A Look Back at the Formula One Season: Celebrating the End of a Great Rivalry

January 06, 2017

- Grant Whittington

All too often, the Formula One Drivers’ Championship turns into a precession long before the final race is run. After all, the sport has produced some dominant drivers throughout history, from the late, great Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell to the incomparable (and often ruthless) Michael Schumacher. These great drivers have often left rivals in their slipstream, both in individuals races and as the Championship season unfolds.

This year was different, however, as Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton waged a topsy-turvy championship battle that went to the final race of the season. A year full of controversy and competitive right until its dying embers, it kept fans guessing and nerves jangling as battles were waged across the globe.

The Success of Rosberg and the End of a Bitter Rivalry

Ultimately, it was the consistency and temperament of Rosberg that prevailed over the precocious talent of defending champion Hamilton, although it is fair to say that the German’s success has polarised opinion among F1 fans. While his supporters claim that his victory is a testament to hard work and an ability to perform under pressure, detractors believe that Rosberg’s success had as much to do with Hamilton’s misfortune as it did with skill or application. After all, Hamilton bore the brunt of the team’s mechanical failures last season, suffering on no less than five separate occasions across both qualifying and various race days.

Given this, the narrow margin of Rosberg’s title win and the fact that Hamilton won more races than his rival (nine as opposed to eight), it is hard to argue that the British driver was unfortunate not to lift a third consecutive title. Make no mistake; however, it was these instances of inexplicable misfortune the bridge the gap in natural talent that exists between Hamilton and Rosberg, enabling the latter to prevail while the former floundered. It should therefore come as no surprise that Rosberg has decided to retire while he is at the top of the pile, as he perhaps feels that he has little chance of repeating his success against a refreshed and re-energised Hamilton next season.

Next Year and Beyond: What Will 2017 Bring in the World of F1?

According to the early betting, Mercedes seem to be keen to replace Rosberg with a young and hungry junior, who can learn from Hamilton and form a great team dynamic with the former champion. The team are currently thought to favour Williams’ driver Valtteri Bottas, and have reportedly offered the Finn a deal worth nearly £15 million to secure his services. If these negotiations fail, however, Mercedes may promote their young junior driver Pascal Wehrlein, although this is a move that has been criticised by many within the sport.

Outside of Mercedes, Rosberg’s departure opens up an opportunity for other drivers to stake their claim for glory in 2017. The obvious candidate is Red Bull’s precocious, 19-year old driver Max Verstappen, who finished fifth in this years Drivers’ Championship and recorded an impressive 204 points. He seems destined to become a world champion in the future, with the Dutchman blessed with natural talent and a seemingly unflappable personality. Another name to look for in 2017 in Williams starlet Lance Stroll, as the hotly-tipped 18-year old is being lined up to replace Bottas if he makes the move to Mercedes.

Whatever happens, the retirement of Rosberg marks the end of an era and creates an opportunity for new stars to emerge in 2017. So while Hamilton will start next season as the obvious title favourite, he may yet find himself challenged by a new wave of young, hungry and talented F1 drivers.

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