For the first time since 2014, it is open to debate whether Lewis Hamilton has the best car on the grid. After taking his eye off the ball and losing to team-mate Nico Rosberg last year, Hamilton began pre-season with a renewed sense of determination to win back the title which he believes his talent deserves. The Briton views Fernando Alonso as his greatest rival, yet it is his long time adversary Sebastian Vettel who leads the drivers’ championship by seven points. Since the days of Red Bull’s domination, it has irked Hamilton that Vettel racked up so many titles that he can call himself a four-time champion.
While both Vettel and Hamilton are unquestionably fast, they are also alike in their struggle to avoid conflict when circumstances go against them. The ability to do so was crucial to Nico Rosberg’s successful title bid last season. Conversely, Vettel fell out with Ferrari principal Maurizio Arrivabene as the German criticised the car, while his boss insisted Vettel should focus on his own driving performances. Equally, Hamilton could well be a four-time world champion had he not been distracted by the internal machinations at McLaren in 2007, when both he and team-mate Alonso fell one point short of winning the title.
Following his second place at the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday, it was clear that Hamilton felt frustrated. One suspects that over the course of a long season, patience and perspective will be vital attributes for both the Briton and the German and that the championship winner may well be the one who has best been able to keep their emotions in check.