Why HAM was the man in 2017
So. Did Lewis ‘let him have it’? Or, less emotively, did Hamilton subtly gift Valtteri Bottas a victory in Abu Dhabi? That was the nagging question left by a season finale which, rather unfortunately, proved to be by some margin the dullest grand prix of the year, as Bottas cruised to an apparently untroubled win, ahead of his world champion team-mate.
The lack of excitement on Yas Island stood in acute contrast to the excruciating laps ground out last year, as Nico Rosberg clung on to the second place that would secure his world title. This time around the only controversy of note was the failure of an intercom system that left the media corps in silence as the post-race interviews began. Not that we missed too much… Regardless, the point here is that the lack of drama associated with another Mercedes 1-2 has been a fundament of another stellar Silver year – but it’s been a facet notable only by its absence. Peace, love and harmony at Mercedes? Oh yes – and in marked contrast to the tension of intra-team relations throughout the Hamilton-Rosberg years. With Bottas as his wing-man, Hamilton has ‘presented’ at grands prix in an almost beatific state of grace this year: unflappable and, as a consequence, largely unbeatable when he and the W08 tuned sweetly into each other’s groove.
And as you can read from page 54 he admits as much: “I try not to contain any negativity in my life, no matter what is written, no matter what people say,” he tells us. “I’ve managed to build this kind of barrier to bounce off negativity because I think love conquers all and positivity conquers all.”
Hamilton has been mocked in the past for being so open with his feelings. But you know what? Given the way he has driven this season, he’s earned his platform. But, as any sportsman will confess, candidly, maintaining motivational peaks is tough. Perhaps subconsciously, Lewis is unlikely to have brought his ‘triple A’ game to Brazil and Abu Dhabi. He admitted as much in contradictory comments about being “not quite at 100 per cent” but also that he “gave it everything” to beat Bottas.
Valtteri will bank the victory, nonetheless, for as Jenson Button acknowledges in our exclusive interview on p80, “when you beat Lewis you know you’ve done a good job.” Hamilton was The Man this year – he knows it and his chief rival Sebastian Vettel was gracious enough to concede that point. Will he be so next year? Impatiently, we wait.
Anthony Rowlinson Creative content director