One year ago, Lewis Hamilton was the centre piece of a witch hunt. His fans saw him as a sabotage victim and made accusations against Mercedes, not a huge surprise to F1 fans who observe such behaviour by Hamilton’s staunchest supporters frequently on social media.
How things have changed now. Evidenced by Mercedes failure to capitalise on Bottas pole position in Bahrain with poor strategy and incorrect tyre pressures, this weekend see’s Lewis as a probable race winner unless Ferrari really surprise the circus with it’s tyre tricks. Should the team from pasta country somehow demonstrate that their formidable, and probably cheating, the SF70H (H stands Hypocrite?) is able to pull a proverbial rabbit out of the hat by keeping it’s tyres good in cool as well as hot conditions and take victory in Putin’s backyard.
Lets not forget that in the spring of 2016, Lewis Hamilton went out of the Chinese GP with a defect – an issue in the electric generator, the engine part that draws energy on the turbocharger got critically hot and failed. Then an identical defect occurred in Russia. This brought the rabid Hamfosi to take to their chosen favoured social media to vent and cry havoc. How could his Mercedes team mate and underling, Nico Rosberg achieve another victory without assistance they cried in unison?
In an unprecedented move, Mercedes felt compelled to write an open letter in response to the incredible accusations levelled at the team.
“There is no ‘A’ or ‘B’ team here,” Mercedes assured its followers. “Every single member of the crew has earned their right to be counted among the elite of their trade – and have sacrificed much to do so.”
Addressing “the haters, the naysayers, the conspirators” the team declared, “if we can convince even half of you of what we really stand for, we’ll consider that a battle well won”.
Team boss Toto Wolff was less diplomatic: “Anyone who insinuates this is insane, you can not take it seriously! Why on earth should we tie a driver back?”
“We are a little bit concerned about taking such people seriously, a bunch of lunatics lying in their beds with their laptops on their chests. Sometimes I really wonder what is going on in their heads. ”
Hamilton himself urged his fans to “respect” his Mercedes team amid wild claims that they are deliberately conspiring against him this season.
“I’d like to ask that you please trust in my team, as I do,” Hamilton wrote. “This is my family. These guys have been the greatest, hardest working people for me, and that is why I am now a three-time world champion.”
Fortunately for F1 fans across the spectrum this year, we’ve been spared similar crazy comments so far. For one reason or another, the status of the season seems to be set as a clear no.1 and no.2 driver in both Mercedes and Ferrari camps.
That said, this relative calm will likely change should Ferrari get ahead of Mercedes in Sochi this weekend. The Hamfosi might just be informed enough to realise that whoever wins the Russian Grand Prix has gone on to take the Drivers Championship.
The clock is ticking…