck of the draw

      1. I admit my criticism was rude, didn’t mean to diminish the work of such an authoritative signature of this website. Didn’t want to “troll” but i’m annoyed by the single-minded approach worldwide media seems to have (not only about F1).
        Regarding words I wrote, I use to write in my language in a polished way and sometimes I simply try to translate words I don’t know (in english) with wordreference.com website. I’m sorry if some of them looks obsolete to you. Thanks for your comprehension ;-)

        1. No problem, thanks for visiting :-)

        2. Pusillanimous. Word of the day. Thank you frk.
          :D
          Rosberg might be trying to kid us with pretending not to think about the championship, but I tend to think otherwise. If he was taking it one race at a time he’d be trying harder to pressure Hamilton.
          He knows the points and he’ll try, but not too hard. Risk vs reward.

  4. Jorge Lorenzo also held up the back to put Marc Marquez into traffic during the 2013 finale at Valencia. Up until half of the race the pack was extremely dense, until Lorenzo gave up and accelerated to win the race. Marquez came home in third to win the title.

    1. @jaapgrolleman Thanks for that – wasn’t aware of that example so I’ll go look it up.

  5. I’d be curious as to what stance Hamilton’s race engineer and performance engineer will take, in planning out such a course of action. Will they support Hamilton tacitly, or will Hamilton have to plan and execute this solo?

    Conversely, Rosberg defending against such a strategy – will he have to call out to his engineers his concerns about this, or will it be a given that they plan for such an eventuality?

    I’ve heard Mercedes have a joint strategy team, rather than individual ones for each driver, so I presume they will just be working towards a 1-2, irrespective of driver.

    1. @phylyp exactly they will aim for a 1-2 finish. That is the team’s job to do. And if Hamilton tries out any strategy to back Rosberg against their rivals I am sure they will be on the radio telling him to move on, or they will give pits priority to Rosberg.

      This of course, if Hamilton is in front of his team mate.

    2. From the past, I am sure that the team would clearly give Hamilton the signal that unless he speeds up (and we will certainly hear Rosberg asking for it if that occurs), they will give Nico the advantage in pitstops. But apart from that, there is not much they can really do, as neither of them is likely to just go along with anything that makes them turn up/down the wick on the engine @phylyp.

      On the other hand, I think we will see the team choosing to give their drivers slightly variant strategies to try and avoid that happening. Well, and Rosberg will try to get pole and the first corner to be the one in front off course, if he can :-)

  6. It can’t bode well for Hamilton that Rosberg has outperformed him at these 2 circuits for the last 3 years (2014 Abu Dhabi is debatable I suppose with Rosberg’s reliability).

    So he has enough on his plate just trying to outperform Rosberg at these tracks. Realistically I think Hamilton just has to aim to win rather than compromising his race trying to be clever and hurt Rosberg and hope that the pressure of chasing a title get’s to Rosberg. Hamilton has been in a title deciding clincher 4 times before, he will have a good idea what Rosberg’s state of mind will be. One duff start, one missed braking point, an ambitious lunge from a Red Bull or Ferrari, or even a reliability issue can trip either of them up yet.

    Hamilton just needs to keep his own race clean and worry about beating Rosberg at these tracks for the first time in 4 years.

    1. @philipgb Playing devil’s advocate, Rosberg won Mexico last year but Hamilton was clearly the quicker of the two there this year. And I would class Yas Marina as very much a ‘Hamilton track’, particularly the last sector.

      1. Yeah, the only clear weak spot for Hamilton is Interlagos, the others are debatable.

      2. @keithcollantine

        Which puts Mexico 50/50.

        But for Brazil Rosberg is 3 for 3 years in qualifying and the race, and for Abu Dhabi, he is 3 for 3 in qualifying and the reliability in 2014 didn’t give us a fair race between them.

        I think Hamilton has it in him to pull this off, but it couldn’t be at two worse tracks. Especially one he’s never won at.

  7. I get the feeling that Hamilton won’t be able to do any of this, because either Rosberg will pounce back, or Lewis will flop the start…

    Don’t know why but I feel that way! Brazil isn’t a happy place for Lewis, it’s always extra hard for him to do well than in any other race track. And the usual changing conditions don’t necessarily mean it’ll go his way, regardless of how good he is in the rain.

    1. @fer-no65

      Brazil isn’t a happy place for Lewis

      2008 aside! But I get your point, it’s striking that this is the only track he’s raced at every year in F1 and hasn’t won at. He’s going to be sick of people pointing that out by Sunday…

      1. @keithcollantine 5 raindrops less on the outside of the last corner and Timo Glock’s tyres would’ve find the necessary grip… that could’ve been the difference between Hamilton’s only good memory at Interlagos and the most disastrous moment in his career!

        1. @fer-no65

          Exactly 5 or is there any margin of error in your calculation?

          I’m no expert but by my calculations, if we’d had that much less rain Hamilton wouldn’t have come in for wet weather tyres so same result.

