Mercedes have admitted a lack of reliability may damage what should be a fitting climax to a compelling Formula One season.
As Basil Fawlty famously exclaimed, as he struggled to start his car: “If you don’t go, there’s little point in having you,” and Nico Rosberg might have sympathised with those sentiments on Sunday when his team-mate Lewis Hamilton roared off to win the Singapore Grand Prix, leaving the German stuck on the grid.
This has been the pattern since Hamilton failed to finish the opening race in Australia in March. In almost half of this season’s races, one of the Mercedes cars has failed to make it home, and now Paddy Lowe, the team’s technical chief, said the problem will not be a short-term fix. “I’ve said internally from the beginning of the year, when it was clear we had the dominant car, that my biggest concern is that we will decide the championship on the basis of car breakdowns,” he said.
“I’m not going to pretend it’s good enough because it isn’t. It’s one of the weaknesses that we have. We’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes to turn it around but it’s a long-term project. It’s not something you can hit in five minutes. It takes a lot work. We are making progress but we’ve got further to go.”
Lowe added: “It’s one of the features of motor racing that cars break down. It always has been. The racing car is incredibly complicated these days. The number of things that don’t go wrong in a race is immense. The trouble at the moment is that Nico has seen his championship lead wiped out in one afternoon. That’s really tough.”
It is tough not only on Rosberg but also on race fans, because it denies them the spectacle. Only in Bahrain in April have two excellent drivers competed against each other as they really can, though they have both been guilty of making mistakes.
Hamilton has spoken about how the closeness of his family has helped inspire him. “I just feel relaxed,” he said, after the support he received in Singapore. “All my family are a real positive beam of light for me at the weekend.
“I spoke years ago, when my Dad was my manager, and said I couldn’t wait for the day when he was here just as my Dad. And that’s what you’re seeing. And that’s one of the greatest feelings, having him here. [On Sunday] for example, he came to the car as I got in and shook my hand. That’s very special.”
He added: “We usually hug before I get in. I’ve missed him. Since the first day I ever got in a kart – I remember the day of my first race – I created a handshake with him. I was eight years old and he was there. That’s one of the most special things. Anthony said today it felt like I was eight years old again attending kart race, when he was watching me.
“I don’t know what Dad thought when we started. I was good but I don’t know if he thought that in 20 years time we’d be winning the Singapore GP. I try to imagine his mentality, getting four jobs to get the money to get a crap kart together, to respray it or try to bend it back to shape because it was the oldest kart in world, trying to get some fuel because we had spent all the money on tyres. Going through all that to now be at the pinnacle of the sport, I’m hugely proud of my family, so it’s really cool for dad to be here. I’ve gotta stop there – I’m getting emotional!”
McLaren have accused Red Bull of using coded radio messages to help Daniel Ricciardo in Sunday’s race. Teams have been banned from coaching their drivers from the pitwall but Ricciardo was told: “Avoiding exit kerbs may help the problem with the car.”
McLaren’s racing director, Eric Boullier, said: “I think it was coded, but it is up to the FIA to investigate. It is not for me to investigate but it was a strange message. Once was OK, but twice, three times? You can doubt what exactly the car problem was.”
Source : www.theguardian.com