If you love sport it’s hard to beat an epic sporting rivalry. The drama, tension, spectacle and ever-changing story lines grip millions the world over, every single time.
The story so far
- Team Hamilton: Hamilton has won the World Championships 5 times vs. Rosberg’s 4 triumphs
- Team Rosberg: Rosberg has clocked up 202 points vs. Hamilton’s 191 points
I don’t think it matters if the sight of four-wheeled screaming engines flying around a track doesn’t float your boat. I defy you not to become absorbed by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s vicious battle for F1 supremacy. In the weeks, months and years to come, it looks set to be one heck of a joy ride.
So far this season, the two Mercedes teammates have dominated the World Championship.
While Hamilton boasts five wins to Rosberg’s four, it’s the German that leads the way on 202 points, just 11 ahead of his English colleague. The rest are lagging so far behind, they’ll soon be lapped.
With barely a wheel nut between them in the race for the title, this season’s contest is fascinating enough in sporting terms, but it’s the nature of the gradual (some might say rapid) crumbling of their personal relationship that’s made things even more interesting for sports betting pundits.
Beginning the season as chummy old friends who used to go-kart together as kids, the two Mercedes teammates are currently shedding affection for one another quicker than one of their fast laps. A rivalry that began as super-friendly is now turning increasingly antagonistic.
Operating their own unique strategies within the cramped confines of the same Mercedes-Benz garage has become claustrophobic, and a string of controversial incidents, team instructions and internal management disputes, have only served to further spark the coals.
Both have recently confessed that the term ‘friends’ has suddenly become a loose one.
Personally, I’m Team Hamilton all the way.
As the faster of two men (although not as quick as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso), I admire his talent, plain-speaking determination and admirable disinterest in popularity contests. His flaws are all in the mind. Sometimes immature and unquestionably headstrong, he lacks the rounded and cool-headed personality of his German colleague.
The last two races have been a personal triumph for Hamilton, even though he only finished third on the podium each time.
Storming back from two disastrous (and unlucky) qualifying sessions in Germany and Hungary, starting from 20th and 22nd on the grid, it’s been impossible not to admire his excellence, bravery and skill behind the wheel.
Although generally considered a nice guy, Rosberg’s pursuit of first place has, in my view, seen him stoop to a couple of disappointing lows.
Although it was explained as an unfortunate ‘accident’, when abandoning his last qualifying lap on the narrow streets of Monaco in May – preventing Hamilton from beating him to pole position on his final run – his sportsmanship was quite rightly questioned. From pole, on a circuit where it’s near impossible to overtake, Rosberg held off Hamilton’s challenge to claim a victory that was badly taken by his teammate.
The team has since admitted it was wrong to ask one of their drivers to make way for the other in that situation but Rosberg remains furious. He still vehemently insists his rival’s behaviour was ‘not good’.
Although team orders and strategies do have a place in F1, Rosberg is wrong this time. Drivers are paid to race their hardest, and what turned out to be a thrilling Grand Prix would have been ruined by team politics. The paying customers deserve to see an honest race.
Between now and the end of their mid-season break later this month, Mercedes will try and mend the broken relationship between their two star drivers. With eight races to go, and 200 points at stake, I can’t see much cutting any ice between the heated pair.
And that’s just how we like it, right?
You can’t beat a fierce sporting rivalry, and deep down, F1 and Mercedes know it.
All we ask is that they’re allowed to partake in a fair fight. Let them race. Let the best driver win.