Champion shows class

By | Sport
Hamilton, Ricciardo and Verstappen celebrating their podium finish. Credit @tumblr.com

Lewis Hamilton recently won the German Grand Prix, gaining him four consecutive won races now, and heads into the summer break at the top of the Championship standings. Starting the race second on the grid, he overtook Rosberg early, winning the race and taking the maximum 25 points available. Fellow Mercedes driver and the closest contender for the title Nico Rosberg finished in fourth, sandwiching the two Red Bulls in 2nd and 3rd. With only 19 points now separating the top two, and with points being won for finishing anywhere in the top ten, the contest for the title may be closer than ever.

Starting in second, Hamilton seemed to get off the line the strongest, overtaking Rosberg immediately, heading into the first corner in the lead. He drove from the front for the whole race; even with what seemed to be consistent pressure from both Red Bull drivers and his teammate, he took victory after 1:30:44.200. Hamilton now sits on 49 Grand Prix wins, third in the all-time rankings, behind Alain Prost, whom he is two wins behind, and seven-time Champion Michael Schumacher. He has also now achieved 96 podiums, and this season may even break into triple figures, becoming only the third driver to do so. His recent drives may suggest this, as six wins from the last seven races leave him in form before the next race in Belgium.

The Red Bull drivers Ricciardo and Verstappen finished in 2nd and 3rd respectively, with Ricciardo celebrating the podium finish in his 100th career start by drinking champagne from his race boot. Both drivers exited the first corner ahead of Rosberg, who had qualified on pole, and Ricciardo ended up pulling away to finish within seven seconds of Hamilton. Verstappen and Rosberg continued to contest for the third position, with Rosberg seeming to attempt to undercut Verstappen by pitting a lap before him; although he was ultimately awarded a penalty by the stewards for taking up too much track, leaving Verstappen on the grass, meaning the Dutch driver held on for a podium finish.

With Rosberg having won five of the twelve races so far this season, and Hamilton winning six of the last seven, the standings are close, with 19 points separating the top two drivers. Daniel Ricciardo may also still be a contender for the title, having recorded a top five finish in 9 of the 12 races thus far. His Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen is the only other driver to win a race in 2016, taking the chequered flag in Catalunya during his maiden race with Red Bull. With half the season still to come, there may be indications this season has a close finish, as unlike the previous three championships which have been won by over 60 points, this season may be closer.

There are other drivers on the grid who may still compete for podiums after the summer break. Amongst them is Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, formerly the dominant driver in F1 having won four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013. Both McLaren drivers have also won the Championship, and combined have recorded 47 race wins between them. Whilst Alonso has 32 of those victories, Button won the Championship more recently than his counterpart, for Brawn in 2009.

With Hamilton winning six of the last seven races, it may seem he is the favourite; however, Rosberg won the opening four races of the season, and with other drivers such as Daniel Ricciardo seemingly driving strongly, and with experienced veterans of the sport such as Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso on the grid, the upcoming races may be won by any driver. Perhaps even Hamilton’s form and recent success may motivate the other drivers to drive as well as they may be capable in order to keep competing; they all want to finish as high up the standings as possible.

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