“The only man who can beat Hamilton, is himself.”
A damning, yet seemingly relevant, statement from Sky Sport F1’s Damon Hill, following last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. A race where battle lines were drawn, relationships left in tatters and the blue touch-paper lit to illuminate a title battle that promises to go down in the pages of history.
Following the drama of Saturday, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were left very much upon separate shores, with Rosberg’s error in Q3 leaving Hamilton with no chance to better the German’s provisional pole lap.
Nonetheless Rosberg, F.I.A Race Steward Derek Warwick and much of the on looking world – including yours truly – maintained it was an honest mistake in the pursuit of securing the all important pole position lap around the Monegasque streets.
In second place after Monaco, in terms of the race and the championship, is Lewis Hamilton. Arguably the quickest man in modern-day Formula One, yet just as questionably the frailest. His attitude throughout the Monaco Grand Prix did little to quash past misdemeanours in front of the camera, with a relentless tirade of one-liners and borderline sarcastic grins doing little to leave anyone under the assumption that all things are rosy at Mercedes.
In 2008, Lewis put on a display to win in the rain in Monaco that astounded experts and fans alike. In 2011, Lewis had a torrid race filled with incident both on track and off it, including THAT interview with BBC’s Lee McKenzie. In 2014, he mixed the two, with a classy in-car display (minus a few radio message grumbles) to finish 2nd – with only one eye – on the road, being matched with childish performances post-qualifying and post-race in front of the media.
“We are not friends. We are colleagues” he told Sky. “I wish you could have seen the data. I saw something late on last night and all I could do was smile”, reported the Guardian. The Brit even complained about Nico kicking a football around outside the team garage before qualifying; something the German has always done and ever since the two became teammates all of 25 races ago.
Every crack appears is another disaster waiting to happen, and it’s these jabs and punches of psychological warfare that will decide the 2014 drivers’ world championship.
Should they continue, Hamilton risks turning a team against him. Angry radio tirades towards the team and stabs in the press at a long-term team member, and let’s not forget, an exceptionally quick race driver in Rosberg will only turn backs against him inside the Mercedes garage, in a year which is, as yet, his absolute best opportunity to become a double world champion.
Should he and the tensions simmer down, it’s hard to see past him winning it. A sense of perspective, a dose of reality and a few well worded interviews and apologies behind closed doors before a Hamilton-favoured Canadian Grand Prix in a few weeks could be crucial antidotes for the harbouring war at Mercedes.
One thing’s for sure, the war has begun between Hamilton and Rosberg, but only just starting between Lewis Hamilton, and himself.