Heading into his home race at Silverstone, the pressure is on Lewis Hamilton.
He may have the fastest car in the field, but so too does Mercedes teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg, who successfully broke the Briton’s early-season four-race winning streak. “It’s good to know I have the momentum fully on my side. Definitely good,” the German said after winning the recent Austrian grand prix.
Undoubtedly, there is an element of psychological needle between Hamilton and Rosberg, whose long relationship almost completely imploded in Monaco a month ago. But team boss Toto Wolff is worried that the war is actually only just beginning. “We see that it’s getting very competitive,” said the Austrian. “Transparency is suffering a little bit and we need to make sure that this is not detrimental to the team.” The ‘transparency’ he is talking about is having both sides of the silver-clad garage working together for united glory, rather than against each other for the drivers’ title. Rosberg admits: “It’s all open — the data, everything. It’s just that sometimes you are not going to put it on the table, and say ‘look here at what I’ve done’.”
One man who has seen a situation just like this go from bad to disastrous is Jo Ramirez, who was team manager at McLaren during the Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost battle. “I probably see that they (Hamilton and Rosberg) are going to end up completely separate,” he predicted. “The first time that they collide is going to be the crunch. It’s not just the drivers it’s everyone behind them. I can see why Toto is saying that it can be contagious,” Ramirez told the Telegraph.
For now, even in the wake of the Monaco controversy, the battle is little more than an on-track rivalry and a light psychological needle between the races. Hamilton, for instance, told British reporters at the weekend that, back in his karting days, “Nico was quick but he wasn’t as quick as Robert Kubica”. And he also intimated that Rosberg has been lucky to build his 29-point championship lead off the back of two Hamilton DNFs. “I want Nico to finish every race,” he said. “Then you can’t say I’m in the lead because he’s had problems — it can only be that I’ve done a better job.”
Image: Mercedes GP