Lewis Hamilton will know better than most that the Formula 1 World Championship is far from sewn up. Not so long ago, the talk was of how Hamilton could possibly close the gap on then championship leader Nico Rosberg, who, it’s worth remembering, led the title race by 29 points just seven weeks ago.
The emphatic answer turned out to be four consecutive race wins and a sizeable deficit has now become a 17-point lead.
Hamilton’s position is an enviable one but it is not an emphatic one. The Briton knows with the vagaries of the season how quickly all the hard work he has done in recent weeks can quickly unravel.
He only need cast his mind back to Australia, Canada and Hungary, all races he had hoped to win only to retire and watch from the pitlane as Rosberg finished on the podium in all three.
There is no denying that Hamilton is in the quickest car but there is first and foremost the issue of reliability. Serious car trouble in a single race and a subsequent race retirement would put Rosberg back in the driving seat.
Most will argue – and fairly it has to be said – that Hamilton has been the quicker driver this season but Rosberg has been no slouch either and deserves better than the boos that have rung out when his name has been announced on the podium in the latter part of the season.
That he finished second behind Hamilton and only 13 seconds off the pace yesterday was a testament to his speed and calmness at the wheel, recovering from a firstlap pitstop, completely of his own creation it has to be said, which appeared to have completely destroyed his race chances before scything his way through the field.
All the smart money is on Hamilton to waltz away with the world title now. He has won at two of the three remaining race tracks on the calendar in 2014: Austin and Abu Dhabi, and that could be gargantuan in the psychological battle with Rosberg, his team-mate having not won at either circuit or for that matter the other Grand Prix at Interlagos.
What, though, looks likely to come into play is the double points on offer at the final race in Abu Dhabi.
There appeared to be carte blanche condemnation of this idea when it was introduced. Defending champion Sebastian Vettel called it “absurd”, while Hamilton and Rosberg played dumb in a Mercedes video around that time when asked about it, both showing their disdain for the ruling in that manner.
It will certainly bring an added edge to Abu Dhabi, but I think it’s a terrible idea. Formula 1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport and not some sort of manufactured game show, which is how this feels.
Imagine the injustice and outrage that will be felt if a driver wins the title by the narrowest of margins and all because they bagged twice as many points for winning at Yas Marina as they did at, say, Melbourne, Suzuka, Silverstone or Montreal. The sooner the gimmick is removed from the rule book the better, frankly.
Having said that, though, Rosberg’s disdain at the original plan must surely have now turned into delight. He will be licking his lips at the prospect that, in all likelihood, his championship challenge will still be alive and well on that final race weekend because of Bernie Ecclestone’s plan.
Ecclestone aimed to do it in response to Red Bull’s dominance of the past four seasons, the hope being that the championship is kept alive until the final race. To his credit, he has done just that and there is no denying that, as a result, the excitement will probably be even more palpable as the clock ticks down to Abu Dhabi.
But let’s just say that Hamilton lands in the United Arab Emirates having won both Austin and Interlagos with Rosberg twice second – the Briton’s lead will be up to 34 points.
But then say he encounters reliability problems and breaks down, while Rosberg ends up second. It would be sufficient for the latter to be crowned champion.
Obviously, Rosberg would delight in his own fairytale ending but, in turn, F1 would surely become a sporting laughing stock. Let’s hope it does not come down to such a situation. With nine wins to his name this season and more sure to follow, Hamilton deserves to be the 2014 world champion.