2016 Malaysia GP talking points
Can Rosberg win a straight fight with Hamilton?
While only eight points separates the Mercedes duo in the title race, circumstance has denied us a genuine face off between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in recent weeks. He’s a driver in form, but we’re yet to see whether Rosberg now really his team mate a straight fight.
The general view has always been that, while Rosberg’s consistency has been staggering, when the world champion gets everything right on a weekend just got that extra level the German can’t quite reach. storming performance in Singapore, though, suggests the dynamic may be changing and Rosberg is starting to believe he can finish the season on top. Hamilton had problems in practice, yes, the German blew him out of the water on arguably the most draining weekend on the calendar, and at a race he had never won before.
Daniel Ricciardo is tipping Nico Rosberg to beat Lewis Hamilton to the drivers’ Championship this year.
Martin Brundle certainly agrees. the first time I feel that Nico has the speed, ingredients and confidence to take this title in a straight fight but it could well go down to the wire. »
Sepang is another track where Rosberg has never triumphed considering five of his eight victories this season have been F1 firsts, he just can’t be written off. It’s perfect occasion to see whether he can come out on top in a wheel to wheel battle against a man on a mission; Hamilton daren’t let his team mate rack up another four race winning streak. Red Bull, for one, will be licking their lips at such a prospect, and it might just be the only variable that stops Mercedes securing a third straight Constructors’ Championship this weekend.
For while the Silver Arrows were dominated by Ferrari in dry conditions here year, the fact that they have solved their far greater Singapore issues, along with Scuderia’s questionable 2016 a Sepang fix is highly likely.
Sebastian Vettel, whose 2015 Malaysia victory was his first with Ferrari, has vowed that « we’ll try to repeat what we did », while Red Bull hope Renault upgrades can make them a force a newly resurfaced Mercedes and interrupting a title battle in the dry may just be too much to ask.
Bring on the rain.
Force India v Williams: The battle continues
It may not sound as exciting as the battles at the front, but just one point separates Force India and Williams in the fight for fourth in the constructors’ standings with a huge amount of prize money depending on it.
Force India have been winning that duel recent months but Williams, who fourth is perhaps more crucial to considering their third place finish in the previous two seasons, will fancy their chances at a Sepang track featuring fewer slow corners. more, the Grove team have brought in former Ferrari tyre expert Spagnolo to help address one of their biggest weaknesses.
While a lot of teams are shifting their focus on 2017, these two teams simply can’t afford to.
The Kvyat resurgence?
For the first time in a long time a smile very nearly appeared on the face of Daniil Kvyat Singapore. Russian appeared to be unable to mentally recover from his brutal relegation to Toro Rosso earlier in the season. though, some points came at Marina Bay, and Kvyat almost showed signs of life he held off Max Verstappen in the early stages with some superb defensive driving.
Can he keep it going in Malaysia? His seat looked as good as gone at one stage, pandora charms uk but if the fight has returned and he can get himself back to the level he’s capable of reaching let’s not forget he outscored Ricciardo at Red Bull last season then it might not be lights out for Kvyat in F1 just yet.
Ocon needs to step it up
It’s never easy stepping into a seat the middle of the season, and you have to wonder whether Esteban Ocon will be starting to regret his decision to jump into the Manor during the summer break.
The Frenchman’s arrival seems to have lit a fire under Pascal Wehrlein the two part of the Mercedes young driver programme of course and the German has now smashed his new team mate three qualifying sessions in a row.
When’s the Malaysia GP on Sky?
Wehrlein was forced to retire at Spa and Monza convincingly out performed his rival Singapore as he finished 16th, while Ocon had a weekend to forget (despite turning 20).
« At Singapore [Ocon] the difficult Manor half a second slower than team mate Wehrlein. It could be enough to turn perception against him at a crucial time but hopefully won’t, » wrote Mark Hughes. still very much early days, but considering a Renault seat was thought to be as good as his before joining Manor, the pressure is on Ocon to get acclimatised in the sport and fast.