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The botched championship celebration: Hamilton victory with tremors

The botched championship party
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E s was an improvised championship celebration. At 5:24 p.m. local time, the design engineers' world championship title was perfect for Mercedes. For the second time in a row. But not on the racetrack, but at the green table. At this point the race was already over for 1.40 hours. Kimi Räikkönen received 30 penalty seconds from the stewards for an avoidable collision. That threw him from fifth to eighth place and gave Mercedes exactly the lead that Ferrari could not get in the last four races.

Wolff, Lauda and Weber already in the plane

'A bit stupid, the moment. Also that it happens through a punishment', said Nico Rosberg, but also said: 'The real celebration will be rescheduled tomorrow in the factory.' Then also with the winning T-shirts that stayed in the box. They were not actually chosen to return home to England unused. But then nobody wanted to unpack them later. It was more of a quiet celebration.

Hamilton was at times vastly superior

Toto Wolff had at least verbal times for him If the worst comes to the worst, prepared: 'Regardless of whether it's a green table or a racetrack: We are delighted with the title.' Because Mercedes deserved it. One was not dependent on gifts. The Silver Arrow was the season’s superior car. Whether the title is made clear in Sochi or Austin is only of interest to statisticians.

Mercedes also had the best car in the field in Sochi. Lewis Hamilton let it be known in phases. In the laps after the second safety car phase up to his pit stop, the Englishman was terrifyingly fast. He took his pursuers, whether Sebastian Vettel or Valtteri Bottas, between one and one and a half seconds per lap. Ferrari should give food for thought.

The fact that the lead over Vettel at the finish decreased to 5.9 seconds had nothing to do with the speed of the new World Cup runner-up. Even if Vettel is with youHe set his first fastest race lap of the year at 1.40.071 minutes. But by then Hamilton had long been driving in overdrive. Shortly before the pit stop, the world champion was startled by a problem with braking. Every now and then the downforce in the rear tore off.

Rosberg with third retirement in the fourth race

The problem got worse the longer the race lasted. Especially in traffic. 'The downforce fluctuated from lap to lap. When it was gone, it had the same effects as if it had braked with the DRS open,' revealed an engineer. Hamilton was instructed to brake earlier and to forego DRS when lapping. 'It could have solved the problem, but it could also have made it worse. We didn't want to risk that.' The Mercedes technicians suspected tire fragments in the gap between the rear wing elements to be the culprit. That would be enough to stall the current.

Mercedes was warned. The team had already lost the other car on the seventh lap. A classic penny defect. A locking ring in the accelerator pedal mechanism jumped out of the guide during the first SafetyCar phase. 'I noticed immediately that something was wrong,' reported Rosberg. The gas pedal no longer came properly towards him when he lifted his right foot because the return spring failed. 'The pedal travel got longer and longer. It was dangerous to drive like this, especially in the corners, because the engine always gave up to 20 percent gas.'

It was the third failure in the fourth race. The white vest is no longer white. 'You can't protect yourself against a problem like this. It happens once every year of jubilee,' said Wolff. Paddy Lowe confirmed: 'I can't remember it happened before. It's so simple it usually stays in the car for a whole racing season.' Wolff sympathized with the moral winner Rosberg: 'It was Nico's weekend. He did everything right, was quick, paired with the right dose of aggressiveness. Hats off to how he put away this disappointment.'

Wolffs The assumption that Rosberg will switch to the 2016 mode now was not entirely shared by his driver: 'We still have four races to go and I just want to win. I don't even think about anything else.' His conclusion: 'A real epidemic year. Whenever I tried to attack, there were problems.'


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