IT’S being a pattern of this season that Lewis Hamilton’s dominant and inevitable march towards his sixth world championship has been punctuated by shot bursts of competition from his rivals, briefly threatening to scupper the Briton’s chances.
First there was ‘Bottas 2.0’ at the start of the year followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who outlined his title tensions over the summer before most recently, back-to-back wins from Charles Leclerc brought Ferrari into the championship mix
But no sooner has the challenge appeared has it quickly faded away, rendering the result of this season’s championship a foregone conclusion.
Valtteri Bottas surprised everyone at the start of the season with his imperious form leading to talk of a genuine battle between the two Mercedes drivers. It was a challenge sustained by the Finnish driver for large parts of the early season but which has now floundered – his last victory in April seeming an age ago.
It was in Germany where Bottas crashed out that Max Verstappen stole his second win within three weeks as Red Bull backed up their title credentials. But after two disastrous races in Belgium the Dutchman has seen his challenge fall away.
Charles Leclerc has stunned formula one over the last two races finally securing Ferrari’s first victories of the season in what has been a woefully disappointing season for the red cars.
But the fact is that Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc have only managed to muster two wins apiece each while Hamilton currently has eight for the season, showcasing all of his experience to grind out consistent podium finishes when wins have been out of his reach.
Had his rivals seasons being more consistent we could have been for an epic three-way tie for the championship.
As the season reaches its climax with the final seven flyaway races could there still be time for another driver to make his mark?
Alex Albon could be the surprise standout driver in Singapore this weekend with Red Bull expected to be among the frontrunners while normal service is expected to resumed for Ferrari – whose driver Sebastian Vettel should also have been in the title fight mix.
Whoever it might be, Lewis Hamilton us unlikely to care, commanding a 63-point lead and safe in the knowledge his rivals are unable to mount a consistent title threat.