The Shock Of The New
Autosport|October 26,2017

If the spectacle of Lewis Hamilton carving his way to the world title seems familiar, much is changing off-track in the new Liberty era.

THE FAT LADY IS TUNING UP FOR MEXICO CITY, where this coming weekend Lewis Hamilton needs to finish only fifth to clinch his fourth world championship. Given that since the summer break Hamilton has lost only once – in Malaysia, where he finished second to Max Verstappen – you’d have to rate his chances as somewhat better than average.

After the season he has had, the odds shorten that sooner or later he has to have some sort of mechanical failure, but Mercedes reliability has been remarkable in 2017, and Lewis, freed of the occasional torment that was Nico Rosberg, has driven better than ever before, rather dispelling the age-old theory that drivers give of their best when pressured by their team-mate. Valtteri Bottas has given a good account of himself, once or twice having the better of Hamilton, but Rosberg he ain’t. Only now perhaps are we beginning to appreciate how good Nico was.

For a change, therefore, Lewis’s major opposition has come not from the guy in the other Mercedes, but from Sebastian Vettel and a revitalised Ferrari team. Prior to the summer break the world championship seemed like very much a two-hander between them, but from Spa on Hamilton has been near-faultless, with Ferrari’s simultaneous chapter of disasters almost impossible to fathom. At least, at the Circuit of the Americas, the cars ran reliably, taking second and third places, but although Vettel made the best of the start, and led Hamilton for five laps, there was an inevitability that Lewis would get by.

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