          1. @philipgb we don’t know, because inters were indeed faster, but the rain intensified in the last couple of laps, and made the difference bigger. Had it waited half a minute more, Glock might’ve cracked it!

            On all seriousness, Hamilton over complicated matters for himself that day, just like in 2007, with a different outcome :P that’s what I mean with “not a happy place”.

      2. Even 2008 was an unnecessary complication in the final laps with Vettel

    2. I think it’s up there with Monaco as a special place for him where he wants it so badly he cracks. I think this year though it’s a different kind of pressure. He doesn’t so much want it because it feels special as much as he needs it to have any chance of the championship. And under that kind of pressure, I think Hamilton copes better.

  8. I think Hamilton will do the same thing he’s been trying to do all year, which is get into Turn 1 ahead and then bring it home steadily. When you have to win, playing chicken with a determined Rosberg is unlikely to end well. In my opinion at least.

    Unless there is significant rain either during qualifying or near the beginning of the race, I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll see Rosberg finishing anywhere other than on the top two steps of the podium, and even then he may cope with wet conditions here better than a lot of us expect.

    I actually think Turns 1 and 2 on the first lap at Interlagos this weekend are the only place I can realistically see something big happening that will set up a winner takes all race in Abu Dhabi. Something like a Vettel/Verstappen spat ending up taking Rosberg out.

    One can hope.

    1. I think Hamilton will do the same thing he’s been trying to do all year, which is get into Turn 1 ahead and then bring it home steadily.

      Except he hasn’t been doing it all year, it’s due to all his bad starts that he is in this position.

      And I don’t think Rosberg’s has been sandbag ging the last two races. He was beaten fair and square by Hamilton at Sepang and struggled during the whole Mexican GP.

      The Brazilian track suits Rosberg a lot better though and I fully expect him to win the race and clinch the championship if there are no technical failures or problems at the start.

      1. @paeschli hence the word *trying*

        I also think Rosberg will bounce back this weekend and win the Championship. He’s probably had this race earmarked as the one he was most likely to pick up another win at since taking control in Japan.

  9. First, Hamilton would need to strike the fine balance of holding up his team mate yet doing so in a way deemed legal

    Bump him off T1 as per usual. For some bizarre reason a perfectly legal move in F1.

  10. Wouldn’t it be funny if Rosberg pulled a Senna in the last race and made sure Hamilton failed to finish?

    1. Evil Homer (@)
      8th November 2016, 13:53

      Under the new interpretations he may be able to argue he missed the first corner and his team-mate just happened to be there :) Sounds feasible !

      As a massive Senna I still argue he had a medical fit that caused him to crash into Prost in 1990, but Prost had the same in ’89! (yes, sarcasm!!)

    2. @johnmilk Well now if that happens we’ll be in this territory:

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2007/08/22/schumacher-would-have-lost-94-title-under-modern-rules/

      And social media will have gone into some kind of meltdown…

      1. Agreed, under modern rules this cannot happen anymore. Remember in 1997 Michael Schumacher was excluded from the championship results after Jerez.

        1. True, but with Ferrari’s influence at that time we cannot be sure that the ruling would be the same if Villeneuve had also failed to finish. Remember what happened with Hill in 1994…

      2. Such a shame. I would like to see the reaction.

        Maybe you should forward a copy of that to the stewards Keith, just in case

        1. @johnmilk There’s a world of difference between saying you’ll do something and actually going through with it. Retroactively changing the outcome of a championship, even for good reasons, would be a huge step.

          1. Realistically, and on a serious note now. I believe they wouldn’t disqualify a driver from the championship if someone pulled such a move. Definitely from the race and probably a ban for the following one (which could mean losing the championship and basically gettind the same effect), but they would argue that such a long season cannot be decided based in a single event.

            It would be a very hard decision to make, and one that would give us a lot to talk about afterwards.

    3. Be even funnier if he did that and then got disqualified from the championship

  11. Evil Homer (@)
    8th November 2016, 13:45

    Rosberg will pip the pole, lead away and “that’s it” ! My hopes anyway.

    There are too many ‘what if’s’ in F1 that you cant really go from one session to the next, let alone so-called predictions!

    Lets just enjoy the 1st session, crack a cold beer, go from there and enjoy the last two races It wont be too long and we will all be whinging there is no F1, so lets enjoy this battle !!

    Go Dan!! (and Nico!!)

  12. Another strategy for Hamilton is to hang close behind Rosberg and force him into a mistake like spinning or crashing…

    1. Hamilton is the one under more pressure. Rosberg perfectly knows that he doesn’t need to finish ahead to be champion, if Hamilton is behind him and pressuring him, he can easily let him go without worrying too much about it.

      People do underrate Rosberg a lot, if he is in front, maybe Hamilton won’t even be able to put pressure on him.

      Let just hope for a great battle in Brasil between the two of them

  13. Grasping at straws because the reality is too damn harsh to swallow. Weren’t these the very people who called the other driver a ‘cheater’ for allegedly using such tactics? How awesome F1 is.

  14. Kimi won his wdc by brake-testing Lewis at T2, of course…

    But I don’t think Lewis will do anything indirect.

