After five successive weekends of crushing blows to his attempt at a third consecutive drivers World Championship title and his fourth in total, Lewis Hamilton goes into this weekend’s United States Grand Prix at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin Texas with a huge mountain to climb.
Team-mate Nico Rosberg on the other hand is very much in the box seat to take his first title and emulate his father Keijo Erik Rosberg, ”Keke“ to the world, who won his title with Williams in 1982.
The task for Hamilton, with a deficit of 33 points, is relatively simple — win every race, earning 25 points per race and hope Rosberg fails to score points in at least one of them.
For Rosberg the task is just as simple — win or come second, earning 18 points, in the remaining races and he takes the title.
Permutations of course are aplenty but the basics are ...
■ If they finish with Hamilton first and Rosberg second in the last four races, Rosberg is champion. ■ If Hamilton wins the last four and Rosberg is second three times and third once, Rosberg is still champion. ■ But if Rosberg has a fourth along with three seconds, and Hamilton wins all four, Rosberg loses by a point.
I am sure the Mercedes senior management would like Rosberg to win the title being a “German“ driver and the kudos that would bring the Vaterland.
I am just as sure they would be more than happy with a Hamilton victory because it never hurts to win the title with arguably the world’s best known, most recognised, most outgoing and perhaps most outrageous Formula 1 driver.
They know which one will give the Mercedes brand the most exposure and publicity.
We knew the sons and family of drivers past — a Villeneuve, more than one Piquet, two young Hunts, a Lauda, Senna nephews and cousins and many others — as babies and saw them growing up in the paddock from the 1970s to the 1990s, my wife especially, as she often acted as a babysitter for many of them.
This life of a young son of a famous father is well explained in an excellent new autobiography by 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill, called Watching The Wheels.
It was an amazing upbringing for most and one that would ultimately lead many to tread a similar path to their fathers.
Some succeeded, but many more did not, or have not yet been able to get close.
Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen during the race
The very young Rosberg would appear in the home Monaco paddock with father Keke on the “set up” days.
Born in Germany of a German mother but holding German and Finnish dual nationality, raised in Monaco and with much of his life being spent on the Isle of Ibiza, I guess being “German” for Rosberg is like being tennis player Andy Murray — British when he wins, and Scottish when he doesn’t.
Keke Rosberg would prefer to bring his son down to the paddock well before the weekend got under way as it was more relaxed than race days and he could be more “incognito”, though flamboyance was always part of the Rosberg make up.
He would arrive “incognito” in a white convertible Mercedes, top down, with white upholstery, gold chains on neck and wrists, well tanned with flowing blond locks, drooping moustache and gold watch flashing in the sunlight, the occasional huge cigar nestling between his fingers.
Keke was a character and a great bloke because he was as down to earth as could be while enjoying the fruits of his career — and enjoying the company of mechanics and the “paddock people”.
He raced in New Zealand over the 1977 and 78 seasons, winning the New Zealand Grand Prix both years. Young Nico, even in his early years, could hold a fluent conversation in multiple languages with ease and was as comfortable with people as was his father.
He seems to be exactly the same easy- going character now, but is clearly developing a backbone of pure steel.
I am sure it was with much pride that Keke saw his son win the Monaco F1GP in 2013 to make them the first father and son to both win that jewel in the F1 crown, Keke having achieved it 30 years earlier in 1983.
Whoever wins the coveted 2016 F1 drivers title — be it Rosberg or Hamilton — will have deserved it.
Rarely has a driver won that title without having the best car and driving to the car’s absolute abilities — and occasionally the two drivers driving the best cars in the same team have had to fight out the title between them.
Alain Prost and Niki Lauda, both driving a McLaren MP4/2, perhaps had the closest battle, in 1984, with Lauda taking the title from Prost by just half a point.
It would be great for the spectator if events over the next three races conspire for that to be the case again, when the season reaches its end in Abu Dhabi late in November and just one point makes the difference.