What a difference a few months make. Compare the smiling, jubilant figure of Nico Rosberg celebrating after his Singapore Grand Prix win last week, to the dejected images of Rosberg who seemed to be losing it after defeat in Hockenheim. Rosberg has been imperious in the last four Grand Prix races; with the German gathering enough points to move ahead of team mate Lewis Hamilton, as well as enough momentum to make him the favourite for the Drivers’ Championship. However, as the Formula 1 bandwagon moves on to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Grand Prix, there is still the lingering sense that there will be a few twists left in this tale.
The summer months confirmed what most had predicted since before the start of the season, that this season would be a two-horse race between Hamilton and Rosberg. It could be argued that both Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo are having a fine season, but it looks like something to build on for next season more than anything else. Ricciardo was brilliant in Singapore, and should not be ruled out in taking his first Grand Prix win of 2016 in Malaysia, but it does feel that Kuala Lumpur will be all about the Hamilton and Rosberg rivalry.
The Malaysian Grand Prix feels like it could be a pivotal one for the Mercedes drivers on top of the standings. Although there are still six races remaining, and plenty of points up for grabs, the winner in Kuala Lumpur will surely be regarded as the favourite for the Championship. A win for Rosberg and you get the feeling that the momentum gathered in recent weeks could turn the German’s title charge into an unstoppable juggernaut. Conversely, a win for Hamilton and you could see the pressure getting to Rosberg once again.
Nobody truly knows what is going to happen. If you view the motor racing betting options at William Hill, UK’s top bookmaker, you will see the close spread between Rosberg and Hamilton in the odds. This race – and the Drivers’ Championship – could come down to the finest of margins. As we reach the business end of the season, there is also the chance that the tension between Rosberg and Hamilton reaches breaking point. The pair’s relationship has been cordial up to a point this season, but as the pressure builds it is conceivable that those relations turn sour once more.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is poised to be a dramatic and exciting. It feels like we are turning into the home straight of the 2016 season. The best part is that nobody knows what is going to happen next.