    1. Even with Lewis bizarre rookie mistakes late 2007, Kimi only won the championship after being handed a win by Massa

      1. Though tbf Kimi had 2 mechanical DNFs to the 0 for both Mclaren drivers.

      2. Really only the Brazil T4 off was a rookie mistake, and that was incited by Kimi getting Alonso past him, with the brake test. Nobody minded the brake test because everybody felt Kimi was owed a championship. If Lewis did it to Nico now, of course, the internet would melt. I don’t think he will though.

  15. A 2014 Abu Double style failure for ROS is the only feasible shot HAM has at winning, I feel.

  16. I actually somewhat disagree with your assesment of Suzuka 97. For me it was more of a (for once) outstanding tactical team display from Ferrari rather than Villeneuve simply blocking Schumacher. Ferrari and Ross Brawnn saw what was coming and executed a perfect race plan to counteract Villeneuve’s tactics.

    Shame it didn’t pay off when they got to Jerez.

    1. I don’t necessarily disagree with anything you’ve written there. For the purposes of this article it’s just the Villeneuve side of things that’s of interest. Except to say that in the case of Hamilton and Rosberg we’re talking about team mates, so unlike Schumacher, Rosberg doesn’t have an Irvine of his own to rely on.

  17. Hamilton will simply try to win pole, start the race well and stay ahead of Rosberg. It is the best thing he can do. It would be nice for Hamilton if Rosberg does get tangled up with the Red Bulls or Ferraris and I think that is the best he can hope for. I think the only game he’ll play is staying ahead and winning leaving the rest up to fate. Hamilton has more to lose than Rosberg by trying any tactics that put him in harms way.

  18. I really do not like the idea of consciously trying to back Rosberg into other drivers. Verstappen was accused of this last race. If not for Vettel’s ranting which overshadowed it, it would have been a big discussion point, irrelevant if he did on purpose or not.

    Same would go with Hamilton: it would shroud the whole championship in controversy if it either backfires in his face or if he actually succeeds in it. I’d rather have Rosberg win it then yet another championship decider in the category of Senna, Prost or Schumacher (twice!), because that’s what will happen if you go down that path.

    The best Hamilton can do is winning these last 2 races and hope for a luck of the draw. Trying to desparately keep the WDC in his own hands which at this point really is not, is something history made very clear not being a good idea.

  19. The only realistic chance he has is at the start, assuming he attains pole he could cover the inside and basically run Nico wide. It leaves you open to be overtaken by one or two cars but I think Hamilton could handle being 2nd or 3rd whilst Rosberg is 4th or 5th at the end of the first lap.

  20. Had the Virtual Safety Car not played into Rosberg’s hands in Austin he would have had to pass Daniel Ricciardo on the track. In Mexico it was Max Verstappen’s turn to put Rosberg on the back foot: he came close to making a pass on two occasions.

    And Hamilton dodged a bullet when he straight lied the first two corners in China which, had he rejoined the track properly, would have put a number of cars between himself and Rosberg.

    1. Mexico not China

    2. And what about Russia? Hamilton went off of the track in T1, yes, to avoid crashed cars, but he gained a lot of positions, passing cars that were correctly doing the turn, and rejoined the track in the middle of T2, just inside Vettel, causing him to go wide on dirt where he had to decelerate being then hitted by Kvyat. I heard nobody saying a single word about that.

      1. It was a Force India in front of Vettel, who was already alongside Hamilton and lifted because the FI lost its back end for a moment, not because of Lewis. He had space to go round but changed down two gears instead, in the middle of the track. Alonso and 3 others cut the corner too, because they all had to. Nobody said anything because it was just the smart option, just as in Mexico Lewis had the smarts to lift, for the stewards to see. Lewis and Nando have always been clever about T1.

        1. Yep… they’ve had to be, considering how many times they’ve both been taken out by other drivers @ turn one. The race is rarely ever won @ turn one, but it is often lost there.

  21. Well, to complicate the matter..
    I go for a 1/2 RBR style.
    So that leaves ROS and HAM fighting for third ;)

  22. Well, Lewis can ask for trouble, back up Nico, braketest him or whatever. All Nico has to do then is crash hard enough into his gearbox and make sure its a double DNF, and let Lewis take the blame for playing games (“I didn’t see it coming”). A real racer would try to scamper away and hope that Nico would meet. some trouble (but we know real racers need no cranes).

    But we still don’t know that Lewis has in him what it takes to win at Interlagos anyway. And if trying to block Nico he forgets again where the brake pedal is, he won’t have a convenient shortcut this time like he did in Mexico.

    The opening of the 2007 Interlagos GP is almost such a joy to watch as the 2007 Shanghai GP pitstop attempt. Let’s see if Lewis can manage to outdo himself.

  23. I am missing the point of this article – surely Hamilton needs to focus 100% on winning and rest is fate, rather than complicated plots to slow down Rosberg?
    Even if Rosberg falls behind another car, he would quickly recover with DRS both in Brazil and Abu Dhabi?

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