Lewis Was Right And Nico is World Champion - Period

This year Abu Dhabi gave us a dramatic race, yes Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen both brought a challenge to the Silver Arrows, but it wasn't necessarily because both Ferrari and Red Bull found performance that they had been unable to find over the majority of the season but rather due to the actions of Lewis Hamilton.

There was no doubt that there was a lot more pace in Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes this past weekend.  Both the team and even Nico Rosberg were well aware that Lewis could have lapped much faster than he was, with Nico observing that Lewis was pushing hard in Sector 1 but dropping back in Sectors 2 and 3.  Abu Dhabi doesn't have a huge area were passing happens, but when they do happen, they happen in Sector 1, and Lewis was able to easily hold off Lewis in Sector 1.

All of that mattered because Lewis knew that the only way he was going to end up with a title this year was if he won the race and not one, but two cars got between him and Nico.  It quickly became clear to Lewis that he needed to do something if he was to have a chance of winning the Championship, and his only real option was to slow the pace of the race down and push Nico back into the clutches of the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, and that's exactly what he did.

For the fans, Lewis' behavior gave us a dramatic finish to the race and the season.  By bunching up the front of the field we saw 4 cars with a potential for a podium finish and the bonus that the World Championship was potentially at play.  Publicly however, Mercedes didn't exactly see it this way.  Lewis' slower pace according to the team's simulations put the race win at risk, something that was unacceptable to the team, and as a result the team ordered Lewis to pick up the pace, an order that Lewis ignored.

There were several problems with the team's actions.  First, Mercedes made several statements in the lead up to the race that they wouldn't issue team orders or take actions that would impact the Championship, and yet that's exactly what the did.  I don't completely fault Mercedes for issuing those orders, but the team should have also known that Lewis wasn't going to listen to them.  After three years of driving for the team Mercedes should have known that Lewis is a determined driver and when he's hungry, nothing will get in his way, including team orders.  Nico Rosberg quite possibly would have obeyed such an order even if the title was on the line, but not Lewis.

But, Mercedes only had a problem with Lewis' tactics because Nico was his team mate.  If the situation was the same, but Nico was driving for another team Mercedes not only wouldn't have had a problem with what Lewis did, they probably would have encouraged him.

Even if Seb Vettel managed to pass both Nico and Lewis and end the season with a win for Ferrari, why did Mercedes need to make an issue of this? They already won the Constructor's Championship and there was no chance that their position on the season would be impacted by this race. However, the odds are that Lewis had plenty of pace to hold off Vettel if he wanted to and there was no chance that the race win was actually in jeopardy.

At the end of the weekend though, it was another Mercedes 1 and 2, and a Mercedes driver still won the Driver's Championship.  That Mercedes driver earned more points than Lewis, and that driver had the best season of his career. Nico Rosberg isn't the best driver on the grid this season, but he was the most successful driver on the grid this season, and that's what it took for him to become World Champion this year. There shouldn't be any question about whether or not he's a worthy champion.  He earned enough points to win the championship - that makes him worthy - full stop.


Posted on November 30, 2016 .