Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 06:00 PM


With just two more races left on the Formula 1 calendar, Mercedes have again dominated the season, however this time it’s Nico Rosberg who is leading at the right time of the year.

Rosberg holds a slender 19-point lead and the result of the penultimate race at Brazil next weekend will determine if the German is champion, or if his team-mate and three-time champion Lewis Hamilton will have a chance to claim his third successive championship at the Silver Arrow.

Hamilton needs to win the last two races – or in lieu of winning, finish three places higher than Rosberg in both races if he is to take out a fourth championship. Expecting Rosberg to finish that far behind Lewis in successive races is a tall order, given it’s only happened six times in the last 57 races.

Rosberg started the season in the same form that he ended the previous year, winning all of the first four races in Australia, Bahrain, China and Russia. Hamilton ran second twice, third once and seventh at China where his car was constantly hampered with issues.

In Spain, the pair collided on the first lap, which saw both vehicles retire from the race. Newly-promoted Red Bull teenager Max Verstappen claimed his maiden Grand Prix victory. This was the start of a horror run for Rosberg, who claimed just one victory and two podiums in the following seven races, allowing Hamilton to not just make up the lost points, but take the championship lead.

Hamilton picked up a fortunate victory in Monaco when Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo suffered a horror pit stop that cost him a certain victory, while Rosberg languished back in seventh place, having to nurse his car through the race. The Brit won again in Canada, with the two Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen sharing the podium. Rosberg finished fifth behind Verstappen.

Rosberg bounced back to win the next race in Azerbaijan, the first time the nation had ever held a Formula 1 race, while Hamilton finished fifth. Lewis bounced back in Austria with a win while Rosberg struggled to pass Verstappen and Raikkonen, finishing fourth. Hamilton then won his home Grand Prix at Silverstone with Rosberg finishing third.

Mercedes claimed just their third 1-2 finish of the season at Hungary, with Hamilton continuing his winning form. He won again in Germany, where both Red Bull drivers made the podium. After this race, Hamilton fell into a mini slump, going five races without a win. Rosberg won the next three in Belgium, Italy and Singapore, with Hamilton finishing third twice and second once.

The Malaysian Grand Prix saw Hamilton retire and Rosberg finish third while Red Bull claimed their first 1-2 finish since the last race of the 2013 season. Rosberg won in Japan with Hamilton running third before the USA and Mexico Grand Prixs delivered identical podiums: Hamilton first, Rosberg second, Ricciardo third.

If that same top-two combination happens again at Brazil this weekend, Hamilton will be just 12 points behind Rosberg on the Drivers’ Championship going into the final race at Abu Dhabi, where points are doubled.

If Hamilton wins with Rosberg second in that final Race, Hamilton will win the Championship for a third straight season, by just two points. There are many scenarios that could happen and all of them are plausible.

But when it’s consider that Hamilton and Rosberg have won all bar 19 of the last 71 races, it’s most likely that these two fierce rivals will be winning the last two races and producing a grandstand finish to the championship.

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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