Shanghai : ‘The King is dead, long live the King’ seems to be the viewpoint taken by all and sundry following Lewis Hamilton’s victory in last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, reports Xinhua.
Such sentiment is understandable, given another flawless display from Hamilton who, contesting his first fully wet grand prix, tip-toed his way past all manner of potential pitfalls to record his fourth victory of the season.
And it was also helped by the contrasting sight of his team mate, defending world champion Fernando Alonso, emerging from his wrecked and smoking McLaren at the Fuji Speedway.
The result places Hamilton 12 points clear of Alonso with just two races remaining, the first of which, the Chinese Grand Prix, takes place Sunday morning.
It now seems certain that Hamilton’s coronation will take place in Shanghai and, given the reliability of both car and driver this season, its not difficult to see why.
A level of consistency that would be considered impressive for a seasoned campaigner, never mind a 22-year-old contesting his first season in Formula One, has allowed Hamilton to finish every single race.
Only the European Grand Prix has seen him finishing outside the points thus far, and Hamilton can approach this weekend in the knowledge that even a fourth-place finish behind Alonso would be enough to see him crowned the first rookie world champion.
However, if the year so far is anything to go by, Hamilton definitely would not be content achieving his dream in such prosaic fashion. Would it not rub salt into Alonso’s wounds even more – stealing his thunder as the sport’s youngest ever champion in the process – by beating him in China as well?
The third driver still in with a shout, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, needs a near miracle to bridge the 17-point deficit.
Ferraris though have already given up hopes of the drivers’ title this season after the communication fiasco in Japan when they were never about the last minute tyre change enforced by FIA because of the slippery track conditions following a downpour minutes before the start.