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Formula One

Japanese Grand Prix May Have Defined F1 Champion

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A week is a long time in Formula One and has had many twists and turns for the standings of the World Championship.

After a ninth win of the season in Japan, Nico Rosberg has extended his gap to 33 points ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes have won the Constructors’ Championship for the third consecutive year.

Daniel Ricciardo lies 101 points behind the top two in the table with four races and a maximum of 100 points remaining, meaning a Mercedes driver is guaranteed to become champion.

The apparent drama between Mercedes drivers couldn’t have been further separated during this weekend.

A lot can be read into what the public have seen on and off track.

HAMILTON’S WEEKEND

On Thursday, Lewis Hamilton started to come under fire for using Snapchat on his phone during the traditional Drivers’ Press Conference with the press.

The British driver was one of the six drivers nominated to be questioned, and he did answer questions in between being on his device despite expressing that he was bored of the current routine.

Some of his shots showed the media sitting in front of him, which did give the fans an image they don’t usually see and a background to the event.

However, his shots with Carlos Sainz and himself with rabbit filters stole the attention, with the caption, “this sh*t is killing me”. Other uses of Snapchat and some quotes from press conferences also hit the headlines.

Many would have to ask what these five words and pictures give to his fans. Humor is subjective; his fans may have loved it, but it is strange to comprehend for an outsider.

It is always great to see a driver connect with their fans, in particular with an increased use of social media. However, this doesn’t give anything new. Maybe it would have been interesting if he had commented on what the drivers say to each other behind the scenes and joke about certain things.

From the outside Hamilton has always had an unique, eccentric behavior, and it is not known for certain whether it helps or hinders him. It seems like something that is just in the background while he goes about the normal highs and lows of sport.

ROSBERG’S WEEKEND

As this went on, Nico Rosberg won the Japanese Grand Prix with another solid performance, which may be the thing the 2016 world championship is remembered by.

The 31-year-old didn’t just lead from pole and run away from other drivers; he led every session of the weekend. Some lap time gaps were small, some were huge, but he remained ahead of Hamilton.

He may have the same number of pole positions than his teammate (eight), and one less podium (12 compared to Hamilton’s 13) but he has controlled the championship in 2016.

A chink in his armor could have been the results in Monaco and Canada (seventh and fifth place finishes), however, in hindsight, these performances, although being steady in the rain around the Monaco track, brought points on the board. A total of 16 points is much better than none, and this now looks like an intelligent move.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE REMAINING RACES

There are just four races left on the calendar, but the hard thing for Hamilton is that his teammate has won at three of the four circuits left on the calendar. He has only failed to win at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, TX so far in his career.

Hamilton has won at COTA three times, although Rosberg is the most recent winner of the races in Mexico, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi, the three races which may have been the set-up for his current run.

Rosberg just needs to continue his consistency. Even if he finishes second behind Hamilton in the last four rounds, he will be the champion for the first time.

It has been over 7300 days and almost 20 years since the last son of a champion became a champion himself.

Is Rosberg now destined to follow in the footsteps of his father Keke (1982 champion) and emulate the achievement of Damon Hill on October 13, 1996 (son of two-time champ Graham)?

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Cameron Paterson

Cameron Paterson has been a watcher of Formula 1 since 2007, a casual television watch evolved to watching and reading anything related to something with wheels and an engine. A fan of writing, it was a no-brainer about what to do to try and get into motorsport, consistently discussing things about this great sport since 2016.