Formula 1: A Look Ahead To Malaysia

September 27, 2016

- Grant Whittington

While we all expected the season’s first night race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit to be a special event in the Formula One calendar, few of us could have predicted the drama that unfolded in Singapore. From the sight of a stranded marshal being forced to flee the track to an incredibly close race to the finish between Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo, this popular meeting delivered everything that it promised and more.

When the dust had settled, Rosberg had won his eighth race of the season (and third in succession) to open up a potentially decisive eight-point lead over current Champion and teammate Lewis Hamilton. The English driver, who was strangely slow all weekend and seemingly bereft of the natural instincts that usually serve him so well, fell to third place for the second time in three weekends to leave himself adrift in the Championship well.

Can Hamilton Recover his Composure in time for Malaysia?

While Hamilton’s natural talent and keen competitive spirit mean that he will start next week as one of the Malaysian Grand Prix favourites at the Sepang International Circuit, for now he appears to have lost much of his natural speed and usually irrepressible confidence. After all, he finished a full eight seconds behind Red Bull driver Ricciardo in Singapore, while in qualifying he was an incredible 0.704 seconds slower than title rival and teammate Rosberg and could only finish second on the grid.

Given Rosberg’s speed and consistency, Hamilton was never likely to likely to challenge for first place, particularly in such a challenging race where strategy was always likely to win the day ahead of raw spend. Still, finishing behind the Australian Ricciardo was something of a surprise, while the dominant nature of Rosberg’s victory (and the nerve that he showed during the final lap to resist the Red Bull driver by less than half-a-second) seemed especially telling in the context of the Drivers’ Championship.

After all, there are now just six races left in the formula one season, and Rosberg has already won eight of the 15 contested so far. Given his far greater level of consistency and the fact that he now has an eight-point lead in the standings, it would take a Herculean effort from Hamilton to reclaim his World title. One thing that Hamilton has to do is recover his mojo and natural speed, while he must avoid the type of losing sequence that has suffered recently and at the beginning of the season (when he went four races without a win).

Why Hamilton’s Recovery Must Start in Malaysia

Make no mistake; Hamilton’s recovery must start in earnest next week in Malaysia, in a race that will once again test each driver’s stamina, fitness and natural driving talent. Hamilton must also strive to overcome the confident and in-form Ricciardo, who currently sits third in the Championship and seems well-suited to racing in high-humidity and exacting conditions. Above all else, however, he must overcome his own, inner demons and drive to his full potential if he is to win in Malaysia and reclaim his World title.

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