The final countdown?
You have to say it’s not easy being Nico. First you start off having possibly the most famous (certainly the most successful) F1 driver of all time as team mate. He retires. You then get gifted the best car on the grid. Think things are looking good. Then along comes trouble in the shape of a moody Englishman, who muscles into your garage.
OK he’s quick. But you can deal with that. And you’re smarter. Can he deal with that? Sometimes he can. Sometimes he can’t. Hmmm maybe you’ve found a chink in the armour. A way to undermine his talent. Yet he goes and wins his second title.
But you bounce back. You fight hard and at half way through the next season you’re ahead. Then he gets on a roll. Five out of the six next races he wins. You bounce back again and take the last three. Too late. He’s won his third title. Your team mate. Mate? Who said anything about mate?
The question then arises can Nico do it again? To everyone’s surprise (including Nico?) he can, taking the top step of the podium in the first four races of 2016. That makes a run of seven unbeaten. Next up Monaco. Nico’s nowhere. Lewis takes first after an epic battle with Ricciardo. Hamilton then wins another five back to back.
The bell rings for the summer break. Time for a regroup, a rethink.
Then it’s time for two more classics. First Spa. Then Monza.
Nico’s luck changes. Hamilton gets a bucket full of penalties. Starts from the back of the grid. Nico starts on pole. And wins handsomely. Great! Well it would be if Lewis hadn’t recovered to third. From last. How did he do THAT?
Now a lesser driver would probably have got himself on the transfer list by now. How much pain can you take? But Nico is made of sterner stuff. But what stuff might that be? Carbon fibre? Just like Nico, it’s immensely tough. But its fracture resistance is its achilles heel. It doesn’t deflect very far before it cracks, shatters and splinters into a thousand pieces.
But where does that leave him in his battle with Lewis? And what is that guy made out of?
Well maybe he’s a tad more down to earth. Slightly less exotic. Maybe Titanium is more his thing. Light, strong and because it’s more compliant, doesn’t shatter under pressure. Which ultimately makes him more durable. And when the going gets tough, durable is a good place to be.
Strange really. You’d think that Nico was made for Mercedes. But it turns out Lewis is the one who’s Silver Arrow fits him like a glove. Shame the young German has signed for another two years (of pain?). Maybe he should have gone to pastures new. Somewhere more exotic. Where the horses run free?