Now let me get this out of the way right up front—Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are terrific drivers and in Lewis’s case, a deserved world champion. Got that? You see I’m not one of those Formula 1 fans that believe people win titles by being mediocre or slightly inferior, they just have the best car.
No, I was slated for defending Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel for their comprehensive domination of the sport while F1 fans said they would stop watching due to processional, predictable racing by two ho-hum drivers in superior cars. I call this the Best Car Syndrome.
You don’t win a title in F1 by being so-so. Even so, this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix qualifying session has sent shockwaves through the paddock as Mercedes not only look to have had their baked-in performance protected from 2014 but have even pulled out more of an advantage in 2015. So much so that Bernie Ecclestone himself says they’ll most like walk it this year for the title.
With this looming in front of us and with the near blighting of the competition in 2014, I’m hearing crickets from the throng of people abjectly bored to tears watching an “average driver” like Sebastian Vettel win and only win because he was in a superior Red Bull for four years.
Somehow last year and presumably this year is different. Mercedes is not on par with Red Bull’s domination from 2010-2013—no, you’re right, it’s way beyond that type of performance advantage. Mercedes is writing a book on how to be so comprehensively better you can run all three qualifying session on tires that are one second slower per lap and still claim pole position. That’s butt-kickingly good. That’s soul-destroyingly good.
You see, I love F1 fans and how they gravitate toward a particular team or driver. That’s what makes F1 terrific and sure, there’s always room for some smack talk but the onslaught of trenchant opinions on Vettel and even Schumacher were completely moonbat territory if I’m honest. Let’s try this on for size as a juxtaposition just to get an equal flavor of rhetoric for Lewis:
Lewis isn’t that great of a driver, he’s in the best car on the grid and anyone can win with a car like that. Especially when you quietly favor him for the title behind the scenes inside the team. Sure, like Red Bull, the team says they are letting them race but after Spa, the team were clearly behind Lewis. Lewis’s title in 2014, and very likely 2015 title, really don’t add up to much or signify how good of a driver he is because he is in the best car and a dominant car. In fact, he has a history of making some bad driving errors and that’s more representative of Lewis than the tiles are.
Now, how does that sit with you? That’s exactly the kind of things that were being said of Vettel and Schumacher. Just replace the name Lewis with Sebastian or Michael and you would be reading typical cant from the end of the 2013 or 2004 season.
At the time, I said that was a load of bull poo and I say it is today should the throng of Lewis fans who castigated Vettel decide to turn the finger of accusation on themselves and deride Lewis’s achievements as merely the best car syndrome—yes, I do know that would never happen.
Lewis, like Sebastian and Michael before him, is a very deserved champion and should Nico win the title this year, he too would be a worthy title owner. The fact is they are in the places they are due to how good they are as drivers. Best car syndrome or not, no one gets to that ride by being mediocre. These drivers are the best of the best and that includes both Germans and Lewis.
As we gleefully scrawl #44 on our notebooks and get tattoos of the Merc logo, let’s amend our previous caustic diatribes on Vettel and Schumacher so we can now enjoy Lewis’s run without the baggage of our previous mind vomit that marginalized the best car syndrome’s benefactors—because Lewis clearly was one last year and looks to be again in 2015—do you really want to eat crow or spend the time it will take to build an internet-assembled defense of how, through pixie dust and crunching of numbers, it is not the case for Lewis but still is for Sebastian? Bollocks. It’s time to recognize brilliance in Lewis, Sebastian Red Bull and Mercedes—and don’t forget about the 7-time champ and Ferrari.