London - Lewis Hamilton faces an almost impossible task of winning this year’s World Championship, according to Murray Walker.
The incomparable voice of Formula One believes that it’s Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg who holds the intellectual edge, and thus the advantage, in this most intense of intra-team battles.
Hamilton heads into the British Grand Prix - the 50th edition to be held at Silverstone - 29 points adrift of Rosberg as he bids to claim his second title. “Hamilton understandably and justifiably thinks that he should have been world champion more than once and the only reason he hasn’t been is because Sebastian Vettel is a brilliant driver and was in a car that was much better than the rest,” said Walker, who celebrates his 91st birthday later this year.
“Hamilton wants to be the world champion, and so does Rosberg, but I don’t think it is unfair to say that Hamilton is a lot more emotional about it and that can affect his driving. The more he is beaten by Rosberg, the more it could hypothetically hurt him emotionally, and that brings about more pressure.
“With Rosberg being 29 points clear, he is more than a race win ahead of Hamilton, so even if he fails to finish at the British Grand Prix and Hamilton wins, Rosberg is still going to be leading by four points.
“In a nutshell it is going to be very, very difficult for Hamilton to win the championship because Rosberg is a thinking driver. Hamilton is faster but I don’t think he is cleverer than Rosberg. Rosberg is very bright indeed and he is a very good technician as well.”
Hamilton’s relationship with Rosberg hit rock bottom in May’s Monaco Grand Prix after the Briton accused his team-mate of deliberately running off the road during qualifying to scupper his final shot at pole. Rosberg, who was cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards, went on to beat Hamilton to victory with the pair subsequently at the centre of a very public spat.
“He felt he had been cheated out of a win, and we don’t know, do we?,” said Walker on Hamilton’s surly demeanour in Monte Carlo. “Hamilton appeared (to think), and for all I know still thinks, that Rosberg did the dirty on him. So, it is very understandable he should be thoroughly fed up. It is easy for people sitting at home watching the television to say: ‘That’s not very sporting is it!’ Well, why should he smile and embrace him? I think his reaction was understandable but from the point of view of public relations, it was regrettable.”
Mercedes has made every effort to repair the damage, with the pair back on talking terms at the races in Canada and Austria. A mechanical failure in Montreal followed by a qualifying spin in Austria, saw Hamilton lose 25 points to his rival despite a brilliant recovery to finish second after starting ninth at the Red Bull ring.
But Hamilton, 29, hasn’t won at Silverstone for six years and was feisty when asked how he might cope if he did not clinch the title despite having the best car. “That’s not really something I want to think about or put out there,” he said. “Why would I even consider it? It’s all about positive energy.”
And Walker believes such an outcome wouldn’t lead to a early exit from the sport as some have suggested. He added: “Hamilton is pragmatic enough to be able to shrug his shoulders and say ‘that is racing’ but he certainly won’t like it and why should he?
“But he is not going to have a nervous breakdown and leave the sport. He enjoys it too much and he gets so much out of it psychologically and financially. Lewis has done a hell of a lot for Formula One, but Formula One has done a hell of a lot for Lewis.”